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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
God DAMN, I've not been round here in a long LONG time...! Anyway, to explaining this new thread o' mine:

It wouldn't be anything hugely insightful to announce that an INFP gets deeply invested in a work of fiction. It would surprise no one to hear that an INFP sometimes gets so immersed in a book that the characters and their tribulations start to feel more real to them than real life. Ain't no golden trumpets blaring from the heavens for an INFP saying they identify with a character in a book or any given media so intensely it feels like that character was written for them, and them alone.

But generally, are these characters very much like us? Perhaps INFPs, or perhaps something close? Have you ever identified with a character that is, well, very unlike you, and yet the connection is undeniably there and you can't explain why?

When I was 12 or 13, that Christmas my dad bought me Musashi, a fictionalised, dramatic retelling of the life of renowned Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, by Eiji Yoshikawa. I have loved Japanese history and culture since I was 8 years old. I studied Japanese at university. I now live and work in Japan. It was a great find on my dad's part as the novel isn't well-known in the West or easy to find (at least it wasn't then!) Over the course of three years I collected all five books in the series and devoured them. I was consumed! It is, to this day, my favourite novel.

What was odd though is the character I attached myself to. My current Avatar is that character, taken from the manga adaption of the novel, Vagabond. He is Musashi's first apprentice, Jotaro. Loosely based around one or possibly more of Musashi's real-life disciples, Musashi picks this little guttersnipe up after noting his calligraphy skills and remarking he could be a gifted swordsman someday. Jotaro (the son of a disgraced samurai-turned-monk in the novel, an orphan in the manga) goes with Musashi and stays a major character through the rest of the series.

If I were to type Jotaro, I'd say ESFP. He's rambunctious and cheerful, he is described as having "a voice too loud for his size" and he takes quickly to strangers. He's very emotional, yes, but tends to not brood over things. He's mischievous, insolent and full of energy. Not a single person who read Musashi and knew me would put us together. To name a few characters that I'd say do reflect me as a person, I'd go with Noctis from FFXV; Kylo Ren in the Star Wars ST; Zuko from Avatar: TLA. If that paints a somewhat emo picture, you'd be on the right tracks. So why Jotaro?

Sure, I was his age when I first read Musashi. The idea of this badass samurai big-brother figure whisking me off to adventure and training in the Way of the Sword was my pre-adolescent self's secret fantasy, and so it made sense to a degree to see myself in him. But he's not at all like me nor the characters I usually identify with, so why am I still, as I reread
Musashi 20 years on, still so attached to this character? Why do I still see myself in him to such a painfully distracting degree, one that simple nostalgia doesn't account for? Why do I care so much about him and fear for his fate, to the extent I even researched the possible historical inspiration for him to learn of his fate? Why does this impish wannabe-samurai have such a hold over me?

I think it just did me good to get this off my chest. But besides that, I figured I'd ask if anyone has had a similar experience. Not the usual relating to a character, but finding yourself inexplicably bound to a character quite unlike you. Have you experienced it? What do you think it is that created this bond?
 

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Was right there with you up to this point.

saying they identify with a character in a book or any given media so intensely it feels like that character was written for them, and them alone.
Was a little too . . .


But seriously I get attached to characters I read, sometimes think about them. At times when I'm writing I feel kind of bad putting my own characters through things, but it's not really me, its the bad guys. LOL.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Was right there with you up to this point.


Was a little too . . .


But seriously I get attached to characters I read, sometimes think about them. At times when I'm writing I feel kind of bad putting my own characters through things, but it's not really me, its the bad guys. LOL.
Folks do say Kathy Bates is an unbalanced, psychotic INFP.

I'm just saying that is how it can feel when you make a really intense connection with a character. Naturally (unless you personally knew the author and they deliberately did this) it's not gonna actually be the case. Admittedly though, the feeling is a bit obsessive. That's partially why I made this post; to get it off my chest!
 

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Folks do say Kathy Bates is an unbalanced, psychotic INFP.

I'm just saying that is how it can feel when you make a really intense connection with a character. Naturally (unless you personally knew the author and they deliberately did this) it's not gonna actually be the case.
Just a bit of a joke. Not worried about you hobbling somebody.

