Damian Lewis on psychopaths, sociopaths and Eton

    15 May 2016

    For Damian Lewis, life as an Old Etonian has proved tough. With the Homeland actor previously suggesting that his private education is more of a curse than a blessing, Lewis faced a petition earlier this year calling for him to be prevented from switching on lights at a state school in Tufnell Park — on the grounds that he attended Eton.

    While Lewis tells the Sunday Times that the woman in charge of the petition ‘missed the point of the occasion’, it seems he himself harbours plenty of concerns about his alma mater. Lewis says he would not send his own children there at such a young age as he attended:

    ‘I went at eight and I think that’s very hard. You go through something which, at that age, defines you and your ability to cope. There’s a sudden lack of intimacy with a parent, and your ability to get through that defines you emotionally for the rest of your life.’

    Lewis says that the ‘very violent experience’ of being separated from one’s parents can be bad for a child’s personal growth:

    ‘It’s a very violent experience in those first few weeks. It’s just, boom! And you deal with it. You snap into something else, you get on and then you go and run the empire. While it’s all very positive in terms of managing and negotiating life, it also does things that I don’t like when I see them in me.’

    The actor — who is married to Helen McCrory — goes on to hint that the experience means that those who study at the school can go on to display sociopathic tendencies:

    ‘Jon Ronson deals with it very entertainingly in his book on psychopaths. Are we governed and ruled by sociopaths who have been through that experience? By people who compartmentalise their emotional life so successfully that they can go straight to the top?’

    Surely Lewis couldn’t be suggesting that the Prime Minister is a sociopath?