This episode is a psychological analysis of the Joker 2019 movie and touches on the shadow, persona, Codependent Narcissism (One-Down Narcissism), and some broader societal issues.
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Episode 22 Show Notes
2:26 Jungian archetypes in the Joker movie
7:09 What is pseudobulbar affect, and what’s up with his laughing fits?
12:38 The scene that illustrates Arthur Fleck’s main coping strategies
16:53 The similarities and differences between the Joker and the American Psycho character
22:16 The clinical definition of narcissistic personality disorder
26:57 What narcissists are capable of
31:21 How the Joker/Arthur Fleck wants to be treated
36:49 What do codependent narcissists have in common with standard narcissists?
41:54 The idealization and devaluation phases of the Arthur Fleck
47:47 Is Arthur Fleck as bad as the other people in the movie?
53:05 Understanding the quote that the Arthur Fleck kept repeating
59:19 How the Joker/Arthur Fleck views his situation from the inside
JOKER: The Persona, Shadow, & One-Down Narcissism – A Psychological Analysis
David Tian Ph.D. shares his psychoanalytic interpretations and psychoanalysis of the Joker character or known prior as Arthur Fleck (lead character of the 2019 film).
Arthur Fleck/the Joker showed signs of being distinctly a narcissist, David Tian Ph.D. enumerates these characteristics.
David Tian Ph.D. describes what narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is.
The Joker/Arthur Fleck did some peculiar actions or decisions throughout the film(you may have missed some of them!), David Tian Ph.D. interprets them.
In this podcast, David Tian Ph.D. further explores the Joker’s idealization and devaluation phases.
David Tian: Welcome to the DTPHD Podcast. I’m David Tian, your host, and this is an episode on the movie the Joker. This is the Phillips version of the movie. This is going to include lots of spoilers. So, big-time spoiler alert, if you’ve not yet seen the movie, make sure you do that before you continue listening or watching this episode. Also, disclaimers: This is going to include some psychoanalytic interpretations and psychoanalysis of the Joker character.
He is a fictional character from comic books and this is a movie that is not based on any real-life figures as far as I know, so take that all into consideration as I talk about some of these personality disorders and such. This is not meant to be a definitive analysis of any living human being, as well, it is therefore not going to be a perfect anything because the movie and comic book are — well, we’re not even dealing with that per se, we’re dealing with the script of a movie based on a fictional character.
In so far as that movie is true to life, we can do some analysis around that and get some lessons and insights from it. But of course, it’s just a script. It’s just a screenplay and it’s just a fictional movie. So, putting all that out there, these are all the disclaimers. Hopefully, this will be fun, and informative, and insightful for you as much as it was for me in putting it together.
So, let’s dive in. There are six points. If you’re interested in the controversy that’s surrounding this movie, I think it’s really great that this is happening because it’s going to maintain the Joker in the public discourse, especially as we get into Oscar season, so it’s a really great movie. I hope it gets an Oscar nod. So, that’s all great, and I will be addressing those issues around points five and six of my six points that I have planned here. So, if that’s all you’re interested in, you might want to just fast forward towards the end.
But I’m going to be getting into some psychological interpretations and some psychoanalysis here. So, if you’re a long-time viewer, that might be more interesting to you. So, let’s get into that right away. So again, I got six points. I’ll dive into the first one now. The first one is the fact that there’s a lot of material in this movie for analysis of archetypes, Jungian archetypes as well as the shadow. So if you’re into that, you’re going to like this movie.
And there’s so much more to be said about that that we could take up a three or four-hour course. In fact, I made a multiple-hour course, eight-hour course called Core, and then a 45-hour really in-depth 11-week course called Rock Solid Relationships and Masculine Mastery. It’s two courses in one. And in both of those courses, all of those courses that I just mentioned, we go into the shadow and the archetypes. And I actually help lead you through a process, guide you step-by-step through a meditative process that just from the comfort of the room you’re sitting in, you are able to access in yourself the fundamental masculine archetypes.
I wouldn’t even call them masculine, but dudes like to hear the word masculine. But women can use this just as strongly because these are archetypes in all human beings. They are The Sovereign, also called The King, or The Goddess, or whatever. The Sovereign, The Lover, The Magician, The Warrior. And all of these archetypes have shadow aspects to them, these immature aspects.
The shadow in the Jungian classical sense is a repressed part of you in your unconscious. So often, this is considered to be a dark part of you but it’s not necessarily that way. It could also be a childlike part of you that holds the qualities of play, and spontaneity, and so on that maybe you’re missing if you’ve been repressing that too much, and it’s repressed and in your unconscious, and that’s considered a shadow. In the Joker movie, clearly, you’ll see that his persona of Arthur Fleck — and the persona, by the way, is a Jungian term. It’s that mask that we present to the outer world.
It’s the outer part of us that we use to represent us. It’s like a skin in a game, right? That’s the part of us that everyone else sees and that’s the part of us that we try to use to get along in life. And when that part crumbles, when the persona crumbles, there’s that point in which the unconscious parts will come out. And it’s going to be like some war in there. There are going to be unconscious parts of us that want to do good, and so on. And then there are parts of us that might give into some kind of darkness or some severe darkness. In the case of the Joker, the dark shadow took over and in a really dramatic way.
You can also see this in the Star Wars movies with the change from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader. So, you see that the persona crumbles, the outer mask crumbles over time, and then the shadow comes out. So, this is an example of the shadow taking over. This is directly related, by the way, the shadow, the archetypes, the persona, all of that to the political controversy on the left and the right around this movie. So, I’ll be getting to that again towards the end.
But it’s interesting to see that the persona that is front-facing is often useful and good in people. And personas are fine, everybody has a persona. It’s not whether you have a persona. It’s whether your persona is effective in getting you what you want in life and then whether you are aware that that’s a persona and it’s not all of you. It doesn’t represent the whole of you, and it’s not your true self either.
Your persona is simply the part of you that you use to represent at the surface level when you do a job interview, for most jobs, or when you’re first meeting people or something like that. It’s a small talk kind of persona and whatever you are at work. And for most people, that’s all that they think that their personality is. And for many people, the reason why therapy only comes on later in life, if at all, is because the persona that they’ve been relying on for most of their lives is working okay.
So this is very common among achievers. They have an achiever persona. They’re very invested in that persona that they’re making a lot of or enough money that they look good, they look presentable, and all that. Of course, in the world of dating for men, there’s the persona that you’re trying to present to women at the bars, or the clubs, or whatever. And for a lot of nice guys like the lovable nerds or whatever, their persona sucks for that purpose, for getting women or attracting women.
