In this episode, Robert continues to explore the lessons from select TV shows to look beyond the entertainment and use their stories to depict unconscious areas of our life worthy of examination with potential great benefit. All of the shows that Robert and Dave present can support us to break free from what we were taught growing up and encourage us to have individual contemplation with new insight. This individual contemplation is crucial. We cannot afford to be carbon copies of prior generations because we are facing a very imperiled world in the 21st century. Many of us learn much better through the arts than we do from words alone. Join us as Robert and Dave unpack the hit series, Dexter and use it as a tool for self-reflection and awakening.
At first glance, Dexter appears to be just another violent show. However, as we are let into his inner thoughts and introduced to his alter ego, he turns out to be a very relatable and sympathetic character. We too are not perfectly innocent, and like Dexter have a dark side and an angry side. Most of us spend large amounts of energy managing how we are viewed by others. Being able to witness layers of ourselves, like Dexter observes his killer instinct, is a huge act of self-awareness. Where are you two or more people where you haven’t admitted it yet? Dexter gives us the chance to witness his dark passenger without a negative attitude about it. This cultivated compassion in practice could play out when seeing a homeless person on the street and instead of being annoyed or assume they are unmotivated, perhaps a new curiosity about their story can occur. Before this show, Robert, like many of you, couldn’t imagine rooting for a serial killer. It disorients us in order to push our capacity to think for ourselves beyond our conditioned ideas of morality. The series Dexter turns morality on its head and allows the possibility of falling in love with the unlovable, to relook at people in the world with greater compassion, and maybe just maybe fall in a deeper like with the unlovable parts of ourselves.
Mentioned in this episode
The Global Bridge Foundation
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The Missing Conversation, Episode 71.
Robert Strock (00:03):
Dexter was a gift to the world because it turned morality on its head and it allowed us the possibility of falling in love with the unlovable. And also, maybe just maybe, to fall in a deeper like with the unlovable parts of ourselves.
In this podcast, we will propose critical new strategies to address world issues, including homelessness, immigration, amongst several others, and making a connection to how our individual psychology contributes and can help transform the dangers that we face. We will break from traditional thinking, as we look at our challenges from a freer and more independent point of view, your host Robert Strock has had 45 years of experience as a psychotherapist, author, and humanitarian, and has developed a unique approach to communication, contemplation, and inquiry born from working on his own challenges.
Robert Strock (01:01):
I wanna welcome you again to The Missing Conversation where we address the most pressing issues that the world is facing today, and where we look for the most practical, inspiring programs, innovative ideas, and people to support our very survival on the planet. And as I mentioned in the last episode, I wanna key into the word “survival” because we hear that word a lot. But because of our denial of death in our Western culture, we don’t really let it in. Very, very few of us are profoundly seeing this as requiring or our response, requiring our involvement. So as we talk about survival on our planet, please identify and ask yourself, how much am I letting this in? How much am I letting in survival, imperiled planet, our children, our grandchildren, our friends, children, and grandchildren? The danger that we’re all in? And today, we’re going to continue to explore the lessons that very select TV series have given us, and look beyond just the great entertainment to really isolate those lessons and see if we can’t use this art to really learn.
Cuz many of us learn so much better through the arts than we do through words. Now granted, you’re hearing this through words, but I’m hoping it will lead to you going back and reflecting on Dexter. Now, Dexter has several themes that are screaming out that are very, very difficult to stomach, especially at first. And it appears to be just a very violent show. And of course it is a very violent show. But underneath the violence, we’re hearing an alter ego voice that is so important to hear. We’re hearing a message of compassion that is shown to us that we’ll illuminate as we delve further into it. All of the shows that we’re presenting can support us to break free, and especially this one, because this one is the most radically horrific and disgusting revolting. I almost turned it off in the first half of the year cuz I couldn’t understand how someone could be so cruel. And these shows can help us break free from what we’re taught when we were growing up and really encourage us to have individual contemplation. This individual contemplation is crucial for us because we can’t afford to just be carbon copies of our prior generations because they weren’t facing the 21st century like we are and an imperiled world. So before we delve further into Dexter, I’d like to introduce Dave, my dearest friend for over 50 years and my partner at The Global Bridge Foundation.
Thank you. I think what you said in this introduction to Dexter is important to just constantly keep in mind, which is the messages and wisdom that can be imparted in the context of something that’s abhorrent, that’s completely unacceptable, completely just off the charts, but underneath it all has a message.
