Chapter 1

Demoralisation: To believe you have no right to call others out on their wrongdoings (or to utter any moral opinion at all), because you yourself have done things that were wrong. One of the weapons most frequently used in any kind of argument where peoples´ self-worth is at stake.

The problem with this weapon is that it is not purely evil. Making people reconsider their own ability to conform to moral standards can stop them from being punitive, unforgiving and judgemental towards others. But where is the line between that and opening the floodgates for legitimizing all kinds of reprehensible actions?

Given that this is a subject of plenty of movies, I can hardly be alone with my own struggle against demoralization. In movies, however, the evil the demoralized person is faced with quite conveniently is so massive that it is possible to feel entitled to fight it despite being not a laudable person oneself. Also, the quiet voice in his head that tells him otherwise will be personified through The Villain, whom the demoralized person “mustn´t let win” (this is typically a line said by the supportive friend, colleague or lover). Giving in to demoralization and depressing thoughts becomes a moral evil itself, which is why the protagonist is justified in feeling good about himself again. In fact, he is very much supposed to, because otherwise evil will prevail.

There are attempts at interpreting real life that way, too. The easiest example is the way some abuse survivors see themselves getting well as “the best possible revenge”. Not everybody has a bona fide villain in their life, though. Other than themselves, I mean. The lack of an evil, sadistic genius who is responsible for all those problems and complications can be the most demoralizing thing of all.

Not that this isn´t just another typical narrative. The paranoid, vengeful guy who believes everyone is after him, only to realize sometime late in the movie that he is merely trying to run from taking responsibility for the tragedies that happened in his life. Can we maybe go beyond this hackneyed plot twist, though, and ask ourselves how on earth we are supposed to know which of those two anti-heros we are?

The ultimate answer pop-culture has for that is the phrase “but deep inside we know”. Unfortunately I suck at that, so it´s of no great help to me. Also, I find it highly illogical to ask someone to “just look into their hearts” when we are living in a world which accepts that emotions can actually prevent us from looking at stuff realistically. This concept is rather popular, so apparently it hits a nerve with quite a lot of people, but for me it is useless.

Chapter 2

I always feel the presence of a villain hovering above me, giving me reasons why it is not okay to be who I am. I know that he cannot be real and that he must therefore fulfill some psychological purpose for me, and I guess this purpose is that my need to fight him is the only thing that can justify remaining the person I am. Having to prove a point against a superior force idealizes my being me and turns it into something worthwhile, which it might not, in fact, be.

What would become of me if you took the belief in that villain away? It wouldn´t make sense to me anymore who I am. I would see nothing glamourous or romantic in it. I´d probably be ashamed of the deluded defiance that made me be proud of staying me for so long. My self-image would be turned on its head. Instead of automatically assuming future greatness, I would have to come to the conclusion that I am a mess. Someone who should be glad if he will at some point manage the daily challenges of staying sane.

Another classical narrative. At worst labeled “inspiring”. I guess I should be prepared to answer to why I believe I have the right to devaluate so many peoples´positive emotions. The expected answer, of course, is not an actual rationale based on persuasive arguments, but an explanation what horrible emotional screwed-up-ness makes me do such a horrible, screwed-up thing, along with the admission that I probably need to change. Since I made the mistake of being clever, no one is going to believe me that I honestly don´t know, so we´d better come up with something; something really incriminating.

Chapter 3

My rational mind, that which carries my original sense of normalcy, tells me that there is a way out of this and that it is okay to be who I am. I don´t think, though, it refers with these statements to all my states of mind and all the things I´ve done. It very stubbornly seems to ignore some of these, particularly those which make me feel very afraid of myself.

My treacherous heart, on the other hand, is full of them; and inside of it lurks the insidious notion that not only am I a terrible person, in order to ever stop getting into situations which will lead to anxiety, guilt and fear of exposure, I need to break with my personality structure and accept that what I become after that will not be under my control.


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