Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Perfect Villain

by Jean Henry Mead

While I was researching the criminal mind, I came across the narcissistic personality disorder, which I thought would conger up a great antagonist in 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 advance of anyone.
~They’re so self absorbed that they have no empathy for others.
~They feel that everyone else 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 to the extreme.

Know anyone like this? I always thought that narcissistic people spent a lot of time in front of mirrors, totally in love with themselves. I had no idea that they would make the perfect villains.

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 wouldn’t 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 the perfect villain.


Mark W. Danielson said...

Interesting post, Jean, but why do you refer to the villian as "he"? Seems to me there are plenty of women who fit this category, too:)

Jean Henry Mead said...

You're right, Mark. I used "he" generically.

Beth Terrell said...

You're right, Jean.

The narcissistic personality could make a great villain--or victim. Think how many enemies he--or she--would make.

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