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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Norton

Odd Human Behavior


Whether we are developing characters for a story or encountering odd behavior in real life, this situation explains the motivation for some theatrical behavior.


Years ago, I interviewed for a job with a guy who kept asking if he could trust me. My response was, "Of course, I am all about integrity!" It was only after I started that I found he did not know how to do the expert work he was hired to do. He threw up clouds of confusing smoke to cover that fact, cheated to produce "good" results, took credit for other people's contributions, and looked for a patsy to blame when the truth eventually came out.


I'd never been so stressed by a job in my life. And yet, I learned much about human behavior that years of psychology coursework could not teach me. This experience turned gears in my mind and pushed buttons on emotions I did not know I had. I deepened.


Today I am reflecting on truths people conceal and the drama they create to avoid being exposed. Perhaps they have a substance abuse, sex addiction, gambling, or compulsive spending problem. Could the person who is in over their head on a job not be able to admit they don't know something because of a childhood experience that taught them failure is unacceptable? There are thousands of possible explanations. We do not need to know precisely what is going on in the heart and mind of another person to understand that beneath the behavior, there is a reason why they act the way they do. And, of course, that reason is likely the result of some kind of trauma.


Is it possible to pause our emotional reaction and lead with curiosity instead?


Perhaps empathy lies in knowing the experience of being the one who is constantly afraid of being exposed is just as bad, if not worse, than those affected but have the freedom to leave the situation.


If you care to share a personal experience, I am interested to hear it.



Image courtesy of the Canva pro media library.









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susannorton444
15 abr 2022

That's what makes the story so compelling...

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Catherine Norton
Catherine Norton
15 abr 2022

In The Stain, Sergei goes to great lengths to hide a secret from Cassandra. I wrote the story years before I met the bad boss but the similarities are interesting. Both became very controlling and dramatic as the truth threatened to be revealed. I wonder how universal this is, and also, how much of a narcissist's focus on self is the preservation of a shameful secret? The one living in fear would be highly self-focused to maintain the "act" and manipulate those around them. I am fascinated by this inquiry!


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