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An Analysis of Ego in Fact Based Dramas.

In watching “The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe”.

The story of John Darwin and his wife Ann who were charged with fraud for faking his death and then supporting him coming back apparently suffering from amnesia. It was astounding in its complexity and if it was not fact based you would almost question the far-fetched story. It’s an uncomfortable watch at times, especially with dishonesty in relation to the sons who were grieving their father. This went on for years as he went into hiding which at times was just next door. You can see how the control in the marriage was there, as Ann followed his directions and her thoughts and feelings were exploited and manipulated. It was truly stunning and a delight that this drama was made, even for Ann and the sons, as it showed the power of these toxic relationships and how they operate. Eddie Marson played John Darwin and he is a superb actor for unusual characters with ego.


This takes me onto the “Drama deceit” in which he played Paul Britton the Forensic Psychologist on the Colin Stagg case, who was disgraced after an undercover operation of unethical staging took place, to try and catch Rachael Nickels' murderer. Although, Paul Britton was disgraced, the mis-conduct charges were dropped.

I felt incredibly sad watching this as you could see the ego playing out with arrogance and not listening with Paul Britton. I remember when Paul Britton was at his best professionally thus, highly regarded, as I was studying forensic psychology at the time. His work was outstanding and I was in awe as he was so gifted. However, the ego took over in a negative way leading to the downfall of the case and the other members involved in this, including Paul Britton himself.

I can see this in my profession and its operation in the information we are exposed to nowadays on social media where people think they have the answers in a totality way. The ego operates and can leave us blindsided to what we really need to see. It also stops us listening to stuff that may be important.

With this I will mention that Marson is great at playing these roles of egotistical characters that get carried away with themselves and stop listening to the potential reality in front of them. A warning to us all.

Paul Britton’s books are really excellent though, even if one has to turn over from the chapter on the Colin Stagg dispute. He was involved in the James Bulger case, and the Wests case, successfully. It’s a shame that the disgrace of what happened has tainted his reputation, the book and his work. However, these are the consequences as people’s lives were at stake and impacted. When you go in the wrong directions and you think you're right, perhaps it’s a lesson to listen to others.

Picking Up the Pieces

The Jigsaw Man by Paul Britton

Both Picking up the Pieces and the Jigsaw Man show Paul Britton and his work. These are worth reading as they capture the intuition that one can have when looking at human behaviour. They also show the passion and heart in working with people and what this meant to the author himself. That is the tragic sadness for everyone all around. Sometimes those in positions that hold so much risk really cannot afford to get it so wrong.

“I let Him Go”

Another book I have read which is relevant to the above is “I Let Him Go” From the mother of James Bulger- Denise Fergus. It’s a harrowing and heartbreaking true story of a mother’s loss because of the most horrific abduction, by children and the murder of her child. Denise really does present pain as it is, in its raw state. With such an honest account of excruciating pain, and the will to go on, being about the fight for her son’s rights. I remember the case well, as my son was the same age as James at 18 months old and I was doing my psychology degree at the time. It did make me obsessional with troublesome and intrusive thoughts, as I could not get my head around what had happened and how I would be, if it was me. It really rocked my faith in humanity and what life is all about. Denise really weaves this through this shocking and soul crushing book.

In relation to the relevance to Paul Britton, it's sad that he was not mentioned in the book, though I would understand, since he was disgraced. He was one of the psychologist’s on the case, as I remember the profound input he had, when the case switched from looking for an adult murderer to children. The shock of the fact that children would be capable and how he was interviewed on this reality. Truly powerful and profound stuff.


The ego is part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and unconscious and is responsible for reality testing. It also forms a sense of our personal identity and how solid we feel inside. It is neither a good thing or a bad thing. It's not as simple as it’s negative or positive. Rather, if it effects our personal make up to an extent that we are overpowered by our own importance thus, exploit issues and positions. Then it’s ruling us rather than we are keeping it in check.

We all have stuff about self -esteem, intelligence, importance, solidness, health and determinations. The ego can weave in and out of these processes as we navigate life. It's when we let it take over thus, it's all about us, or, we stop listening to anyone else. We don’t let other perspectives in but assume ours is the most important and even superior. Then it becomes counterproductive and even dehumanising.

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