Tag Archives: emotional attachment

An Emotional Attachment to Works of Fiction

Cover of "The Crack-Up"

I think we have all cracked up. Yeah?

On the surface, it sounds completely insane to become so wrapped up in characters or story lines in works of fiction that you become emotionally attached to them.  But millions of people all over the world are afflicted by this every day.

Just take a look at super religious types.  They are so emotionally attached to their holy books that they believe they are written by a divine entity.  They are ruled by their books.  They make them, and the stories in them, real.

I know I will catch a lot of flak for that from the religious folk out there, but you know it is true.  And I know that there has to be a name for this “disorder” (if you want to call it that) out there, but I will be danged if I know what it is. (If anyone knows, please tell me…)

I am a vicious little heathen, but I can relate to an observant religious person’s unyielding love for well-written and compelling works of fiction.  But instead of the heroes in the Bible, or any holy book of one’s choice, I am more attracted to the anti-hero in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work, or horrible, brutal villains in Peter Lorre films.

Make no mistake, darlings, I always root for the bad guys.  I’m wicked that way.

Whatever the case might be, this is something that affects most of us.  And why do you think that is?  Why do we place such importance on people and things that do not really exist?

Is it because we see ourselves in characters and situations portrayed in books and on film?  Or is it something else entirely?

Colonel Gimpy Crack-Up

Look at that face. Who wouldn’t fall head over heels? ;) (Peter Lorre as Colonel Gimpy in the 1936 film Crack-Up.)

My best friend tells me that when I describe the aforementioned F. Scott Fitzgerald works, or my beloved Colonel Gimpy from the movie Crack-Up, I sound like the biggest, most faithful religious zealot in the world.  I treat them not as works of fiction, but as people and situations that are real, and that I have somehow personally experienced what is going on.

I feel compelled to convert everyone into fans of what I love, just like a Missionary in Africa wants to convert the “lost” in some remote African village (or something) to their religion so their heathen souls go on to paradise in the afterlife.

What’s more, it is a compulsion that I do not want to get rid of.  Indeed, I want to feed it and make it grow.  And it is something that I have plenty of enablers for, believe it or not.  I ask for people to justify my mania and they do.  All the time.

By now you are probably either thinking I am completely insane—or you are nodding your head and completely identifying with everything I have said.  So what are your thoughts?  I will ask again:  what is it you think is the reason, if any, behind people’s emotional attachment to works of fiction?  Is it a mental disorder or is it something that is a completely normal part of being human?

(By the way, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Play The Crack-Up and Peter Lorre’s film Crack-Up are not in any way related…)