1. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Insane Characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Killer300, Aug 18, 2011.

    Okay, this is something I'm wondering. Has there been a book that starred a character that was completely insane as the hero(anti-hero probably but still)? I don't mean quirky or just mentally different, I mean someone who has like severe schizophrenia for example. I also don't mean a story starring a serial killer, with the exception of the Dextar series, for the above reason.
    The closet example I think can think of is a book called St Juan, which starred a teenage girl with severe bipolar disorder. It was really great, but unfortunately it ended rather quickly(I think it was about 200 pages at most, and it felt like much less.)
    I bring this up because mentally ill characters seem rather rare as protagonists. We've seen many that are sympathetic, but they are usually regulated to antagonist roles. Why? Is it because we're scared of them so can't view them as protagonists? Or is it because so few people attempt even to write from such a viewpoint?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey is written entirely from the point of view of a schizophernic patient.
     
  3. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Oh? Ah, the perspective is different than in the movie. Okay, thanks, I'll keep that in mind.:)
     
  4. proserpine
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    proserpine Member

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    The Dead Zone by Stephen King portrays Johnny Smith as unhinged to the populace, but the reader knows? hopes? that he is a hero.

    Lolita's Humbert Humbert is basically a pedophile, but the book makes you see things from his perspective. However, he is no hero.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    How about _I Never Promised You A Rose Garden_ and _Sybil_?

    And in the books for teens category, _Lisa, Bright And Dark_. I think that its point of view was a friend of the person with the mental illness, though.
     
  6. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    I Never Promised You a Rose Garden and Lisa Bright and Dark sound AMAZING! I'm so glad I started this thread now, thanks guys!:)
    Sybil not as much, not sure how realistic is in relation to the mental illness considering many mistakes about it, but that's another story.
     
  7. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    The first thing that comes to my mind is "Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde".
     
  8. KinkyCousin
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    KinkyCousin Member

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    I once wrote a short piece from the point of view of a schizophernic patient for my Creative Writing course at uni, it was interesting to write and I got a pretty good grade for it. A lot of things I write involve mental illness or metaphors for it.
     
  9. PastPresentNFuture
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    PastPresentNFuture Senior Member

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    I know too many insane characters from reading Japaneese Mangas :p
     
  10. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    Insane is again one of those subjective adjectives.

    Some people would call Hitler insane, but he was pretty rational and sane in his own rights. Just very set on his beliefs.

    People used to think Einstein was insane. Some would say polygamy is insane, other think it's the greatest thing in the world.

    In whatever way you want to portray insanity, the difference between sane and insane usually lies in perception.
     
  11. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Insane =/= mentally ill.

    For example, someone who suffers from depression is mentally ill, but not insane by any stretch of the word. Same for someone who's obsessive-compulsive. Someone with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder may have short periods of insanity, while still being burdened by their illness the rest of the time.

    Writing from the viewpoint of someone who's completely insane is hard, since their thoughts and view on reality will be confusing to the reader. Writing from the viewpoint of someone who's merely mentally ill doesn't need to be that hard.
     
  12. J.P.Clyde
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    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

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    Same here. I mean I write mentally ill or unhinged characters all the time. Not the uni bit.
     
  13. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Well, for a point of reference, I'm looking for characters that have severe hallucinations, delusions, or, in the case of bipolar disorder, severe manic episodes as examples.
    I have to agree with how Islander is defining insanity though.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter Thompson?

    Some may consider him a humorist, but I think he is rubber room material.
     
  15. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    The film A Beautiful Mind, is based on a true story of a lecturer with a mental illness.
     
  16. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Edgar Allan Poe wrote stories from the point of view of insane (or delusional) characters. "The Tell-Tale Heart" is a good example.
     
  17. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you have a case. Sociopathic, certainly.

    King Lear goes mad, of course, although he's no hero.

    There might be questions about whether V in V for Vendetta is sane -- or a hero.

    Peter Ackroyd's Hawksmoor -- well, I'm giving no spoilers.

    Mike Riddell's The Insatiable Moon (book and film) is centred on a character who appears to be a schizophrenic who think's he's the second son of God (I say "appears to be" because who knows, he might be the second son of God).

    In Pan's Labyrinth it's left ambiguous whether Ofelia was hallucinating or not.

    Those last two give a bit of a theme: uncertainty over what is real and what is hallucination.
     

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