The Main Character Syndrome: Exploring The Psychology of Self-Centered Narratives

The Main Character Syndrome: Exploring The Psychology of Self-Centered Narratives


Main character syndrome in layman’s terms is simply a belief of an individual that they are the most important person in the world. They tend to think that everything revolves around them and that they are the stars of their own story. Main character syndrome is when a person constantly feels like they are the protagonist of the story and that everything that happens around them is about them. They put more emphasis on themselves as they have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and want others to treat them the same way they treat themselves.

For instance, imagine somebody who always expects to be the centre of attention at events, gatherings or parties or somebody who believes that they have been going through more shit in life than anybody on this entire planet. One of the problems with the main character syndrome is that it can lead to selfish behaviour and being detached or cold towards others.

Such people tend to struggle to show acceptance of other people’s thoughts and perspectives or understand that everyone holds equal importance and that their feelings and experiences are also equally valid and should be valued. Such people struggle with their interpersonal relationships as others often feel overshadowed or neglected around them. This is why they need to practice acknowledging other’s thoughts and feelings too, empathize with them, and recognize that everybody holds some space and importance and everyone’s story is important not just their own.

The Rise of Self-Centered Narrative

A British philosopher John Locke came up with the concept of Tabula Rasa, meaning blank slate and he stated that people’s experiences are the reason or the basis for their thoughts and actions.

What Do You Think Makes An Individual Self-Centered?

Parenting Style:

A person’s initial experiences begin when they are a child and those experiences are mostly with their caregivers who are responsible for shaping their sense of self and their relationship with others. If a child goes through neglectful parenting or overindulgent parenting, they may inculcate a self-centered perspective as a way to compensate for their emotional needs or lack of attention that is not being satisfied by caregivers.

Related: Different Parenting Styles: How it Affects the Development of the Child

Lack of Boundaries:

If the child has been in an environment where boundaries are not defined or consistently enforced, they often struggle to understand and respect the boundaries of others. This might strengthen the self-centered mindset where they just learn to keep themselves a priority without considering how others feel.

Read More: The Art of Creating Healthy Boundaries with Parents

Excessive Praise or Criticism:

Constant excessive praise or criticism without real and helpful feedback may distort the self-perception of the child. Suppose the child is being praised for everything he does or criticised excessively. In that case, he is prone to develop an inflated sense of self-importance or a severe need to be validated by others, leading to self-centered behaviour.

Lack of Empathy Development:

In the crucial years of development its the caregiver’s responsibility to introduce and condition child with abstract entities like empathy, the ability to understand and share what others go through is a crucial aspect of social interaction. Not exposing them to empathy-building experiences such as witnessing and understanding other’s emotions may make it difficult for them to develop empathy and prioritize their own needs over others.

These are some reasons, not so specific to all the people having main character syndrome but in general a brief understanding of the possible reasons.

The Intersection with Mental Health

Narcissistic personality traits:

Recognizing the connections- Narcissistic personality traits might be connected to main character syndrome. Narcissism is a personality disorder characterized by the exaggerated sense of self-importance a constant urge to be admired, validated and lack of empathy for others. Both main character syndrome and narcissism involves extreme focus on oneself and lack of consideration for others. However its important to know that not everybody with main character syndrome or narcissistic traits has a full blown narcissistic personality disorder.

Co-occurring disorders:

Exploring the relationship with anxiety and depression– Main character syndrome might be related to anxiety and depression and they can occur in some cases. This extreme self-centeredness can lead to episodes of anxiety and depression when they are not able to get the desired attention, validation in all the situations. Anxiety may arise when they feel vulnerable about not being important enough or seen as special to someone or from the pressure to keep up with a certain image or reputation. This constant need for validation and attention gives rise to a cycle of worry and insecurity, contributing to anxiety. Depression may arise in the episodes of feeling worthless due to a set back or failure. The gap between one’s perceived image of themselves and reality or how others see them can give rise to depressive mind-set.

Therapy and Treatment Approaches:

Addressing the root cause- If you or anybody you know experiences a feeling of grandiosity or a need for constant validation and attention, it will be a wise decision to consult a therapist that address underlying causes like low self-esteem, narcissism, or a need for validation. Well-known approaches like Cognitive Behavior Therapy or Psychodynamic Therapy can be helpful for you to gain insights into your thoughts, behaviours and motivations.


Main character syndrome, characterized by an intense desire for attention and recognition often accompanied by feelings of grandiosity, represents a complex phenomenon that warrants understanding despite not being a clinically recognized term. While therapy options like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy can address its underlying causes, adopting healthier narratives and behaviours can also be beneficial.

Fostering genuine connections and empathy is pivotal in navigating this syndrome. Practicing empathy involves investing time to strengthen relationships and making others feel valued and considered. Active listening plays a crucial role in this process, enabling individuals to listen to others without being preoccupied with formulating their response. Cultivating humility is equally essential, as it encourages acknowledging the significance of others’ experiences and stories.

Self-awareness is key to transformation; recognizing one’s strengths and weaknesses while accepting reality and mindfully working on personal growth fosters healthier relationships. Enhancing communication through attentive listening not only strengthens connections but also facilitates self-discovery.

Incorporating practices like gratitude and daily affirmations further promotes positivity and self-reflection. By embracing these principles, individuals can move towards a healthier mindset, fostering genuine connections and empathy while addressing the complexities associated with main character syndrome.

References +
  • Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). The trouble with “Main character syndrome.” Psychology Today.
  • Cleveland Clinic. (2024, April 18). What is the main character syndrome?
  • Gupta, S. (2023, May 22). 6 signs someone is too self-centered. Verywell Mind.,may%20have%20experienced%20something%20traumatic
  • Team, B. E. (2024, April 23). Fantasy vs. Reality: What is Main Character Syndrome?. BetterHelp.

Reinfeld, Dr. J. (2024, February 6). Main character syndrome: Symptoms, causes, diagnosis and more. Mantra Care.,main%20character%2C%20and%20group%20therapy%2C

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