Joker: Narcissistic Abuse in Society & the Family

Someone commented on one of my YouTube videos a couple weeks ago recommending that I see the movie Joker and talk about narcissistic abuse. I finally saw it last weekend and I agree there’s a lot of ways this theme shows up in the film. 
Now first of all, I know some people get really upset about hearing details of a movie or series they haven’t seen yet, so I need to make a spoiler alert: If you’re planning on seeing the movie, you might not want to listen to this yet because I’m going to super spoil what happens in Joker so I can actually talk about it in depth. 
I also want to make the disclaimer that these are entirely my own speculations and interpretations about the movie. I don’t know what the director, Todd Phillips, intended. I’m not speaking for him, I’m just commenting on what I see through my own lens of perception.  
In this episode I’m going to comment on the movie, Joker in respect to the effects of narcissistic abuse in 3 main areas: Arthur (Joker's) Character: The Making of a Sociopath, then The Family and Arthur’s Relationship with His Mother, and finally, Society: The Power Structure & Self-Responsibility.
Are you looking for a licensed therapist to help you in your recovery? As you probably know, I no longer offer one-on-one coaching sessions so I want to recommend BetterHelp, an online portal of licensed therapists providing affordable therapy to you from the comforts and privacy of your home. You can talk with your therapist via video sessions, phone, chat and online messaging. BetterHelp is available worldwide and you can get matched with a therapist within 24h. When you visit you’ll get 10% off your first month. You’ll find the direct link in the show notes. That link will take you to their intake questionnaire where you’ll answer some questions about what you want to work on. Be sure to check the box for abuse and trauma so they can match you with a therapist who specializes in that area. If at any point you want to switch therapists, you can also do that at no additional charge. 
Arthur’s Character: The Making of a Sociopath
Joker’s real name in the movie is Arthur Fleck, which is interesting when you think about a fleck of dust and a fleck or spot on something. A little fleck can seem as insignificant as Arthur felt in the world, but when you get a fleck of dirt in your eye, it can cause a lot of disturbance, which his character certainly did create in society. 
We meet Arthur, maybe in his 40s, as an aspiring comedian working as a clown doing gigs around the city. From the very first scene of the movie, we see Arthur trying to make himself smile in the mirror as a tear falls down from one eye. Throughout the movie, Arthur’s clown eye makeup is often crying from one side. It’s just so sad to watch him. He wants to be funny and make people laugh, he wants to be loved, but he’s so devastated inside that he struggles to find himself, to connect with others and to reach his life dreams. 
In the background we are hearing radio segments and watching flashes of city scenes, where we can notice that the fabric of society in Gotham is collapsing. 
In an early scene, Arthur is dressed in his clown outfit spinning a sign for a store advertisement when some teenager bullies steal his sign and beat him up after he chases them down to get it back. After the beating, Arthur just lays there in the alley defeated. 
Arthur later says to his social worker, “is it me or is it getting crazier out there?” His inner turmoil is clearly a reflection of his society. We also find out that Arthur is on 7 pharmaceutical drugs. 7 drugs! 
In another scene Arthur is taking the bus home when a toddler in the seat in front of him started paying attention to him. Arthur began making funny faces to make the kid laugh and they were having a nice moment of human connection. Suddenly, the mother freaked out and told him to stop bothering her kid. It was so shocking that Arthur started laughing uncontrollably and the mother got offended. He handed her a laminated card that he carries around with him to explain to people that he has a neurological condition or mental illness that makes him laugh uncontrollably at inappropriate times. In that scene we start to really understand Arthur’s struggle for acceptance and inclusion in a world that seems always against him.    
Arthur goes home to where he lives with his mother in a very run down, poor apartment building. His mother tells him (presumably all his life) that he’s here to bring joy and laughter to the world. He believes that this is his purpose because his entire sense of self is defined through his relationship with his mother, the only semblance of connection in his life. We see them living in poverty but the true home environment toxicity begins to unveil itself as the scenes go on. More on that in the second segment of this episode.  
Arthur watches a late-night comedy show with his mother and we discover that he adores the host. Arthur is fantasizing about the host noticing him in the audience and praising him for being a good son, sacrificing so much to take care of his mother. It’s quite sad to see him living for this self-sacrificing recognition. 
Arthur is hallucinating and/or fantasizing about a lot of things. He’s imagining things that aren’t real, like the relationship with his beautiful neighbor that only exists in his mind. His mother is completely detached from reality and is fixated on a rescue fantasy. She believes that a man running for mayor, Thomas Wayne, is going to save her from her life. Later after discovering a letter that his mother wrote to that aspiring politician, Arthur discovers that his mother believes that Wayne is his father and that one day he will save them both. 
