I’ve been posting a series of articles on the erroneous ways disordered characters tend to think. Prior posts have covered such “thinking errors” as possessive thinking, combative thinking, and egocentric thinking. All of these erroneous ways of thinking lead to attitudes that predisopose disordered characters to behave in socially irresponsible ways. Many disturbed characters engage in so much prideful thinking that they can’t learn from their mistakes, primarily because they have such a hard time admitting those mistakes in the first place.
There was a television commercial some years ago that featured a flashy sports personality hawking a fancy camera and touting its superior picture-taking qualities with the slogan: “After all, image is everything.” Disordered characters adopt this axiom as a core belief and often carry it to a most pathological extreme. As a result, they think in such prideful ways that their ability to develop relationships based on mutual regard is extremely impaired. Disturbed characters think there’s nothing worse than admitting a mistake, backing down in a conflict, or giving in to someone else — because it makes them look inadequate or “weak.” They place their image above everything else, and the image they want to maintain is that of an all-powerful, all-knowing, immutable force to be reckoned with. Even when they know very well that they are in error, they frequently won’t admit it because of how they think it would make them look to others to do so.
Because they’re so incessantly concerned about the image they project, disordered characters often engage in a wide variety of behaviors designed to manage the impression other people form or keep of them. One important reason they engage in this relentless impression management is because they don’t want anyone to really know who they are or to “have their number” so to speak. This would level the interpersonal playing field and take them out of the position of advantage they always seek to maintain in their relationships with others. They think they will not only lose leverage but also prestige if they honestly self-reveal or if they admit normal human shortcomings or failures.
Habitual prideful thinking promotes the development of vanity and attitudes of haughtiness, arrogance, and pretentiousness. Thinking he can never really acknowledge a mistake prevents the disturbed character from profiting from experience, especially when life is trying to teach him a lesson. Before a person can really correct a problem pattern of behavior, they have to humbly admit they have the problem. And, to admit a problem is to acknowledge a shortcoming. Prideful thinking is a major barrier to recognizing or correcting any of the many problematic social behaviors common in the disturbed character.