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. So far, I’ve covered five of the thirteen mental illnesses Mactire covers. Today is number six, the Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD).
“A description of these individuals is workaholics without warmth,” Mactire says. “Formal perfectionists, they hold work and productivity to be sacred. At least five of the following factors must be evident:”
- Puts excessive emphasis on details and lists to the exclusion of an overall perspective
- Perfectionism that interferes with performance
- Constriction of affection and emotion
- Excessive devotion to job and productivity
- Needs to dominate in personal relationships
- Hoards objects, even those with no sentimental value
- Lacks personal generosity unless there is something to be gained
- Overconscientious or inflexible when it comes to matters of ethics or morality
How many of you, when you read the title, immediately thought of Adrian Monk? I know I did. Then I went to PubMed Health and found out that OCPD is slightly different from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which is what Adrian Monk suffers from. I believe Monk’s disorder was also calmed significantly to make him sympathetic and lovable. A true OCD (or OCPD) wouldn’t be nearly as charming as Monk. Therefore, I think we should forget about Monk completely as we try to figure out how to make an OCPD antagonist.
PubMed said this: “People with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder have unwanted thoughts, while people with OCPD believe that their thoughts are correct… people with both OCPD and OCD tend to be high achievers and feel a sense of urgency about their actions. They may become very upset if other people interfere with their rigid routines. They may not be able to express their anger directly. Instead, people with OCPD experience feelings that they consider more appropriate, like anxiety or frustration. A person with this disorder has symptoms of perfectionism that usually begin in early adulthood. This perfectionism may interfere with the person’s ability to complete tasks, because their standards are so rigid. People with this disorder may emotionally withdraw when they are not able to control a situation.”
Now I’ll apply a personality trait. I was going to choose the ENFJ, or “Teacher,” for this exercise, but then I realized that a perfectionist would never become a teacher–too many uncontrollable variables (called “students”). There’s a lesson for you–choose a personality type that actually works with the character flaw you’re introducing. So I’ll move on to a different type.
I choose the ENTJ, or “the Field Marshal.” He’s the super-leader, the mobilizer, the guy with a Goal. I could easily see this guy being a perfectionist, making sure every little detail of the plan is carried out precisely as he envisioned. Now throw in the OCPD. Now he’s obsessed with the little details. He can no longer say, “you do this,” then sit back and expect it to be done correctly. Now he’ll give the order, then follow the poor sap to make sure the job is done properly–which is the way the Field Marshal wants it done. A different way of doing this task is Not Acceptable. If this Field Marshal is a military leader, everyone needs to take cover, because he’s got access to weapons. If this Field Marshal is the CEO of a major corporation, there’s still no time to breathe if you’re under this guy’s supervision. Add in a dollop of indecisiveness and an inflexibility in ethical/moral matters, and you’ve got the makings for a truly volatile situation. Use your imagination and bring on the violent criminal behaviors.
Your comments are fantastically helpful. How do you see OCPD playing out in an antagonist?