Or for people who are not successful professionally or in their career, like the Joker character here, their persona is maladaptive in the professional context. And in this case of the Joker, Arthur Fleck in this movie, his persona is not effective anywhere. It’s not effective in any area of his life. It’s just a matter of time before that crumbles, and then some parts of his shadow will try to take over. And as you see, a very dark part of his shadow takes over.
Okay, so that’s the first point. The second point is I want to draw our attention to the laughter. There’s something I haven’t seen very much in the other reviews I read or watched. So, laughter, the PBA, pseudobulbar affect. So from the psychiatric cognitive perspective, which is just like, “Let’s look at the outside of it.” It’s simply when somebody laughs at inappropriate times, sort of like Tourette’s kind of laughing.
But actually, from a psychoanalytic or psychotherapeutic perspective, the laughing is a coping mechanism to deal with emotions that are uncomfortable. And this is something that — or too overwhelming to bear. So, this is something that Arthur Fleck’s character figured out early in life, or didn’t figure out, it was imposed on him by his mother. You see this over and over in the movie. Her nickname for him is Happy, because no matter what was happening in his life, all the horrible physical abuse that he as a little boy had to endure, she told him he had to keep smiling and make people feel joy and laughter in their lives and whatever.
He’s continually being conditioned to laugh in these really dark, very abusive periods in his life. So, of course, that would create, as you become an adult, this extreme reaction, the PBA, the pseudobulbar affect. That’s really important to notice because many of us don’t use laughter that way, but we have other coping mechanisms.
I’ve covered this in other videos, especially in terms of the 12 steps groups. Anywhere along the continuum of addiction, obvious ones like alcohol, drugs, sex, masturbation, porn, these can all be used to cover up and distract us or numb us from emotions we don’t want to feel. And we may not even realize why we’re doing those things. And of course extreme versions, cutting, bulimia, eating disorders… But also these other things of intellectualizing.
For me, a lot of the laughter for Arthur Fleck was debating, and philosophizing, and intellectualizing for me, luckily because the persona and the way that the modern world has come out, my way of coping with affect was socially sanctioned and rewarded. I got good marks, and I got promoted all the way through the universities and all that. And that was great. So, it was adaptive until it got to a point where my emotional life obviously was lacking, and the resources I had as an intellectual in my late 20s wasn’t going to cut it.
So then, I was forced to fall back on my resources. I went a very long way to find it, find the answers, and only 10 years later did I finally discover the depth of psychotherapy in getting the training myself. So, the point is, we all have coping mechanisms and various behavioral strategies for dealing with emotions that we were not yet equipped or guided to deal with or coached on how to handle.
Especially at a young age and in your formative, impressionable years, you’ll just try out different things. Now, in Arthur Fleck’s character’s case, it was very obvious his mother imposed the coping mechanism on him, took that on as a way of dealing with the pain of both physical, mental, emotional, the whole thing, right? So, it’s a really interesting and neat way to build a backstory for why the Joker looks the way he does rather than the classical way, which was he got thrown in a vat of acid or something like that which you see in some of the other Batman movies and in the comics.
That’s a coping mechanism and strategy for dealing with overwhelming emotions. And then the longer you do that, the more that these emotions that are overwhelming gets suppressed, then it leads into repression, then it becomes part of your unconscious, and now you don’t have conscious access to those, and now you can’t work with them. So a lot of the work of psychotherapy is to make the unconscious conscious so you can work on it, so you can heal and grow from it, and just work on it depending on what modality you use. It’s overall just working on it, but you can’t work on it if you can’t get to it.
So if you can’t feel it, you can’t heal it. So if you just keep distracting yourself, numbing yourself, or in his case just laughing, it doesn’t allow him to deal with the actual emotions that are there. And his psychotherapist in the movie was just awful, horrible depiction of psychotherapy. I don’t know what’s worse, the old Freudian one where you’re lying on a couch, and you’re telling him about your dreams, and you know Freud sitting in the back smoking a pipe or something, or this where it’s a horribly messy and cluttered office, dark and…
Obviously, it’s supposed to be like this, but I hope you know that that’s not what psychotherapy is supposed to look like, with a horrible-looking office, tons of clutter, and then she’s not listening to him at all. Obviously, she also has her own issues and pain that she brings out towards the end, so we also are meant to feel that she’s part of the faulty system and all that. Part of that narrative is Arthur Fleck is not getting the help that he’s trying to get.
It’s tugging on our heartstrings. We get it. It’s easier for us to enter into empathy with both characters there, the psychologist and Arthur Fleck himself. Okay, and there’s a scene that really illustrates very well the coping mechanisms that Arthur Fleck uses, and that’s the scene where he walks into a refrigerator.
So, big-time spoiler alert here, but something very traumatic just happened. I think it was in terms of the plot, he sees that Arthur Murray uses his clip on his show — or not Arthur Murray, I forget his full name, but Murray, the Robert De Niro character uses Arthur Fleck’s stand-up clip, and then embarrasses the hell out of him, or he feels that as very insulting, and then goes home, clears out his refrigerator and walks in.
It’s a really obvious way of showing that he’s used to just numbing. So one of the ways of numbing is laughter. When that doesn’t work, he literally just opens up his fridge, and goes in, and doesn’t want to feel anything, not even physical sensations in his body. Now then, you’ll see in the movie that he suffered severe physical abuse as a child. So, all of this is understandable then as a result of that back story. And I think that’s part of the worry of some of this controversy that we would feel empathy for this villain.
I mean, the movie, the whole point of the movie is to do that, right? I don’t think there’s anything ever dangerous about feeling empathy for a character and for anyone, even villains. The empathy is healthy. It’s good. It will lead to more goodness rather than the response that’s driven by fear. So insofar as this movie is trying to make us empathize with a villain, I think that’s awesome. And I think just in terms of movie-making and enjoying it as a fan, that makes it so much more enjoyable. Because otherwise, you get this one-dimensional villain and it’s no fun. The villain has to be understandable. We must be able to empathize with the villain for it to be enjoyable for us as fans.
Okay, so then moving on to the third point. And just before I leave that second point about repression, and coping mechanisms, and the laughter, what happens is: When you repress the emotions that you don’t get to feel, and you can shove them into the unconscious for too long, eventually, when that pain becomes too much — because it doesn’t go away. It’s really important to realize this. Those emotions, just because we ignore them, or we numb ourselves to them, we shove them under the consciousness. They don’t go away. They just go away out of our conscious awareness, but they’re still there.
They build up, and build up, and build up, and build up over time. This is something that I think people on both sides of the spectrum or all sides of the spectrum understand, so I’m just reminding you of this. And it doesn’t go away. So what eventually happens over time is when the pain that’s being repressed is too much, it’ll either eat itself. It’ll fall in on itself and it’ll implode or cave in on itself, disintegrate, leading to some kind of suicide attempt or something like that; or it will project outwards into a kind of violent lashing out.
Either way, you see it in both cases, actually right up to the end of the movie, so Arthur Fleck’s character here is mimicking or showing that he might be trying to use — were going to try to commit suicide instead of shooting the guy at the end. But anyway, just a really cool illustration of that whole point about the repressed pain can either go inside or outside, but it’s going to go somewhere. It doesn’t just disappear.
Okay, moving onto the third point. And this is the point that I really wanted to make this whole episode about. It is a new idea, relatively speaking. Let me start with the fantasies. So you’ll notice that there are a lot of fantasies, there are a lot of delusions in the movie. I’ve seen the movie twice, and the first time I saw the movie, I immediately wanted to see American Psycho, the Christian Bale American Psycho because I hadn’t seen it yet. And I thought, “Man, based on what I know of American Psycho, this seems like American Psycho in a way.” So, I watched American Psycho.
It’s not really like it at all versus the Scorsese movies I mentioned, but there are some similarities. And one of the major similarities in American Psycho is the delusionary fantasies of grandiosity. And that’s because this is all part of these cluster B personality disorders. And in this case, I’m going to home in on narcissism, narcissistic personality disorder because I think this is very likely the thing that’s in common between the Joker character here and the American Psycho Christian Bale character.
But it’s a different type of narcissism, so it’s important to understand that. In the Joker, we have a one-down narcissist, a co-dependent narcissist, a white knight narcissist. In the extreme case, like taken to the extremes what white knight, one-down narcissism would look like. In the typical NPD, narcissistic personality disorder cases that you’ll read about in the research literature, you have the one-up narcissist who is more like the American Psycho Christian Bale version, or more like the stereotypical Wall Street narcissist NPD type of character that you’d have who feels he’s sort of like this Aryan guy who is on top of the world, can do no wrong, and only occasionally chinks in the armor, falls down into reality, and is then treatable for a short period before he gets enough success going, and enough momentum going that he’s back up in his narcissistic fantasies.
This is the opposite or this is the flipside of that. This is the one-down narcissist. This is the type of case that I see a lot more often in my work, a lot of co-dependent narcissists are looking for help with women online. They think they’re the innocent parties. They think that they’re the innocent person, that they’re the virtuous one, that they’re the one with good intentions, and they’re the good guy, and they just need some help.
And at that moment in their lives, they’ve not yet been tested. Why? Because they don’t actually have the ability to be a bad guy yet. Like, they could be just like an anarchist, right? But they don’t have the ability to actually get what they want and be the bad guy. So they actually don’t have the ability to be the player. So, it’s bullshit when they say, “I’m purposely going to reject being the player” and hating on the player because they actually have never had that choice presented to them for real.
So then what will happen is, if he gets good, and this is the very small minority of guys who go through the game journey, or learning game, or learning pick up or whatever, and they actually get the skills, then they’re finally presented with that option. But usually, they don’t know that that’s happening and they go down the slippery slope as I did in everyone I’ve seen who goes down this journey does.
And only when it’s too late do they realize, “Oh, shit. I really do understand this now. I’m down in the dumps and I got to figure this out.” So, that’s the co-dependent narcissist. Just as I am, so let me put that out there: I’m not hating on anyone or shaming anyone. I know this type of situation so well because I obviously went through it myself and I’ve covered that in dozens of videos already, including a four-part lecture series called Modern Mating Explained, followed by the four-part sequel to that called Practical Psychology for Extraordinary Living. I hate the fact that I picked such a long title.
So, that’s the co-dependent narcissist, the white knight narcissist. In this case, he became the dark knight. Actually, the dark knight is Batman, right? But in this case, the white knight is flipped around, gave into the shadow of the white knight, the dark knight. So hopefully, you’re getting this. I’m going to get into the narcissism, but hopefully you get the white knight co-dependent one-down part. It’s quite obvious that Arthur Fleck’s character is the one-down in society and in almost all of his relationships, he’s the one-down.
And what about the narcissist part? Well, here’s the thing. Here’s how you can tell. Once that one-down guy gets a little bit of power or is put up so that he’s equal or above others… Like the bullies, maybe he’s given a weapon so now he’s able to fight back to the bullies. Does he do the good thing where he just defends and that’s all, or does he do the superhero thing where he disarms them, ties them up, waits until the law comes to — meet out the law, and due process, or does he turn into the bully himself? So does the bullied become the bully? Obviously, in this case, it’s even worse. He goes on to actually seek out and carry out like a serial murderer, not even those who bullied him and doesn’t just turn on the ones who bullied him per se but actually kills his love interest in his fantasies and her child.
We don’t see this on camera, but this is the implication. And at the end of the movie where it looks like he kills the psychiatrist that is assigned to him, I think it’s the same one that’s been working with him that whole time. Anyway, you don’t see that on camera, but it’s implied. And of course, the Joker then, if he fully becomes the Joker character in the comics, really becomes this evil figure, really gives into that — the one-up becomes the one-down and now it’s a grandiose… Sorry, the one-down becomes the one-up, is now the grandiose one-up.
And you’ll notice that even when he was in the one-down, he wasn’t a good guy. He just didn’t have the power to be a bad guy. So it looks like he’s just this helpless victim, which he’s a victim and maybe he’s helpless, but it doesn’t make him good yet. Until you equip him and equal the playing field, you won’t get to see what he’s really made of, what his character is. That is the Joker, the co-dependent narcissist.
Now, let’s go a little bit deeper into what the narcissism is. Now, the clinical definition based on the DSM-5, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This is the fifth edition, the latest edition, indicates that a person with NPD usually displays some or all of the following symptoms, typically without possessing the commensurate personal qualities or accomplishments for which they demand respect and status.
Okay, so I’m actually just going off the Wikipedia here, but I have the DSM-5. I recommend that you check that out as well. Okay, so here are the points. And not all of them will apply to the co-dependent narcissist. So again, this is a continuum, a spectrum. It’s not black-and-white, either-or, he is or he is not, but it’s more like he’s 70% or 60% narcissist. He has maybe 40% of this disorder, that kind of thing, right? So, it’s a spectrum.
So there’s mild, moderate, and severe cases of this. So, grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from other people. Now, when you’re in the one-down, it looks like you’re just asking for normal treatment, like regular treatment because you can’t even get that, right? But in fact, you’ll see in the fantasies of delusions, and you see that with the delusion that Arthur Fleck had when he was watching Murray in the Murray Show, now, he’s projecting himself into The Murray Show the fantasy of Murray being his dad and saying all these like, “You’re really special, Arthur. I can tell that, all that right away.”
