Friday, February 14, 2014

An Unlovable Character

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. I hope you're enjoying this day with loved ones.

Instead of  writing about romance, as most bloggers are posting today, I decided to write about people who love themselves more, or instead of, others. They may even be incapable of true love.

While I was conducting research, I came across the narcissistic personality disorder, which I thought would conger up a good villain for a future novel. I had no idea that the disorder was so complex or that it bordered on psychosis.

A person suffering from the disorder is characterized by an excessive need to be admired as well as feelings of grandiosity—probably what used to be called “The Napoleon complex.” I couldn’t quite picture my villain running around with his hand stuffed in his shirt, so I looked for further symptoms.

This is what I found:

~People with the disorder have achieved great things because they consider themselves so special that they can’t possibly fail.
~They confine their relationships to only those people they feel are worthy of them.
~They have no qualms about taking advantage of others.
~They’re so self absorbed that they have no empathy for anyone.
~They feel that everyone envies them.
~They’re preoccupied with fantasies of power and success.
~They think they deserve adoration from everyone.
~They have a sense of entitlement to everything they desire.
~They’re arrogant in the extreme.

Know anyone with some or all of the above characteristics? Before I began writing mystery novels,  I thought that narcissistic people spent a lot of time in front of mirrors, totally in love with themselves. I didn't think of them as having the characteristics for fictional villains until the "aha" light bulb snapped on.recently.

Psychologist Phyllis Beren revealed red flags that alert her to someone with the disorder: a desire to control other people, excessive lying, running other people down, an attitude of “my way or the highway,” sadistic behavior and over development of one area of the personality at the expense of others.

So, if someone values himself over others, has little empathy, grandiose ideas and little self-awareness, he might not hesitate to commit a crime to achieve his goals. He’s like Raskolnikov’s extraordinary man in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and above the law.

I think I’ve found my perfect villain.

~Jean Henry Mead


Morgan Mandel said...

Wonderful grist for villains! And, yes, I know of more than a few people who fit the descriptions you described, and they landed in jail. People like that think they're too clever to get caught.

Morgan Mandel

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Oh, boy, do I ever know someone who fits this description. Wow!

Barry Knister said...

I will risk being accused of saying the obvious by saying the obvious: the attributes you list for the personality disorder more or less describe the attributes needed for success in politics.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I know a few people who fit into this category too, and I'm surprised they're not yet in prison.

Barry, I couldn't agree with you more about politicians and heads of state. Pretty frightening when you consider how they affect our lives.

Mar Preston said...

Lots of them are sociopaths too, somewhat the same but different. How come I've run into so many serving on nonprofit boards of directors? You'd think they'd all be nice people working for a worthy goal. Oh, boy!

Jean Henry Mead said...

Yes, you're right about the sociopath connection. I'm afraid you can find them just about anywhere, including nonprofit organizations. But, forewarned is forearmed, so hopefully we can steer clear of them whenever possible.

Kathryn Edgar said...

I'm not saying this person has been diagnosed with this...but they do have every attribute on the list & make a fascinating case study if you are considering writing this type of character at some point, so......

Watch Farrah Abraham. She was on Teen Mom and was hard to watch but as she matured she has done a Dr Phil & now she's on Couple Therapy. You could probably skip everything and just watch the Dr Phil, then read about the video she released - hiring a boyfriend, etc then read how she hired a boyfriend for Couples Therapy....then watch a few of her episodes there. It's disturbing but gives you an idea of how completely delusional this type of behavior can be. For instance she brags she is writing a series of erotica & a Christian parenting book. She has written a terrible kids book & a book about her teen pregnancy so she is now a national bestselling author.

Again, I can not say she has been diagnosed with this illness but I think if you studied her you could learn a lot more about these "traits" in action. I observe some of these reality people simply because they make great research LOL