Teen Wolf and the Split Self: An Explication

Phoenix Rises.

tyler-posey-teen-wolf-01-3118x2350.jpgI enjoy the show, Teen Wolf. Watching the show and becoming a fan was actually an accident, a strange mis-recollection of (past) memory. Basically what happened was, it was about the time that the show had premiered, and I was watching it, as I was suffering severely from mental illness. I remember having delusions about what this meant, but as time went on, I forgot about the show. But then years later, I was browsing the collection of my local library, and I stumbled upon the show, and I had to watch it because it held intrigue for me. What kinds of shows were playing when I was really sick?

I wasn’t too impressed with the first season, honestly, but the show was interesting enough for me to continue watching it. I’m really glad that I did. By the time that I got to season two, midway, I was in love with the show.I just finished watching season four, so I still have two seasons left, which is nice, it is nice to have that suspense in my life, something to really look forward to. In the meantime, I have been extremely moved by the plot of season three, part two. Especially as it regards the character Stiles, and the idea of the split self and losing your mind.

There are many remarkable themes and moments in this season. I am moved by the idea that, we have a darker self within us, we have a darker nature, and this part of ourselves which is separate from us yet a part of us. As for what I think about this darker self, I am not sure. I am not sure what I think of my own darkness, for instance, and whether or not I can confront it.

Part of what made the show so good, was the acting, which really conveyed a lot of deep emotional pain and turmoil, trauma, chaos. The character that haunts Stiles in this season, is really quite remarkable because he won’t leave him alone, he keeps trying to play his foil, with Stiles doing his best to resist.

I remember the line, that basically, Stiles was “fighting with himself.” (Can we avoid our darker nature?) At this point, he is merely one person, but his darker half is working through him. But this is really a remarkable idea, in so many ways. The way that this idea resonates with me is by thinking about how we are always fighting ourselves. Aren’t we? Maybe not in such a dramatic fashion, where we are trying to prevent ourselves from doing something that will cause terrible harm, but we all have darker impulses, even destructive impulses, and we must do our best to keep them in check in a destructive society. In this way, through this analogy, the self is already split, echoing certain theories in psychology and philosophy. We suffer because we try to restrain our destructive impulses, yet our destructive impulses cause suffering, creating quite the conundrum.

As someone who had my own split self for much of my life, this idea, and more in the show, really got me thinking and pondering. I am Phoenix, and my darker half is The Snake Angel. The Snake Angel is about pleasure and lust, sex, power, while Phoenix is about the intellect, the mind, contemplation, thought. I always saw Phoenix and The Snake Angel as completing and complementing each other, body and mind, though always in tension with each other and fighting with each other. Really, when I think about my experiences with The Snake Angel, and how much he changed my life in ways that I didn’t necessarily understand at the moment, I think of the show Teen Wolf, and how they expressed the psyche of the split self. In my case, it wasn’t necessarily destructive, as more just a different temperament to myself, with a different set of desirable actions.

The show continued influencing me, however, and influences me now as we speak. Indeed, the show continued, and the remarkable scene was when Stiles realized, that he was the one who was torturing himself. There is a powerful and vivid scene where Stiles is dreaming, and he has a trap on his leg, and he is bleeding like crazy, and completely traumatized by this other version of himself, which he doesn’t realize until later. He realizes that when he is in the hospital, and he sees the figure that is haunting him, and this figure takes off the bandages of his face, and shows that he is Stiles himself.


This move really resonated with me, because isn’t that the biggest twist, that the choices that we make that aren’t necessarily good or pure, aren’t happening from someone else, and someone that we hope to destroy as a kind of villain or wrongdoer, but rather, from ourselves? That scene was also powerful because it was in the context of a teenager potentially having dementia, Stiles potentially having dementia, or at least the kind of dementia that adolescents have, and can have.

I think I can really relate to that idea, of this darker half, this darker self, that resides in all of us, and yet we don’t even realize it does. We have chaos within ourselves, we have darkness as well, and we do our best in our repressive society to hide it. Some of this even comes from our disposition, where we want to do good in the world, and we do this by suppressing and denying our darker tendencies, and temptations.

But it is strange, how I perceive the formulation and expression of these darker tendencies. I don’t see the darker tendencies as necessarily being cruel or bad or destructive, as we fear, though that was certainly what happened in the show. Rather, I see it as the darker side freeing us from ourselves, the dark complementing the light, from the desire to be perfect for our (perfect) society. That was always what The Snake Angel was to me, after all: a cathartic being, who was a release for me, because he represented in many ways my sexuality, my hidden sexuality, my homosexuality: which was hidden from everyone, and only expressed when I let The Snake Angel take over. Some tendencies run really deep within us.