These are marks of a narcissistic disorder or a narcissistic personality. The first time I watched it, his love interest, the girl who lived down the hall with her daughter, you see immediately — I went to the restroom and then I came back, and now they’re on a date. And now this girlfriend that he just met apparently is in his mother’s hospital room. And I’m like, “Wow, how did this happen? It makes no sense.” Like, I used to be a dating coach. This will never happen. This is so unrealistic, but okay, it’s a movie.
And then only later did I realize, “Oh, now it all makes sense, because it’s all in his head.” That’s a sign of a narcissistic disordered personality. He has these fantasies of grandeur. And this happens to a lot of nice guys, a lot of white knights. They have these fantasies of relationships with girls that they obsess about. I see it a lot, and you’ll see this in some questions posted on Reddit forums. I run a group that has almost 25,000 members in it called the Man Up group. I highly recommend you join that. It’s in the Facebook. Go to Facebook.com, search for the Man Up: Masculinity for Intelligent Men group and join it.
And you’ll see occasionally we’ll get these questions of guys that are saying this long thing about a relationship with this girl, and at the end of the post, he lets out that he hasn’t actually gone on a single date with her yet. They just happened to be in the same class or maybe in the same cubicle area. And it’s just like oh damn, this guy is stalking her. And that’s what you see in the movie. He’s like stalking this girl, this woman, right?
That’s not a fantasy or a delusion. That’s actually what happened in the movie, right? So he’s stalking her from her dropping her daughter off at school, all the way through the train, to her work. So, he’s actually stalking her. And then he has these fantasies of being in a relationship with her and being like the man, the sexy guy with great lines, and comebacks, and being confident, and all this. But in real life, he can’t do that, right? So he’s just in his head.
If you are having these, this is not healthy and it’s not good. Get some therapeutic help. It’s not just dating coaching that you need at that point. If you’re having these fantasies, it won’t do you much good to get the right line, or thing to say, or get a fashion makeover or whatever, because the underlying problems and issues won’t be resolved.
This is actually, because I’ve seen so many of these cases, they’re still the minority but enough for me not to want to teach pick-up or give pick-up advice anymore. Because I don’t know who’s on the receiving end of that when it’s on the Internet or through a recorded course, and I’ve seen enough of those cases that I don’t want to arm these guys with these techniques that can be used either way.
So, the co-dependent narcissist, white knight narcissist, the one-down narcissist looks like he’s a helpless victim but you can’t tell yet until you get to know him better, whether he’s actually a good guy, whether he has good character, or the part of him that’s good is more dominant than these more shadow parts or whether he’s encountered his shadow parts, and is taming them, or whatever, or is helping — taming is probably the wrong word, but is helping them to heal and grow.
Okay, so that’s just the first point. I’m just going to keep rattling these off much quicker. Continually demeaning, bullying, and belittling others. Now, that is the one-up narcissist, and you won’t know whether the one-down narcissist would also do that unless you put them in the one-up position or on an equal footing. Would he then turn around and demean, bully, and belittle others? The answer for Arthur Fleck is yes. In fact, more than that, he will stab them to death with a pair of scissors. So, we know that one. So, check mark on that.
Exploiting others to achieve personal gain. Pretty obvious, yes. Lack of empathy for the negative impact they have on the feelings, wishes, and needs of other people. Yes. A lack of empathy. So, a lot of Arthur Fleck’s problems is that he might have average empathy level, it seems like, in the beginning the movie. I think most of the world would probably have, a lot of the modern world, especially on the fucking Internet, seems like it lacks a lot of empathy.
And I think the general public is a lot more messed up and needs a lot more help psychotherapeutically than any of them realize. It’s sort of like the guys who are like, “I expect to be able to date three women and find one of them to be the wife, the woman of my life, the woman that is going to make me so happy, and that I’ll spend the rest of my life with, and it would be perfect.” That’s what they expect and not realizing how rare it is to even be mature enough to succeed in a relationship in the modern world when you’re going to live to 80 years old and you have like infinite dates at the tip of your finger, or the potential for dates and porn at the tip of your fingers.
Anyway, it’s the same sort of thing. Lack of empathy, this is common. That doesn’t make it good, because it’s common it’s good, wrong. The thing is, we don’t know that he lacks empathy for others until we get to know him later in the movie. And then you need to step back and realize he’s just in his own — he’s just caring for himself. He’s just in this self-centered world. Woe is me. Woe is me. Why doesn’t anyone pay attention to me? Me, me, me? And all of these fantasies show you that it’s all these grandiose fantasies.
The next point is, or the next symptom of NPD: fixation on fantasies, of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, et cetera. Well, there you go. That was my main point here. The next: Self-perception of being unique, superior, and associated with high-status people and institutions. Well, in the movie, you see this beautiful fantasy of him in The Murray Show and standing up, being called out as, “You’re special, Arthur. I can see something really special about you.” Who is the bearer of this good news? It is the high status person Murray, the talk show host.
And then Murray brings him up on stage, hugs him, says, “I wish I had a son like you” or something along those lines. So, this is obvious NPD. Need for continual admiration from others. Now, you may not notice this because he’s getting bullied all the time. So, in the one-down, he’s harboring this need for continual admiration from others, you don’t detect it because he’s getting bullied, so he’s harboring the need to get plus on the Spectrum. He’s getting minus. So if you were to get him to up to zero, you’ll see how much more he craves. And you’ll see it towards the end of the movie. This is a big-time spoiler, but he gets in that car accident, they pull him out, he gets on top, and now his fantasy is finally fulfilled in real life.
There’s that stand-up comic fantasy where he’s got his arms out like an angel. And in his mind, everyone’s applauding huge. It was such a success. And his fantasy girlfriend is looking at him, admiring him from the audience and everything. Then you see it from the videotape in The Murray Show and it’s dead silence. So now, that means that his fantasy in his mind was of him putting his arms out like an angel or whatever, like a Christ figure, and having all of them give him this applause. When did it actually happen? At the end of the movie, the anarchists are applauding him, the protesters or whatever are applauding him because of what he stands for and all of that.
And finally, his fantasy is fulfilled in real life. That’s the one-down becoming the one-up and you see what happens as a result. Okay, now you realize the whole time, even though he was one-down so it was hard to detect because you feel sorry for him and all this, in reality, if you give him the weapons, you give him the tools, you put him up in that status, he will become the bully.
And then second to last one: A sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others. As you go on learning about the Joker, you see this obviously, the sense of entitlement to obedience from others. But also to special treatment, so all these fantasies are him being treated specially, being told he’s special, et cetera. This is classic NPD except it’s hidden because it’s harbored deep, because it’s one-down. You won’t see it until he becomes one-up.
