redhotmagma: (Default)
Magma grunt Kelly [Pokemon Emerald OC] ([personal profile] redhotmagma) wrote2013-03-02 09:41 pm

Personality addendum— Kelly & belief systems, sociopathy, and social interaction

This post is supplementary to Kelly's existing personality section within her app for [community profile] gargleblasted. All information there is still relevant, but this should hopefully fill in the parts of Kelly's personality that I failed to explore fully the first time around!

We already know that there is a huge dissonance between how Kelly treats other people and how she inwardly regards them. While Kelly treats those around her with utmost care and friendliness, she does so with selfish motives. The most basic factors driving Kelly's crusade to win the favour of everyone she meets have been established — feeling unable to fit in with her peers after growing up in a very close-knit community and experiencing a deep feeling of loss upon losing that sense of security and belonging upon moving to an uncomfortably unfamiliar location for school left Kelly acutely aware of the unpleasantness of being alone. Being liked brings conveniences and networking is a skill deeply engrained from Kelly's contest experience. However, as one anonymous commentator aptly put Kelly's behaviour surrounding relationships, "most people don't look at the problem of being alone and solve it with "I'm going to use everyone around me to make me feel better!" while seeing no problem with that". So, why does Kelly?

We should look closer at how Kelly really sees other people. Kelly takes an irregularly detached stance in how she relates towards the people around her — she recognises their individuality, their unique personalities and their emotions, the fact that these are real people with likes and dislikes, yet these things are just facts to her...factors to be calculated and manipulated to turn their perception of her into her favour. It's not that she doesn't appreciate these things or acknowledge their value, she just doesn't connect.

What Kelly is lacking that enables her to treat people the way she does is the ability to empathise, and Kelly meets enough of the traits of Antisocial Personality Disorder that she can be considered a high-functioning sociopath.

The World Health Organization's International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, tenth edition (ICD-10) requires at least three of the following six traits be met in order to support a diagnosis of ASPD. Of these six criteria, Kelly meets the following four:

1. Callous unconcern for the feelings of others;
2. Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules, and obligations;
3. Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships, though having no difficulty in establishing them;
4. Very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence;
5. Incapacity to experience guilt or to profit from experience, particularly punishment;
6. Markedly prone to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior that has brought the person into conflict with society.

These are not absolutes. Sociopathy exists on a sliding scale, and as a high-functioning sociopath, concern and empathy are not impossible for Kelly...but they come far less easily to her than they might for the average person. The more levels on which Kelly can relate to someone, the easier she finds it to empathise with them. Her difficulty empathising is a bar that deters her from becoming mutually close with people, but should she gain real affections for someone then it becomes steadily easier to continue building emotional connections with them. As for how Kelly would reach the point of becoming genuinely friendly with someone, the closer something hits to home for her, the easier it is for her to empathise, and this opens the door for relationships to become closer. For an example, Kelly could experience great empathy for another person who has issues fitting in due to being sharp-tongued, even if she's only ever felt distant with them previously. It's a scenario she has experienced herself, so it elicits a strong emotional response that can allow her to connect with the other person.

Kelly knows what is expected of people on an emotional level in society, and she acts accordingly (for a basic example, being sympathetic when an acquaintance is ill). But that's the thing—it's an act, and Kelly only goes through the motions of displaying sympathy, all the while feeling apathetic. She's highly perceptive so she's adept at recognising and playing up to social expectations.

Where Kelly's behaviour starts to become problematic is when you consider that people often grow to care for and trust Kelly one-sidedly, believing their "friendship" with her is mutual. While you could possibly consider there not immediate issues with this (no harm no foul, so long as the other person isn't being hurt), it's definitely cold and manipulative for Kelly to instill such trust in other people, who don't know that it's not being returned, and Kelly would willingly abuse this trust if there were something for her to gain, or a 'greater good' to be pursued.

When it comes to Kelly's moral standing? She's a definite believer in necessary evil...and that evil (or at least less than amicable behaviour) is okay to commit as long as you don't get caught. While Kelly's sense of empathy and morality are strong enough that she wouldn't want to cause direct harm to innocents, anything she considers to be less heavy crime is on the cards. Kelly willingly goes along with Team Magma's criminal activities because of two reasons. Firstly, she considers it as little more than a job obligation, and she needs to do these things to be paid. Secondly, if she's careful then she knows she can avoid the risk of herself being identified as one of the team (which would endanger her Pokemon Coordinating career, as well as her relationship with her family and social groupings outside of Magma). Basically, Kelly's moral standing is based on "whatever she can get away with".

While her Antisocial Personality Disorder has a lot to say for Kelly's actions, beliefs and motives, her upbringing has been more than a partial influence. Sociopathy has no definitive cause, and how much of it can be attributed to genetics and how much of it is learned behaviour is uncertain, but while Kelly's upbringing may not have been a cause, it cultivated and reinforced those though processes. While Kelly's mother and grandmother maintained a suitably loving family environment for Kelly while she was growing up, both relatives are emotionally closed off to some extent. Kelly's mother became that way after the death of her husband, hiding the negative effect the loss had on her for the sake of her own ability to carry on raising her daughter, while Kelly's grandmother was simply a very stoic and traditional woman who was also strict and believed in the value of keeping unsightly emotions in check. From them, Kelly learned the value of hiding unsavoury emotions. Their house also put a huge emphasis on her mother's Contest career, upon which Kelly soon followed suit, and the huge amount of dedication that echoed her mother's left little room for other considerations, which may have contributed to Kelly's self-involved personality, as well providing some standing for her future disregard anything unrelated to her craft and thus her uncaring attitude in general.

While around people she feels comfortable around and whom she feels she can trust, Kelly slips out of her public persona and her sharp-tongued, bluntly spoken true demeanour shows itself, something which often causes a wedge between Kelly and her friends, who are often initially perplexed by the shift in tone. There's a reason why Kelly doesn't keep up the display of niceties around her friends, despite the negative implications not keeping her sharp tongue in check can have, and that's because Kelly doesn't keep up this courteous persona for the sake of being nice to people. It's a tool to make people like her, an obligation for socialising. Since Kelly is already close to these people, she doesn't feel she needs to do this, even if it would cause less upset.