Exploring 'Main Character Syndrome'
Updated: Oct 10
I've been intrigued to hear about 'Main Character Syndrome'. What it means, how it might differ from Narcissism. And the role that social media plays in heightening these behaviours. I spoke to the Daily Dot about this for their article this week. Click here to read the original article. Here's what I had to say:
What is Narcissism? Imagine someone who is so deeply self-absorbed and self-centred that they fall in love with their own reflection. The word ’Narcissism’ originates from Greek mythology, around a character who did just that. And it helps us to conceptualise some of the traits that we might associate with Narcissism. Arrogance springs to mind, along with a lack of empathy. They might show off about their achievements and put other people down, in a drive to seek attention and praise.
So how can we support someone who worries that they might be a narcissist? As always, it’s important to look beneath the label, and be curious about what’s driving these behaviours. Is it a genuine sense of self-importance? If we dig a little deeper we are likely to learn that a narcissist is insecure, beneath their posturing. They might lack the social skills and awareness to understand how to build meaningful relationships with others. In counselling we can explore the roots of narcissistic behaviour, and support someone to find more meaningful ways to develop their self-esteem.
What is 'Main Character Syndrome'? ‘Main character syndrome’ is a fairly new term. At first glance it sounds similar. Surely that person who is falling head-over-heels for their own reflection is also someone who views themselves as the ‘main character’? But when we consider how people behave, there are certainly differences between the two. The main one being that a narcissist typically lacks empathy. This creates a barrier between them and other people, inhibiting them from connecting with others and understanding their point of view. This isn’t necessarily the case for someone with ‘main character syndrome’.
How does social media fan the flames of Narcissism and 'Main Character Syndrome'? In some ways, social media is designed to bring out the narcissist in all of us. It encourages us to share, to compare, to add filters, to shout about our achievements. So it offers narcissists a public platform for their attention-seeking behaviour, with an instant feedback loop that inflates their sense of self-importance. And the use of social media can have a wider impact on our mental health too. When we focus too much on what’s going on in the online world, it’s easy to get drawn into comparisons and anxiety, and to spend endless exhausting hours scrolling.