Personality Disorders in Fiction
by Sean Ian O’Meidhir
“I was dreaming when I wrote this, so forgive me if it goes astray…” So we were asked to write some blog posts and I’ll admit that I’m incredibly novice at this sort of thing – so as the song lyric goes…
Personality Disorders! I’ve opted to write to you good readers about something that I know well. For those of you who have not heard of a “personality disorder,” it is a diagnosable issue that causes problems in everyday life. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th ed. gives the definition as:
The essential features of a personality disorder are impairments in personality (self and interpersonal) functioning and the presence of pathological personality traits.
In essence, it’s the way a person sees the world, but it’s skewed, flawed, and consequently causes the individual difficulty at work, socially, and/or with their family. The personality disorder is really just a means of survival that has gone array. It’s “ego syntonic” meaning that it doesn’t feel wrong to the person because it’s just the way they are in the world.
I describe the personality disorder to people like this: everyone has a wall around them that they started building in childhood. Things that we learn as kids help to add the layers to the wall. This protects us. Everyone’s wall is different. I often have clients or classes go through the exercise of closing their eyes and imagining their personal wall. What does it look like? Color? Shape? What does it feel like? Is it flexible or solid? How tall is it or does it surround you entirely? What smell does it have, if any? Sound?
I’ve yet to meet anyone who has been unable to picture their own wall. That’s can be considered our “ego defense” – i.e. what protects us. And some of us learned in childhood that the world is incredibly unpredictable and so we built solid walls made of brick and keep everyone out. Some of us learned that the world is a friendly place, and so our walls might be waist high with open gates.
Whatever your wall is, it’s your own. The only problem is when your wall is so rigid that it keeps you from being able to interact with others in a wholistic and healthy way. There are ten identified Personality Disorders: Dependent, Avoidant, and Obsessive Compulsive; Borderline, Antisocial Narcissistic, and Histrionic; Schizoid, Schizotypal, and Paranoid. These are grouped into the “anxious, fearful,” the “dramatic, emotional, erratic,” and the “odd, eccentric” presentations. It is my contention that everyone has some traits of one or more of these. However, some people whose wall is so rigid that it interferes with their lives have really gravitated to one of these and it’s become their entire outlook that is difficult to challenge.
Writers (usually unconsciously) often incorporate traits into their writing. We often have the cold and distant MC who finds love and melts for the person who has won their heart. This could be someone with avoidant traits. We find MCs that are cruel and hateful, keeping everyone out until that right person comes in and teaches them it’s safe. This may be someone with antisocial traits. As a psychologist, I have had a lot of fun writing about various personality traits in fiction and consciously including them in writing.
In our book Escape: Crossing Nuwa (book 1) you’ll find that MC Theo has a narcissistic personality trait. We had several readers complain about how pompous and arrogant he came off and this was purposeful! Though we toned it down a little so we didn’t upset too many readers. Theo was raised in an alcoholic home as an only child. He’s plus sized and while he always had a lot of friends, he often felt very much alone. To defend against his inner feelings of low self-esteem, he projects an air of confidence and strength which people gravitate to. But sometimes he overdoes it and pushes people away, which is actually something he prefers. In book 1, we meet him and he’s come to the conclusion (at 22 years old) that he is going to be alone forever and that he prefers it that way. Safe. That is… until Robbie.
I think that exploring various personality traits and even disorders is a great way to connect with readers who themselves may be experiencing these same traits. I also think that it adds to a character’s depth because it makes them more relatable, realistic, and interesting. If you’re interested in learning more about personality traits or disorders, I encourage you to look it up online. If you think you might actually meet criteria for a personality disorder – DO NOT SELF DIAGNOSE. This is also known as “medical student syndrome” where people with new knowledge suddenly think they have every illness in the book. I definitely encourage you to seek out a doctor of psychology. There are tests that real doctors can administer that will help you gain insight and answers (please avoid the online free tests for this…) But be warned, having a personality disorder is often very difficult to treat or work through because it is an outlook on life, a way of coping. That said, I believe that insight goes a long way with helping all of us to take a pause before re-acting to allow us to respond in healthier ways.
About Crossing Nuwa: Escape
For sheltered Robbie, one week of freedom leads to sexual awakening and adventure… but when his world intersects with Theo’s, they’ll need all their wits and Theo’s magic to fight for their future.
Rare male weresnake Robbie has had his whole life decided for him down to his meals. But when the time comes for him to perform an unspeakable duty to his clan, he runs.
San Francisco Pride is in full swing when technomage Theo spots a scared-looking young man with brilliant emerald eyes. He’s only looking for a hookup, but before he knows why, he’s taking Robbie home and introducing him to champagne and enchiladas. He doesn’t have any intention of falling in love.
Robbie doesn’t want to return to his clan, at least not without trying to fit a lifetime of experiences into a week, but every day he stays puts Theo in more danger.
Available at: Amazon
An Excerpt from Crossing Nuwa: Escape
“Reality started to sink back in, and I was standing under the water, trying desperately to have the boiling spray chase away my ruminations from the previous night on the run. I don’t know how long I had been in there when a stir of air tickled across my back, alerting me that I wasn’t alone. I spun around to see him standing there. Naked! He was incredibly tall (which is saying something considering I’m six foot two and felt dwarfed), with his broad shoulders and a thick furry chest, bristly goatee, and the bright curly electric-blue hair that somehow shone in the fluorescents of the bathroom in a way that it hadn’t under the sun. His dark skin tone also shone differently with the indoor lighting, which seemed to illuminate the differences between us with my much paler skin. My eyes drifted down over his soft chubby belly to his manhood, which was sticking straight out at me! The burn of shame flowed over my entire head and shoulders as I almost lost my balance turning my immediate arousal away from him.
“Man, I hope you’re a bottom.” He exhaled as his huge arms encircled me. “I’ve never been wrong before.” His breath, warm against my ear, sent a cascade of goose bumps down my side.
My brain practically short-circuited. I was no longer thinking about Mother and my aunt chasing me. I was no longer worrying about where I was going to go or what I was going to do. The only thing I could focus on was the soft comforting pillow of his belly against my back coupled with the enticing hard pressure that slid against my rear and made my breath catch for reasons I couldn’t begin to process. I had never experienced anything like it in my life and was suddenly bombarded by too many emotions I couldn’t identify, had never experienced. Above all of them was exhilaration as every nerve felt electrified, alive. And then his hands were everywhere. He was holding… soap? The small knobbed bar of hotel soap slid across my chest and flat belly… lower, encircling me with a few gentle strokes that sparked sensations throughout my entire body, then back up over my shoulders, kneading gently but firmly.
About the Authors
Sean is a shrink who by day spends time in jails and prisons (evaluating criminals) and by night writes romantic fiction. Sean and partner live in San Francisco ruled by their three cats and can often be found trying new restaurants. With the understanding that they live in Heaven, Sean adores spending time sitting near the water with a laptop in hand, gazing at the bay and making daydreams a reality for others to enjoy. To read more about Sean’s adventures, please visit www.dreamersworkshop.com.
Connal Braginsky is a tech nerd that has taken a leap of faith and took a chance on writing. Born to Russian immigrants, he came out as gay at 19, and was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Asperger’s Syndrome).
He loves to read, and learn about Technology, Esoteric subjects and considers himself a transhumanist (the Russian Cosmism variety). His other pastimes revolve around philosophy which includes Panpsychism, Process Philosophy, Taoism, Buddhism and Gnosticism. He is also interested in various scientific fields, including Quantum Physics, Quantum Biology, Neurology, Psychology, and Sociology.