KyloRen. Psychological Diagnosis
In the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the story is repeated. In the film, new characters appear to fight for the sake of all good people, trying to resist evil and hold it in check. The psychological diagnosis of KyloRen, the film’s antagonist, is essential for a better understanding of the film’s problems, themes, and motives. More importantly, assessing the character’s psychological problems is key to a better understanding of the character’s nature.
KyloRen. Psychological Disorders
KyloRen, also known as Ben Solo, is one of the central characters and a villain in the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The character seems to be struggling with the following mental conditions: Dissociative Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Kylo Ren’s distinctive features are outsized ego (inflated self-esteem), arrogant behavior, loss, change of identity, and uncontrolled anger. Apart from that, the character is deeply traumatized. Ben Solo’s renaming himself to Kylo Ren is a symbol of the character’s dissociation with his other self, younger and happier. As Kylo Ren, the character exhibits the following symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder: the desire of power, arrogant behavior, lack of empathy, the sense of uniqueness and entitlement that require excessive admiration. Broadly speaking, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is another page in the Star Wars franchise, which is, basically, a story about loyalty, honor, sacrifice, bravery, friendship, and the struggle between good and evil. In a way, the problems that the characters of the film are facing are inseparably connected to the structure and order of the world they live in. The Force Awakens abounds with references to the previous episodes of the franchise. Assessing Kylo Ren’s psychological problems may help to understand the cross-references within the franchise, not to mention that it is essential for a better understanding of the character himself.
The Force Awakens is the seventh episode of the Star Wars film franchise and a prelude to a new stage of the battle between the Light and the Dark sides of the Force. Ben Solo who later became Kylo Ren was born to Han Solo and Leia Organa Amidala Skywalker Solo. Ben’s maternal uncle Luke Skywalker trained him to become a Jedi knight. Ben, however, was tempted by and turned to the Dark Side of the Force. The First Order had risen from the ashes of the Galactic Empire. The task Luke Skywalker had in mind was to rebuild the ancient Jedi Order, but his attempt failed. Young Ben Solo destroyed the rising order, pledged allegiance to Supreme Leader Snoke, and became an adept of the Empire; that is when young Solo became Kylo Ren. Turning to the Dark Side was not a spur of the moment thing. Sickness was growing within Kylo Ren since his training had begun. At some point, it has grown so fierce that it forced Ben Solo to change his identity and abandon his family and the values they represent: patience, dignity, honor, bravery, loyalty, and sacrifice.
Obviously, his other self (his identity as Ben Solo) and his family represent all that Kylo Ren loathes. Kylo Ren’s greatest ambition is to follow his grandfather’s footsteps. His grandfather was a Jedi knight once, but he was deceived and thus turned to the Dark Side. Cynical as it sounds, Kylo Ren realizes that he will never be a warrior that powerful, at least until he is on the Light Side. That is the reason for Kylo Ren’s malice, cruelty, vindictiveness, and his descent to madness; that is why Ben Solo becomes Kylo Ren in the first place. However, being adept at the Dark Side, Kylo Ren is portrayed as a fighter “capable of manipulating the force in lethal ways” (Shedd, 2016, p. 87). Kylo Ren is “as a spoiled, temperamental, entitled, arrogant, and power-hungry” (Shedd, 2016, p. 88). In addition to that, at different points in the film, Kylo Ren’s privilege and power are displayed to the fullest. His outbursts occur every time things do not go the way he wants, which suggests he deserves neither the power nor the influence he has (Shedd, 2016, p. 88). At this point, Kylo Ren can be characterized as a petulant, “hopelessly spoiled” young man (Shedd, 2016, p. 88). Assuming that the statements mentioned above are correct, Kylo Ren can be seen as a person afflicted with Dissociative Identity Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Another condition Kylo Ren can be associated with is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens implies that liberating the Dark Side from the boundaries of light required plenty of effort (Ceravolo, Cinti, & Mortini, 2016). Interestingly enough, the assertion mentioned above is proven by Kylo Ren’s confession that he feels “the pull to the light” (Abrams, 2015). Darth Vader (also known as Anakin Skywalker) and Kylo are bound by family relationships and have very much in common. Those familiar with the Star Wars series are also knowledgeable about Darth Vader’s background. Darth Vader, who used to be a Jedi knight, had been deceived and tempted by the Dark Side of the Force. Darth Vader turned back to the light when he saw that his own son’s life was in danger. It also happened to be the moment when Darth Vader came to realize the danger and treacherousness of the darker path and the fact that the Emperor, Darth Sirius (also known as the Supreme Chancellor SheevPalpatine), had deceived him. As for Kylo Ren’s conversion to the Dark Side, nothing can be known for certain. His parents loved him very much, and his own uncle acted based on the desire to do good when he decided to train Ben. By and large, Ben Solo’s conversion to the Dark Side remains an unsolved mystery. As far as the causes of this act are concerned, there can be nothing but speculations on that particular subject. Like Anakin Skywalker betrayed his mentor’s Obi-wan Kenobi’s trust and love, Ben Solo betrayed that of his own uncle and teacher. Unlike Luke’s first encounter with his father as Darth Vader, Kylo Ren’s encounter with his own father was tragic. Even though Darth Vader turns back to the light, his loved ones are unable to save him. Anakin Skywalker’s death was, by all means, a traumatic and tragic event. In a way, the pain of loss is the pain Ben Solo took from his loved ones. On the other hand, by taking Darth Vader’s personality and visage, Kylo Ren perpetuates the trauma and, at the same time, the legacy of his kin (Odorisio, 2016). Ben Solo’s loss of identity (his Dissociative Identity Disorder) is, therefore, nothing but one of the aftermaths of the PTSD he has been experiencing while growing up, and that only became more vivid when he reached adolescence and approached adulthood.
In conclusion, Star Wars, Episode VII. The Force Awakens is not just a sequel of the beloved science-fiction saga. It is a story wherein its antagonist is struggling with some serious psychological problems. Even though the character exhibits the symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (such as loss of identity, outbreaks of wrath, uncontrolled anger, lack of empathy, and arrogant behavior), additional and thorough investigation of the character’s background proves essential for understanding the causes of his condition.