Robert Strock (05:00):
And because it’s so underneath it all, I’m actually, unlike the other shows, I’m gonna give a more depth understanding of the show because, without it, it won’t make sense. So Dexter was someone that we didn’t find out until the middle of the first season that when he was two years old, his mother was chainsawed and we saw the blood coming down the steps and him screaming as a two-year-old. Literally, it might have been the definition, where the definition came from bloody murder. And it was just so heart-wrenching. And from the perspective of understanding the first half of the season, it started to make, everything make sense as to how this could have happened. And what happened was he was rescued by a policeman and the policeman adopted him while he was on the scene seeing him screaming. And his stepfather saw early in his life that he was a killer and that he was so traumatized from this incident, and he realized that he was gonna kill people.
So he taught Dexter that, I know we’re not gonna be able to stop you from being a killer, and that was disturbing to Dexter. But because of that, I’m gonna teach you my skills as a policeman that you can only kill killers that you have firsthand for sure evidence of. And that’s the first rule. You have to only kill killers that are gonna kill other people. So there was this incredible morality that was taught where he was going to join and did join a police force in the blood lab analyzing the blood. And therefore he was exposed to killers all the time. And he did his own due diligence as his father taught him to see killers that were gonna kill bunches of other people, and he therefore only killed killers. So you see this absolutely morally reprehensible—and I don’t have enough words—person who is saving lives by killing.
So you’re set with, if I only saw the surface of this person, of course I would want him jailed, of course I would want him killed, I have no empathy for him, he’s a complete—he’s a Hitler. And then you start to realize when you see flashbacks to more of the scenes of his horror, and you hear in his self-dialogs how he realizes that he feels nothing, that he’s dead inside, he has to act normal. And he is actually very human in the sense that he’s admitting what his real self is and how he doesn’t have any normal impulses, hardly. He has a few but almost none. And he’s pretending and performing all of the time. And you feel for him because you realize he can see himself, he’s honest with himself. He is only killing killers. So you start to fall in love with him, you start to like him, you start to root for him.
And his sister was also exposed to it. And so was his brother and they became co-heroes as well and villains. And so you started to develop a compassion for something just like if you saw a homeless person in the street, you see a homeless person and you say, oh, they probably deserve it, they’re not motivated, they’re a pain in the ass. They’re coming up to me in my car, I wish they’d leave me alone. You’re not looking for what their story was. You’re not wondering whether they were completely, had no family, they were thrown out in the streets. You’re not even thinking about that. And so it leads you to possibly develop compassion for the homeless, for people that are in complete poverty, that was laid down to them and makes you rethink all your moral judgments.
The word that’s popping up in my mind a variety of backgrounds is vigilante. And especially in old westerns and in that part of the time in our country when it was sparse to have law enforcement. And so people took it upon themselves to enforce or avenge and it felt honorable in many of the movies. And I think that that is the kind of honor I’m hearing here is a vigilante honor that somebody can do this job and protect other people and eliminate a piece of scum truly, even though they’re doing it in the same way the scum does it.
Robert Strock (10:03):
That’s a really good analogy. And I think what makes Dexter even in a way, even better, is the due diligence he does to investigate like a whole crime department would to make sure that this person is not only a killer but is gonna kill again. And he roadmaps seeing and finding their place where he finds the evidence of who they’re planning on killing and really invades their scene, so a vigilante, they might have a reputation, but he has a firsthand responsibility to turn in his homework to his teacher and get an A on the assignment or a judge. Yes, you have proven your case.
And he is the judge, he is the jury, he is the executioner. He has to become and has become smarter than the very people that—I don’t even know the word— punishing retribution, prevention of future harm. He’s gotta become smarter.
Robert Strock (11:12):
He eviscerates them, that would be the word. And so I would ask you, as I was mentioning, the tendency that we all have to have judgments. Somebody has body odor, some somebody’s homeless, somebody is psychotic. How much do you, and I’m asking you a very, very individual question, how much are you subject to that? And maybe even look at how much are you subject to that when you’re in a bad mood. Now I’m not in the mood for a homeless person to come up to me today and just to see how important this theme is to double-check our morality and how rigid our moralities can be, how much they can be taught by someone who doesn’t understand that there’s been many generations that have gone on before this person that we’re judging or the society that we’re judging. Before I watch this show, I couldn’t imagine myself rooting for a serial killer.
So not only does this series disorient me, and most likely your brain, if you’ve seen it with feeling sympathetic to a serial killer, but it’s also an ongoing commentary on our society. It also brings in a tremendous humor, which is very likable. His silent voice is really funny when he compares himself to normal people and his evolution as to what happens to him as a person and what he goes through. What this really reveals that’s subtle and maybe too subtle for the average observer to see it, is that all of us have two major sides. And for most of us it’s two major sides and maybe three or four or five. I have a close friend of mine who talks about his 35 personalities. So when we see that we have a dark side, an angry side, an evil side, a cheating side, we have that side.
