Illustration for the article titled How to Recognize the Signs of 'Main Character Syndrome'Photo: Kiselev Andrey Valerevich (Shutterstock)

It can be easy to get caught up in your own life – especially after a year with limited opportunities to socialize in person. Living through a global pandemic has been strange: everyone is aware that a lot is happening around the world, but the ongoing isolation can make us feel like the only people.

Some people take it a step further and live like their life was a movie and they starred. While this is not an official psychological diagnosis or disorder, it is known as “Major Character Syndrome”. Here’s what you should know about this type of behavior, including how to spot the signs that you or someone you know might fall into the pattern.

What is the main character syndrome?

When Dr. Phil Reed, Professor of Psychology at Swansea University, writes in psychology today“Main Character Syndrome” is the most recent example of a specific symptom to emerge through social media. Here is its take thereon:

Currently, Major Character Syndrome is a vague term that uses media and social media more than scientific. The term refers to a wide range of behaviors and thoughts, but basically it is when someone presents or introduces himself or herself as the main character in some sort of fictional version of his life (usually his own, though sometimes unsettlingly someone else’s) and presents that ” Life ”on social media.

Of course, this type of self-centered behavior is nothing new. We all know people who really seem to believe that the world is about them and their needs and that everyone else is there to help them in some way. Social media then provides them with a medium to get their narrative out into the world – also known as their audience.

The main character syndrome is “the inevitable consequence of the natural human desire for recognition and approval that is merging with the rapidly evolving technology that enables instant and widespread self-promotion,” said clinical psychologist Dr. Michael G. Weather in an interview with Newsweek.

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How to recognize the signs of the main character syndrome

So how can you tell if you or someone you know has fallen into the pattern of behavior associated with Main Character Syndrome? Here are a couple of the signs, courtesy Reed and Wetter, that both were interviewed for the Newsweek article:

  • Creating a narrative that relies on an audience to validate your story and your life
  • Create and live in an alternate version of reality
  • Watching videos on social media videos leads to a series of comparisons that leave you wondering why you don’t look like the people in the clips and why you are not as happy as they are (even though their content is very curated) .

Although some have compared the main character syndrome to mindfulness, Reed said that while this theory is interesting, it is wrong.

“Mindfulness means to be aware of the realities of your present, to perceive your surroundings and to free yourself from past influences”, he said Newsweek. “In the case of the main character syndrome, you move away from reality.”