Psychology in Master of Play (心戰)

Master of Play

In Master of Play, Ivan, in a rage, killed Eric, Michelle, Martin and Edwin in the Jekyll Bar; they died in flesh and blood but incorporates into the dark side of his psychological mind – representing his evil, lust, violence and pride, respectively. As he sank into decadence, broke away with his fiancé, slapped his sister and eventually killed Jerry, he struggled continually with them.

This bears semblance to the 6 realms (六道) in Buddhism where people in the earthly world will fall into one of the realms:  god, human, jealous god, animal, hungry ghost and hell (or 天道、人間道、修羅道、畜生道、餓鬼道、地獄道 respectively). The popular belief is about afterlife but a Buddhist friend of mine told me each realm rather represents a psychological stage of human mind. The deed committed at one psychological realm produces the ‘seed’ or the consequence.

As Ivan got enraged by Jerry’s remark, he fell to ‘jealous god’ realm (修羅道) and killed him. His lust or rather the ‘animal’ and ‘hungry ghost’ realms (畜生道 and 餓鬼道) caused him not only to seduce his own assistant but to engage in one – night stands. Finally his schemes of murders and cover – ups are unmistakably ‘hell’ (地獄道). Each psychological mind produces the corresponding deeds and the final ‘seeds’.

Or insanity and the corollary hallucination have totally engulfed his mind to produce the four personae who vanish as soon as he regain his consciousness. Voices within his head, coupled with strong imagination for visual images (as a professional magician), plus emotional stress (breakup with his fiancé), have unlocked his floodgate and flows a distinct set of psychological logics from the 4 strange people.

His seeming sanity in the everyday life, however, betrayed he is simply insane. Although an insane person can indeed act sanely – like the man in Poe’s Tell – Tale Heart (a story about a man keep emphasizing his sanity while narrating his murder of an old man for nothing more than his intense irritation against his blue eyes) – he shows the intelligence of a psychopath.

Psychopathy, strictly speaking, is not mental disorders as it’s not included in the DSM IV – a manual of disorders – but the top characteristics for identifying psychopath from the Bob Hare Checklist includes superficial charm, pathological lying, lack of remorse or guilt, impulsivity and juvenile delinquency.

As a professional magician, Ivan never failed to win charm and more importantly the profession itself is pathological lying. As a child, he already participated kidnapping and has done patricide, fulfilling more than enough the juvenile delinquency. Nevertheless, he did feel remorse and guilt for having kidnapped a girl or really? Is it simply a lie he tried to convince himself? (Read how Toto Constant, who mass – murdered pro – democracy activists, gang – raped women and mutilated dead bodies in Haiti, feigned remorse and emotion in his interview with Jon Ronson in The Psychopath Test)

All in all, are we going anywhere? Is he undergoing a psychological struggle or sinking into the quagmire of insanity or being just a downright psychopath? These questions rise from the fact that  the line between sanity and insanity; reality and imagination often blurs.

A Thangka (唐卡) on the 6 realms
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One thought on “Psychology in Master of Play (心戰)

  1. Tat says:

    鄭少秋 has great hairstyle in this movie.

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