Tags:
  1. Want2Write
    Offline

    Want2Write Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2011
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    United Kingdom

    Stubborn in principles, but NOT a psycho!

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Want2Write, Jul 18, 2011.

    I always think that a character who is stubborn in his principles are easily branded as a Psycho, especially if his principles doesn't suit a normal lifestyle.

    In my previous serial story I had a person who believes that women should not be as independent as men. We like it or not, that's what the protagonist believes and he goes on performing some actions based on his belief. So as soon as his character is revealed, the readers started to assume that he is a Psycho, and they started to view the story as yet another psychological thriller.

    Then I had to cook some deliberate conversations between the characters to say that the protagonist is not a psycho, but just a person who is stubborn in his beliefs.

    I understand its just the thin line to cross when we attempt to portray a person whose opinions are not as normal as regular ones and say that he is not a psycho.

    What's a good approach that I should have followed to avoid that confusion?

    Thanks in advance.

    W2W
     
  2. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Not by anyone with a reasonable level of intelligence, I wouldn't think.

    That is a ridiculous leap to make. There may be readers who would have some unflattering things to say about such a character, they might even despise such a character, but I doubt anyone would automatically assume that he was mentally ill, unless you portray him as such. Did you paint him as a frothing-at-the-mouth sexist with Jack The Ripper type tendencies? Or just someone with old fashioned values?
     
  3. seelifein69
    Offline

    seelifein69 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2011
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    SW Florida
    Flawed characters make stories readable. He doesn't have to be a psycho, my grandfather was very much like that, and I didn't think he was a psycho just old fashioned.

    Your the artist as you paint the picture, so if you make him out to be a regular guy with some messed up views, he will be. Or, like Ed said, "you paint him as a frothing-at-the-mouth sexist with Jack The Ripper type tendencies."
     
  4. Trilby
    Offline

    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,098
    Likes Received:
    69
    Location:
    NE England
    A stubborn person and a psycho (psychopath) are two different things.

    A stubborn person will stick to their views, even when proved wrong they are hard to budge.

    A psychopath is someone suffering from a serious mental illness with extreme violent tendencies.

    I cannot see how a reader could be confused by these obviously different characteristics.

    I can only think therefore it must be something else in your ms that is causing the confusion - does your stubborn character have bouts of unprovoked extreme violence?
     
  5. JeffS65
    Offline

    JeffS65 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2009
    Messages:
    297
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    Why? Why would you think that? That is a very 'all or nothing' position. If the person is stubborn in believing that beating animals is a good thing, then a psycho. If the stubborn person believes that it is immoral to not live together before marriage, then not a psycho.

    I have a friend that believes that psychics have answers. I do not as I'm a pretty died in the wool skeptic. Do I think my friend is crazy? No. I just believe something different than her.

    Therein lies the point, unless you are writing your characters as crazy, stubborn adherence to a principle is in and of itself not psycho.
     
  6. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,969
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    I feel as if I need some specifics here. A character who says, "I think that it's really best for society when a woman stays home with the kids and the man is responsible for dealing with the outside world" may be a sexist, but not psychotic. A character who says, "Yes, I stole your car keys and I'm not giving them back until your husband assures me that you have his permission to drive," is indeed pretty crazy. Where does your character fall in this range?

    ChickenFreak
     
  7. Want2Write
    Offline

    Want2Write Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2011
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    Thank you everyone for your replies. Sorry my post wasn't clear. I will give the whole plot to make a decision on the person's character.

    The protagonist is madly in love with a beautiful girl. But that girl since her childhood is taking care of a crippled father (both the hands and legs don't function). She was doing all his basic duties like changing/cleaning/feeding, and she was doing that for over a decade. The hero seeing all these assumes herself in a pathetic situation, and also believes that he can give her a more quality and luxurious life, proposes her. The girl who was also in love with him, but thinking her father she rejects his request. The hero believes that he has to save her from that life and also considers the act as a mercy killing, and kills her father (completely painless)!

    The girl have absolutely no idea about this goes to live with him in different state. He gives her a rich life but also insists her that he can take care of her and protect her only if she is in home. But the girl argues that she had to get out of the home, go for some job, meet some new people etc. The hero who had bitter experiences in the past, rejects her requests. At some point he had to beat her when she becomes too hard to control. But after she cooled down, he comforts her and even cries for her pain.

    The thing is the fact that he committed a murder and behaved violently makes him look like a psycho. In my opinion a psycho is a person who does some act due to some mental illness, or one who have no control over his own actions. But this anti-hero is perfectly well. He did all these things well planned and well thought. He committed murder because he thinks that the only way he can bring the girl out of the monotonous life and show her what happiness really is!

    He takes all possible measures to hide this murder from the girl. But finally she gets to know about the murder and tricks him to death.

    When I say the story in nutshell, yes he sounds like a psycho. But, not all murderers or who exhibit violence once in a while are Psycho. That's what I tried to explain, but indeed failed miserably. I just didn't want the story to look like a Psychological thriller.

    What do you think? Is he indeed a psycho? Or would there have been a slightest chance for me to show him as a non-psycho but just a very bad man?

    w2w
     
  8. teacherayala
    Offline

    teacherayala Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    Messages:
    314
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Panama
    He's a psycho, however well-intentioned in his own thinking. The only way to show this in my opinion is to make it 1st person in order to show the intentions to be kind/loving, etc. However, it also has to be clear that his behavior is erratic, controlling, and completely off-base.

