In the Matrix part II and the beginning of part III the crew member who was infected by Agent Smith (Bane) cuts himself.

The female crew member in part III who brought Trinity food told her the same and speculated that they might be "VDT's".

I don't fully understand this. What are VDT's and why would Agent Smith engage in self-cutting unless he has borderline personality disorder or depression or something?

  • If you want to know what VDTs are canonically, that question has already been asked (and has not been answered). There is speculation, though.
    – Adamant
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 3:33
  • @Obie2.0 Fair enough and good call out. If the rules here are the same as on StackOverflow I think that I still get to re-ask it as part of the question though if the prior post didn't have an accepted answer.
    – Hack-R
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 3:34
  • I think so. I'm not closing as duplicate, anyway.
    – Adamant
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 3:35
  • Why is he doing it? Because he hates being trapped in a meatbag. What are VDTs? No one seems to know.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 4:00
  • 1
    We have a reasonably canonical answer why Bane was cutting himself. The other question should (hopefully) deal with what VDTs are. Since you've asked two distinct questions (1 - Why is Bane cutting himself? & 2 - What are VDTs and why would someone with them cut themselves?) I'd suggest trimming the second question out of your question entirely.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 22:50

3 Answers 3


Bane's actions, in terms of cutting himself, seem to be motivated by sensory overload. Although he's experienced a range of inputs before, the sheer volume and intensity of the five human senses, especially sound and smell (something he mentioned in the first film as being one of his personal triggers) are simply overwhelming to him.

The film's original script specifically states that his reason for cutting his skin is to give him a single sensation to focus his attention on while he waits for Neo.

Bane sits hidden in the shadowed caves connecting Zion to the dock. He crouches in an alcove, both arms marked with dozens of knife cuts.

His eyes are animal wide, shifting, blinking, reacting to every sound, every smell but always returning his attention to the cut as if using it to focus his thoughts.

Finally, through the tangle of pipes and stalactites, he sees what he has been waiting for: Neo.

Matrix Reloaded: Script

As to what VDTs are, the simple answer is that we don't know.

  • My money’s on VDTs being: 1) a mental condition or 2) even out of the Matrix humanity has managed to form a narcotic of sorts Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 13:10
  • @MissouriSpartan - Sure, but we don't know for certain.
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 13:12
  • right. That’s why I formed my comment with “my money’s on”. It’s a guess. Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 13:14

Smith is made by the machines which view everything as an equation. Neo and Smith are polar opposites balancing out an equation. Neo's goodness, kindness and love are balanced with Smith's anger and hatred for all things human. When Smith enters a human body (Bane) he can't help but harm it even though he is feeling the pain of doing so.


My guess is that being a virtually immortal, overpowered (guardian-)program that found itself in the real world, Bane (Smith) started cutting himself to experience something real. Sure, he could feel pain in the matrix when, and if, he was hit or shot, but that pain was virtual, he'd shrug it off instantly. In the real world, the pain stayed with him, it gave him an understanding of the real world, of his limitations therein, and possibly, a further understanding of the human condition (though this last part is iffy, considering how he couldn't understand Neo even after beating him up in the end of Revolutions).

  • This somewhat contradicts the accepted answer - that he cut himself to create a focus so he could avoid sensory overload - so you really should provide some evidence for this.
    – DavidW
    Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 23:54

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