A star has fallen..!

The allegations of sexual misconduct against Kevin Spacey have shocked us all. Is this really happening? How could a beloved actor perform such terrible acts? Are those acts coming from a normal person of there is something lurking in the depth of their minds? Nasif Tanjim tries to find answers.

 
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You have just finished a fantastic movie. You turn to your friend, whose mouth is slightly open. And ask him how does the actor do it? Such an effortless performance, it’s like he is not even acting. And then you find out that the actor was in fact not acting he was just being himself. That’s exactly what happened in the case of defamed actor Kevin Spacey. His portrayal of Lester Burnham, a stalker who fantasises about his daughter’s teenage friend won him an academy award for best actor. Even his acceptance speech is being considered as an attempt at justifying his actions.

This comes as a shock to many of us, as he was widely admired for his acting chops and was idolised by many. The whole affair came to light when Star Trek’s Antony Rapp accused Spacey of trying to seduce him when he (Rapp) was just 14 years old. More people have come forward with their own experiences since then.

Kevin Spacey responded to Rapp’s accusations through a tweeted statement. Spacey claims not to recall the incident with Rapp, and in an apology of sorts, he claims even if the accusation was true it was only ‘inappropriate drunken behaviour’. He went on to saying that the story has encouraged him to ‘address other things’ about his life, speaking openly for the first time about his homosexuality and choice to now live ‘as a gay man’.

This is seen by many as a ploy at misdirection. Manipulative and predatory behaviour like such can be described as sociopathic tendencies.

So, what turned Kevin Spacey to the person he is today? Let’s begin, shall we? Two important words from the psychological nomenclature are empathy and apathy. Empathy can be described as understanding of the feelings, or emotional state of another person. Apathy, on the other hand is lack of concern for others. The most extreme stage of apathy is described as sociopathy.

Another co-related psychological disorder is Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It is a personality disorder in which there is a long-term pattern of abnormal behaviour characterised by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of understanding of others’ feelings.

Both of these can be classified as antisocial personality disorders.

A word for the wise, do not use the basic definitions provided here to label people as sociopaths. The clinical antisocial personality disorder and a little apathy is not the same. Just because someone takes a few selfies too many doesn’t necessarily mean that person has narcissistic personality disorder.

According to his elder brother Randall Fowler, Kevin Spacey had a troubled upbringing. Their father, Thomas Geoffrey Fowler was a member of the USA nazi party. He was an anti-semite and reportedly abused his children. Randall claims his father raped and molested him for years and his mother knew about it but did nothing. Their eldest sister ran away from home to escape the abuse. Different people deal with traumatic situations in different ways. Kevin Spacey in order to cope with their abusive father and indifferent or apathetic mother became sly and closed up, according to his brother. ‘Kevin tried to avoid what was going on by wrapping himself in an emotional bubble’ claims Randall.

The family would be forced to sit through dinnertime rants as Fowler lectured them on white supremacy, claimed that the Holocaust was a lie, that Jews ran banks and Hollywood, and that something called ‘biocrud’ would destroy the planet.

Spacey was so determined to try to avoid the emotional and physical abuse that he tried very hard to suppress his natural emotional response to the abuse until he did permanent damage to himself.

The sociopathic makes up approximately 3 to 5 per cent of the general population. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about three out of 100 males and one in 100 females are sociopaths. Approximately 70 per cent of sociopaths come from fatherless homes and 30 per cent are born out of wedlock. So, a troubled childhood is one of the most common factors among sociopaths.

A significant percentage of world’s leaders, leading entertainers, entrepreneurs, CEOs are sociopaths. People holding those traits generally are charming, manipulative and good at faking emotions. So, most of them are extremely successful.

Anyone can be a sociopath. There are many living among us. They are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, bosses, friends, your best friend’s seemingly charming girlfriend, one might be dictating the future of a country at this very moment and even celebrities like Kevin Spacey. Those of you still living in denial, wake up; any of those faces beaming at you from TV can be a sociopath, capable of unspeakable acts.

The Kevin Spacey affair has started a storm in a tea cup. This discussion has raised a very important question, has celebrity worship gone way too far? Human beings are drawn to celebrities and famous people in ways they are not even aware. Within the lives of the celebrated lie the hopes and dreams of the rest of us. This adoration gifts them massive influence. This culture of celebrity worshipping is turning out to be a dangerous one; as people like Spacey use this influence to shield their heinous acts. People are afraid to come forward due to the fear of the devoted fans of the celebrity lashing out. They try brushing off such allegations by labeling them as defamatory accusations. The media culture of glorifying sociopaths through portraying important fictional characters with sociopathic tendencies is not helping the conversation either.

Sociopaths can not be cured but they can be stopped from turning into one in the first place. Studies state that children who have happy childhoods are significantly less prone to be affected by antisocial disorders. Spacey’s story though tragic, is not new; start a conversation, raise your voice, prevent such stories from repeating themselves.

 

Nasif Tanjim is a student of University of Dhaka.

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