In the field of psychology, the study of people’s abnormal behaviors takes up a lot of analysis.
Here then are a few of the personality disorders that are probably the most well-known, but by no means encompass all of the known disorders so far. While the definition of these disorders may be greatly simplified, I try to define the disorder by focusing on the core symptoms as well as the likelihood of how a person with said disorder might react.
One such disorder to discuss is borderline personality disorder, which can be a little difficult to define.
The accepted definition is that people with this kind of disorder are: “…marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning.” Mood swings as well as unstable beliefs are all too recognizable in people with this disorder, as the chaotic nature of their minds prevents them from having a consistent grasp of reality. The underlying theme here is change, from the person’s own perception of the world around them. They switch from being a nice, loving person to a possibly dangerous, angry one, coming across as different every time because they are reacting to how they think the world is acting towards them.
A good example of a fictional character who might be recognized as having this disorder would be Star Wars’s Anakin Skywalker, the future Darth Vader, who according to a group of researchers, “Skywalker hit six out of the nine borderline personality disorder criteria as defined by the…DSM-IV.” (Hsu, 2010). In the Star Wars prequels, Anakin displays instability in being loving then murderous toward his loved ones (his wife Padme and his mentor Obi-Wan), seemed to have constant problems with recklessness and anger in charging into crisis situations, and struggled in his beliefs in choosing the Dark Side (going evil) or remaining a Jedi (hero). The word that will likely come into your mind when interacting with someone who has borderline personality is unstable.
Most people probably recognize what a narcissistic personality would look like.
Psychologists do argue over what would be the underlying definition of narcissism in a proper definition, but it has been summarized as, “…a more or less fragile sense of self that is predicated on maintaining a view of oneself as exceptional” (Caligor et al., 2015). They are most likely attention-seekers who demand that others focus solely on them instead of anything else. They view themselves as above others, a viewpoint that leaves little room for empathy. If you were to meet someone like this, they would likely ignore any attempt at conversation or behavior that did not revolve around recognizing their own superiority, and that’s not taking into account the possibility of them belittling you to further emphasize their own greatness. They take what they want from others because they feel that they deserve it, and they will gladly manipulate others in many ways to do so, which makes it hard to interact with them at all.
Probably one of the more prominent narcissistic fictional characters to be seen today can be found on HBO’s Game of Thrones, and it may be obvious to fans of the show: “[Cersei Lannister] is almost completely consumed by a pathological need for power, success and status and has precisely zero problem stepping on whomever she needs to in order to get it” (Shepard, 2016). For non-fans of the series, some of the things she does to be recognized as a powerful politician and queen include planning the assassination of innocent people and casually letting the poor people in the kingdom suffer because she views them as not worth her time, as well as letting thousands die in an explosion to rise up as the queen. Self-serving manipulation out of the desire for recognition is an unfortunate common trait in a narcissist, which means that you have to be careful to recognize when their narcissistic behaviors are affecting you.
One of the last disorders I’ll discuss is antisocial personality disorder.
It is recognized as, “…an enduring pattern of unlawful behavior, aggressiveness, deceitfulness, impulsivity, irresponsibility, reckless disregard for the welfare of others…manifest during adulthood” (Edens at al., 2015). You might be able tell that this kind of behavior essentially describes a majority of criminals, which researchers have found to be the case for those with antisocial personality. Someone who steals or abuses drugs, tends to be violent and manipulative toward other people, and is overall the kind of person who is likely to be incarcerated during their adulthood. Naturally, it can be difficult, though not impossible, to get through to them, but one has to consider the possibility that the antisocial person will not change so easily.
Most antisocial people are called psychopaths (a term that is debatable, but for another article), and one of fiction’s most recognizable people with this disorder is none other than, “The Joker from Batman. The Joker is a vicious, calculating, psychopathic killer…a criminal mastermind with a warped sense of humor and zero empathy” (Patterson, 2015). Those who may not be familiar with the comic book character should know that the Joker has an endless list of crimes that revolve around his enjoyment of violence toward others, his manipulation of others that lends credence to his being a criminal mastermind, and his lack of impulse control in committing crimes. Such crimes include the murder of a teenager (a heroic sidekick of Batman) who was trying to stop him, his domestic abuse and manipulation toward his female minion, Harley Quinn, and his consistent murder of innocent civilians that causes a superhero like Batman to fight against him on a daily basis. Most likely, you’ll want to avoid someone with antisocial personality disorder, lest they take out their violent impulses on you.
The disorders that I went into detail here are only three out of the many others that are out there. These disorders are called such because they are patterns of behavior that go against the social norm that the majority of people follow. Because of the deviation from normal behavior seen in these disorders, one should probably know what these disorders are in order to be able to more easily predict how people with these disorders will act toward them.