Rescue fantasies are dangerous because they only lead to more lack and scarcity through disempowerment. Victims often have these fantasies and that’s what creates the perfect hook for a psychopath or other abuser to step in masquerading as the hero. Now his mother isn’t just a victim, more on that later. But that’s the reality that Arthur grew up in and currently lives in. He doesn’t see a way out because it’s all he ever knew. 
One night in the subway after a chain of disappointments, Arthur sees 3 Wall Street suit types who we later find out work for Wayne Enterprises. They start messing with a woman on the train. Arthur diverts their attention away from her to him. Then the guys start picking on him and beating him up as the woman escapes. This time though, he doesn’t just take the beating. He kills all 3 of them with a gun that one of his coworkers had given him. 
After he kills the 3 guys, he runs out of the subway and locks himself in a public restroom. I thought he was going to curl up in fetal position and become despondent or have a panic attack, but instead, he starts to dance. In that scene, we see how he starts to step into the dark side and express who he really is. 
Arthur tells his social worker after killing those guys but without admitting what he did, “It was like no one ever saw me. I didn’t know if I even really existed before. But now people are starting to notice.” The social services lady isn’t really listening to him, probably because she has a lot of problems on her mind to deal with in her own life. She tells him that funding for the public services are about to be cut. Arthur is dismayed that the system is abandoning him. She says, "They don’t give a shit about people like you and me.” 
After Arthur finds out that he can no longer receive treatment or access to medication, he has to stop taking the 7 drugs they had him on. That’s also when he becomes increasingly more violent. In a later scene he says he’s starting to feel much better now that he’s not on the drugs. He’s starting to feel himself for the first time in his life. 
At first Arthur kills people in an effort to fight back but he brings a gun to a fist fight, a fight scene that I believe was more symbolic than true to something that would happen in real life. More on that in the society segment of this episode. 
I don’t believe that Arthur's mental illness drove him to violence, and I don’t believe the trauma drove him to violence either, even though it certainly haunted him unconsciously. I also don’t believe that his environment made him violent. Mental illness, trauma, and toxic environments affect us for sure, but these do not guarantee that a person will become violent, even though some do. I believe his turn to the dark side was due to his choices.
Every time Arthur killed someone, he contacted a false sense of power, which felt much better to him than the disempowerment he felt all his life. He didn’t know how to empower himself in a healthy way. He revealed that he didn’t feel all that bad about what he did. Every time he took another life, he purged another part of his conscience and pushed away his humanity. He learned growing up that men who are violent have power because his mother’s boyfriend abused him. He doesn’t seem to consciously remember those events because he is surprised when he later discovers this in his mother’s medical records. However, surely those traumatic experiences were imprinted in his subconscious. Violence was the archetype of men that he had in his life due to the poor choices of his mother, exposing him to that abuse. We will also later look at the subtle psychological violence coming directly from his mother. 
Arthur, after opening a letter that his mother wrote to Thomas Wayne, finds out that Wayne is his father, so he goes to the Wayne mansion. He wants to see Thomas Wayne and tell him that he’s Penny’s son. He finds young Batman and plays clown with him between the bars of the estate's gate until the Wayne bodyguard shows up. It’s interesting that young Bruce Wayne didn’t run away when he saw Arthur. Instead, he interacted with him, perhaps revealing the loneliness that young Bruce already lived while his parents were still alive. When Arthur introduced himself as Penny’s son, the bodyguard’s reaction seemed to reveal that he knew at least something about what happened. “You’re her son?!” He asked. Then he quickly switched tracks and said that Arthur and his mom were both crazy. Arthur ran away after nearly choking him to death. 
Arthur later confronts Thomas Wayne after sneaking into a theatre restroom. There we see his rescue fantasy when we find out that what he most wants is a hug from his father. Instead he gets a punch to the face. Wayne denies the story and tells Arthur that his mother is crazy and she made it all up while working at his company 30 years ago so he had her committed to a psychiatric hospital.  
While his mother is currently in the hospital due to a stroke that she had when the police went to talk to her about her son and the subway murders, Arthur goes to another hospital to get her old medical records. He ends up stealing them by force after he saw the reaction of the file clerk upon opening the file. In there he discovers the truth about the abuse he went through as a kid and he also finds adoption papers. Now he believes that he was adopted and everything he knew about his identity was a lie. He decides to go kill his mother by smothering her with a pillow, perhaps symbolic of her engulfing, smothering presence in his life and the false support that she gave him. 
From Arthur’s perspective, it seems his only resort was violence. He had nothing left and he felt utterly abandoned by family and society. He wasn’t wrong about the abandonment and it wasn’t fair what happened to him. But he made bad choices. He needed a positive mentor, someone to teach him how to function in the world, how to make better choices, how to dream about creating a different life for himself. Unfortunately he lived with a delusional, low-functioning narcissistic mother who couldn’t teach him those things and instead filled his head with crazy talk. 
After he kills his mother, Arthur crawls into the refrigerator at home. Perhaps that was symbolic of him entering the chrysalis, where he went to fully transform into who he really is. When he comes out, he’s officially reborn as Joker. 
