Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Perfect Villain

While researching the criminal mind, I came across the narcissistic personality disorder, which I thought would conger up a great antagonist for my next 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 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 fictinal 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.


  1. It certainly sounds like you have, Jean. I look forward to another great read!

  2. Thanks, Anne. I'm looking forward to your next Muriel Reeves mystery as well. :)

  3. Could be the makings of a perfect villain but it also sounds rather like Sherlock Holmes too.

  4. True, Fi. I hadn't thought of that and Sherlock's drug usage. I imagine that the narcissistic personality would also be inclined to abuse drugs and alcohol.

  5. LOL For a second I thought you were talking about a few of today's politicians. JUST JOKING! Anyway, this personality would make for a terrific villian. Good blog!

  6. Great post, Jean. This type of personality would also be great to use for some strong secondary characters.

  7. Thanks, Marja. I think you're right about at least one of the politicians. :)

  8. Jan, I never thought about, but you're right. Some secondary characters could have some of the aforementioned traits.