Saturday, February 21, 2009

Silencing the devil

Sometimes I feel like I have a devil and angel on my shoulders trying to convince me how to behave. More devil than angel, of course. In the books on which the TV show Dexter is based, the fictional Dexter refers to his devil as "the Dark Passenger." (Apparently. I haven't read the books, but so says wikipedia.) It's an interesting idea -- how do sociopaths perceive their identity? Is it split? Is there a devil tempting them to do things they otherwise wouldn't? With Dexter, the Dark Passenger is the one that wants to do all the killing. When Dexter can no longer ignore it, he "lets the Dark Passenger do the driving." That sounds plausible enough, until the books get all voodoo:
In Dexter in the Dark, the third novel of the series, it is revealed through third person narrative of an entity referred to as "IT" that the Dark Passenger is an independent agent inhabiting Dexter, rather than a deviant psychological construction. "IT" is revealed to be Moloch, a god worshipped in Biblical times. The Dark Passenger is one of ITs many offspring: IT had many children (formed through human sacrifice), and IT learned to share ITs knowledge with them. Eventually, there were too many, and IT killed the majority, some of whom escaped into the world. In the novel, Dexter learns of the Dark Passenger's true nature when it briefly "leaves" him, frightening him into researching possible reasons for its existence.
The demon angle is ridiculous, but again, maybe that is just how Dexter deals with his impulses. Because that is what I think the Dark Passenger really represents, and for me the little devil on my shoulder equals impulses. Everyone has impulses, and sociopaths are notorious for having poor impulse control -- at least those in prison. I am a highly rational person, always weighing the costs and benefits of every action, but I can still succumb to ill-advised impulses some of the time. That's my devil, always trying to get me into trouble. As I grow older, the impulse-control has actually gotten worse instead of better. When I was a child, I was used to people looking over my shoulder all the time, so keeping my own behavior in check was a more immediate concern. Adults don't have the same external restraints. For instance, I am frequently tempted to "ruin people" or lash out in anger. Recently I've been looking for ways to not just ignore or suppress these impulses, but to tame them. I am getting too secure in my career and position in society to risk having a blowout over nothing. I have found that swimming laps helps a lot; the rhythm and the white noise are very soothing. I have also recently discovered tai chi. I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but it really works wonders for soothing the mind. You have to do something, otherwise you'll end up in prison or a social pariah or worse.


  1. Is prison worse than a social pariah? And what's worse than that?

  2. Well the almighty state could make you look at pictures and tell you to narrate a story, then they could show you a violent movie (or say a 'ruining people' movie) while playing Bach in the background (or whichever classical musician all of you seem to be into) while also administering shock or inducing nausea. Then when you are cured and released into society, you could find youself too enervated to counter even the lower-grade empathic brand of malice much less malice from socipaths on the loose.

    Or they could use you for socipath-testing, like animal-testing or for a host of other bizarre experiments if they make a case for speciation.

    I think all of those are far worse than going to prison or being a social pariah.


    p.s. For the record, I was just mirroring popular sociopathic fears, and I'd say like most of those fears, exaggerated and theatrical, if not entirely unfounded. I really believe it's a better world.

  3. "a clockwork orange — meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with colour and juice, but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil; or the almighty state"- Anthony Burgess


  4. sometimes i feel like i have a devil and angel on my shoulders trying to convince me how to behave, more devil than angel of course.

    I think we're the only one who can really can make a free choice to who are we listening. "Normal" people have a conscience which drives them to choose the one which they think is OK or acceptable. Mostly this is the angel but sometimes the devil.


  5. I've actually been able to keep my destructive impulses down to a minimum of speeding and simple drug use. Yay me.


  6. oh thank you for this post man it really was hard the instrumental music really helps me and being alone with out animals and every thing can help also man and some drugs help me out with also control it helps me suppress them but not alot only during the high

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