Arthur then gets a call to go on Murray's late night TV comedy show where he asks the host to call him “Joker.” Joker was the name Murray called him on TV to make fun of him. Arthur was still desperately seeking his identity from a parental figure. That humiliation was a familiar pattern from home for Arthur. Perhaps he interpreted the humiliation as love and home. He learned that men were violent at home so his right of passage into adulthood came through violence. 
The host, Murray, humiliates him again on live TV. Joker discovers that he only brought him on the show to humiliate him, just like he had done a couple weeks prior when he televised an embarrassing video of Arthur attempting stand up comedy at a club. Joker tells Murray that society abandoned him. He says, "People are awful, just awful, and they make you crazy. No one is civil any more.” That’s partly true but the original abandonment in his life was his own parents, a much more difficult truth to face. Everything else that he experienced afterward was the repetition compulsion of a traumatic childhood, the mirror of his earlier life experiences and wounds that were still unconscious to him. Joker kills the TV host point blank for humiliating him, projecting onto Murray the sins of the violent and abandoning father figures in his life.
Later Joker gets rescued from a police car by one of the clown vigilante rioters but he’s still unconscious when they gently pull him out of the car. He comes back to life just as Thomas Wayne and his wife are killed by the person who rescued Joker. As he stands up on the hood of the police car, the people in the streets are celebrating him. He takes his stance as a leader of the burning city as he uses his finger to spread the blood from his mouth into a Joker smile.  
You can see by the end how Joker enjoys the chaos he is manufacturing, even though it was unintentional at first. He killed those 3 Wall Street types in the subway because he wanted to stand up to the bullies in his life. It wasn’t about starting a movement for him, he was just seeking a redemption of his personal power. The movement in the streets developed as his rage and violence became contagious. Our actions often have unintended consequences. 
Joker’s origin story is the rite of passage of a sociopath. He was alone in the world. He had nothing. He had no one left. He was still badly traumatized from childhood. Then he created his own sense of belonging in the world, accidentally, where people suddenly knew he existed. He saw his clown face on the media. He became visible through taking the lives of other people. He found his first sense of community and connection through violence.   
There’s an element of victim to Joker’s character in this movie. But in this case, the victim becomes the aggressor. His rage consumes him and turns into violence. A psychopath who kills other psychopaths is still a psychopath. Though he may be more of a sociopath in this case. We see this same theme in many Hollywood characters like Joker, Dexter, Arya Stark. These characters are not to be celebrated as heroes. Hollywood will make them likeable and these characters pull on our strings of empathy because of the traumas they’ve been through, but they are serial murderers.
Joker's character reveals how easily you can unconsciously let bitterness, resentment and the injustice of this world turn you into the monster who hurt you all the while justifying it as simply fighting back or seeking revenge. Violence in response to violence only begets more violence. Speaking of resentment and bitterness, let’s dive into where that originated, Arthur’s family and his relationship with his mother. 
The Family & Arthur’s Relationship with his Mother
Arthur’s relationship with his mother is super, mega toxic however very subtle and easily missed by people who haven’t experienced psychological violence at home. There is enmeshment and emotional incest. You can see the reversed roles of the son as the parent and the parent as the child as he prepares his mother's dinner and brings it to her on a TV tray to her bed. He even cuts her food for her. Then he lays next to her and they watch his favorite TV show together while he fantasizes about getting recognition from the host who he admires. 
At the beginning of the movie you see the mother-son relationship present day. He lives with her and takes care of her. She’s sick. She seems a bit crazy. She’s having delusions that Thomas Wayne, a super rich man running for mayor, will save the city. She also believes he’s going to save her and her son from living like they are. She’s obsessed with Wayne actually. She watches Wayne on TV saying, "I’m gonna lift them out of poverty. I’m their only hope.” He seems to have a narcissistic psychopath savior complex. He’s not a good guy. Wayne also reveals his contempt for the working class when he tells the people who are rioting in the streets that they’re all “clowns.” 
Arthur wants to be a comedian. His mother tells him with a false innocence, "What makes you think you can do that?” That’s a version of what every narcissistic mother tells her kids about their dreams and plans for the future. Now Penny isn’t super cruel like some narcissistic mothers but she still clips his wings of independence by not believing in him and planting ideas in his head that he’s not good enough so he will continue to play the role she has designed for him. She is terrified he will leave her so the only control she has left as an elderly, sick woman is a subtle yet direct diminishment of her son. 
There is a scene where he’s bathing his mother. That and the scene when he brings her food in bed and cuts it for her shows the role reversal that took place, probably decades ago when he was just a little kid, when he was pressured to meet his mother's unmet needs and suppress his own. You can also see the emotional incest in these scenes at home as it’s like he’s playing the role of her spouse. 
