Revenge on Different Levels

In a question to Dr. Scapegoat, Karen asked about the popularity of the TV show “Revenge”–why such a subject captivates all of us. Revenge has always been astoundingly popular in life and in art: opera, Don Giovanni; philosophy, the Death of Socrates; plays, Shakespeare’s Othello; psychology, Freud’s Oedipus Complex. The ubiquitous revenge sitcoms, revenge video games, and revenge  TV and movie series that we so avidly watch are their 21st century  manifestations.


The psychological answer for its popularity  is the connection between abuse and the need to get even. A wife betrayed is a vengeful wife; a daughter robbed of her father (the plot of “Revenge,” the TV show) is a vengeful daughter; a father’s humiliation breeds a son’s revenge–as in Bush “the younger’s” Iraq war. How revenge feelings are handled is complex. And one of the complexities is the collective, which amplifies their need. (It’s a subject I explore in my new book, “Revenge of the Scapegoat,” part of my Revenge, Inc. series of psycho-thrillers.)

Every day I open up the news to find a surfeit of horrific abuse stories, the vast majority about women. Islam provides many of them, but there is no shortage of abuse, such as rape and other violence against women in Brazil, India, the American South, war-torn areas of Central Africa, to mention just the last month of publicized violations. All women will find common cause with the terrible abuse heaped on their “sisters.” The personal  need for revenge transformed into worldwide action can be the result.  An apparently personal episode of abuse, even a minor one, gains power as it  taps into the collective wellspring of abuse of all women throughout the ages. And lead to events like A Fifth UN World Conference On Women In 2015. Check it out.

Dr. Scapegoat

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