But if you get good enough, you’ll start to see this because of the way these slips of the tongue, the way that they look at themselves in the mirror, whatever. Like in American Psycho while he’s having sex with the prostitutes and he’s just basically not looking at the women at all, he’s just looking at himself naked in the mirror doing it. That’s classic NPD. Now, the Joker doesn’t get even that opportunity to look at himself having sex, but he does look at himself a lot. He does have a lot of these fantasies of himself being special, not just play fantasies where he’s playing with GI Joe toys or whatever.
He’s actually having fantasies of himself getting the special treatment, he’s the star of the show and all of this. There’s innocuous versions of this. You’ve seen this in Ben Stiller’s movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which I thought was just not realistic from a psychological perspective. Because usually, somebody who has that many fantasies of grandiosity would also on the other side be probably harboring some kind of these bitterness, resentment, and this kind of narcissism to even have those fantasies, to have to escape to those fantasies instead of being more grounded and then trying to do something about the reality. But it can also be like that, like these innocent fantasies.
But far more often, these innocent fantasies where the person is the center, the special one, the unique one, et cetera, is simply a sign of the one-down narcissist, the white knight narcissist. Okay, finally, intense envy of others and the belief that others are equally envious of them. That’s a really important point. So obviously, intense envy of others, and you’ll see that blow up literally in other people’s faces. But then the belief that others are equally envious of them towards the end, you’ll see the point about where — and I’ll come back to this very briefly towards the end, where it’s about the Joker believing that others would be like him if they were given the same circumstances.
So, the Joker in The Dark Knight, where at the end, he has the two boats, try to blow themselves up or blow each other up. All that being, “I’m not that bad, Batman. Look, if you or anyone was in my situation, you’d be like this, too.” Part of that is the idea that he’s so powerful. And if you had lived his life, you would want to be this powerful, too. And maybe some of you watching this should question yourselves if you actually did identify very closely with the Joker figure to an extreme degree.
Now, the whole point of that film, I think part of it was, a big part of it was to get us to empathize and sympathize with the Joker figure. And to that extent, it was awesome. You really rooted for him when he beat up the bullies. You shouldn’t empathize with the bullies. There’s so many other… It seems like everyone in that movie was a bad person, almost everyone. It’s hard to find a redeeming person or character in that movie except maybe the little guy, the little person. Anyway, we’ll get to that but I wanted to point that out.
Co-dependent narcissism, I’ve made a few other videos on that. I’m currently writing out a fuller exposition of it. I don’t see it much in the research literature. I think people who are one-down narcissists are just pitied by their therapists instead of analyzed because they’re not given the tools. Now, I the coach gave them the tools. That’s why I know this unlike most therapists. Most therapists will just keep them on in therapy for years and years and make them feel better a little bit.
Like, “It’s not so bad, Johnny.” I’m like, “Here, say this, do this, we’ll give you a fashion makeover. Now, we’re going to work out. I’m going to turn you into, like, ultraman, like the good-looking dude, star of the club.” And then I see what happens. I see what they do with that power and that ability. And it’s one of the reasons I — pretty early on like around 2010, ’11, ’12, I became really disillusioned with that type of work. I was seeing those tools abused.
I got a lot better at spotting potential abusers of that material. And since that time, I guess it’s like seven, eight years, I’ve been developing this hypothesis that I think is now fully fleshed out of a co-dependent narcissism. I’ve seen other writers touch on this but not any full treatments. Anyway, throwing that out there and just seating this in the video here, white knight narcissist, co-dependent narcissist, one-down narcissist. Haven’t figured out the best term for it.
And at the extreme is the incel, he’s just so fed up with being one-down that he takes matters in his own hands in a very violent way. But you don’t have to go to the extreme of the incel to already see some of the more deleterious effects of being a co-dependent narcissist. So, the mother with the NPD, as far as that folder, the file that says the mother was diagnosed with narcissistic personality and passed it down to him through that abuse, through of course a very toxic mother-son relationship… It’s just so toxic. It’s just in your face, enmeshment parentification where the child is forced to be the parent very early on to take care of the mother’s feelings and all that stuff.
So much toxicity there, but even if your situation doesn’t closely approximate that, I’ve encountered a lot, almost all the co-dependent narcissists, I can’t think of an exception right now. All the co-dependent narcissists I’ve met have had toxic mother or toxic family situations, lots of enmeshment, lots of caretaking. So there’s a great book by Susan Forward called Toxic Parents.
I highly recommend any guy who’s struggling with women to go and get that book and read it and see if some of these original root issues are things that you can relate to in your childhood. Okay, and then you’ll see the fantasies go from the one-down to the one-up and how the fantasies work into this. In that scene after he kills those three guys on the train, he runs to a public bathroom, like the whole of that area of Gotham’s, runs to a public bathroom, locks the door. And then what does he do? He dances.
He dances in this dance that you see the same kind of dance throughout the movie, where he’s this triumphant, very powerful charismatic and kind of dandy way, a dandy seducer archetype, dancing in this triumphant way. Now, he’s in his element. Now, that shadow aspect of him has now come to become the dominant aspect to start to take over all of who Arthur Fleck is and it’s very interesting and beautiful depiction by Joaquin Phoenix there.
But that’s a fantasy of grandiosity, that in the dark of his private space he’s able to indulge in, but it’s becoming more and more to the fore. Okay, one-down to one-up. Of course, shortly after that, he goes home — well, he goes into the hallway, walks right into that woman’s apartment and makes out with her. That’s obviously all in his head though you may not know this the first time you watch it, which it shouldn’t make sense to you. But anyway, it shouldn’t be realistic to you. But you realize it’s a fantasy.
That’s part of his narcissistic ideal, his delusions of grandiosity, his fantasies of grandeur. So, the romantic fantasy, and then he of course is embodying his narcissistic sexual ideal. He is not yet that way. He’s only that way — that shadow aspect only comes out in private because there are still parts of him that are holding that back or he doesn’t have the courage to come out fully in public until further in the movie.
But that sexual ideal, that’s who his one-down narcissistic part of him wants to be all the time. And it’s the same when it comes to pick-up, guys who are one-down, the lovable nerd, if he could, he would be that player who could break hearts and manipulate people if he would. But in the back of his mind, he’s like, “I wouldn’t do that though. I wouldn’t do that.” How the fuck would you know? You can’t do that right now.
So until you equip him with the skills and power, then we’ll discover what he’s really made of, but he has to be tested. Anyway, we don’t get to see that, but I’ve seen enough the pattern of it. You see it in their fantasies. You see it in the way — you can see it also embodied in their eye contact, in the way that they leer at women, or how they stalk them, or how they talk about them, or the fantasies that come out when they describe their issues with women.