Penny calls Arthur, Happy. She’s programmed him to put on a happy face, something that causes him to put on a mask of false happiness most of his life. She constantly talks about how happy her son is but she’s totally delusional. That’s not real, it’s just the role she wants him to play in her life, as her personal savior and light-bringer. She tells him his purpose is to bring joy and laughter to the world yet she also tells him, “but don’t you have to be funny to be a comedian?” She gave him mixed messages of love-bombing and devaluation. That’s the classic narcissistic abuse cycle. It’s just subtle and hidden behind her victim role.  
His mother just wanted him to play the Happy role at home so she can brag about how happy he is, but she doesn't want him to have true happiness outside the home or independence. She’s old and completely dependent on Arthur so she love-bombs him while he obeys and plays the part of The Good Son. That relationship would’ve been much more volatile if Arthur had set boundaries, created a life outside the home and didn’t fulfill the role she cast him in. It only seemed to work because he was compliant. 
Penny's obsession with Thomas Wayne and her rescue fantasy that he is going to save them shows what a delusional reality of entitlement and importance she lives in, as all narcissists do, even the so-called “vulnerable” ones like her. Now she isn’t the super covert sophisticated type, who are by far the most dangerous, but she is covert so it’s easy to miss the signs of abuse because she looks like a victim, which is what can drive the actual victim of a person like that to go crazy because it’s so confusing. While Arthur seems to have a lot of fantasies and/or delusions, he seems not to believe her that anyone is going to save them. He decides to take matters into his own hands.  
We find out when he discovers the medical records that his mother had delusional psychosis and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The records stated that she had endangered her own child by exposing Arthur to the physical abuse of her boyfriend. 
We find out the truth about the abuse in Arthur’s childhood. His mother stood by while her boyfriend tortured, abused and humiliated her son. He tied Arthur to a radiator. The medical records revealed that he was malnourished and suffered severe trauma to his head. Whether he was adopted or not, how is it possible that she didn’t lose her son after allowing her boyfriend to strap him to a radiator and torture him? This is another example of how the system failed Arthur. People like that should not have access to children. 
Why would she tolerate that kind of boyfriend? Probably because someone beat her in childhood so she was programmed to accept it as normal and familiar. However, having been a victim herself doesn’t liberate her from the responsibility to protect her child from abuse. According to the medical records, his mother reportedly said, "He never cried. He was a happy boy”. What a delusional disgrace of a mother. She only sees what she wants to see, so she pretends her son was happy about the abuse she allowed to happen to him as well as her abusive psychological engulfment of her son in order to meet her own needs. 
Arthur on the other hand later told his social worker that he hasn’t been happy one minute of his entire life. After taking matters into his own hands, he decided that life isn’t a tragedy but a comedy. Unable to face the feelings of the trauma and abandonment, Arthur resorted to making a dark comedy of it all through violent revenge. 
Upon discovering the medical records, Arthur’s rage toward his mother motivated him to kill her. He was tired of being the boy she wanted him to be and he wanted to become his true self which he couldn’t do with her enmeshed in his life. While there’s an important internal drive for individuation from one’s parents, he goes about it all wrong by killing her. He wanted revenge for her allowing him to be humiliated and tortured as a child. He wanted revenge for being lied to about his identity. Revenge isn’t the answer but he believed it was. 
After he kills her, Arthur later finds an old photo of his mom in her room. On the back is written: “Love your smile, TW.” That could be Thomas Wayne’s initials, and they might have really had an affair. A man with that kind of power could have used her to fulfill his needs until she got pregnant and then discarded her.
The adoption papers and medical records were signed by Dr. Stoner, a villain from the comic series, so it’s possible that he and Wayne conspired to cover up the scandal of the illegitimate child, since of course Wayne had political aspirations and couldn’t have a stain like that on his image. 
We never really know if Arthur was adopted or if he was Thomas Wayne’s illegitimate son whom he disowned. Wayne could have made Penny believe that Arthur was adopted, even forging adoption papers or making her sign them while she was under the influence of psychiatric drugs. Or, maybe his mother was having psychotic hallucinations that an affair happened so Wayne called her crazy and committed her to a psychiatric hospital. These, like many things in the movie, are details that are left in the air for the viewer to wonder what really happened. As anyone who grew up in a home with a narcissistic parent knows, there are so many cloudy details about the past that we will never really know what happened because the people telling the stories are not reliable witnesses since they live in a delusional reality. 
If it was true that Penny and Wayne had an affair, it would be yet another example of the trans-generational abuse patterns of victims and abusers. Something awful surely happened to Penny in childhood for her to fall into that kind of situation with her boyfriend who tortured her son. The same goes for the potential situation with her boss, Wayne, and then despite all that might have happened, to still be idealizing him and seeing him as her savior and the savior of her son. 
Arthur's mother helped create a monster through her neglect and by co-signing on the abuse of her son by her boyfriend. She didn’t love her son, she used him. She didn’t protect her son, she let him get abused. All his life, she just used him to fill a hole inside her soul from her own traumas. She is partly responsible for his mental illness, and that worked out well for her since his condition meant he wouldn't leave her and individuate like a normal, growing adult. 
She’s not a mere codependent like some people say. A codependent is a people-pleaser yet still has a natural motherly instinct to protect her young. A codependent’s empathy doesn’t allow someone else to hurt her child. Something was really wrong with her to let that go on and then on top of that to say he never cried, he was a happy boy. She's delusional and narcissistic. We see in the letter she writes Wayne that she still believes she did good with her son because according to her, he’s Happy most of the time. If he’s happy then she gets status as a good mother and can pretend the sins of her past didn’t happen but he’s not happy because the past did happen and he’s never been able to face it and heal it. 
In the Netflix series, Mindhunter, the FBI agents and the academic professor who studies psychopaths and sociopaths start interviewing convicted serial killers in jail. They discover a connection in many of the cases between the effects of abusive mothers that humiliate and emasculate their sons, who later become serial killers. And by the way, most of the serial killers they interview believe they’re the good guys. In the case of Joker we see the mother who stood by while her boyfriend tortured, abused and humiliated her son. We also see her much more subtle abuse through engulfment, emotional incest and psychological control over her son. 
This movie depicts the struggle of knowing a psychopath, sociopath or narcissist who had a bad childhood. You want to feel empathy for them when you know what they suffered. It was sad and horrible what happened to them. And that’s exactly where it’s dangerous because you can lose yourself in the process of empathizing with an abuser because these are relationships of inevitable harm. 
I think one of the most powerful messages of this movie was the look inside the familial abuse and trauma that Arthur endured as a child and even into adulthood, though I found it interesting how this was left out of many critical reviews of the movie. The Legacy of Abuse just gets passed down unconsciously until someone decides they’re done, then cuts off the toxic family members and starts making different choices in life. That segues into the final aspect of this movie that I want to bring up: Society, the Power Structure and Self-Responsibility. 
Society: the Power Structure & Self-Responsibility 
Someone wrote online: “In the 1989 Batman movie, the Joker’s origin story is about falling into acid. In the 2019 version, he falls into society.” 
The environment we live in has a major effect on our lives, especially in childhood where we receive the neurological programming that sets us up for life. 
We become like the people we most surround ourselves with. First we start talking like them, then we start acting like them. This is why environment is so important to our wellbeing. This is why it’s also important to pay attention to the patterns of narcissistic abuse on a societal level too. It’s not just happening in interpersonal relationships and families. These same abuse patterns are happening in society at large. Governments, corporations, banks, the mainstream media, the so-called “intelligence community”, the military industrial complex… they’re all puzzle pieces that fit into the societal abuse patterns. Just as it is wise to learn about narcissistic abuse on a personal level to avoid abusers in relationships, friendships and at work, it’s also important to learn about narcissistic abuse on a societal level if we have any chance of getting through the next years and decades of changes. 
In Joker, we see Arthur living in an awful environment. The city is falling apart and hasn’t had a trash pick up in weeks. The apartment where he lives with his delusional mother is dark and run down, even the elevator doesn’t work properly. He has one kind neighbor who he develops a crush on. At work, Arthur is surrounded by a bunch of idiots who don’t care about him with the exception of one guy. He runs into a lot of bullies while going about his days. Arthur doesn’t have any real friends or support. He sees a social worker, and while she doesn’t appear to be all that helpful, that support system runs out too when the State cuts funding to the program.  
When Arthur speaks of the cruelty and indifference of the world, we can see this isn’t just Hollywood, this isn’t just a made-up character for the screen. This is real life, for a lot of people. 
Physical and psychological violence are devastating. Humiliation is a form of cruelty and psychological violence that's happening all the time, affecting millions of people and yet it’s without all the outrage that people have for gun violence. The critics of this movie seemed more outraged at the gun violence than the human violence that shaped Arthur’s character. Selective outrage is becoming the norm in our society as people follow blindly the narratives that they see pumped out on corporate media. The media is the master of delivering the problem > reaction > solution tactic that every abuser uses.   
This movie shows a growing anti-rich sentiment among the masses as people start to get restless from the societal collapse in progress. We see an uber rich, detached man on TV running for mayor. Thomas Wayne addresses the new clown vigilante movement by saying, “They’re hiding behind a mask, envious of those more fortunate. Those who made something of our lives look at those who haven’t as clowns.” What a jerk. This reminds me of something I heard more than a few people say years ago when I was struggling financially, “I’m sorry you’re not more successful.” They weren’t sorry for me, it was more of a narcissistic, condescending holier than thou put-down. It must be easy to have that perspective when you’ve never been hungry and struggling to get by in life. I think everyone should be hungry at one point in their life, just to know what it’s like and to develop compassion for others who struggle. I’m not gonna lie, that struggle sucked and I wouldn’t want to repeat it, but I’m also grateful for what those tough lessons taught me. 
