Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dexter's Unseen Wounds

Dexter is a series on Showtime about a forensic blood spatter analyst who is also a serial killer. Dexter's foster father, a police officer, recognized Dexter's murderous tendencies when he was a young boy, and trained him to feed his need to kill by preying on only those people who fall into a certain category of evil. Dexter experienced trauma as a boy when his mother was brutally murdered  in front of him and he was left in a pool of her blood for two days. This is, supposedly, the reason that he is a sociopath and a murderer.

We have recently been reading the book entitled Hurt People Hurt People by Sandra D. Wilson, Ph.D. In her book, Dr.Wilson explains the effects of childhood trauma and upbringing on adult behaviors, attitudes, and worldviews. Dr.Wilson states that all people have "unseen wounds" inflicted upon them by their parents, relatives, friends, etc. that vary in degree depending on the type and severity of harm that they experienced as children. As children, people learn to cope with their wounds, and discover how best to function in society and in their homes in accordance with their perspectives on life. Dr.Wilson states that, if a child is raised in a healthy, high-functioning home, he will have healthy coping methods and healthy perspectives on life. However, if a child is raised in an abusive and unhealthy home, his coping mechanisms and worldview will develop in an unhealthy manner. As per the title of the book, individuals who experienced pain and abuse as children will inflict pain and abuse on others.

Dexter is an extreme example of the child that Dr.Wilson is describing. He experienced extreme trauma at a very young age. Through his unfortunate circumstances, he learned to cope with the pain by causing harm to and, ultimately, killing others. Furthermore, Dexter's foster father taught him that killing was a perfectly fine way of coping with his pain, as long as Dexter was killing the right people. Dexter's foster father reinforced Dexter's negative and harmful worldviews and actions, thereby playing an enormous part in the adult that Dexter became. Had his father reacted differently to Dexter's early indicators of psychopathy, Dexter may have learned healthy methods of coping, and may have come to terms with what had happened to him and lived a well-adjusted and moderately happy life.

Dexter's foster father believed that Dexter would turn out to be a killer and a sociopath no matter what, so he may as well train him to be a good one. However, I believe that no child is doomed to a certain fate based on his experiences, and his father only created a self-fulfilling prophecy through his actions. To say that a man is doomed to be evil no matter what is to say that he has no soul and there is no God. This is, sadly, the view that many people in today's society have. Too many people believe that they are doomed to the problems their parents had, such as alcoholism or abusive relationships. In addition, they believe they are doomed to be victims forever because they once were victims. However, as Dr. Wilson points out, this is far from the truth. She states that Psalm 139: 23-24 exemplifies the fact that, although people have wicked in them, they are capable of change because the Lord knows every man's heart and who they truly are on the inside. In addition, the Lord offers redemption to every single person. It does not state, anywhere in the Bible, that there are a few people in the world that He created to be evil and without a savior.

Psalm 139: 23-24 (NLT)
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything to me that offends you, and lead me along the path to everlasting life.

1 comment:

  1. I was just wondering how you deal with Romans 9:14-25 (specifically verse 22) where it clearly says that God created some people for destruction.

    However, I think that you are generally correct that people are not doomed to a certain life based off their traumatic childhood experiences. Like Wilson said, people are still responsible for their actions and their healing. Encouraging murder in anyone is irresponsible, especially as a parent. You mentioned that some people believe they are doomed to make the same mistakes as their parents. Is the foster father in this series a killer himself? The child in this series could have benefited from trauma counseling after going through such a terrible experience.


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