OK kiddies, if you have stumbled across this page looking a Disney classic, you are going to be very disappointed, this is not a story of star crossed puppies, unless of course one of those puppies seared the face of it’s brother on a fire, then this is the story that you are looking for. For everyone else, I’m about to spoil some stuff for the TV series, so if you aren’t up to date, it’s time to click away. This week we are going to be having a double header in the Psychology of Game of Thrones series, looking at the Mountain and the Hound, brothers, both violent enforcers, but with very different story arcs at the moment.
The Brothers Clegane
So far we do not know a great deal about Sandor (The Hound) and Gregor Clegane (The Mountain) from the TV series (yes, I know that there are books – but this is written for the TV audience), however what we do know is that they are brothers who do not have a great deal of love for one another. They belong to the House Clegane, a house which has a strong allegiance to the Lannisters, with Gregor being it’s current head.
Sandor, the youngest of the two is nicknamed The Hound for several reasons, seemingly, for his dog like devotion and following of orders, for his dog-like helm and particularly for the hounds which emblazon the Clegane banner. He follows orders and will kill when required, but while brutal and violent, this is normally within the bounds of the law.
Gregor is named the Mountain that Rides, or more frequently, the Mountain, due to his sheer size. He is known to kill indiscriminately, and is rumoured to have raped and murdered many people because of small slights against him. Seemingly, both in everyday life and in war, The Mountain does not care for law and will kill whenever he feels the need to.
The Hound in particular wants his brother dead for the pain that he put him through when he pushed his face onto a brazier for playing with his toys, leaving The Hound with severe facial scarring and an abject terror at the thought of fire close to him which resembles a type of specific phobia.
Why so different?
Looking at the brothers in some of their inidividual scenes, you would have to ask why it is that that they are so different from one another. Some scenes see the (almost) paternal Hound providing guidance to the young Arya Stark and acting somewhat as her bodyguard. You could argue that he is merely taking her to sell her to one of her family members – but does the Hound really seem like someone motivated by money? It seems that he is a simple man, motivated by simple things – give him some ale and chicken and he will be fine, right? From my view, I see that the Hound can see a lot of himself in Arya, a simple urge to seek retribution for the wrongs in her life and to then live out a simple existence. It seems that The Hound is somewhat learning how to be social from Arya and how he should react to certain situations, by slowing down, rather than flying in with brute force.
On the other hand we have the Mountain, a man that we have seen quite rarely in the series, but when we do it is in scenes that are indiscriminately violent, most recently slaughtering what are assumed to be criminal offenders given a final trial by combat chance at life. In the interview that I did with Jeff Lindsay of Dexter, he notes that some people are just born bad (particularly referring to research that suggests that psychopaths have a certain fold in the brain where there usually isn’t one), and I would be inclined to suggest that this may be the case especially for the Mountain, not that he is a psychopath, but rather that there is some type of issue in his ability to regulate his emotion which is essentially in built. In a world where violence is the norm, The Mountain stands above all men in his ability to kill and fly into a rage at short notice.
One of the themes that we have seen is that The Hound has seemingly acted as somewhat of a passive keeper to The Mountain – fighting off The Mountain when he flew into a rage at Robert’s tournament, stopping him from killing Loras which we could assume would then lead to the execution of The Mountain. The question is, was the The Hound saving Loras or The Mountain?
From what I can see, The Hound may have begun to engage in this behaviour from an early age, due to the fact that The Mountain may fly into a rage at a moments notice and also due to the fact that there is some talk that the Mountain was responsible for the death of their younger sister. There is further insinuation in the story line that several servants have gone missing from the Clegane Keep and that this is most likely due to the The Mountain losing his temper at small slights.
Being a younger brother (yes, despite the appearance of the actors – The Hound is younger) is makes sense that Sandor may engage in behaviours that are somewhat risky and violence due to the fact that he has been raised with a violent sibling. Further, this learned behaviour, and engagement with such, may be less risky than actually disobeying Gregor. As Gregor is the heir (and now current head) to the household it would be important for Sandor to stay close to him in this tumultuous world and one where fortunes and allegiances can change at a moment’s notice.
While both brothers show a penchant for violence I would say that The Hound’s has come from nurture – through his early interactions with a volatile and violent brother, and living in a family which needs to show power and strength in order to maintain some form of allegiance with an even bigger family. There may be an element of nature to The Hound’s behaviour – his concrete thinking and apathy in relation to killing may be the sign of some genetic quirk, but would not account for the majority of his behaviour.
On the other hand, I would be of the opinion that Gregor’s violence is more of the nature type – it had an early onset from what we can understand, it is indiscriminate, there are multiple types involved (physical violence against others, against family, rape) and there is no remorse for his actions. In addition to this, the other factor which goes towards the nature angle is that of the explosiveness of the temper (think beheading his own horse) which indicates some developmental issue which has not been resolved. Again, there would be elements of nurture in Gregor’s behaviour, but I would suggest that rather than being made this way, he was born this way.
Diagnosis and Prognosis
Psychology and Psychiatry gets a lot of flack for the perception that people are diagnosed based on limited information, as though everyone who walks into a consult walks out with a shiny new diagnosis. This is not really the case at all, and is not the case for these brothers. I would say that there is no diagnosis required for either of the brothers, in saying this however I feel that the issues that they have (with rage, aggression, and general killy-ness) would be very hard for them to address in any meaningful way. I expect that, due to their lifestyle, that their long term outcomes will be relatively poor and that they will most likely die in violent circumstances, rather than growing old.
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