Diagnosing Bad: Ghirahim

Where Falcon509 assigns character alignments, I wonder at mental health issues. This will be a little ongoing mini-series that will go on as long as I have villains to “diagnose,” or until you all shout at me to stop and write about something else. Each month I’ll be taking one villain and applying the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, 5th Volume (DSM5) to them.

Of course, these posts are meant for entertainment purposes only, and should not be taken seriously, or be used in lieu of seeing a professional psychologist. Each post will focus on one villain, and discuss which, if any, mental health diagnosis criteria they meet. I’ll then follow this with a more accurate description of the diagnosis and any final comments. So without further ado, here’s our first Diagnosing Bad post!

Special thanks to The Shameful Narcissist for supporting this idea over on Patreon! I didn’t notice the irony of this post until after I started researching for Ghirahim, I swear!

Today’s Villain: Ghirahim

Background: Villain from Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Ghirahim is a perpetual thorn in Link’s side, chasing him through time to ensure the rise of his master, Demise, proceeds as planned. He is an accomplished fighter, and a pretty snappy dresser.


Diagnosis: Narcissistic Personality Disorder (301.81)

Explanation: Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is characterized by a long-term pattern of needing admiration, lacking empathy, and grandiosity. In addition to these traits, at least five of nine possible diagnostic criteria must be met, and Ghirahim exhibits the following:

  1. He has an inflated sense of self-importance and expects to be treated as superior, without offering any concrete reasons or achievements to support his beliefs about himself. He expects Link to be impressed by him, even though on occasion his behavior is more disturbing than awe-inspiring.Related image
  2. He is preoccupied with thoughts of having unlimited power (via Demise’s rise), as well as his own beauty and brilliance.
  3. He demonstrates a complete lack of empathy, and is unwilling to entertain any viewpoints outside of his own. Link’s existence is often seen as offensive, since he would prefer the knight be dead.
  4. He believes that other people should be (or are) envious of him and his powers
  5. He often acts haughtily or arrogant behaviorsImage result for ghirahim quotes

Ghirahim demonstrates many of these characteristics, and some might classify him as a sociopath (or as having antisocial personality disorder, as it’s now called), citing his lack of empathy. But his arrogance and feelings toward himself place him squarely within the criteria of a man with narcissistic personality disorder.

Just the (Real) Facts):

Individuals with NPD often have grandiose opinions of themselves, but almost always have a very fragile sense of self. This may cause them to act defensively or aggressively when criticized, and they may also remember criticisms and feel their sting for longer than someone without this diagnosis.

Image result for ghirahim quotes

Their need for admiration, lack of empathy, and their obvious feelings of entitlement strain interpersonal relationships, although their need for praise may propel them to succeed in their careers, especially if they believe that others are not as capable at completing a task as they are.

However, a fear of failure or an over-sensitivity to critique could also impair their work flow. Feelings of humiliation may be worsened by accompanying self-criticism, which can lead to other issues, such as major depressive disorder or substance abuse.

Important to Note

Many people – especially very successful people – can at time display behaviors that are similar to NPD. As with any mental health issue, a diagnosis is only appropriate if the symptoms cause significant impairment to life skills (e.g., taking care of yourself, holding down a job, relating to others, etc.).

There you have it! Our first Diagnosing Bad. What do you think? Is Ghirahim in need of a therapist, or is he just a bad guy through and through? Who should we look at next? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you soon!
~ Athena

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  1. cool article, not sure where to put him if he’s just a plain old baddy or is NPD. All your points about him are valid, so perhaps many baddies fall into the category.

    How bout breaking down Saren at some point? That would be a neat read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yes it’s one of those things where it might be “nicer” to just dismiss him as bad. After all, a person can act like a narcissist and not have a personality disorder.

      Saren is a great one! I’ll add him to the list 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think dismissing as bad doesn’t necessarily simplify the explanation. I think all your points are still relevant here even if you just call him a regular bad guy. I think it just might say a lot of baddies follow this line of thinking or mindset. We shall see as more are broken down of course 🙂 can’t wait to possibly see Saren and others

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This reminds me somewhat of the book Pooh & The Psychologists, a fascinating read that looks into the mental illnesses suffered by the various characters in the Winnie the Pooh books. I look forwards to reading more of your thoughts on this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an interesting idea! I haven’t played this game so I am afraid I cannot discuss this article’s subject further.