But, yes, I know about feeling a connection with a character a lot. I have a few I found myself using their catch phrases, picking up their mannerisms a little, stuff like that. And you wish they would never go away, and are sad when the book or bookseries ends.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Just a bit of a joke. Not worried about you hobbling somebody.

But, yes, I know about feeling a connection with a character a lot. I have a few I found myself using their catch phrases, picking up their mannerisms a little, stuff like that. And you wish they would never go away, and are sad when the book or bookseries ends.
Haha. Fair play! Yeah, I admit I do feel obsessive at times. I probably am a bit, just not to a murderous degree
:exterminate:

It's funny, these connections. The thing about the one I mentioned is the character isn't even that like me--quite a different personality--and I wonder why the connection? Why the attachment? Are any of the characters you've connected with like that for you? Like, not really like you in most ways and yet you're inexplicably drawn to them...?
 

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Yep, at least to a certain extent. Most are somewhat like a version of me that I may hold back from letting out of the cage. But, reading about the characters, or seeing them in movies or games, and what do you know, that little bit I may have held back comes out, and really it feels kinda good.
 

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Moments like these I question what's the point of that E/I in MBTI because you have never spoken truer words.

Fiction to me tends to be missing something if I cannot find a character that I can relate to in the ways that you are saying (one of the reasons I struggle with game of thrones).

A few years ago there was that meme going around where people signed themselves 4 fictional characters that they were most like. I would sometimes look at them and understand who someone aspired to be or how amusing it was that there was a fictional character just like them. But then I got weirdly stressed about this meme, trying to think of which 4 would represent me. I still cannot find 4 fictional characters, because, like you said, the characters that I am drawn to and almost identify with aren't really anything like me. They are likely the XSTP punk or the adventurous, fun-loving ESFP. There have been times when people have pointed out how similar I am to fictional characters and I realised I didn't like them because they were boring, maybe too familiar and uninspiring.

(Also Prompto from FF, Poe Dameron from SW, Sokka from ATLA. Been meaning to cosplay Sokka for years... Although maybe Korra actually fits who I am. Hm. My icons here are all comic related most of the time but still normally are of characters that I feel connected to.)

I think these characters are aspirational but also allow me to step outside myself enough that it's like the same effect of when you get a new haircut, a new confidence and excitement and potential for who you are until the novelty runs out.
 
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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
@Falling Foxes

Thanks!

You touch right on the heart of the issue! I just find it fascinating, and a little frustrating, that I can't nail down exactly why I'm so drawn to this specific character. The three I mentioned (and I like how you went with three characters from the same media I cited)--Noctis, Kylo, Zuko--I know exactly what it is with them. They are like me. Probably Noctis paints the most complete picture of the three, where Kylo is an exaggeration of my sullen, troubled side and Zuko embodies perfectly the INFP boy trying to force himself to fit an SJ world only to make himself angry and conflicted. Funny you mentioned the 4 characters thing, as I saw something similar a year or so back, only it was 3 characters. And I picked the three above.

But yeah, aspiration might be right. I was a kid when I first made this connection I'm talking about, and it was the first time I'd ever become fully and painfully emotionally invested in a character. As such my own self-identity was still perhaps in flux, and I was starting to see more of my honest feelings and ideas about myself over the indulgent "I'm the cool hero" schtick that a lot of boys go for. Instead of seeing myself as the cool hero, I saw myself as the kid aspiring to be like the cool hero. Because that's what I was too, at that age.

I think too that, with this intense self-consciousness shaping everything I did back then, I just wished I could be like this character: a free-spirited ESFP who still had the emotional reactions I have, still possessed some of my traits, but was able to wholly be himself. I didn't know who I was back then and I struggled for years to find myself. Jotaro was who I wished I could be then--just as emotional and looking for adventure, but unshackled, unburdened, unrestrained.

I wonder... Speaking of characters not being like us as I initially was, is it necessarily so simple as saying a character is "like us" or "not like us"...? Do we perhaps develop a "dominant personality" as we grow, but there are these alter-egos lying within us--potential others versions of ourselves, or pieces of the complete picture--that are drawn out by a well-realised character of that type...?
 