    There's also one part that doesn't make sense to me. Why wouldn't the girl marry him because she is thinking of her father? How would the marriage NOT be advantageous to her taking care of her father even better than she is doing? I'm not quite understanding why he is an obstacle unless he senses something about your protagonist and mandates the girl to reject the proposal.
     
  9. Want2Write
    Offline

    Want2Write Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2011
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    The lives of the girl and the protagonists are in completely different states. If she marries him she have to move with him, but due to some other unavoidable reasons, she can't move with her father and also she feels her father is her responsibility and she cant burden the husband-to-be... And the protagonist thinks as long as her father is alive, she cant see what's out there in the world other than her father.

    your idea is good. Yes in first person, I can slowly take the readers into the feelings... Thanks very much...

    w2w
     
  10. CosmicHallux
    Offline

    CosmicHallux Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2011
    Messages:
    130
    Likes Received:
    3
    The nutshell is going to remind a lot of people of your typical, controlling, abusive husband. Since spousal abuse and murder are still huge problems in the world, I think this guy will seem threatening to the average reader. He rationalizes just like an abuser would when "he had to beat her because she was getting out of control."

    It sounds like an interesting plot. I'm not sure what you mean when you say you don't want him to seem psycho, but just bad. He sounds pretty bad to me.

    If you are trying to suggest that he is bad-- not because he is psychologically unstable, but because of his stubborn beliefs-- then you have reality on your side (and new studies).

    New studies suggest that abusive men are more consistent (as a group)in their belief systems and attitudes about women (which can be culturally sanctioned) than by any unstable psychological characteristics.

    According to Lundy Bancroft, "Most batterers and most child sexual offenders (including incestuous) show normal results on psychological testing. Mental health evaluations provide very little information about likelihood to reoffend. Both problems can therefore be concluded to have their roots primarily in attitudes and belief systems, reinforced by peers and by cultural messages, and cannot be defined as psychological or sexual illness or “deviance.” "

    In other words, we tend to see people like this guy as "psycho", but they are really fairly logical. They just abuse because they feel justified by their beliefs and attitudes.

    I guess, if you want to strengthen the argument that the guy is not abusive due to mental instability--maybe show his beliefs, thoughts, and justification a lot. You could also suggest where he got those beliefs from. Maybe you could even show him explaining (not completely objectively)the situation to another character who was not directly involved, and have that character show support for the protagonists actions.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,969
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    I wouldn't agree that this story demonstrates the MC's principle that women should be less independent. To me, it demonstrates the MC's principle that he should get whatever he wants, no matter what the consequence to others. The MC wraps his desires in a lot of excuses and delusions, but that's what it seems to come down to.

    Edited to add: For example, would he murder the father if there were no chance whatsoever that the girl would come live with him? Would he do it purely for his delusional belief that it would make her happier? Would he do it so that she could marry some _other_ controlling man who would (in his delusional beliefs) keep her happy by depriving her of independence? I suspect not. I suspect that if he didn't get the girl, if _he_ didn't benefit, he wouldn't have taken the action.

    Mental illness? I don't know if he'd go to a hospital for the criminally insane, or just go to prison, but he's certainly not mentally _well_. Whether he truly thinks he loves the woman or is only pretending to, he's demonstrating a complete lack of morals and a complete lack of empathy. The lack of empathy is particularly serious in the case where he thinks he loves her; a mentally well person has empathy for the people that they believe that they love. (I emphasize "believe that they love" because I would argue that you can't truly love someone for which you have no empathy.) The lack of morals applies in either scenario.

    The fact that he can calmly and effectively plan his crimes doesn't change the fact that he's doing things that very badly hurt someone that he either claims or truly believes that he loves. He is mentally broken, or morally/ethically broken, or both. Now, there's some debate over whether people who are morally/ethically broken are actually mentally ill, but I don't see any scenario where this is not primarily about psychology.

    However, if you want him to simply be bad, then I think that you'd be more convincing if he _didn't_ have those delusions - if he were flat-out knowingly selfish, committing these crimes because he wants sole possession of the beautiful girl, a girl that he values no more than, and perhaps less than, a beautiful car or boat. A possession, who will be discarded when she's no longer beautiful. People understand sheer selfishness, and are less likely to get caught up in his motivations. However, I think that that would make the story a good deal less interesting, so I'm not sure why you'd want to do that.

    ChickenFreak
     
  12. Trilby
    Offline

    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,098
    Likes Received:
    69
    Location:
    NE England
    I think he sounds more like a bully.

    He killed her father for his own benefit. This murder was premeditated and painless - he seems devious and sane to me.

    He is controlling and when he doesn't get his own way he becomes violent - and then cries with his wife - no doubt he also says sorry it won't happen again and then goes out and buys her an expensive present (until the next time).

    He is not psychotic he is a typical wife beater - this is domestic abuse.
     
  13. CosmicHallux
    Offline

    CosmicHallux Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2011
    Messages:
    130
    Likes Received:
    3
    I agree with Trilby.
    I was just reading an interesting article by Lundy Bancroft about why batters abuse.

    http://www.lundybancroft.com/?page_id=279

    The section, "The Perceptual System of Men Who Batter" sounds a lot like this guy.

    Though child abuse and battery are not technically considered mental disorders, it's hard not to view the offenders as being "broken" in some way, like ChickenFreak said. Though they may not be classified with mental illness by scientific standards, they certainly could be called philosophically or spiritually "sick."

    BTW--I think he killed her father because he thinks of women as possessions for men. If her father is alive, then he "owns" her. If he is dead, then she is free to be possessed by the new husband. In many ways, the new husband is replacing a tyrannical version of father --with his absolute control over his wife (child).
     

Share This Page