In the film we see glimpses of a newspaper headline: "Kill the rich: A new movement”.
What I found interesting about the scene where the three Wall Street types started bullying and beating up Arthur on the subway, was how unlikely that is in the real world. First of all, those Wall Street types would likely use private car services and sometimes even personal drivers. It looked so odd to see them in the dingy subway train full of graffiti. Also those are more likely to be the covert type of abusers. It would be rare to see one of those types physically aggressing anyone in public because that would be bad for their image. They’re more likely to have violent, perverted sex behind closed doors or pull off bank heists like the 2008 bank bailouts where bankers begged the Fed to save them and after the Fed bailed out the banks, we found out many of them remodeled their offices and bought yachts. One bank executive did a $1.2M renovation and installed a $35K toilet in his office. 
In the last recession, millions of Americans lost their retirement funds, their homes, their cars, and other possessions. Where was their bailout? Non-Existent. The psychopaths on Wall Street (now of course not all are psychopaths, but certainly that’s one area of society where you’ll find an extraordinarily high density of psychopathy, sociopathy and narcissism), they are always preying upon people that they don’t care about just to make themselves richer. They don’t care what happens to people when they can’t afford their sub-prime mortgages or car payments. They don’t care that people who worked their asses off lost all their retirement investments. All they care about is transferring the public wealth into their private hands. $35K toilets! I mean it doesn’t get more symbolic of what the uber rich banking executives think about the common people. Worth less than the toilet where they take a privileged shit. 
Perhaps that scene where Arthur fights back against those three abusive suits in the subway is symbolic of what’s currently happening, yet again. Bankers and the elite are once again in 2019 shifting the wealth away from the people and into their pockets. For the last month, the Fed (the USA’s central bank) has been bailing out the big banks every business day and will continue to invest $75B per day in the banks’ repo market, some days adding an additional $35-$45B, until Jan 2020. When they started this on 9/17/2019, it was shocking news but only supposed to last a couple days. They kept extending the date while gaslighting the public that everything is fine and it’s just a glitch. Who knows if they’ll even stop by January, I mean why would they if they can get away with it.
If they do stop by Jan, they will have injected more than 4x the amount of money that they used to bail out the banks in 2008 with TARP. Back in 2008 that took a lot of begging and got some bad press. This time it’s barely being reported in the news. Only a few mainstream sites are publishing this. Even Google is conspiring with them because they’re burying it in the search results, only showing articles and videos that are weeks old. Meanwhile the mainstream media and Google are happy to distract people with yet another conspiracy theory of impeachment drama. 
This is insane. Utterly insane. Not only are the Fed and banks exacerbating the magnitude of the inevitable next economic crash, but what about the American taxpayers who are going to have to pay off that debt? What about the average Americans living crushed by debt from medical bills, school loans, and the credit cards they use to get by every month? Will they get a bailout? Not a chance. Bailouts are only for the uber rich and powerful.  
After the last recession there were 6x as many empty, foreclosed homes as homeless people in America. The only explanation for that is psychopathy.
Look up "fractional reserve banking system" and you’ll understand how the banks get away with lending out way more money than they actually have. They get to earn interest on money they lent out but don’t actually have. What a concept! Too bad you and I can’t do that. 
These are the kinds of social injustices that can drive people to start violent movements in an attempt to fight back. I don’t believe that violence is the answer. But I do believe the movie Joker is showing us one possible future where the angry, disenfranchised masses decide they’re done feeling victimized and want to fight back. 
While the environment does shape us, we are not just a product of our environment. We also have the responsibility to use our free will, to make choices that make our lives better as well as the world around us. 
Righteous anger is a natural response to injustice. It’s normal to be angry when you’ve been violated, used and abused. But what you do with it is what matters. 
Life isn’t fair and the world is unjust. Yet our character is the result of the choices we make in life. It’s up to us and our choices to determine if we remain victims of other people, family, and society or if we become the masters of our own destiny. Do we become like the monsters who hurt us? Or do we do something different, something better, by taking responsibility for ourselves? 
It’s like the Native American proverb, we all have 2 wolves inside us: one is evil and based on anger, envy, hatred, sorrow, regret, resentment, bitterness, greed, arrogance, self-pity and superiority. The other is good, based on love, peace, joy, humbleness, kindness, empathy, compassion, generosity and truth. There is no getting rid of either one as they are both part of all of us, so it all comes down to which wolf do we feed.
That decision is our personal responsibility. Rescue fantasies and making violence pull us away from self-responsibility. Toxic environments contaminate and condition us to remain victims and give our power away to others, which can lead us to make poor decisions based on a lack of self-responsibility. It all comes down to choice. I’m not saying it’s easy. Doing the right thing is often not the easy path. 
