I’m getting close to the end of this section of Marc McCutcheon’s book Building Believable Characters. Thanks for sticking with me. Today’s psychological problems include PICA, PRESSURED SPEECH, PSYCHOGENIC PAIN DISORDER, and PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGICAL DISORDER. Those are some fun words to type. Now let’s see what they mean and how they can be used to create a believable character for your novel.
PICA: “Abnormal craving for or eating of unusual foods, such as dirt or laundry detergent, seen in the emotionally disturbed and sometimes in pregnant women.” I’ll admit, the word “food” followed by “dirt or laundry detergent” brought a smile to my lips, but let’s move beyond that little slip-up. The TV show Grimm used this in a much different manner, but the symptoms were the same: the sergeant ate the stuffing from pillows, a penny, and a strange assortment of other non-edible stuff. The comedic value was astronomical when it first happened. Then it became serious. If you use this in your novel, research it well so you do it justice.
PRESSURED SPEECH: “Rapid speech accelerating out of control, so that words are sometimes jumbled or unintelligible.” Again, I can see this being used for both comedy and drama, depending on how it’s handled. In a side-kick who has a mild form, it could be used for humor. In a protagonist, it could be quite tragic. Again, research is paramount. I don’t know enough about this to comment beyond the vaguest statements, but the idea could inspire someone out there.
PSYCHOGENIC PAIN DISORDER: “The manifestation of mental stress through physical aches and pains, which may be chronic or severe.” I had a friend who suffered from severe pain, and her doctor told her it was all in her head. Later she was correctly diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I had terrible wrist pain long before carpal tunnel and repetitive motion syndrome were labeled, and my doctor tried to convince me it was all in my head. Then there are those people who experience pain when there is no identifiable/known cause. Maybe this is it.
PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGICAL DISORDER: “Any physical illness that can be traced to a psychological cause. Also known as psychosomatic disorder.” I know less than nothing about this, so I’m not qualified to comment. However, the mention of it may spark an idea for you. How could you use this in a protagonist? Or would it work better for an antagonist? Is he doing bad things because of the pain he’s in?
Please share your ideas in the comments section. I love to hear from ya’ll.