(As a team, where I also consult- at our beautiful counseling center called Inner Space Counseling, we decided to do a round of defense mechanisms in pop fictional characters for Mental Health week 2016. I chose Rusty, here’s an article on what could really be going on in his intelligent but dark mind.)
Why True Detective –yes, season one
Psychological defenses are necessary for us to cope with the pressure and demands of leading a civilized life. All of us are obliged to employ defense mechanisms, and we all do so- unconsciously- everyday! It’s the “tricks” that our mind plays so we can deal with inner conflicts, unpleasantness and to prevent a tide of overwhelm- in order to stay composed and function “better”. While they seem very much like our allies, they can pose a lot of problems as well- like the auto-correct on our phones that don’t always help… But that’s a text message, and this, is life. To explain this at play in as close to real life as possible, and accessible to all, I’ve chosen the broody Detective Rustin Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) from the 8 episode long popular mini-series True Detective’s Season One by HBO.
It’s based on real events, and since the writer has written a riveting multilayered story just as real life can be, I’ve chosen a popular fiction character to help better explain psychological defences in daily life rather than a textual one. Its a fantastic cop story unlike the typical ones- focussing on the growth of characters- Rustin: a complex, intense, intelligent, pessimist who’s past is dark; and Martin- an easy going charming man but self-cenetred family man who vehemently challenges monogamy but only secretly- set in 1995 to 2012 Louisiana. Along with Rusty’s hypnotic dialogue delivery, each time I revisit it, there are more and more psychological nuances that reveal themselves. The non-verbals are so bang-on, I wonder how did they manage to do it- I’ve so far not been able to fault it. If you have seen True Detective, proceed only then 🙂 Take this as your spoiler alert for the whole article!!
What is so peculiar about Rust?
“I know who I am. And after all these years, there’s a victory in that.” -Cohle (writer Nic Pizzolatto)
With Rusty, you’re bound to have a strong reaction as the use of minimal defense mechanisms contribute to the intensity of his character as compared to the ‘herd’ (along with his depressing past). Using fewer defense mechanisms can make it difficult for people to be or relate with him: he ends up being constantly confrontative and look-at-reality (his depressing version of it) kind of person. The following adjectives help us sketch his personality type – shown as a misanthrope, he is highly self-aware, truthful, responsible, messed up, cruel, obsessive, perceptive, intelligent and socially aloof- all rolled in one, as shown repeatedly throughout the story.
What is Rusty coping with? How does he really defend himself psychologically?- hint: by hitting a special reset button in his mind and as a conclusion, operating from his infamous pessimistic philosophy
The entire article is here: (Since I cant repost it and I’ve submitted that article to Inner Space, and my love for Rustin Cohle, Nic Pizzolatto & the full True Detective story had to be shared on my blog, I’ve made an entry here- my analysis is in the link below)
I enjoyed it, hope you do too!!