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Well, there was one character (I won't say who because mentioning him merely disgusts me now), I knew I'd have crush on him ever since I first saw him, because he looked alright, his style seemed pretty badass to me and most importantly his accent was just flaming hot.
I didn't expect to grow any serious attachment to him since I was noticing his slightly playboy behavior (and I don't go for flirty characters, I dislike when others can have what I can never have so I usually go for asexual and aromantic characters). After a while I ceased to pay attention to him so much that I even forgot the reason why couldn't I like him. That was my fatal mistake, seemingly, since at the end he got killed and I suddenly felt that it mattered to me. I felt devastated and that's when I realized that I was seriously addicted to him.
Being a fool, when I rewatched the show, I decided to ignore all those playboy moments and considered that I was merely imagining them because of my jealous nature.
So my idiot feelings grew stronger about him till I met another fan of him, who pointed out those moments and then I could no longer lie to myself that those were just part of my jealous imagination.
Uh-Oh.
I hate him now, but I still can't forget him, no matter how I try to get addicted to another character to forget him - it doesn't work. Apparently he raised my standards too much, nobody is like him, or at least how I had him imagined...

So yeah, his type is an INTJ. I get attracted to that type pretty often. I think their badass vibes affect me, they have so much confidence and toughness that I'll never have. I also liked how open minded he was, how he understood differences yet, how he believed that one shouldn't tolerate bad guys... he was kinda like me with these traits. We have many differences and similarities and I loved nearly everything about him. It's been months since I've started hating him and I still feel devastated and dead inside, I don't know if this will ever stop...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
@0ddity

Thanks for sharing. I'm really curious now who this character is and what media they're from. You almost sound like you're talking about a real-life breakup. It really can get that intense sometimes, these connections. What was it that made you hate him so much now? Is it just this 'playboy' behaviour you mentioned, or is there more to to it?
 

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@0ddity

Thanks for sharing. I'm really curious now who this character is and what media they're from. You almost sound like you're talking about a real-life breakup. It really can get that intense sometimes, these connections. What was it that made you hate him so much now? Is it just this 'playboy' behaviour you mentioned, or is there more to to it?
Funny enough, I've never been so affected by real life break ups. I've either felt free afterwards or a little abandoned (even though mostly I'm pretty much the one initiating those break ups) and nostalgic, but nothing half as intense as this. I get deeper feelings for fictional characters than real people, possibly because I know more things about them than real people, who are so secretive and fake. I don't feel like I know them good enough to grow deeper attachment to them... plus, we all know that everything looks so much more perfect in fiction and our type is, well, idealist.

That was enough for me, honestly. All this time I was convincing myself that I was just being paranoid and imagining things due to my jealous nature, but that other fan pointing out how he looked at another (female) character wasn't pleasant to read at least... I can no longer continue pretending that nothing happened. I don't know, just thinking that he'll never look at me that way since he doesn't even exist makes me so less lucky than that female character, even though there was nothing between them other than that glance... I guess I'm too jealous but that's how I work. I'm weird. I know that I'm taking the word "overreacting" to whole other level, but I can't change anything about this.
Maybe I don't really hate him, in fact I wouldn't care if I really hated him, perhaps I'm still addicted to him, however, I can neither forget him or stop feeling hurt whenever I remember him.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
@0ddity

It's interesting you say that this stuff with fictional characters hits you harder than real-life relationship issues. I was just thinking the other day how I get all sensitive and teary-eyed over fictional characters sometimes, but in real life I'm very emotionally closed off with most people.

I sometimes feel like the Me that engages with fiction can be more open and straightforward than the Me in real life, like I get buried under all the anxieties and complications of real life until I'm a bit numb to it all. But in a fictional universe I can just let it all out.

'Overreacting'...? Maybe, but I get it. After my last read of the book I was talking about in my original post, I would stay up researching the history the book is based on, trying to find some extra information about the character and any historical inspirations behind him. I just couldn't let it go for a good while, and even now I feel kinda possessive/protective of this character (whom I doubt most readers would even give a toss about) and a kinda heartbroken how the story ends for him.
 
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