Friday, April 8, 2011

Schema’s and traits part 2

Yesterday we talked about schemas and traits. In schema therapy, developed by Jeffrey e. Young, Janet S. Klosko, and Marjorie E. Weishaar, there are 18 different maladaptive schemas. All of us express these maladaptive schemas to some extent. It is when you get into the extremes that they become a problem. Most of the characters that we create will not express these schemas. Villains on the other hand are villains because of these schemas. There are very few villains that are just pure evil; they had to come from somewhere. (Disclaimer this in no way insinuates that if you or someone you know has these schemas, are evil or a villain, only that truly evil people generally are that way because of maladaptive schemas.) From time to time I will be going over these schemas in greater detail but for now I just want to list them and talk about coping styles. The 18 maladaptive schemas are: Abandonment/instability, mistrust/abuse, emotional deprivation, defectiveness/shame, social isolation/alienation, dependence/incompetence, vulnerability to harm or illness, enmeshment/undeveloped self, failure, entitlement/grandiosity, insufficient self-control/self-discipline, subjugation, self-sacrifice, approval-seeking/recognition seeking, negativity/pessimism, emotional inhibition, unrelenting standards/hyper criticalness, and punitiveness. Like I said I will be discussing these more over the coming weeks and what they would look like. In the meantime imagine what maladaptive schema your own villain has, he probably has several.

Now, on to coping styles, there are three different styles and they correlate with our basic instincts of threat: fight, flight, and freeze. The three coping styles are overcompensation, avoidance and surrender. Coping styles are how a person reacts to his schema being threatened (the way he/she believes being attacked).

In a nutshell overcompensation is when people react by believing, feeling and acting as if the opposite is true. If, for example, as a child they felt worthless, when they acquired the schema, as adults they will do anything they can to be perfect. On the surface they are confident but underneath they are falling apart. Avoidance is when a person does all they can to avoid the maladaptive schema, they pretend it does not exist, they do not acknowledge it. They do this by using drugs, alcohol, become workaholics and other activities to avoid (trying to take over the world and be an evil dictator). Surrender is when a person does not fight or avoid the schema they believe the schema is true, they feel the pain directly. They are passive and choose partners that caused the schema to form in the first place (the evil sidekick is born).

This has been a long post but I hope that you have gained some new insight into creating your villains and why they are the way they are. Can you imagine the maladaptive schema your villain has what coping style does he/she use?

I have added a new page called the trampoline analogy. It is an analogy of how I view raising children. Check it out and let me know what you think. 


  1. Wow, once again you have presented great information. Thanks.

    I always struggle writing villains because I want them to be competent, realistic, yet have my protagonist beat them. I usually go to a website "If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord" to decide how good my villain is. (Go there if you ever need a laugh.) This is a lot more scientific and I like the coping styles. I'm definitely go to use this as I edit my novel.

  2. wow do we put our main characters through the drill or what. And that's what makes it fun, because let's face it - MC's are there to be punished, right? :0

    But the challenge, like you said is to make the antagonist, all caracters, essentially realistic. For that they need to have flaws, especially the antag. I like them to have a REASON why they behave a certain way. This for me, gives the MC an edge in defeating them.

  3. Fascinating stuff! Thanks Josh. I'm off to look at your analogy ...

  4. You should enable comments on that page.

  5. I think this was really deep, but important to understand your characters better. All characters, not just your main good guy.

  6. I haven't read the book (maybe some day, but you know how I am at reading books...defineate slow go-er)But this idea kinda reminds me of "Wicked." Maybe I am wrong, but I heard that this story is based on the views and perspective of the wicked which that was killed in Wizar of OZ- I like that idea, or when anyway trys to share the story of the villian, because somewhere in there they are still human (unless you have a fantasy story or something) and still have a heart, but something happened in their life that went wrong, that hurt them, or they just didn't have good parents, and now they'll led their life down a sad revengeful sort of life. Also like the movie "Fred Clause" about the brother of Santa clause. Anyway, kinda neat idea to look more deeply at the villians! :)

  7. Great comments I appreciate the things you have shared I have learned a lot today.

  8. I love the psyche or schema of villians! It's probably my own story of overcompensation because I was always known as the goody-goody. To write a villian really is taking myself and how I would react and flipping it on its head. :) Makes me want to break out into a maniacal laugh! Mwhahaha!


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