Just thinking about it and working through it, really makes me wonder. Is the darker side always so bad, or is the darker side just our secrets? Is the dark side the things that we wish we could do, but can’t, because of our repressive society? I’m not sure how much we’d do with our dark side, but I would certainly tender the idea that our darker side doesn’t have to necessarily be bad and destructive, but certainly apparent, it exists.

Is this not how something like art is created in the first place? It would seem so when realizing that we are allowing ourselves a catharsis when we write and talk about our darker ideas and the places that our mind leads us when we are not censoring it to oblivion.

I really wanted to talk about this show and how it influenced my understanding of the darker half because I was moved in a way that I couldn’t easily understand, articulate, or describe. To think that I have a self that was separate from me, but somehow a part of me, and realizing that it could manifest in the world in various ways, if I just allow it, well: it was really intense to think about. Because indeed, I merely wish for my darker self, The Snake Angel, to express himself in a way that is beautiful and cathartic. Perhaps delving into my darker side was really just a way of capturing my innocence, and explaining my innocence: the light contrasts the shadow. In this way, my idea of the split self differs a little bit from the show, but not by much: as the show progressed, I was left with the idea that the darker half wasn’t necessarily bad, he was simply a spirit trying to be free, by way of Stiles. And maybe that is all that our darker half wants, is just to be free, and express itself fully. Indeed, this expression of the darker self is important. I remember my therapist told me that our darker self must express itself in some fashion, otherwise we will make ourselves suffer, by way of repression.

We always stigmatize this darker self as being negative, but it ultimately doesn’t have to be. Because if you think about it, at least from certain perspectives, it is really just the darkness continually complementing the light, a clever Joker for Batman, which brings out certain features of the light. This is an important point that I emphasize because we often want to demonize the darkness, without realizing that the darkness is necessary to keep the light right. Indeed, this is even what was suggested in the show, the idea that Stiles himself wasn’t bad by having this darker self and spirit, but that he was, in fact, good, he was just trying to express something that couldn’t be stifled or easily understood. I am fascinated by that idea, with thinking about how the darkness is a necessary counterpart to the light, and that it is not in itself inherently bad. I think this is a major problem with how our society depicts evil and understands evil because it assumes that evil is always “bad,” it’s black and white, when rather, it may not be evil at all, but a different association, a different type of expression, a different entity.

Some of what the show did, was instill in me symbolism that I cannot forget easily, astyler-posey-dylan-obrien-teen-wolf-mtv well as the depiction of certain ideas, through the apparatus of certain scenes. The scene where Stiles was fighting for his life, with his darker self and the trap on his leg, was really powerful and evocative in my mind because it was a representation of innocence. When Stiles literally throws up his darker half, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of wonder at this birth of something dark and unique. And really, these ideas go a lot deeper than I can articulate here, the realization that there is a cruel Stiles who is trying to destroy things: it was really interesting to see a character, and actor, that usually does good things in the show, to do bad things instead. This itself is extremely symbolic and powerful because we can’t deny that there is a certain style to someone who is confident by way of their own darkness. Sometimes, for lack of a better phrase, a dark person can be sexy, and certainly striking.

But anyway, the main point that I want to instill and express is the idea that we all do possess a darker half, and how that darker half expresses itself is not immediately apparent. I would say it doesn’t have to be bad, but we should certainly think about what that means, having a darker half to ourselves, a split self, so that way we can more easily channel these tendencies that can be acceptable in the right light but are often rejected. Because of my interpretation of the split self and this show, is that our darker half may be expressing something like trauma and pain, or even a desire to be more real. It doesn’t have to be bad, and I will continue to insist on this. The darker self is really just a mystery, the mystery of our mind, of the human mind, the mystery of humanity and its deeper nature. I have to acknowledge that I was deeply touched by the show, because of how much it changed my perspective on myself, and it is not something that I will be forgetting anytime soon.

13891827_648788195277646_6466477065443768833_nPhoenix has written over forty books and has published everything from works of fiction, to poetry, to philosophy. Phoenix has enjoyed writing since he was a little kid, and he finds much importance and truth in creative expression. He hopes to inspire people with his writing, as well as ask difficult questions about the world and about the universe. Phoenix currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, and he spends much of his time reading books of philosophy, science, and literature, as well as writing, and working on other books. He recently completed a philosophical dialogue called Kid Logic, and he is currently working on his book Mind Warp, a foray into the fantastical and the philosophical. He hopes to imbue his writing with a sensitivity and gentleness, along with a boldness of expression and a confrontation of darkness. Phoenix hopes that you enjoy his writing and that you find it meaningful. The world is a place full of possibility, and Phoenix hopes we always remember this.

Click here to find Phoenix’s books at his Amazon author page.

Click here to visit his blog.

Visit his Facebook author page here.

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