Chapter 77.1: Bonus 1
Bonus 1: Designing the personalities of main characters
T/N: Hello dear readers, I promised you some extras a long time back and I found some time to do it this weekend. As you know, the characters in the original story are rather baffling because they make random decisions without any behavioral pattern. One of the first things I did before I decided to change the story here and there was to give a well defined outline to the characters. Being an amateur writer, I am probably not doing a great job translating those behaviors into dialogues, so here I’m giving you an explanation of what drives the characters and why they do what they do.
In order to avoid spoilers, I will discuss only the basics here. I hope you find some answers you are looking for here.
Gong Ouyang has a cluster of personality disorders. He suffers from a mixture of paranoid personality disorder and borderline personality disorder.
Paranoid personality disorder (Taken as is from website): The essential feature for this type of personality disorder is interpreting the actions of others as deliberately threatening or demeaning. People with paranoid personality disorder are untrusting, unforgiving, and prone to angry or aggressive outbursts without justification because they perceive others as unfaithful, disloyal, condescending or deceitful. This type of person may also be jealous, guarded, secretive, and scheming, and may appear to be emotionally “cold” or excessively serious.
Borderline personality disorder (Taken as is from website): People with borderline personality disorder are unstable in several areas, including interpersonal relationships, behavior, mood, and self-image. Abrupt and extreme mood changes, stormy interpersonal relationships, an unstable and fluctuating self-image, unpredictable and self-destructive actions characterize the person with borderline personality disorder. These individuals generally have great difficulty with their own sense of identity. They often experience the world in extremes, viewing others as either “all good” or “all bad.” A person with borderline personality may form an intense personal attachment with someone only to quickly dissolve it over a perceived slight. Fears of abandonment may lead to an excessive dependency on others. Self-multilation or recurrent suicidal gestures may be used to get attention or manipulate others. Impulsive actions, chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness, and bouts of intense inappropriate anger are other traits of this disorder.
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You’ll see Gong Ouyang exhibit many of these characteristics through out the story.
A large part of his disorder is owed to his experiences and a small amount to genetic component.
As you can see from the description above, Gong Ouyang’s attachment makes a weird sort of sense. It’s not really her physical appearance that charms him, rather it is certain personality traits of Xiaonian’s which pull Gong Ouyang to her intrinsically.
Xiaonian, on the other hand, was hard to outline because she had to fall in love with someone like Gong Ouyang and that has to somehow make sense. But I did manage to find some triggers that drive her behavior.
Abandonment issues & abandonment PTSD (Taken from various websites and articles): While there are many effects of child abandonment, the hidden danger is that the person may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of long-term attachment issues, ongoing fear of abandonment, and lack of a supportive social network. Since an adult struggling with childhood abandonment has been silently enduring the psychological, emotional, and physical effects of abandonment for years, they may not realize that their feelings can be changed.
- Attraction to those who are unavailable to re-enact of the original abandonment
- Heightened emotional responses related to abandonment triggers, such as feeling slighted, criticized, or excluded
- Vulnerability in social situations
- Emotional flashbacks from the time of abandonment
- Panic attacks related to unconscious triggers
They may develop negative thoughts and can view themselves as unworthy. They can tend to cling to a toy or something desperately. Worthlessness, guilt and low self esteem can also be manifested.
Stockholm syndrome: I know a lot f people know this one, but I don’t think a lot of people know what motivates the victim to fall ‘in love’ with the abusive lover. Not surprisingly, a lot of novels are mistakenly labelled as Stockholm syndrome. Although, that’s not the case with this novel. Read ahead to understand what is driving Xiaonian’s behaviors.
(Taken as is from the website)
The following 4 Types of Situations also occur in severely controlling, abusive relationships, creating the Stockholm Syndrome responses:
1. The presence of a perceived threat to one’s physical or psychological survival and the belief that the abuser would carry out the threat
2. The presence of a perceived small kindness from the abuser to the victim
3. Isolation from perspectives other than those of the abuser
4. The perceived inability to escape the situation
Situation 1: Perceiving a Psychological or Physical Threat
First realize that the threat does not have to have been carried out on the victim for the victim to sense danger. Here are examples of threatening situations experienced by someone with Stockholm Syndrome.
Witnessing violence or aggression is also a perceived threat. Witnessing a violent temper directed at a television set, others on the highway, or a third party clearly sends us the message that we could be the next target for violence. Hearing threatening and intimidating thoughts and attitudes of the abuser/controller and realizing that we will be the target of those thoughts in the future.