Villains and monsters become who they are partly from their past experiences and current environment but most importantly, the decisions they make. The only power they can find is control over others in whatever way they can. Villains are unaware of self-responsibility. 
There are assholes and monsters out there. There are powers that be in the world who are enslaving the masses and none of that’s fair. They will do anything they can to keep the people down, so exhausted from working hard to pay bills and run a household, so absorbed in the convenient distractions, that they’re deterred from researching and waking up to what’s going on. It’s much easier to turn on the mainstream media propaganda and believe what they tell us. The system was set up to keep people in slavery. The worst kind of slavery is when you have the illusion of freedom. 
If you become like those who hurt you, then you let the dark forces win. Life is unfair. Our world is unjust. People feel victimized, rejected and overlooked. That’s real. And what’s also real is our responsibility to make it better. I’m not talking about idealistic dreams of saving the world. I’m talking about saving yourself... Though I prefer the word responsibility. As each person does the work to take responsibility for ourselves, the world will change. Most of society is still living as victims. The victim culture is even being promoted by some political groups nowadays.
As Jordan Peterson says, “We can’t have the conversation about rights if we aren’t also willing to talk about responsibility."
Of course psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists don’t take responsibility for themselves and they never will. They are menaces to society because they make the world around them less safe.
So the lessons we can learn from them are:  
1. Don’t become like them in an attempt to feel powerful.
2. Empower yourself the honorable way with self-responsibility. 
3. Be willing to face the ugly truth so you can set yourself free.
The truth is ugly, I ain’t gonna lie, but just like when you were in an abusive relationship, nothing was going to get better until you figured out what was going on, educated yourself, and started to make new decisions based on your new understanding and awareness. The same goes for the abusive relationship we have with the powers that be in society. In that relationship, people are also suffering without understating the cause of their suffering. That’s where a big part of society finds themselves right now. Start asking more questions. Do your own research. Own your reality and take control of your mind. Stop letting outside forces move your mind and control your behavior. Stop making excuses for your poor behavior based on your poor choices or drifting in life. Take responsibility for yourself and you’re helping to make the world a better place. 
About a month ago I did a podcast episode on how reactive abuse will get you in trouble. Two wrongs don’t make a right and they certainly don’t bring us any steps closer to salvation. The more responsible reaction is to respond to this unjust world not on the same level of violence and abuse but by stepping out of that reality paradigm, by grabbing the reins of your destiny and transforming your life.
Revenge isn’t an act of strength. It’s an act of cowardice and weakness. True strength is forbearance. It’s about not acting on negative feelings even though you feel them. You’re allowed to feel how you feel. And you need to be responsible for your actions. 
Joker isn’t free when he has his way with society. He’s still a slave. But now transformed into a villain, he’s a slave with the delusion of importance and power. There’s a difference between freedom and debauchery or licentiousness. Is that really the recognition some people want from society? Is that the legacy they want to leave? Enslaved by the system and played the part of chaos and destruction for them. Joker is not free. He’s chained to the object of his hatred. Don’t be like Joker. 
Some of us didn’t have a good childhood. See my previous podcast episode, Prisoners of Childhood to hear more about that. Others were born into families that were able to support and love them since birth so they could feel a secure attachment and get a good start to life. But also remember that your past does not determine your future unless you allow it to. There are a lot of amazing people who have risen from the ashes of a traumatic childhood to become positive contributions to society. It can be done. But again, it’s not the easy path because it requires work. 
There are a lot of things wrong with the world. There is abuse and injustice. That’s an ugly truth and I’m sorry to burst the rose colored bubble of anyone who wants to pretend otherwise. Many families are plagued with the Legacy of Abuse. These unconscious patterns get passed down trans-generationally. Society at large is being programmed by the Powers that Be through entertainment and the mainstream news, in culture, in schools, in religions and spiritual organizations that are more like cults. The herd mentality encourages more of the same. It keeps people in line. 
The Director, Todd Phillips, says he took away the cartoon element of violence in this movie so we could see it as it is. I don’t understand why critics are calling this irresponsible. Have we reached a point where society is that infantilized that we can’t be responsible for ourselves? Can we not see violence without empathizing with it or copying it? Surely there are much more violent movies. What I think really disturbed people, is how real this movie is. 
If you fight the abuser with the same tactics they use, you might win a battle or two but you will lose the war. The only way to win is to opt out. To stop playing that game. To create a new paradigm. This is the crossroads where we currently find ourselves in society. 
Joker believed he had no choice but violence, no escape but madness. But there’s always another choice. Self responsibility is the only way out. Just because the world is abusive and uncaring doesn’t mean we need to conform to that. 