And you get this kind of creepy stalker vibe pretty early on. But anyway, so again, this is a minority of the people I’ve worked with, very small minority, less than 15%, but still enough for me not to enjoy that kind of work wondering, “Oh boy, when am I going to meet one?” Now, I’m finally equipped with some of the skills of therapeutic experience and training that I can help them. But at the time as a coach, the coach has to give them strategies, methods, techniques, tools, right? We weren’t taught as coaches how to get into the therapeutic material, the therapy, the unconscious.
That was another seven years later of my own life and training that I’m now able to do that, but it’s interesting, right? That you see this in the Joker. So in other words, these lovable nerds, I don’t know why I keep using that, but in case you identify with that, I don’t want you to get triggered — the lovable nerd, the lovable geek, the one-down nice guy, the rescuer, the fixer, whose ideal fantasy is to find some hot wild pixie girl and then rescue her from her horrible decision she’s making with those bad guys and that kind of thing.
And then you equip them with the skills to actually do that, become the one-up, you’ll see what’ll happen. It’s not good. It won’t be the Joker. He’s not going to run around with a gun, but it will be that way in terms of dating, mating, and sexuality. You also notice his grandiose fantasy on the date with a girl saying — I think that when he looks at the newspaper and he sees the Joker face, the clown face on the cover of the newspaper, and having killed the three guys in the train, she says, “You know, I think that guy, I think he was a hero. I think that what that guy did made him a hero.” And he’s like, “Yeah, right?”
Again, it’s a fantasy but it’s a fantasy that fulfills his narcissistic ideals. And the same with that stand-up act which was a delusion as well. Okay, now I just want to point out very briefly, this also is the fourth point: It also dovetails with the idealization and devaluation phase, which again, as a dating coach I’ve seen up close and personal, first-person perspective. So, you see this with his mother, idealizes her. You see it right at the beginning the movie, she is his angel and all that.
He takes care of her. She’s his rock and so on. You see that with Murray, idealization of Murray and that fantasy, his ideal father figure, his high-status father figure. The girl down the hall, his idealization of her as the perfect dating partner. His idealization of Thomas Wayne when he finds out Thomas Wayne is his dad. That’s a little bit more — I mean, anybody who would think, “Okay, this guy’s my dad” will probably get into some idealization, so I’ll bracket that one.
But definitely the mother, Murray, and the girl down the hall — I think her name is Sophie in the movie. And what’ll happen is once he gets some narcissistic injury, so these are the terms, right? These are all capital terms: Narcissistic Injury, Narcissistic Ideal. Okay. So capital N, capital I. Narcissistic Injury is when there’s some kind of injury, this could be an event, it’s an interpretation, something happens that makes him feel like he’s not that ideal.
And it’s right in his face, right? Boom, clearly, you’re a loser. You’re not this winner. You’re not cool. You’re not acceptable, whatever it is. The Narcissistic Injury. It feels a lot worse to a narcissist than to the average person who’s not a narcissist. To the average person it’s like, “That kind of sucks.” To the narcissist, it is the end of the world. And it deserves a response that is at that level. Like, “I’m going to take revenge. I will show you.”
Part of the energy there is, “How dare you make fun of me? I’m going to kill you.” It’s like, “You made fun of me. It’s not that I make fun of you back. It’s not that I ignore you definitely. It’s not that I’m gonna have a good comeback. It’s that I’m going to kill you.” That’s how scary it is. Notice that this idealization not devaluation. It’s not just he’s a bad guy. It’s not just he’s evil and wants to kill everyone. Notice he didn’t kill the little person when he stabs to death the big guy who comes to his home.
He’s like, “Man, you were one of the only ones who was nice to me.” And he just lets him out. Probably, that’s genuine. That makes sense. The NPD person, people who stroke his ego are fine, right? People who are good to him, he’ll be good to them. Notice that in the Bible, it says it’s easy to be good to people who are good to you. There’s no merit there, and that’s the same in all of moral philosophy. There’s no merit in being good to those that it’s easy to be good to.
Real goodness comes in when you don’t expect it or when it’s hard to be good. This is why a lot of people think of love, that they’re in love with somebody. But if they fuck you over, there’s no more love. Well, if they fuck you over, you take actions and steps to protect yourself. Yes, fine, right, and you should be doing that. I would recommend that you do that, you don’t have to, but I recommend it to you, but that doesn’t mean that your emotions of love don’t continue because that’s something you give.
You can still punish your child while loving him or her, right? Because it’s good for him or her to have some discipline in his life. Maybe they need to be grounded or whatever, or shown some limits or whatever it is. You can still love them. Now, in this case, the idealization and devaluation from the narcissist means that they put them on this pedestal, and it’s either they’re on the pedestal, the mother, Murray, the girl down the hall, or they are the height of evil.
Let me put it differently. They’re either on the pedestal like an angel or they’re down the pits like the devil and they deserved to be killed. And that kind of swinging from one to the other, I’ve seen that as a coach. The same guys who identify as co-dependent narcissists, the one-down narcissists who then take the tools and strategies that I give them, and flip them around, and manipulate women, and do some things that are regrettable, like lying and whatever, right?
And then callous relationships with these flings, one-night stands and all that, and hurting women, emotionally not physically so far, thank god. One of the reasons why I stopped teaching dating coaching is part of this, that I kept seeing co-dependent narcissists. And one of the marks of a co-dependent narcissist is also that he idealizes me. So, I’ll be on the receiving end of that. I can do no wrong. I am his God. I am his savior. He owes everything to me.
When I start to see this way over the top complementing and idealization of me, that’s another red flag, a big red flag. I start to already poke holes in myself. Like, “No, I know I got a lot of imperfections. Don’t put me on that fucking pedestal.” But then you’ll see as soon as they find one thing that they disagree with me on or — as a convenient excuse, or they use some kind of strategy and it didn’t work out, or it wasn’t as easy as they thought it would be, now they need a scapegoat for the pain that is in them that they can’t — instead of keeping it down, they want to project it out.
Well, then I’m an easy target and suddenly I’m devalued. And it can be quite nasty. So, this is another reason why when I watched this movie, I kind of got triggered because I was like, “Shit, this reminds me of some of the guys I coached way back in the day.” And yeah, it was like, okay. Then I had to temper my — Obviously, I’ve never seen anyone like the Joker. They weren’t violent, but that’s because the Joker’s issues, the physical abuse, physical bullying, it wasn’t around dating as much whereas these guys were more around be ignored socially and all that, and having a kind of mild Asperger’s around social interactions, and lacking empathy.
