Why Did Kylo Ren Turn To The Dark Side?

Why Did Kylo Ren Turn To The Dark Side?

by Dr Emma Gray - 1st May, 2016

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Ben Solo, the only son of Hans Solo and Princess Leia was lured to the Dark Side by Supreme Leader Snoke, but why?

Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo’s Dark Side alter ego) like his grandfather Darth Vader is angry, the forces of the Dark Side are able to take advantage of this and manipulate him into turning away from the Light. There are no obvious present day triggers for Kylo Ren’s anger, when this happens it usually means what we are feeling is related to something that has happened in our past, usually in our childhood. At the time of his birth Ben’s parent, Han Solo and Princess Leia will have had a number of demands on their time (not least of which was leading the Resistance against the forces of the Dark Side) and so it is quite plausible to surmise that they were not able to give their son the time and attention that children need for optimum mental health.

Children need to feel at the centre of their parent’s world. They need to feel important if they are to grow into confident and content adults. If they have to squeeze in alongside their parent’s other commitments, their emotional and psychological needs are not met and when our needs aren’t met we feel angry and mistreated. Princess Leia states that she sent Ben away and it was at this time that she lost him. It is, however, quite likely that this was part of a larger pattern where her attention was divided between her son and her other responsibilities, leaving Ben Solo feeling side-lined, unimportant and angry.

Han Solo and Princess Leia’s relationship was always tumultuous and Han will have frequently been absent from their family home. Leia tells Hans in The Force Awakens how difficult she found it every time he left. Princess Leia was cross with Han and this created disharmony in their relationship. This negativity will have had a significant impact on the young Ben. Children need their parents to provide stability and predictability, they need to know what is coming next in order to feel secure, Han Solo and Princess Leia were important figures in the Resistance but it is unlikely that they were able to provide a solid and predictable environment for a young child.

On top of this Jedi training is an emotionally challenging experience with pupils often being left to work through the frustrating process of learning to manage the Force will little reassurance or praise. So, although Ben was tutored by the great Jedi Luke Skywalker this relationship is unlikely to have made up for his physically and emotionally absent parents, in fact it probably made Ben feel more frustrated and ignored.

Stepping into young Ben’s life is Supreme Leader Snoke, who like all bully’s will have sensed Ben’s weakness (his need for attention and to feel important) and taken advantage of it. Snoke provided him with much needed attention, the promise of power and importance and an outlet for his anger. This combination of absent parenting and a manipulative leader lead Ben to the Dark Side, a path we see repeated time and again with vulnerable children in real life.


Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleague once described me as natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.


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