Monday, April 17, 2017

Personality Quirks: Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissism has been been tossed around a lot in the last election cycle as some wonder if this condition has now reached our highest office. I’m no psychologist, nor do I suspect that reputable psychologist/psychiatrists would engage in armchair diagnosis. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a serious condition best left to the professionals. But as writers, we have none of those strictures, at least as long as we take care to do our research in order accurately to portray narcissistic characters in our work.

The definition of one with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (we’ll shorten to narcissism for this post) is extreme self-centeredness, vanity, and selfishness. The narcissist has a grandiose view of shis own talents, maybe even an erotic interest in shimself and shis personal appearance. Heesh craves and seeks admiration in an enduring pattern of behaviors. The narcissist cannot admit to fault either because heesh doesn’t recognize being at fault or because to admit fault would be to crack the fa├žade of created perfection.

Narcissism, of course, comes to us from the eponymous Greek character who fell in love with his perfect reflection in a pool of water, not realizing it was himself.

Scenarios for your narcissistic character might include a model or an actor who has made it on looks alone but who values shimself unrealistically for non-existent talents. When the looks go, so do the jobs, but the narcissist character can’t accept the new reality and so exhibits more bizarre and outrageous behaviors in attempts to be back on top.

Or maybe you write a narcissistic character who forms a cultish religion and takes shis flock to a remote area where heesh can become a god (Jim Jones style) to shis followers, attracting more and more people to the supposed utopian lifestyle. Such situations rarely end well for the demagogue because heesh is so out of touch with reality. Does your character end up in a suicide-murder situation? Or do authorities storm the compound to protect children?

Or maybe you write a narcissistic character who becomes, against all expected odds, President of the United States.

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Here are some ideas for #writers on creating narcissistic #characters from @RomanceRighter

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