I DID IT!
I did it!
I actually got through a speaking and listening exam and (touch wood. Touch a lot of wood. Touch an entire fucking forest.) did okay. The person I spoke to said I did, at least. I’m hoping that wasn’t a pity, she’s-probably-going-to-kill-herself-or-me-if-I-tell-her-how-badly-she-did congratulations, anyway. The topic of my speech may have scared her off me.
Well, that or the fact I spent a good five minutes laughing before I could talk (I can’t speak to people under pressure. I’m terrible; I’ll dissolve in laughter.) and calmed myself down by repeating puppies die.
And then I kind of defended Hitler.
And said that pretty much 1/4 of us (and I said us – so let’s guess who the 1 in 4 is) is a psychopath that could turn violent and go on a killing spree.
Looking back on it, I can see where she may have got the wrong idea from.
But I digress. (Nope, I’d confess, I’d confess, In a room where I’m blessed
Oh my God, you did not just do that.)
Anyways, let me share with you my Speech, as it were.
The Psychology Of Monsters
Today, I’m going to talk to you about the psychology of monsters.
But first – what is a monster? By definition, a monster is: a thing of extraordinary or daunting size. However, when we think of a monster, we think of something much different. We think of something scary and violent; something terrible and cruel. By the Oxford Dictionary definition, a monster is something inhumane.
This is something I want to expand on. As humans, we want to cast out our failures, our rejects, the ones that went wrong. We want to emancipate these failed experiments, these products of a dysfunctional society, these people that bring shame to our race. We no longer want to class them as humans, accept that they are one of us, that a human being has that capacity, the capability to commit these atrocious acts.
But let’s look at an example. Hitler. So, when we think of Hitler, what comes to mind? All we think of is a heartless monster. All we think of is genocide and war and the 11 million victims slaughtered. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t think of that.
But let’s look at what we don’t think of – the fact he was a vegetarian because he didn’t believe in the mistreatment of animals, the fact he liked children, the fact he wanted to become an artist before he wanted to be a fighter. Let’s look at the fact one of the most monumentally controversial pictures of him is not one of him with his victims – it’s one of him with a child. Let’s look at the fact that the concern was not for her well-being, but for the fact that Hitler was a human too.
That a man capable of such violent acts, of such monstrosities, started out wanting to be a priest. That he could do so much good – be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, lead the first anti-smoking campaign – whilst simultaneously collecting Jewish artefacts to commemorate the race he wanted to destroy. We don’t want to accept that humans can be good and bad, can be capable of this kind of monstrosity. We want to label these people and cast them away, condemn them for their sins and reject them from our race.
We want to forget that these people exist, that this possibility remains even slightly. It makes us feel better to categorise these people as something, something other, something alien, some anomaly that was defect from birth. However, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the fact that people can be a product of their environment. We want to disregard nature vs nurture and choose the answer that fits us best, to accept that nature makes mistakes and move on.
We want to forget, to cast these people off as monsters, but what we forget is that we create them. The psychology of these people is something we shape. The fact a child – a child who by all accounts was peaceful, who had aspirations for art, for God, to make a positive change – was allowed to be exposed to such horror and suffering that he ultimately created it is something we control.
1 in 4 of us is a psychopath. 1 in 4 of us has the potential for violence, for destruction, for brutality. You know the difference between a psychopath and someone who’s just high on the psychopathic scale? Treatment. That is the link. Take two children. These children aren’t picked at random; they have one thing in common. They’re both on the same level of the psychopathic scale (this isn’t in the speech, but there is such thing as the psychopathic scale – and a lot of people rate highly on it. Including myself, actually) . Come back 10 years later. One child is a manager of a bank. And one is a serial killer. Studies show the key, the activation, is treatment. Between the ages of 1-3 especially, any kind of abuse, any exposure to destructive influence, is a strong cause for violent behaviour later on.
This is not nature, these are not a breed of monsters. This is our race, our influence, our creation. The monsters are real, the monsters are scary, the monsters are dangerous. The monsters are also us.
But what’s funny to think is that, a hundred years ago, if a priest had acted like more a monster and not saved a 4 year old Hitler from drowning, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Okay, so it’s not perfect – far from it. (The repetition hurts me. Although, one of the marks is for range of tone and pace, so when it’s spoken it sounds about a hundred times better.) But, bearing in mind it was done in lunchtime and half an hour of maths, I think I did a pretty good job. (Yeah, you thought you procrastinated a lot – the day before my GCSE speaking exam that I didn’t even have a topic for I got high for the first time. I’m a smart duck. Really, I am.)
Big shoutout to Sophie for helping me out all lunchtime. I love you. So much. I can’t repay you in food becuase I’m broke, but the knowledge that your Pirates of the Caribbean medallion has been ordered ready for Christmas should be good enough.
Anyway, thank you guys for listening. Ish.