And these were all things that as a coach where I just give them, “Here, do this, do that. Don’t do this, don’t do that.” I did not yet have the tools and training to deal with the therapeutic issues involved. Okay, and then the second last point. Now, we move to the social real quick here. Arthur Fleck, was he as bad as the other people in the movie? Taking for example, we started with the bullies on the street, those little boys, those little fuckers. When we see that, we’re like, “Fuck, I want to take those guys by the collar and just strangle them.”
The good part of us, we want to stand the protector, the defender. We feel bad for Arthur Fleck right off the bat. Awesome in the movie that that happens, and already starts flipping things around. And then you see the bullies on the train, the rich boys who are actually going to, looks like going to sexually assault that woman. And it — oh man, this is one of those tropes, like a train station with nobody there and no monitoring or anything, and then you have a train with no one in it except bad guys and one innocent person who’s sitting by herself. It’s ridiculous.
But anyway, bullies on the train, you hate them too, right? So when he shoots them, you kind of feel like, “Yes!” because they were beating the shit out of him for no reason, right? And then they were going to probably rape a girl. So hey, you know, you feel for him. You’re like, yeah, you’re on his side for shooting those guys. And then you see that that mean mom on the bus, again, a much less severe of a case, you don’t want to beat her up or anything, but you’re like, “What a bitch.”
And you want him to get back at her, maybe a verbal thing. And then at work, the nasty people at work, the guy who set him up. And then when he stabbed him to death, it’s disgusting and gruesome. You’re like, “Oh, fuck. That’s way over the top.” But the part of you is like, “That guy wasn’t very good either.”
And then when you’re watching the little guy trying to get out of the room, you’re like, “No, come on man, don’t kill him. Come on, man.” And then he can’t reach the chain, and then Arthur Fleck comes out and scares him. And it’s part beautiful, and part of you is like, “Oh, shit. He’s going to kill him. And he doesn’t, like, “Oh, that’s so good.” It’s such a relief, but you notice that all the people that Arthur Fleck killed for the first part of his killing spree were people that you didn’t like, that weren’t any better. So the question is, who’s worse?
The bullies on the train? The bullies on the street? The bully at work, even the mean mom on the bus, or Arthur Fleck in that case in that situation right there before he becomes the Joker and gives into the shadow? And I think that’s part of the worry. And then you take Thomas Wayne and a really nice depiction — I always wondered, why is Gotham such a mess?
If there are so many of these good guys, you know Gordon, you know Bruce Wayne’s dad, if Bruce Wayne’s dad was so influential, why didn’t he do anything? And you see this theme of materialism, and this kind of cocky arrogance, and you’ll see it in the Dark Knight as well. But you see it very well played out here. Thomas Wayne is kind of a jerk, kind of a douchebag, self-entitled kind of guy and removed from the every man.
And he talks about the three boys in the train. Like, they’re decent, educated. And as I was writing some quick notes on this, I wrote a lot of points on the education thing, but I’m not going to dive into it too much because it’s probably a little bit too close to home, but the education thing is such bullshit. The connection between education and goodness, as of course, those who have the higher education think that entitles them to some other kind of moral value, that they are therefore better morally than those who do not have the education. Total bullshit.
You look at world history, those who are the perpetrators of evil like the Nazis in Germany, or Germany around the wartime, in the 30s, and 40s, and the 20s, those universities were like the height of learning at that time. By the way, all the psychoanalysis, the Jungian and Freud, they are all hanging out in that area. They all had to flee. Any sane person would try to flee that area during the Nazi rise.
But the universities were the center of learning in the western world. And what did that lead to? Education and goodness? Hmm… Education and power, yes. Education and influence, yes. Education and skills you can parlay into money, yes, absolutely. Education that you can make things with, yeah, absolutely. You can make weapons that blow people up. You can make good things. Of course. Education helps you do stuff, but does it lead to moral goodness? No, of course not.
And the universities nowadays, they’re a hotbed of toxic victimization, this toxic PC culture, this toxic cancel culture, the toxic struggle sessions. I’m so glad I got out of the universities when I did. But as an interesting little mini theme in the movie, this divide between the way that they showed Arthur Fleck could barely write and could barely spell, like the way he wrote his handwriting. It looked like it was a third grader’s. And this is a common theme, the education, the elite, the have-nots and haves, the big divide. So, education is a big part of that and I think that’s actually a really accurate depiction of the fact that education doesn’t entitle you to any kind of moral privilege or moral superiority.
And then finally, sub point from point five, the idea that he kept repeating these quotes. “No one really saw me. It was as if I never existed.” So, he’s here now talking to his therapist in the second session. And then he says something like, “I do exist and people are starting to notice.” And this is after he killed those three guys in the train. And so, this is the same theme you’ll see in American Psycho with Christian Bale.
In fact, one of the deep themes in that movie, is that no one sees anyone else. They just see titles like vice president. They just see their status in society. They don’t actually see the individual. So, you see this over and over in American Psycho, people mistaking identities, even right to the end. They can’t even tell Christian Bale’s character is Patrick Bateman. They think he’s somebody else.
And it’s the same here. It’s part of the whole criticism of society, that, “No one really saw me as if I never existed. I do exist. People are starting to notice.” That’s what’s going to happen in a society that dehumanizes people and sees them only as their worth to society as a cog in the machine, or their status, or their education level, or whatever it is, thinking that that matters. None of those things matter. None of the materialism actually matters for human happiness. People were happy way back like a hundred thousand years ago or ten thousand years ago in a straw hut. They found happiness, and they found love, and they found a way to have a happy life, a fulfilling life, even if it were short. Maybe it was a little brutish, but they were able to find that.
Having these comforts, I wouldn’t give them away. I definitely enjoy the comforts of modern life, but knowing that that helps, these conditions help, but they’re not what create the happiness. Arthur Fleck could have been happy even given the physical — like how much money he was making, you know. It was the people that made his life miserable. It was the people and their attitudes towards him. That’s what made his life miserable.
It’s the psychology that makes it miserable, that it’s the individuals where the change has to happen, not in the societal level per se. Because if you make people richer, that’s not going to matter that much. If you arm them, that’s not going to matter. That actually might make it worse. But if you actually show them, if you heal them, help them with their psychology to find love, and fulfillment, and joy, so that they can learn in themselves how to meet their own needs for love, how to meet their own needs for connection, how to meet their own needs for security and significance, then you won’t have any of these maladaptive blow-ups in this chaos, then it will all take care of itself.
Then the materialistic stuff will also take care of itself. Anyway, good luck for that happening. I’m not optimistic about any of that happening, but that’s the level at which that change would have to occur in order for that outcome that they’re striving for to happen. Well, going back to the controversy, left and right, right? The idea that if you watch this, you’re going to go out and do it. I think there’s been enough responses back and forth on that particular issue.
