Friday, July 19, 2013

A Great Villain

While I was researching the criminal mind, I came across the narcissistic personality disorder, which I thought would conger up a great 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 perfect 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 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.

~Jean Henry Mead


marja said...

I agree that you've found the perfect villain, and he's someone whom I hope I never come in contact with. Great post!
Marja McGraw

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, Marja. I unfortunately know a couple of people with most of the symptoms.

Bill Kirton said...

Excellent, Jean. Today's villains often have redeeming streaks but yours seems to be harking back to the good old days when morality was a less fluid concept. I must confess that I also thought narcissism was a relatively harmless, quite funny condition but this sets me straight.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, Bill. My villains have always had at least one redeeming quality, but I'm currently writing about a woman with extreme narcissistic tendencies and she's the murder victim. (A Murder in Paradise) :-)

Patricia Gligor said...

Great post!
"Crime and Punishment" is one of my all time favorite novels. It's fascinating to read about narcissistic people but not enjoyable when you have to deal with them in "real life." I know one such person and I avoid her like the plague.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I don't blame you, Pat. Unfortunately, I can't avoid the narcissistic people in my life.