And if we covered it all over with moralism, that’s a lot of what this show’s about. No, we too are not perfectly innocent. We care about our image. One of the persons in one of my groups used to talk about it in Hollywood and it was talking about in the middle of a stream of thought and he said, well, of course I had to do my normal image management. I laughed and I go, whoa, whoa, whoa, what do you mean by image management? And he said, well, everybody I’m with, I’m managing my image. Well guess what? Dexter was having to manage his image all the time and he was showing that to us, giving us a chance, giving you a chance to see how you manage your image. That led to me looking at where do I manage my image the most: professional therapist, humanitarian. How wonderful am I, and how many times in a conversation do I need to be noticed?
And in a way that is more than just the average. And so being able to witness that, just like he witnessed his killer instinct, how much he idolized, how much he looked forward to it, and how much he was proud of his moral fiber because he only killed killers. So as I’m saying this to you now, I’m asking you take a look. Were you able to actually not only, well first love him, like him because he only killed killers. How much of you was able to get beyond your own moral standard, which is what I believe all of our life work is because we were taught moral standards by people who were also almost always neurotic. Be successful, go to the best school, get good grades, be polite, be pretty, stay young forever, be sexy. And how much have we thought for ourselves underneath our moral standards?
How much have we thought for ourselves, how much we were two people or more? One that we were not proud of, that we buried and we kept, what I used to call the unconscious, but I now call for some people the private awareness of our own solitude, the seller of our own mind. I remember when I was growing up, I played golf with my brother and he was on the golf course. If you know what putting is, he was putting and I was saying, oh, come on, don’t go in, don’t go in. I was rooting against him. Now how much did I go public with that? This might be the most public I’ve ever gone with that. Now the shame, the shame that we carry for our moral standards that is also private. Dexter brought the worst of us outwardly that could possibly happen where we’re a killer, a joyous killer.
Somebody that has an appetite like I’m hungry as hell, I’ve gotta get my kill for today. And the theme being: What are my moral standards? What is my other side? And do I have a chance to look at it? Hopefully, you are taking the chance right now not to judge Dexter, not to judge me, not to judge whether I missed a line or I’m too extreme here, or you agree with this or you don’t agree with that. But look at the central theme of where are you two people, where you haven’t admitted it yet. Where is your private awareness? Where is your negativity? Where are you dangerous? Where are you not so nice to your wife or your husband? Where are you addicted to your wealth? Where are you addicted to your drive? And you try to interpret it as noble? Where do you make your charitable contribution that’s irrelevant to your net worth?
Or where do you judge poor people or for poor people, people that are really struggling? If you are someone that’s spending your whole life judging rich people and not spending your time taking care of your family, where do you have your dark side? We all have a dark side and Dexter gives us the chance to really see our dark sides, to not have a negative attitude toward our dark sides, to face them as our challenging sub-personalities or our challenging emotions, and be able to see that maybe our morality is killing us. How many clients have I seen through the years that were killing themselves emotionally cuz they weren’t married yet, cuz they weren’t able to have kids, cuz they didn’t look young anymore, that are still living in those outdated moralities. How much do we need to think for ourselves and set up our own guidelines as to the same way to live?
How many of us know that we’re still driven in a certain way that doesn’t serve our life, is not a good model for our kids? What’s the thing that we most want to confess to our partner, our loved ones, or our families? And the words are not maybe “the most want to confess,” but most would be healthy to confess, to allow us to be more at peace with ourselves. Dexter was a gift to the world because it turned morality on its head and it allowed us the possibility of falling in love with the unlovable. And also, maybe just maybe, to fall in a deeper like with the unlovable parts of ourselves. Enough to where we can dialogue with it, enough to where we could really open it up into our world and either have it be more open and less deadly, less harmful, or actually work on it, actually dialogue with it in a way with our intention to heal and to use the starting with our own private challenging emotions that are put in the cellar of our private awareness and brought into the intention to heal. And then bring us to those charts, those Introspective Guides where we can look for the needs, the qualities, the thoughts, and the actions that are most important. And whether that’s embracing these feelings, first without killing ourselves with judgment, or whether it’s really working on it or whether it’s both at the same time. So my deepest wish is that you can see Dexter as a gift to you and an invitation toward accepting the unacceptable and a re-looking at people in the world and not judging others by first glance. Thank you so much.
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