Connection is an important part of our human experience. There was an experiment done last century in an orphanage where half the babies were fed, changed their diapers and taken care of but not held. The caregivers were instructed not to touch the babies more than necessary to complete the tasks of feeding and changing them and also to never communicate with them. The other half had all those basic needs met plus they were held. After 4 months the experiment was halted because the babies who weren’t held died, even though all their basic needs were met and they were otherwise healthy. Right before the babies died, they would give up. They would stop attempting to communicate with their caregivers. They would stop moving and no longer cry. We’re not meant to feel alone in this world. We are pack creatures. We need to know that others care about us, especially when we are babies. If we didn’t get that experience of secure attachment and unconditional love as babies, we can spend a lifetime unconsciously trying to seek that love, often in all the wrong ways. 
The effects of childhood trauma can haunt us for a lifetime. The trauma festers and endures until we deal with it. The more conscious we are about it, the easier it is to do something about it instead of falling into unconscious, poor decisions that lead us toward the dark side. We can transmite the trauma, both individual and collective, into a greater sense of purpose. But this requires work and it’s not the easy path. We can’t be totally alone in this process. Sure at moments and even for a long time we might find ourselves quite alone, but along the way we need connection with others who expose us to new possibilities and the contagion of faith that we can change things for the better. Without this contact and the mirror of others, we aren’t able to see ourselves. We need loving people to see and say what we can’t see. 
It doesn’t always go the way it went for Arthur. The amazing thing is we have a choice. We can choose which path we take in life. We also need to be self-responsible. Arthur was not familiar with that and he lacked a sense of connection with the world around him, something he probably never felt in his lifetime.  
Not everyone who was traumatized as a child becomes a monster. Not everyone who has a narcissistic mother becomes an abuser. A lot of us became codependents and some of us codependents become responsible, empowered survivors and even thrives. What determines that? I’m not sure. I don’t think scientists will ever really be able to measure that. But I think this comes down to the individual and the choices we make. 
Your response to life is a choice.
Are you going to let society, the family or other individuals victimize you the rest of your life? Even if you allow yourself to become a monster, you’re still a victim because you allowed them to determine who you are. Your response is your responsibility. One response to trauma is to become an abuser, to pass on the hurt to others. Another response is to work on self-healing, to reject to the Legacy of Abuse passed down in your family and surrounding you in society, and to instead empower yourself through self-responsibility to rise above the pain and hatred, to shine your light and share it with others who value it. 
It really comes down to decisions and choices. Reacting to one bad day by making one bad choice can set you on a life path like Joker. Guard your attention and your mind like your life depends on it because it does. If you let your mind go on idle, what Napoleon Hill calls “drifting” in his book, Outwitting the Devil, you will allow the dark forces to take over without even realizing. 
The film was heavy. It was brutal. And it was real. I think that’s what most scared the critics about it. Surely there are much more violent movies, even playing right now in the theaters, so I don’t think it was the overt violence that upset some people about this movie. I think it was the uncomfortable mirror of society that freaked them out. I thought the film was really well done.
At one point in the movie Arthur said, "I just don’t want to feel bad any more.” It’s so sad and it’s also the reality of a lot of people. People are desperately looking for ways to feel better and they don’t even understand why they feel so bad. 
When you don’t know what’s going on, you’re powerless to do something about it. It’s exactly how it feels to be in an abusive relationship but not know it. To be suffering and struggling but not knowing why. That’s where humanity is right now with society. And I don’t just mean the people around us. I mean the entire power structure of society. Until we wake up to what’s going on, nothing can change for the better. 
For those who might hear things about people suffering from trauma and mental illness, and dismiss them callously, I would like to remind you of a quote by Krishnamurti: “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."
And by the way ladies (and gay men) if you’re online dating (which I don’t recommend, but if you are) swipe left on the guys with Joker as their profile pic. A couple years ago I was using one of those apps and I couldn’t believe how many guys used Joker as their profile pic! They’re telling you straight up that they’re a psychopath or sociopath. Don’t go there. Nothing good is going to come of a relationship with someone who admires Joker. If they’re using it as their profile photo, they’re probably more like Joker than you realize at first glance. 
There's one more random detail from the movie I wanted to share. I only noticed 3 clocks in the movie and every one of them was set to 11:11. Since it takes place in 1981, the clocks are analog not digital. I thought that was odd and certainly not a coincidence. I’ve always heard that 11:11 means pay attention to your thoughts. You’re manifesting what you’re thinking. Be careful where you place your attention. Some also say 11:11 is about remembering who you really are. This movie is the origin story of Joker, so that's an interesting possible correlation. I wonder what Phillips was trying to communicate with the clocks set to that time. The only place online where I found anyone talking about this was a forum where someone suggested it was some kind of code predicting something happening on Nov. 11th. I hope not. But I’d love to hear what you think about that and the movie in general. 
For those of you who stuck around until the end, thanks for tuning into this entire episode, I know it ran a bit long. I felt it was important to share these insights about the movie because of the ways they apply in our real world today and also I wanted to bring more awareness to the patterns of narcissistic abuse which seemed to be woven throughout the storyline. 

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