I’ll just say that I understand both sides. I understand that if you do watch this movie, I watched it twice. The first time, it was very entertaining but it was just that, just entertainment. I watched it a second time thinking I’ll do a podcast on it. So, I was taking some notes and paying more attention, and I stayed through the whole movie and got there on time and everything. It started to affect me a lot more.
I predict that if I were to watch this on loop, like I would just play it on my TV 24/7 for 7 days straight and then I would watch it intensely every day at least once, a two-hour movie every day, but it’s playing in the background including the audio, that would really fuck me up. Like before you go out to a workout, you might watch a motivational video, like that really pumps you up and it will give you that adrenaline because it’s happening in your brain. Your brain is sending signals to your body.
Before you give a speech, maybe you’ll watch an inspirational speech. Or if you’re a pickup guy, we used to watch inspirational movies, “Yeah, I’m Tom Cruise.” or “Yeah, I’m Ryan Gosling there.” Like that Vince Vaughn there, whatever it is. And that gets you into the character better. You can model it better when you see it. Will you suddenly become that character you see for a 2-hour movie?
Especially when you reject it… So, this is the point of the right. If you lean into it, then that just simply means that that was there in you all along and this was simply a vehicle that lets you go there to the shadow. But it was there all along. You would have found a way to do that anyway. But this is just a convenient excuse or scapegoat for you acting out like that. That would have been there all along.
The movie didn’t make you that way. You were that way. The movie was just a convenient trigger to cause that. Now, would it happen in a two-hour movie? I believe no. The triggers are way too weak. Also, if you reject it, like you’re watching it like, “I don’t like this Joker guy, but oh, I feel for him. Oh, I wish this didn’t happen to him. But ooh, he killed that guy.” You don’t like it, then there’s absolutely zero chance that you’re going to go out and copycat that.
But are those who are like right in the margins, if they were exposed to it enough times, what if you were brainwashed to do it? Yeah. So I see it on both sides. In fact, for people on the right that says, “No, the movie will have no effect on me whatsoever.” Then why the fuck are you watching it? The whole point of it is to have an emotional effect on you. Not that you’ll go out and do it, but if it had an emotional effect on you, then that means that we can make you watch it over and over and over, and something will happen in you, and you’ll naturally start to emulate — maybe even some of the lines, you’ll learn the lines by memory, and some of these lines, you might be saying to yourself, “No one really saw me. It’s as if I never existed. Well, now they’re going to notice. Now, they’re going to notice. Oh my god, why did I say that?” There’s a part of you that’s responded to that now.
But like I said, for the average person, it’s going to take a lot of exposure for that to happen so I wouldn’t worry about that. In fact, the upside is that it provokes all of this discussion and reflection. That’s really good. Finally, the final point is the Joker always believed that others would be like him if they were given the same circumstances. So, this is the point about the external.
How much does the external environment create who you are? Classic arguments in philosophy and psychology. You’ll see this played out in The Dark Knight Joker where he has them, the two boats, trying to blow each other up, proving that they won’t do it and then he’s defeated. He’s deflated and then defeated. But that’s part of the MO of the Joker, thinking that, “Well, this isn’t so bad because he’s blaming — he actually takes on that left-wing agenda, or the radical left, of blaming others for his problems. He’s the victim here. What do you get when you mix a mentally unstable person with a society that doesn’t care?” And then he shoots him, right?
“Hey, I’m excusing away my issues. It’s your fault because you didn’t treat me right. So when you get the co-dependent narcissism together with the right, with enough pressure from the outside, you’re going to get this thing blowing up in your face. Either he’s going to commit suicide or he’s going to kill somebody else.
That’s if the stimuli is physical abuse. The sexual version of that which is generally is a lot less disastrous, it just means that he hooks up a bunch of times and maybe lies to a few girls or maybe several girls. But I’ve never seen that lead to any kind of sexual physical abuse or any kind of rape as far as I know. But it’s just more of like, “I’m just going to abuse my skills here to manipulate.” So, that’s going to be a lot more relatable for you guys watching this.
I’m going to end off with two points of hope here. The mother was diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. Now, it’s very common knowledge that in the literature on abuse, those who are our abusers, the majority of them were abused. So, if you’re watching this on video, what I’m doing is I’m showing that out of all those who were abusers, most of them were abused.
But there’s a point that Jordan Peterson made to me, is that the majority of those who are abused actually did not become abusers. You don’t have to have this like fatalistic view that, “Oh, if that person has been abused, they must abuse.” That’s not the case. It just happens to be that those who do abuse were abused. But out of all those who were abused, a good percentage of them chose not to. So if you’ve been abused, sexual abuse, physical abuse, if you’ve been abused, you know that there’s that point where you can say, “I will not do this to anyone else and I will actually take extra efforts to defend anyone else who is suffering from this.”
And that’s a choice that you can make that’s actually available to you as an option. You don’t have to give in to the darkness. You don’t have to let your shadow take over. Okay, so a really great way of putting this is a change of perspective. You can say, “Look, all this bad stuff happened to me. I’m going to do that on somebody else or I’m going to project this out to the world. I’m going to inflict this pain out in the world because it was done to me.”
Or you can switch your perspective up. “What good could come from this?” And there’s a great Tony Robbins quote. He likes to say this in Date with Destiny. “What if life was happening for you, not to you?” Changing that perspective. “Okay, this bad shit happened. I can either become a victim and victimize myself on this and make that part of my core identity now, and then therefore feel sorry for myself, blame others for it and not take any responsibility for building up from there, and then having that eat me up from the inside and making that the story of my life. Or I can say that this is something that can be turned around for good.”
What is that good? It may be very difficult to find that good. But would that have been a better perspective for Joker to have taken rather than, “I’m going to blow everybody up.” Obviously, the answer is yes. Okay, so thanks so much for watching or listening to this podcast. It went a lot longer than I anticipated. So much deep stuff to dig your teeth into in the Joker and the whole Batman. The whole thing, Joker, Batman, really great.
When I did my schema therapy training, the instructor brought us — even the Lego Batman has a really great illustration of flipping between modes, when a client flips between modes, and it was really humorous and instructive. But Batman and Joker, that whole thing, super deep psychologically. I highly recommend diving into that. I might do one on Batman, who knows? There’s a new Batman movie coming out. We’ll see how that goes. So, hopefully you have watched the Joker. I was about to say go watch it, but hopefully, if you watched the Joker, I’ve not ruined it for you. And let me know what you think of this podcast. We’re going to be doing more editing of it so it’ll be a little tighter, and we’re back.
Hey, it’s David again. Before you go, a couple last things. First, all the show notes and links to resources can be found at DavidTianPhD.com/dtphdpodcast, or you can just go to DavidTianPhD.com and find it through the top navigation menu.
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