Do babies think like serial killers?
By Nirmal S Kartha
Now that I’ve your attention, I would want to address my more protuberant
doubt: Why doesn’t the Id destroy itself?
This question requires the context that the first question shall provide. When we are born, our mental assemblage merely consists of the Id – the seemingly chaotic and time-‐independent cauldron of hard-coded instinctual needs. The Ego is born out of Id through somatic influences and as life progresses, becomes instrumental in dealing with Id’s driven requests, among many others. It’s the voice of Reason that holds everything together. “Destroy the ego!” Buddhists said. I’m sure Freud would have something to say to that.
Back to the neurotic baby. Structurally, the pre‐frontal cortex (responsible for self‐regulation, reasoning) of a baby has an average synaptic density of 20% in the first year of growth, compared to the 60% figure post 3 years. The figures roughly apply to the visual and auditory cortexes as well. Hence, in the beginning of the dude’s (gender neutral, but fixing it as masculine for convenience) life, his mind is hugely composed of the seething excitations of the Id that cannot be controlled by the nascent ego and its sensory aids. During this phase, the baby’s mind works according to the chaotic pleasure principles set down by the Id. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the Joker the perfect personification of Chaos? Given Chaos originates from the Id, a mind that operates out of the Id behaves akin to that of the Joker. In short, a baby thinks like the Joker.
The fact that the baby can’t wreak havoc and destruction can be attributed to its
weak sensory aids. But if the sensory aids have been developed to a large extent, it would have helped the Ego overcome the Id. As such, not all babies grow to be Jokers. But why don’t they?
From an evolutionary game-theoretic perspective of Gotham City that I’ve read, Jokers are absolutely crucial to its survival. The three basic players in this framework are Co-operators (they generate a benefit shared by all, but they pay a cost to do so), Defectors (they sit back and enjoy the group benefit without paying the costs akin to organized crime) and Jokers (they don’t care about
group benefits but are obsessed with destroying things). The best-case scenario, as highlighted in the article, is when the Jokers aren’t as good at destroying stuff as Co-operators are at generating group benefits. If we assume the Aristotelian assumption of the city as the evolutionary extension of man, the scenario might still hold for the city within man – the mental landscape. In a normal functioning mental city, the Id can never be as powerful at destroying as the Ego is at regulating. I do not know why this is the case, especially since the it is
intrinsically powerless and derives its fizz by misdirecting the Id energies. But what I
do know is that I’m thankful that I’ve an ego.