Situation 2: Experiencing a Small Kindness from the Abuser
In controlling or abusive situations, the victim looks for and holds on to any small sign of hope that the situations may improve, such as:
When an abuser/controller shows the victim some small kindness, even though it is to the abuser’s benefit as well, the victim interprets that small kindness as a positive trait of the captor…In relationships with abusers, a birthday card, a gift (usually provided after a period of abuse), or a special treat are interpreted as not only positive, but evidence that the abuser is not “all bad” and may at some time correct his/her behavior. Abusers and controllers are often given positive credit for not abusing their partner in a certain type of situation in which the partner would have normally been subjected to verbal or physical abuse.
An additional situation that is similar to the small kindness is the abuser occasionally exhibiting a “soft side,” such as in these examples:
The abuser/controller may share information about their past – how they were mistreated, abused, neglected, or wronged. The victim begins to feel the abuser/controller may be capable of fixing their behavior or worse yet, that they (abuser) may also be a “victim”. Sympathy may develop toward the abuser. Abusers may admit they need psychiatric help or acknowledge they are mentally disturbed, however, it’s almost always after they have already abused or intimidated the victim.
Situation 3: Being Isolated from Other Perspectives Outside of the Abusive Relationship
The fear of outbursts from the abuser becomes a controlling factor in the victim’s life. For survival, the goal becomes to anticipate anything that may result in an outburst for the controlling person and avoiding it at all costs. The abused person becomes preoccupied with the needs, desires, and habits of the abusive, controlling person.
Taking the abuser’s perspective as a survival technique can become so intense that the victim actually develops anger toward those trying to help them. The abuser is already angry and resentful toward anyone who would provide the victim support…Victims then turn on their family… Supportive others are now viewed as “causing trouble” and must be avoided.. On the surface it would appear that the victim has sided with the abuser/controller. In truth, they are trying to minimize contact situation that might make them a target of additional verbal abuse or intimidation. If a casual phone call from Mom prompts a two-hour temper outburst with threats and accusations – the victim quickly realizes it’s safer if Mom stops calling.
In Stockholm Syndrome relationships, there is a daily preoccupation with “trouble”. Trouble is any individual, group, situation, comment, casual glance, or cold meal that may produce a temper tantrum or verbal abuse from the controller or abuser. To survive, “trouble” is to be avoided at all costs.. The victim does not hate family and friends; they are only avoiding “trouble”! The victim also cleans the house, calms the children, scans the mail, avoids certain topics, and anticipates every issue of the controller or abuse in an effort to avoid “trouble”. .. In truth, the victim knows the abuser/controller will retaliate against him/her if …they don’t personally apologize for the situation – as though it was their fault.
Situation 4: Feeling Unable to Escape
In romantic relationships, the belief that one can’t escape is also very common. The victims feels he or she are bound for life to the abuser due to many things. The website lists a couple of situations that are relevant to real life, but because we are in the world of novel, this feeling of being unable to escape originates mainly from Gong Ouyang’s power in the world. He hold immense wealth, and political power and is not concerned about taking the illegal routes to reach the goal. Because Xiaonian is no where near being on equal footing to him, this huge wealth and power difference between them, and his aggressive behavior makes her feel powerless against Gong ouyang.
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As you can see, Xiaonian is subjected to both these psychological conditions and meeting someone like Gong Ouyang who forms a strong attachment to her. While she stays away from him due to fear, slowly his small displays of kindness make her vulnerable to him, and his deep attachment could giver her a sense of security (later on).
Because these behaviors occurred slowly over a period of time, they became deeply entrenched into her psyche and she herself does not realize that she is making choices based on her experiences.
Usually, in a romance novel, one person in the relationship is screwed up, emotionally or physically or both. But in this novel, we have a hero who is medically diagnosed with severe personality disorder, and a heroine who suffers from abandonment issues and later from Stockholm syndrome.
This combination makes for quite a dramatic novel as this is. The extreme aggressive nature of one character and the extreme forgiving nature of another are a result of years of accumulated experiences they faced.
When they fall in love later in the novel, is it romantic? I don’t know, but it is their story and that is how it happens. It might sound twisted when you are reading it, but that’s because it is. And if you find this story very likable and entertaining, then that is because finding love in such far fetched situations makes us believe in fairy tale endings and the happily forever soothes our burnt out hearts. We love that such damaged characters are able to find happiness for themselves, because it gives us hope that we ourselves may find happy endings (although not on the road this novel takes, of course).
In the end, we are all suckers for happy endings.