Westworld Psychology: Violent Delights

 

“We are not determined by our experiences, but are self-determined by the meaning we give to them.”

Alfred Adler

What makes people violent? Are they simply born that way or does the world around them make them that way? The novel Westworld Psychology: Violent Delights explores this matter through it’s namesake and the HBO series, “Westworld.”

Arnold Weber (played Jeffery Wright) and Robert Ford (played by Anthony Hopkins) who are the founder and creator of Westworld

The story of  Westworld takes place in the distant future, where people (guests) can partake in the old western frontier of a theme park called “Westworld” and embark on the adventures and locals within it. These “locals” are hosts or rather androids that help guests further experience the realm that is Westworld. Guests take on roles based on the loops or stories the hosts are to play. Some of the roles guests take upon are good and some are malevolent. Though unknowingly to guests even the programmers of the park, slowly hosts are gaining consciousness of themselves including the roles that they are forced to play among the guests and they are not happy.

“Westworld Psychology” uses the stories and characters of the television show, even the topics that the show ambiguously discusses such as gender inequality, social roles, tragic losses to understand why people would take on violent acts. The most notable characters that the book brings up are William, a guest of Westworld, who later becomes the “Man-in-Black”, and the hosts, Dolores Abernathy and Maeve Millay in order to better understand why and how even the best of people can slip into violent intentions.

Logan Delos (played by Ben Barnes) who is William’s brother-in-law

The one prominent details that I remember reading in the book is the infamous, Stanford Prison Experiment. I remember hearing about this when I took a Psychology 101 class back in college. In this experiment, young healthy men were randomly selected to either act as a “prisoner” or “guards” in a fake prison. The problem with this is that both peoples became quickly subdued in their roles. The “prisoners” began to complain about the dehumanizing conditions and treatments that the “guards” were subjecting them to—“guards” who would have never in their everyday lives behave in deplorable manners—reprehensible conditions. Interestingly enough this phenomenon was labeled—named by the same conductor of the experiment, social psychologist, Philip Zimbardo—the Lucifer Effect. Named after the angel Lucifer, who later betrayed God who once was holy and beautiful creature who then led a life of evil, the Lucifer effect shows how “good” people can do “bad” things “due to their situational circumstances” (pg 52).

William (played by Jimmi Simpson)

William’s older self as The Man In Black (played by Ed Harris)

The perilous terrain of Westworld definitely tests hosts and guests alike, such as it did William, Dolores, and Maeve. The mild-mannered William who at first upon setting foot upon the theme park was appalled by the atrocities guests did toward the hosts, now 30 years later became the “Man-In-Black”, committing the same dehumanizing actions toward the hosts all in order to feel “alive” especially after the loss of his fiance. The hedonistic behaviors of his brother-in-law and other guests eventually influenced him as well as the many years of attending the park. The thing was outside of Westworld, he was a “wealthy humanitarian, a philanthropist, a generous benefactor who saves people’s lives through his work.” He achieves this duel life through a mental trick compartmentalization. The term in itself means that person can separate their self and history into separate psychological “chambers that prevent interpretation or cross talk”. However, because William’s nice guy/bad guy behavior is determined by whether he is inside or outside Westworld and the situation he faces, this kind of behavior is another form of compartmentalization, called doubling. Man…talk about being two-faced.

Dolores Abernathy (played by Evan Rachel Wood)

Then you have the hosts Dolores, whose loop—story–was to play a sweet rancher’s daughter, and Maeve, who who played the brazened madam of Sweetwater, who freed themselves of their “programming”to play these feminine roles in order to take on the role of self-efficacy (when a person believes they can change their behavior, motivation, and outcomes). They use aggression, independence, self-focus and leadership skills, which is frowned upon women, in order to get their freedom. For Dolores she used direct aggression and violence to sometimes protect others, but really herself. For Maeve, she would sacrifice others to save herself and find her daughter, who was in her last loop.  I don’t blame them of this change, especially all the violence they have faced simply for just being women.

Maeve Millay (Played by Thandie Newton)

To be honest, I’ve never watched the “Westworld” series because well..I don’t have an HBO subscription. I only read  Westworld Philosophy, because I enjoy reading the Psychgeek book series. And you know what? I still enjoyed reading the book, just because of Dr. Travis Langley and his co-authors constant ability to diverge philosophy and the science of psychology with pop culture. Like I mentioned earlier, I was reading topics about philosophy and psychology I haven’t heard of since college. Even if you haven’t attended college, it will make you feel like a college student. But…it doesn’t hurt either to have watched a 3-minute snippet summary of the HBO series on You Tube to better understand the philosophy and psychology being used in Westworld Psychology novel.

In conclusion, this book challenges the black or white fallacy that only bad people can do bad things. That really when under the “right” influences and circumstances, we can be capable of doing unspeakable things. Does this mean that underneath it all we are ALL bad people? Of course not. But definitely it is a reminder to remember that only we as individuals–not just our genes or programming or even our surroundings—ultimately decide the type of roles and people we want to play in our own lives.

“Westworld Psychology: Violent Delights” is available wherever books are sold and at these fine retailers:

Other posts on Psychgeek Books and Dr. Travis Langley:

Daredevil Psychology: The Devil You Know

Dr. Travis Langley: Creator of the Psychgeek Series

Daredevil Psychology: The Devil You Know

Source: ScreenGeek

Dr. Travis Langley who wrote the well renown book of his Pop Culture Psychology series, “ Batman and Psychology: A Dark and  Stormy Knight” has released his 9th book from the series, “Daredevil Psychology: The Devil You Know”. “Daredevil Psychology” is comprised of writings from psychologists and other specialists of behavioral/cognitive health (including Dr. Langley himself) and they incorporate their knowledge to better understand the world of the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. One of the co-writers who you might recognize in the book is Dr. Janina Scarlet of Superhero Therapy. The book use various sources of Daredevil—film, like the one featuring Ben Affleck, comics and the recent TV series on Netflix—to have a better view of the “patient”.

[Charlie Cox in Netflix’s Daredevil from 2015-2018]

 

 

[Ben Affleck in 2003 Daredevil film]

The book is divided into 5 sections or topics that each go into subtopics or chapters that explain what makes Daredevil tick through his physical and mental abilities as well as interpersonal relationships.  For example the “Details” section has three chapters based on sensory skills. What makes this book a little bit more interesting than the “Batman Psychology”, is that we get to see how Daredevil/Matt Murdock how he “sees” through his souped-up senses that affect his psyche.

Daredevil #186 Source: Berkeley Place

“When [Matt] is struck with a second dose of radiation in adulthood, his senses are further amplified to dysfunctional extremes. […] Matt contracts, in essence, a rare but real condition called hyperacusis, which is an abnormally strong reaction in auditory pathways when someone is exposed to moderate-level sound. His symptoms become so severe that he sequesters himself in a sensory deprivation chamber. He pleads to Stick, the man who long ago taught him to master his abilities, to let him stay in the chamber indefinitely to escape the pain brought by his senses gone amok.”

Pgs 116-117

Daredevil #188 (1982); Source: Not A Hoax, Not A Dream!

Another beautiful thing the book does is that it explains the mental techniques used in Daredevil and show how it would look like in the real world. Continuing from page 117, the book goes on explaining how Matt over comes this hyperacusis:

Stick is known for his tough-love approach to mentoring. Accordingly, he taunts Matt and orders him to leave the tank. Interestingly, Stick is following a real-life protocol for treating hyperacusis. Those with the condition actually need rich sound environments. They need to abandon any ear protection (muffs, plugs, etc.) because it causes an increase in the sensitivity of the auditory system as a result of decreased input.”

Pg 117

 

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John Patrick Hayden as Jack “Battlin'” Murdock on Netflix’s Daredevil

The book also explains how relationships, both past and present, have (like anyone else) shaped his character as both the lawyer and the daredeviled vigilante:

Jack is inconsistent in the ways he relates to his son, sometimes forcing him to play the role of partner, at other times a confidant or friend, and at others, a child or son. Particularly in the parent/child dynamic, diffuse boundaries can have damaging consequences. As an adult, Matt struggles with his history of diffuse boundaries and conflicting roles, unintentionally re-creating them in his new relationships with family members of choice. This is perhaps most evident in his relationship with Foggy Nelson, whom he treats as best friend, partner, kid brother, and taskmaster. Eventually Foggy finds these chaotic roles unsustainable and therefore leaves Matt, sometimes as law partner and sometimes as a friend.

Pgs 66-68

Lastly, “Daredevil Psychology” is also an interactive book, which uses examples to better understand the Red vigilante. For instance, through the use of a genogram, to show a graphic example of how Matt and his relationships affect one other through its role, rules and boundaries.  This helped to better explain the discussion in chapter 6 titled, “Nelson & Murdock: It’s All In The Family.”

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“Daredevil Psychology” is a wonderful book that treats its readers like its esteemed colleagues. Informative and insightful as well as entertaining it brings light into the dark world of Daredevil. It is not a book to be missed!

You Can Find it in:

Sterling Publishing

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Or wherever books are sold

 

 

Dr. Travis Langley: Creator of the Psychgeek Books Series

I’m SOOO excited! I got to be featured on a website! This was due because I wrote a little post about one of the books I’ve read: “Batman and Psychology”. (see “Psychgeek Books Series” post). My comment was featured on Dr. Travis Langley’s page, as shown below:

So who IS Dr. Travis Langley? Dr. Travis Langley is the editor and lead writer for the Popular Culture Psychology series from Sterling Publishing.

Since the release of his first acclaimed book, “Batman & Psychology: A Dark & Story Night”, he has launched a number of books that have used the world of pop culture to shed light and insight in the world of psychology. Now, he is the editor of the book series, where he along with other psychologists and other professionals of mental/behavioral health put their expertise in the various books (as well as their love of pop culture):

  • The Walking Dead Psychology: Psych of the Living Dead
  • Star Wars Psychology: Dark Side of the Mind
  • Captain America vs. Iron Man: Freedom, Security, Psychology
  • Game of Thrones Psychology: The Mind is Dark and Full of Terrors
  • Doctor Who Psychology: A Madman with a Box
  • Star Trek Psychology: The Mental Frontier
  • Supernatural Psychology: Roads Less Traveled
  • Wonder Woman Psychology: Lassoing the Truth
  • Supernatural Psychology: Roads Less Traveled

And as of recently, “Daredevil Psychology: The Devil You Know” and  “Westworld Psychology: Violent Delights”.

Dr. Langley received his B.A. in psychology from Hendrix College and his MS and Ph.D in psychology from Tulane University. In addition to being editor of the distinguished book series he teaches on crime, social behavior, mental illness and media.

If you would like to know more about Dr. Langley, click on the following webpages below:

Dr. Travis Langley (Facebook)

Popular Culture Psychology Series- PsychGeek (Facebook)

Travis Langley

Travis Langley (Amazon)

@superherologist

and buy his books too anywhere books are sold

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