Psychological games that people play : 5. The Rebel


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For my first post on this series, please click here.

Psychologists and educators often have issues with children or teenagers who possess a rebellious streak. It does not matter if this tendency to rebel is innate, or if it’s due to their life experiences but one thing is certain – most of such individuals thrive on conflict (Note: although some may be averse to conflict, they will still choose confrontation if circumstances goes against the values and beliefs they live by), and their motives are often driven by their cause of their retaliations.

These individuals often take on the role of the Rebel, taking on opposition whose stand is contrary to their own. The size of their opposition doesn’t matter. It could be as trivial as an issue that needs to  be clarified such that they are not wronged, to going against an establishment for any transgressions which they deem as an injustice.

“The Rebels often do not go along with the established norms. They usually have their own set of rules and mindsets and they almost never waver in their faiths.  The Rebels are often unpopular in corporate organisations since they are not considered to be a team player (a skill set which most organisations look for in recent years), and they also tend to argue or engage in alternations with their superiors at times.”

While the Alpha Males / Authoritarians seek primarily to direct and control (which means getting people to obey, but will allow opposing voices to work under them as long as these dissidents know that the Alpha Males / Authoritarians are the ones in charge), the Rebels often do not bother with the consideration of having anyone work under them, which increases the chances of the Alpha Males / Authoritarians being placed in the leadership positions rather than the Rebels.

Another primary difference between the Alpha Males / Authoritarians and the Rebels is that while the Alpha Males / Authoritarians often start from nothing and establish their turf from scratch by gradually building up their band of followers, the Rebels often have no wish of a large following but instead, they like to take on opposition on their own. Pitting oneself against a juggernaut such as an organisations is well among their preferred options.

Individuals embodying traits of a Rebel have their positive sides as well, of course, as can be seen in a Rebel protecting a weak student from an aggressive bully, or a Rebel defending relentlessly against the injustice and prejudice of an organisation. While the Alpha Males / Authoritarians’ charisma lies in their ability to take charge, the Rebels are charming precisely because they believe in a cause and they will fight for it tenaciously.

“It is hence, extremely crucial that the Rebels are fighting for the right cause in the right way such that tragedies do not happen, as they had, in the case of Macbeth and Brutus (who is said to play a leading role in taking down Julius Caesar). Individuals taking on the role of rebels should ensure that their cause is just. Fighting for environment conservationism, global universal education, eradicating discrimination and removing worldwide poverty are reasonable causes that they can dedicate their lives to.”

Both the Alpha Males’ / Authoritarians’ and the Rebels’ aspirations in life often stems from a desire for power and respect (which is a universal aspirations for most of us, but more so for them). They should dissociate their causes from a desire to acquire power since power often has the ability to corrupt.

As Benjamin Elijah Mays, author of “Born to Rebel: An autobiography” said:

“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideal, but it is a disaster to have no ideal to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is sin.”

Hence, herein lies the ultimate justification of the Rebels.


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Alter ego of the Rebel:

The Usurper

In its worst form, the role of the Rebel will manifest into the role of the Usurper, one who condemns all states of existing authority and  strive with all his might to topple it, after which new existing rules are enforced based on his directions and aspirations.

Many movies have been made on the role of the Usurper, the most popular being Macbeth. As can in observed, in Macbeth’s case, he was originally a Loyalist, a role which we will discuss in subsequent blog posts for this series. However, with the instigation of his wife and the predictions of the three witches, he was tempted to take the throne for himself. As his wife’s schemes take shape, Macbeth began to change from a Loyalist into a Rebel and ultimately, a Usurper.

The urge to have things go our way is deeply etched into the human psyche and it cannot be changed. Opting to live for stability or moving out of our comfort zones are just some ways where humans seek to establish some control over our lives.

Some feel that the best way to live one’s life is to live and let live, of which I am sure that there are many who will disagree, the first of which will be the Rebels. Adapting to changing circumstances may not be their forte but creating a change that benefits the world positively through peaceful means may well worth their consideration.

In the next blog post, we will look at the a role that is very different from the Alpha Male / Authoritarians and the Rebel – the Child.



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