Sean Mactire’s book Malicious Intent: A Writer’s Guide to How Murderers, Robbers, Rapists, and Other Criminal Think offers three factors in creating a great antagonist: the Four Basics (irresponsibility, self-indulgence, interpersonal intrusiveness, and social rule-breaking), a mental illness, and one or more characteristics from the list I posted on June 22, 2012 (Side note: in last week’s post, I incorrectly identified that date as January 22. So sorry – glad I caught it this time). Anyway, I’ve covered three of the thirteen mental illnesses Mactire covers. Today is number four, the Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD).
“These people are the loners,” Mactire says. “They are asocial, shy, introverted, and indifferent to emotions or social relationships. At least four factors must be evident:”
- Chooses solitary activities
- Neither appears to have nor claims to have strong emotions
- Shows little or no interest in sex
- Indifferent to praise or criticism
- No close friends or confidants other than family
- Shows constricted affection
Again, I went to PubMed Health for a more complete description. The site says SPD “is a psychiatric condition in which a person has a lifelong pattern of indifference to others and social isolation… it is not as disabling as schizophrenia. It does not cause hallucinations, delusions, or the complete disconnection from reality that occurs in untreated schizophrenia.”
A couple of things occurred to me. First, this antagonist is not going to be a rapist. He doesn’t want to interact with anyone, including women. He’s not interested in having power over anyone, either. In fact, his crimes not not be all that violent, but if he does commit a violent crime, his motivation is going to be more along the lines of greed or vengeance. When considering what crime he’d commit, remember that family members are more at risk than others. So maybe my SPD antagonist got fed up with Mom always stopping by to nag him about his antisocial tendencies and “unnatural” job as a video game reviewer. Or maybe his sister came around one too many times with a new girl for him to meet in the hopes he’d finally discover the opposite sex. Or maybe his landlord got a little too chatty before jacking the rent.
If you want to use this disorder for your antagonist, you’ll automatically have to rule out all the personality types that are extroverts, leaving you with only eight personality types to choose from. One of which is mine, the ISTJ. So I’ll play with that one for this exercise. The ISTJ, or “Inspector”, is seriously interested in following all the rules. Irregularities and discrepancies should not exist. Now toss in some SPD, and you’ve got a loner bent on enforcing the rules despite his desire to keep away from other people. So he’ll go the non-interactive route in getting what he wants: the web. This guy would make an awesome hacker, despite the fact that he’s breaking the law to get his revenge. At this point, he doesn’t care if he’s the one doing all the rule breaking (since he’s self-indulgent and a societal rule-breaker–see the Four Basics above), he’s got to get his revenge on those other people who are breaking the rules. A few mouse clicks, and Mom’s credit score just hit the toilet. A few firewalls breached, and that pesky sister is now a wanted felon. A non-tracable money transfer, and now that greedy landlord has a hit-man coming for him.
By taking your garden-variety immature sinner with impulse-control issues and adding the Schizoid Personality Disorder, you can create a believable and unpredictable antagonist for your novel. In my next post I’ll cover the Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder.