Sociophatic Tendencies of Characters in Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Sociopathy is a personality disorder in which a persons exhibits antisocial attitudes and behaviours. Typically, people who are sociopaths, lack the basic characteristics evident in human communication. Sociopaths are people who are incapable of feeling compassion for others and are often very egocentric and manipulative. These mannerisms can very easily be related to Greg Heffley, the main character in Jeff Kinney’s Diary Of a Wimpy Kid. At first glance, this novel seems like a fun, playful children’s book but upon deeper examination, there seems to be a lot more to Greg Heffley’s character than meets the eye.
The idea that a children’s novel could be displaying an emerging sociopath seems very unlikely at first, but this idea appears to be much more possible when analyzing the story farther. The behaviours of a sociopath usually stem from something that happened in their childhood or in their home life. In the case of Greg Heffley, there is only one explanation: Rodrick. Within the novel, it is very apparent that Gregs older brother Rodrick bullies him. In the original Diary Of a Wimpy Kid, Rodrick wakes Greg up at three in the morning, a week before school starts, telling him that he is going to be late for his first day of middle school. This sets Greg into a panic, trying to get ready in time to impress everybody for his first day of school. While getting ready, Greg ended up waking up his little brother, Manny and ended up getting in trouble for his brother, Rodrick’s actions: “Dad walked down to the basement to chew Rodrick out, and I tagged along. I couldn’t wait to see Rodrick get what was coming to him. But Rodrick covered up his tracks pretty good. And to this day, I’m sure Dad thinks I’ve got a screw loose or something.” (Kinney 12). All throughout the series, Rodrick continues to treat Greg poorly, pulling these “pranks” on him and trying to find ways to humiliate him.
A defining characteristic in sociopaths is a lack of empathy. The treatment that Greg receives from Rodrick reappears in Greg’s harsh treatment on his younger brother Manny and his best friend Rowley. Even though Greg understands the pain of how it feels to be mistreated and tortured by his older brother, he still tends to treat the people close to him poorly. Greg is constantly treating his younger brother horribly and holds a sort of resentment for him. “Earlier today, me and Manny were horsing around in the basement. I found a tiny black ball of thread on the carpet, and I told Manny it was a spider. Then I held it over him pretending like I was going to make him eat it.” (Kinney 133). Greg ended up accidentally dropping the thread, causing Manny to swallow it. Greg held no remorse for this foul action. As well as Manny, Greg treats his so called “best friend” Rowley horribly. In the original Diary Of a Wimpy Kid novel, Greg forced Rowley to ride down a hill on a tricycle while Greg would try to knock Rowley off of the bike by throwing a football at him. Although Greg thought that this was such a great idea, Greg did not want to take turns in riding the bike down the hill due to fear of getting himself injured, of course it was not a big deal if Rowley got hurt. After many attempts, Greg finally managed to hit Rowley and ended up breaking his arm. The next day, Rowley shows up to school wearing a cast, this injury gives Rowley some attention and it is evident that Greg is jealous, so as a result of his coldblooded nature, Greg decided to fake an injury of his own in order to gain attention: “I realized Rowley’s injury thing is a pretty good racket, so I decided it was time for me to have an injury of my own. I took some gauze from home, and I wrapped up my hand to make it look like it was hurt.” (Kinney 143). Nobody wanted to sign Greg’s cast but Greg believed the reason for this was because his cast was made up of gauze which is difficult to sign but once Greg greats a “sympathy sheet” for people to sign, it becomes clear to the reader that nobody wanted to sign Greg’s cast or paper because they were disinterested in Greg’s sob story.
