“The healthy man does not torture others – generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers.” – Carl Jung
In the Batman movie, The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger portrayed the ultimate rebel-without-a-cause. His character, the Joker, is an eerie reminder of what can happen to a boy whose childhood provides a maximum of abuse and no one to get even with. By the end of the film there was no way of knowing if the Joker was joking about a drunkard father carving a permanent smile into his face or if the story about the scars being self inflicted was what actually happened. Judging from the scoundrel’s need to lash out, it didn’t seem to matter who hurt him, his rage was so maddening that the only target big enough was everyone.
The Joker is a comic book character but history offers two larger-than-life examples of angry little boys who suffered from severe dopamine deprivation and grew into hateful dopamine addicts. Paul Joseph Goebbels and Karl Christian Rove both grappled with childhood hostilities that demanded revenge. Whether or not Joseph or Karl had any insight into their madness, they too were more than willing to let innocent bystanders pay for the sins of their tormentors.
Goebbels was short and frail with a deformed leg and club foot that resulted in a pronounced limp and a lifetime of derision. Even his Nazi uniform mocked the wannabee macho man by making him look like Barney Fife from the TV show Andy of Mayberry. Rove’s deformity might not have been as obvious but a traumatic childhood carved a sociopath’s smile into his chipmunk cheeks. Was it the father who deserted him at birth? The stepfather who turned out to be gay and then walked away? The mother who took her own life? Did the little girl who gave 9 year old Karl a thrashing leave him with more than a bloody nose? What about a face that still makes him look like the boy most likely to get bullied and least likely to get the girl? Whatever the reason(s), Karl limped over to the dark side where unethical tricksters are hailed with outstretched arms.
We’ll never know how much damage has been wrought by the countless kids who got their egos kicked and went on to seethe in silence. We do know about the calamities caused by two mental cripples whose misfortunes turned them into experts at manipulating the damaged psyches of other troubled souls. Goebbels compensated for his inadequacies through writing. Rove became a master debater. One can only imagine the two reprobates licking their lips, Joker style, when they realized that dirty tricks and right-wing politics added up to a license to kill.
As fate would have it, the two real-life jokers had more in common than inadequacies and resentments; they were homophobes of the “what’s-wrong-with-this-picture” variety. Lost and longing for male approval and possibly more, both were swept away by the swagger of macho pretenders. In helping the objects of their affections steal and solidify political power the smitten sycophants paved the low road for unspeakable crimes and deceptions. Step by step the nerds helped their unrequited love interests undermine democracies, manufacture evidence to justify invading sovereign nations, orchestrate illegal torture, punish opponents, kill countless innocents, destroy economies, and trash the reputations of once proud countries.
Despite the incalculable price the planet paid for their misery, the lost boys invariably failed to find acceptance among the “real men” who used and mocked them. Rove’s co-conspirators (jokers don’t have friends) distanced themselves by saddling him with the nickname Turd Blossom. The gangsters who exploited Goebbels’ dubious talents borrowed a fitting name from a German fairy tale – Malicious Dwarf.
Jokers and criminals conspire because they serve one another’s base interests and because healthy human beings are repulsed by miscreants. Sane people strive for ideals that bring out the best in others. Diseased dopamine addicts prefer to manipulate other sufferers’ pettiness, fears, and vindictiveness so they can build their weak egos up by tearing victims down. The Malicious Dwarf didn’t give a damn about naziism and Turd Blossom only cares about conservative beliefs he can pervert in order to win acceptance from lawbreakers who pat him on the head with one hand while holding their noses with the other.
It’s frightening to realize that the fate of our species keeps landing in the hands of tortured misfits who prove what psychologists and comic books have been telling us for decades. There is no substitute for parental love, and there aren’t enough shrinks to undo the crippling damage that trauma and bullies inflict on fragile egos. It’s no wonder why loving homes produce healthy men and woman, while dysfunctional childhoods breed destructive dopamine addicts. Until the world learns how to identify, expose, and defuse the tens of millions of young victims there will never be a shortage of obsessed victimizers ready, willing, and able to perpetuate the most vicious of cycles, the way the Malicious Dwarf did and Turd Blossom continues to do.
What do you think?
Is there any hope that Karl Rove will awake from his dopamine-induced psychosis and try to make amends for all the damage he’s caused?
Will our species ever reach a point where the likes of Rove, Goebbels, and similar miscreants are exposed and treated instead of permitted to pretend they are human beings?