The terrible twos, violence, and the Mars Return

Mars returnSpeaking of Mars, as we have been doing this month since Mars is retrograde, in close proximity to Earth, and part of the April Grand Cross of planetary conflict…

I was listening to the  of This American Life and was struck by what one of the psychologists said: that the peak of violence in a human being occurs at age two, so it’s a good thing these little monsters are so small and can’t do any real damage.   Age two, of course, is the age of the first Mars Return.  Technically, the first Mars Return occurs at age 23 months but the effect of the awakening of the Mars impulse: the impulse to say no, to create boundaries, to establish a pattern of assertion and aggression, continues over several months.

To understand the violent criminal, says Richard E. Tremblay, imagine a 2-year-old boy doing the things that make the terrible twos terrible — grabbing, kicking, pushing, punching, biting.

Now imagine him doing all this with the body and resources of an 18-year-old.

You have just pictured both a perfectly normal toddler and a typical violent criminal as Dr. Tremblay, a developmental psychologist at University College Dublin in Ireland, sees them — the toddler as a creature who reflexively uses physical aggression to get what he wants; the criminal as the rare person who has never learned to do otherwise.

In other words, dangerous criminals don’t turn violent. They just stay that way.

Around age two toddlers begin to understand that their are limits to the world around them.  There are things that they want that they cannot have, which makes them want these things all the more.  This is straight out of the Mars playbook.  Temper tantrums result, as the toddler explores where the boundaries of the parents limits may lie – also Mars territory.

We continue to have Mars returns throughout our lives, every two years like clockwork, but obviously they don’t all bring about peaks of violence.  The question of why some people get stuck in their Mars return and others grow beyond it would be an interesting question for a research project.   Perhaps I will tackle it soon.


By | 2018-06-18T07:40:08+00:00 April 14th, 2014|Crime, Psychology|5 Comments


  1. Jeannie Ritchie April 14, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    When I was parent of 2 years olds I arrived prepared by being educated in the developmental stages of children and knew that age 2 they would be individuating from me – previous to which children identify so completely with their primary care provider that they do not distinguish ‘themselves’ as separate from the parental figure. Because I was informed of what changes were occurring in them, whenever they behaved in ways that refused the status quo, as in “No! Me do it!” instead of resisting their wishes I responded with patience and with the intent to foster their individuation as best as circumstances allowed. Consequently – no temper tantrums arose. I was a wonderful stage – like all the stages of revelling in their creaturehood and the divine mystery of life. They were validated in their innate need in the moment and helped to express their power in healthy ways. It was fun and I was highly motivated both by this true love for them, the profound sense of responsibility I was committed to care for them and knowing that should this stage of growth go unfulfilled, the consequences could arrest their capacity to know their own personal power for good deeds on their own behalf and on behalf of others for the rest their lives. I have been appalled lifelong how many parents punish and shame rather than foster natural growth, which points to the need for literacy of natural imperative organic developmental stages of the human being. Even the label “terrible twos” is grossly inappropriate, as if the child is somehow at fault for being a human being with natural developmental needs and for being right on track by rebelling and individuating. The cruelty that is visited upon 2 year olds is not only a likely source of later criminal behavior but is a source of tremendous suffering in many adults – though not criminal – who were not sufficiently supported in this stage of development to move through it successfully. There is a clear distinction between natural aggression and violence – the former when the child is firmly guided within safe perimeters and through virtuous modelling develops their self-restraint, the later lacking wholesome parental perimeters leads to lack of capacity for self-soothing, self-restraint, self-nurture and deferred gratification. This is the subject of an entire book, while it is safe to close in saying that effective, wholesome and healthy parenting, through universal education of the organic growth and development of the human being’s first 7 years of life is one of the many necessities crucial to the betterment of our world and eradication of endemic suffering and to laying the desperately needed foundations of the well-being, the peace and prosperity of mankind. Loving the planets ever so much for brilliantly assisting me to transform and evolve when I work consciously with ‘what is’ to assist the process. GRATEFUL to you Lynn for your knowledge of astrology well shared. Miss your regular contributions, know you’re in a major developmental process and keep you in my prayers for your victory. Astrology not being an exact science sure is a tremendously useful tool on the path. Love and utmost best wishes to you and your loved ones!

  2. edna April 16, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Bless you, Jeannie Ritchie! Your post makes my heart sing!

  3. Sue April 17, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Agreed! Thanks for a wonderful perspective! …..have you considered writing a book?

    • April 21, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      Yes Sue, many times. In fact the whole outline of the book is written. But instead, I am blogging. 🙂

  4. Jeannie April 19, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Much thanks, Edna and Sue for the encouragement in your sweet words! Yes, I am writing, God willing, a book, with the objective of inspiring hearts to throb, radiant with joy, with love, delight, laughter and exultation. Assuredly we are growing and expanding in our individual and collective capacity to contribute to the betterment of the whole world, for the love of our Universal Beloved and this Most Great Beauty of all Creation, on behalf of our loved ones and all in our sphere of influence. Love and blessings to you and yours.

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