MBTI: Typing the “Insane”
After typing so many characters, some historical figures, people I know and inanimate objects, it has come to my attention that often times characters will get labeled “insane” and thereby rendered untypable.
How valid is this? That an insane character can’t typed? Or more interestingly- what qualifies a character as insane? A couple conversations with a few people recently have made me feel the need to address this. Serious issues, people! Serious issues.
On Merriam-Webster.com, here’s how insanity is defined.
1. Mentally disordered: exhibiting insanity
2. Used by, typical of, or intended for insane persons <an insane asylum>
3. Absurd <an insane scheme for making money>
It’s pretty common to say “That’s insane!” in real life, be it from something ridiculous someone has done to an idea that takes things to extremes, etc. But when going about typing, anyone ever considered “insane” is a lost cause. How do we go about this? Can people who are actually insane go untyped? Surely, one of the sixteen personalities fit them at some point, or at least could have.
Insanity is much like “crazy” in its relative use. There are no people that are just labeled “INSANE” and thrown into some creepy asylum next to the Penguin and Killer Croc. While there are of course, more exact definitions to mental illnesses and disorders, calling someone crazy or insane is a simple and often dismissive way to have decided what is wrong with that person and leave them along. You’ve written them off and no longer wonder about that person because they’re. just. crazy.
Even in fiction, people call characters insane all the time without really stopping to think about what’s insane and what’s not. The Joker (Second Batman reference!) is often labeled this when an attempted typing takes place, and it’s just incorrect.
Each type leans toward certain behavior patterns that could, if unchecked, turn into a disorder and get even worse from there. In the Joker’s case, who displays traits of an ENTP throughout his existence, also show major signs of several disorders that are also associated with ENTP-
1. Antisocial behavior- This is characterized by the following:
- Disregard for others
- Persistent lying or stealing
- Recurring difficulties with the law
- Repeatedly violating the rights of others
- Aggressive, often violent behavior
- Disregard for the safety of self or others
This should be the most obvious as to the Joker’s disorders. There seems to be nothing the Joker won’t do, no crime he won’t commit, no audacity he can’t take part in.
- Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
- Exaggerating your achievements or talents
- Expecting constant praise and admiration
- Failing to recognize other people’s emotions and feelings
The Joker believes Batman to be above all- other than him. No one else is on the level that they are and need to BUTT OUT of their personal war. This has been often interpreted (even by writers) as the Joker having homosexual tendencies specifically toward Batman, but it initially seemed to be out of the belief that before Batman, the Joker saw himself as an untouchable god; doing what he wanted, on the world’s stage, all to the admiration of anybody that mattered while others feared him.
These are a couple of examples of a few disorders the Joker displays. While he is fictional, there’s a reason we focus on characters instead of real people anyway. While in the comics, the Joker is always deemed insane by whatever judge is trying him and he’s always sent to Arkham Asylum only to escape again. So is the Joker insane as a character?
Nope! He may be antisocial, Narcissistic, delusional, etc., but he knows exactly what he’s doing when he does it. Surely, someone who does the ridiculous and horrible things that the Joker has done would be untypable? It’s not as though he doesn’t have a personality though is it? The Joker is loud, theatrical, clever and resourceful among other things.
He’s also violent and deranged, which does not take away from his core character. There’s another set of criminals that people think must be insane and beyond the simple confines of the law.
Yet Bundy, Gein, Nilsen, Fish, and whatever other serial murderer you can think of are not insane and to do so is to take away from how horrible their crimes were by saying, in a sense, that they didn’t know what they were doing. Yet nobody found these guys at the scene of their crimes, or talking about it openly to friends as though it were okay as a truly “insane” person would be. If they were insane, they wouldn’t have hidden their crimes so meticulously.
They wanted to do it again, so they would hide their crimes because they understood what they had done and that they would be punished for it.
What you’re actually probably dealing with when it comes to “crazy” characters can more easily be exemplified by real life mob hitman Richard “The Iceman Kuklinski. Claiming to have killed over 100 men (sometimes claiming double that), it’s clear by the interviews with Kuklinski that he’s not apologetic for any of the people he murdered and did what he did for two reasons- he was “good” at it and it paid the bills.
Here are some clips a Youtube user put together of his last interviews.
With the killers above, there’s a bizarre relationship between the killer and the victim but with Kukilinski, it was about the money and he didn’t care about the person.
When it comes to the actual insane, the estimate for the population in the US is about 1%. I say “about” because there don’t appear to be much research on the subject. And it seems to be most what you find online about insanity deals in dispelling the myths of such a state.
In the oh-so-common Schizophrenia and disassociate identity disorders that Hollywood loves to dramatize so much, we’ll often see a person who doesn’t know they’re the killer until the end of the story. We’ve talked about the Narrator and Tyler Durden, about the sheer impracticality of having an entirely different personality with their own life. As far as typing goes, you could type each personality in their own right (I did) but in real life, the other personality wouldn’t be as “full.”
For example, here’s an excerpt from the book Understanding Psychology by Joseph A. Mayo and R.H. Ettinger. It’s between a schizophrenic patient and their clinician.
Therapist: How old are you?
Client: Why I am centuries old, sir.
Therapist: How long have you been here?
Client: I’ve been now on this property on and off for a long time. I cannot say the exact time because we are absorbed by the air at night, and they bring back people. They kill up everything: they can make you lie they can talk through your throat.
Therapist: Who is this?
Client: This place is called a star.
You can see that this client just isn’t saying anything you could really draw from, save for the fact that whatever is going on in their head isn’t “normal.”
There are a few subtypes of Schizophrenia but many symptoms of it include extreme disruptions of perceptions, thought, emotions, behaviors. I don’t believe you could type a person with this disorder at however long this state lasts. Be it the less severe cases or the most severe, the person’s true personality can’t stay intact to be typed.
So is the character/person/figure you believe you can’t properly type actually insane? Or do they have heightened delusions of grandeur, or some other disorder that puts them in a different train of thought than the majority of society?
Now Dracula’s Renfield? He’s a character in an asylum that eats insects and other small creatures to obtain their life force. He appears insane and if even if he’s not, it’s not that far off. Yet Dr. Seward didn’t mind attaching the Sanguine temperament to his character. Sanguine is closest related to the SPs, if a connection should be made.
So what’s the conclusion to draw? That there are no insane characters? Probably not true. But insane is a relative term and for a character to be untypable due to a condition they have would have to mean that a disorder or condition has taken over their life so fully that the person they might have been is completely gone.
But an interesting character that does not make.