Tomorrow I intend to post a Personality Disorder Glossary, but for today I want to look more closely at two entries from this:
Depersonalisation - to make impersonal or to deprive of personality or individuality
Objectification - to treat a person as a thing. To degrade to the status of a mere object.
I realize I’ve been guilty, in a writerly sort of way, of depersonalising the antagonist in this novel. This has not been through intent to deprive him of his personality, but from a writer’s habit in the planning of a novel of referring to the part a character will play – a distance relationship before we get inside the story and the mind of the characters. To remedy this I'll call the characters, the main ones that is, by name from now on – calling the antagonist by his name, Julius, and the protagonist as Ruth.
This takes me back to the previously mentioned glossary entries, Depersonalize and Objectification, and Julius’ use of these to define his target as an object of loathing, as a thing (not a person) to be scorned.
This almost makes sense when you think about it. A non BP parent may have a pet name for a child, one they use in everyday interaction that implies a close relationship and affection, however, should the child offend or have cause to be disciplined, the parent reverts to use of the given forename. While there are a number of sound reasons for this, setting boundaries, sending clear messages etc. it is most often anger that robs the tongue of the usual endearment or familiarity.
Take the case of a non BP husband angry with his wife. He may usually call her Babe or Honey but, in the heat of negative emotion, he can’t bring himself to address her with this intimacy, taking a step back to make sure she understands the depth of his anger.
In both of these examples the lapse is temporary, even when taken to the extreme and accompanied by abuse and insults, and the affection returns once the crisis has passed.
In other situations the person experiencing the anger will remove themselves from the relationship for a while through choice of words:
…your child, your brother, sister, father, mother etc. and this can be taken further using objectification and name calling, attacking the very foundations of human interaction. Your child can be become your bloody child; the dickhead, garbage guts, etc.
Used often enough, these names tend to stick and can even worsen in time as the abuser seeks to further demean and depersonalise.
While Depersonalisation and Objectification may have not been a conscious decision on Julius’ part initially, his extreme unresolved anger and heightened or exaggerated perception of having been wronged, made it difficult, if not impossible, for him to maintain the previous intimacy of using Ruth’s forename. She became the bitch, the evil bitch, the lying bitch, and those around not only failed to challenge this, they became so inured it formed part of their own everyday speech and language choice.
This is another example of how PD's groom of recruits to their cause, desensitising them beyond normal moral and ethical constraints that govern human interaction.