Speaking of Mars, as we have been doing this month since Mars is retrograde, in close proximity to Earth, and part of the April Grand Cross of planetary conflict…
I was listening to the Bad Baby episode of This American Life and was struck by what one of the psychologists said: that the peak of violence in a human being occurs at age two, so it’s a good thing these little monsters are so small and can’t do any real damage. Age two, of course, is the age of the first Mars Return. Technically, the first Mars Return occurs at age 23 months but the effect of the awakening of the Mars impulse: the impulse to say no, to create boundaries, to establish a pattern of assertion and aggression, continues over several months.
To understand the violent criminal, says Richard E. Tremblay, imagine a 2-year-old boy doing the things that make the terrible twos terrible — grabbing, kicking, pushing, punching, biting.
Now imagine him doing all this with the body and resources of an 18-year-old.
You have just pictured both a perfectly normal toddler and a typical violent criminal as Dr. Tremblay, a developmental psychologist at University College Dublin in Ireland, sees them — the toddler as a creature who reflexively uses physical aggression to get what he wants; the criminal as the rare person who has never learned to do otherwise.
In other words, dangerous criminals don’t turn violent. They just stay that way.
Around age two toddlers begin to understand that their are limits to the world around them. There are things that they want that they cannot have, which makes them want these things all the more. This is straight out of the Mars playbook. Temper tantrums result, as the toddler explores where the boundaries of the parents limits may lie – also Mars territory.
We continue to have Mars returns throughout our lives, every two years like clockwork, but obviously they don’t all bring about peaks of violence. The question of why some people get stuck in their Mars return and others grow beyond it would be an interesting question for a research project. Perhaps I will tackle it soon.