I know we’re supposed to hate Tom Marvolo Riddle, otherwise known as Lord Voldemort, but why should I? I mean, look at that face.
But I do feel for the character. In literature, villains can sometimes have the deck stacked against them, almost to the point that evil is the natural path for the character to go. I hold the mantra that “Until the last breath, every sinner can become a saint,” and part of me wishes that Voldemort would’ve ditched his evil and tried to find forgiveness for his evil deeds. But alas, it was Voldemort’s destiny to fall, like so many dark wizards before and so many dark wizards after will fall.
But why was Voldemort so evil? What took him down that path?
While looking through many disabilities and diagnoses, trying to find the reason for Voldemort’s turn towards the Dark Arts, I found a concept called Abandoned Child Syndrome. While the syndrome is not recognized by the DSM-5, neither is Asperger’s Syndrome. So forgive me if I do some hypothetical analysis.
According to several articles in the archives of the Human Rights Watch website, children can suffer from Abandoned Child Syndrome if they feel abandoned by their parents. Tom Riddle plays that card strongly. Because he’s the offspring of a Muggle father, Tom Riddle Sr., lured into a relationship with a magic-born mother by way of love potion, a father figure was never in the picture. Furthermore, mother Merope Gaunt died at childbirth, and the then-Tom Riddle Jr. was forced to remain in an orphanage until Albus Dumbledore hand-delivered his letter to Hogwarts
Symptoms of Abandoned Child Syndrome include:
- Alienation from the environment, including withdrawal from social activities and resistance towards others;
- Guilt, where the child believes that he/she did something wrong that caused the abandonment;
- Fear and uncertainty;
- Sleep and eating disorders;
- Physical ailments, such as fatigue, depression, lack of energy and creativity, anger, and grief.
Along with Voldemort’s inward anger and depression, the boy was most certainly a very withdrawn person. In the Harry Potter series, Voldemort shows contempt for any emotional attachment to people, caring more for his pet snake Nagini then any living human. Those who surround Voldement both at Hogwarts and during the war were servants, nothing more.
It’s hard to pinpoint what Voldemort would have guilt for, but I tie in his fear of death as a guilt as well. Because Voldemort is afraid to die, he feels that wizards could and should be able to cheat death. Said fear is the reason for the creation of the Horcruxes. As for severe guilt, the fact that Voldemort is a sociopath and psychopath could outweigh the feeling of guilt.
When it comes to Voldemort’s eating or sleeping patterns, I do have a theory. This is just a personal theory so don’t put too much stock into it. I figure that Voldemort would consider eating and sleeping to be a weakness, much like death. He would’ve tried to figure out a way to eliminate those parts of his life, along with the need to love, pretty early on.
Because of the lack of legitimate child services organizations in the wizarding world (which I will touch on sooner rather than later), Voldemort wasn’t found to be in need of help by anyone except for Dumbledore. And even Dumbledore just decided to keep an eye on him. I would think Dumbledore’s hatred for evil clouded his ability to try to help Riddle, which is a shame, since it is possible that the whole war may have been avoided.
So while I do not want to give Voldemort a pass for all the lives he destroyed, I do see that there were a lot of factors that went into his trip down evil lane. Yes, Voldemort is a psychopath. But there should have been a way for the Dark Lord to get help. There wasn’t, and that’s where things started to go south.