A friend mentioned to me that annother person, we'll call him Rumplestiltskin, seemed to be trying to prove something. We speculated that his highly-successful parents must have made him feel less than special as a child. After a couple of minutes of bemoaning Rumple's inability to "let it go," we realized none of us is very good at doing that. Most of us have a difficult time getting over whatever slight we suffered as a child. I have a few friends and acquaintances who suffered various degrees of abuse and neglect. Many more had a sibling who was Mom's favorite.
My husband, the psychologist, is, frankly, surprised I am only now discovering this basic premise of the human psyche. Well, certainly I know about psychological theory, but doesn't it seem weird that we can live to be 95 years old and still find thosefirst eighteen years important enough to spend time discussing them. How many times can you question why Sister Sue got the Betsy Wetsy doll for Christmas, yet all you received was socks and underwear? These stories are useful for more than just entertaining Sister Sue; you can always blame your faults on past injuries.
Just think about the novels we read and write. If half the book doesn't entail a description of the character's childhood, the villain's evil intent is explained by a truly hideous mother and/or father. It's almost a universal requirement in every good story. Now there's a thought - if childhood was perfect, what would we write about?