    I wonder how you would diagnose [person redacted for spoilers] from Until Dawn or the main character from The Last Door, or any character in games with psychological horror aspects. I feel like a good portion of horror games tend to rely on psychology and psychiatry, for better and for worse, but they tend to avoid stating a diagnosis.

    I don’t know if that is a good or a bad thing though. Perhaps it is a responsible move, in the sense that they sidestep the risk of stigmatising a disorder. On the other hand, it can work as a poor excuse for lack of research or tact.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’ll have to look up said redacted information, as I tend to avoid horror games, but I’d agree they have some fascinating villains!!

      I think it’s best if the video game industry doesn’t actually diagnose anyone. There’s enough stigma, and always portraying villains as having mental illnesses, when so many IRL folks with mental illnesses are *not* bad people, would be quite detrimental.


      1. Definitely. It’s probably best if they avoided diagnosis altogether. However I also think that games being purposefully vague about a character’s disorder, but not vague enough that you couldn’t google it and come to a bad diagnosis, is somewhat irresponsible.

        On that note, I think it is brilliant there is an whole asylum-themed jam that rules out the use of mental disorders as part of the plot. It makes writers think outside some of the most outdated/noxious conventions in horror.

        And there are a few cases where the person with a disorder is the hero, or just a regular person trying to cope. I think that is also an interesting subversion of those conventions. But heroes are far from the point of this new series, so I won’t ramble any more about that. 😛

        Until Dawn was better than I expected, considering it is teen horror. While it is very much a movie-like game, in this case it is a good thing (IMO). The game is heavy on references to psychological treatment and saying more would be spoilerific, but I think it succeeds in not diagnosing (or hinting a diagnosis). Also, there is a portion of the game that deals with some appalling practices that were common in mental health facilities in the early to mid 20th century, but it’s not presented as the cause of any horror. Instead, it’s just part of the tragedy surrounding the setting of the story.

        All that said, the one thing that may annoy a lot of players is how the characters behave. Like most teens in horror stories, 90% of the cast kind of sucks until they face against death.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Firstly, I love this idea! That was a very entertaining read 🙂 Secondly, Ghirahim freaked me out slightly more than the motion controls in Skyward Sword (I’m kidding, maybe). He was a very unique bad guy though! I can relate to the look on Link’s face, haha. You should totally make one of these for Bowser sometime! He’s my favourite bad dude, and also the one I admire the most.

    Oh and between you, me, and the internet, I don’t think the Shameful Narcissist is actually a narcissist at all 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree. I just felt bad that the first guy I diagnosed was a narcissist…

      And thank you! I’d definitely agree he was just as unnerving as the 1:1 controls for the game.

      Bowser, hm? It might be as you say… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I wasn’t as keen on Skyward Sword as I was on some other Zelda games but Girahim was a very good villain for it and I don’t think the game would have been as good without him. He is very different to the usual villain Ganon, who tends to be a very calm, controlled “gazing out over the horizon and then turning round threateningly to face you” villain so it was nice to have quite an ‘eccentric’ one for a change.
    This is a great idea for posts as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As far as villains go, I really like Ghirahim as well. He’s really more of a “refined criminal mastermind” than the average thuggish bad guy, that’s for sure. And thanks! I’m happy to see so many people making requests so this topic will definitely return!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You know, four of those five factors also apply to me. Hmmmm…….

    I don’t know if you’ve played either of the System Shocks, but if you have, I’d be interested in seeing what you make of SHODAN.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha I don’t think you have NPD, Aether, don’t worry. Although….. (I’m just kidding).

      I haven’t played System Shock (first-person games… sigh), but I’m looking for another game to watch on YouTube, so I can definitely check it out!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I swore I replied to this already! I know I read it at work, liked it, and I could bet me life I wrote out a thoughtful response. Did I not hit send? Darn…well I wanted to say thank you so much for the shout out; it’s much appreciated, and I love this idea. Of course the wheels in my mind are now turning with what I can diagnose my favorite villain with. Let’s just say Freud would have a field day *sigh* though I’m pretty most of his ideas have been fairly debunked by now hehe. In all honestly though, I may need to add a psych section to my character analysis projects 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No worries! Always happy to hear from you 🙂

      Ah… shall I add him to my list? You’re probably right, though. Freud would have a field day with all the mommy issues… There’s a lot of his stuff that’s been left behind, but some of his ideas have been modified and are still used today, at least the last time I checked in to such things. So, I guess it’s fair game?? haha

      Definitely! I’m always for analyzing characters more!

      Liked by 1 person

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