A trait that fits Gregs character flawlessly is grandiosity. As stated by dictionary.com, grandiosity is: “having an exaggerated belief in one’s importance, sometimes reaching delusional proportions, and occurring as a common symptom of mental illnesses, as manic disorder.” (dictionary.com). Greg shows this trait again and again when it comes to lying about his achievements. It appears that Greg lies often about his accomplishments because he wants to impress the people around him. A fantastic example of this is in Double Down, Greg tries to impress a college student by saying that he was an expert in psychology when Greg is in fact, only a middle school student. Greg also has a strong belief that he will one day be famous. He highly believes that his friends and family are all using Greg for his popularity. Greg also has a prediction that Rowley will one day make money from writing about what it was like to be Gregs best friend as a child. The entire reason that Greg decided to begin writing in his journal is so that when he is famous, he will be far too busy to answer questions from the press so he can simply let them read his journal: “The only reason I agreed to do this at all is because I figure later on when I’m rich and famous, I’ll have better things to do than answer people’s stupid questions all day long. So this book is gonna come in handy.” (Kinney 2). Greg also has an imaginary popularity scale where he ranks everybody in middle school. The idea of his chart is that; the closer to the top you are, the more popular you are. In this chart he places himself around the fifty mark while his best friend Rowley is somewhere around the 150 mark. Greg views himself so highly that he seems to believe that his life is greater than everybody else.
Sociopaths often exhibit a manipulative nature. People who are manipulative will often take advantage of other people for their own self profit. A sociopaths action of manipulation will often cause the person on the receiving end some sort of humiliation. Sociopaths do not view others with respect so they do not have any problem treating others this way. The way that Greg describes his supposed best friend, Rowley Jefferson is that he is an immature child and an idiot. All that Rowley wants to do is be himself, regardless of what others have to say about him, but since Greg thinks that he is mentally and physically superior to Rowley, he believes that the way he treats him is justifiable and that he is simply trying to help boost Rowley’s popularity. In book number four of he series, Dog Days; Greg attempts to start a lawn mowing service so that he can earn some extra money so that he can pay a bill that he owes Rowley’s father. Although this was Greg’s idea, Greg attempts to scheme Rowley into performing all of the work that is part of the job. Rowley sees right through Gregs manipulation and understandably decides that he does not want to be a victim of Gregs selfish manipulation anymore. Greg was unhappy that Rowley refused to do Greg’s work and did not understand why Rowley was so upset with him. Greg acted as though Rowley was being selfish when in reality, Greg was the one who was trying to make somebody do his own work while Greg received the reward, “Greg’s best friend is Rowley Jefferson, who takes part in Greg’s schemes, and is sometimes a victim of Greg’s manipulation and deception.” (Meyers). From the readers point of view, it is evident that Greg is only friends with Rowley for his own self gain. Rowley always gets sucked into Greg’s schemes and always ends up getting the short end of the stick.
Sociopaths are pathological liars. They will create elaborate stories from something that is untrue. They will live within these fake stories until their lies eventually turn into their reality. Pathological liars will lie so that they can gain something from it. Greg Heffley’s character often gets lost in his elaborate lies. He will talk nonstop about something that is physically impossible. In Third Wheel, Greg recalls the time that he spent in his mothers womb and talks about how he could remember doing flips while in the womb. This is both psychically and scientifically impossible since there have been studies done stating that you can’t remember your life while you were in the womb. “Memory is a tricky thing and you do need the systems in place to actually make and store memories. It takes a while to develop and humans are born before they are ready. It takes us a few more years to become functional organism, we’re pretty helpless as children.” (Van Den Berg). Greg also creates a elaborate lie to his mother about how he has a bully at school who would supposedly eat his fruits. Greg made a claim that he was being teased by a student who was a lot larger than him. Although this student did not exist, Greg did not hold back in giving his mother details on what his fake bully looked like. His mother went to Greg’s school board regarding the bullying issue, only to find out that Greg had lied. Understandably, this humiliated Greg’s mother since she was led to believe such a big lie, only to look foolish when presenting the issue to the school board.
Someone who is a sociopath will usually be very unreliable. Sociopaths have no sense of responsibility in any way, shape or form. It does not matter how much they have promise something or how important something is they do not take responsibility for it and have absolutely no shame. This characteristic can be related to Greg Heffley’s character. Greg has a terrible memory and as a consequence to this, Greg will often forget about important things which always lead to detrimental results.
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