Women the world over have cited her as a role model and one of the most prominent feminist icons of all time. However, she has some downright unsavory characteristics as well. Most notable among them are a quick temper, a willingness to show a little skin to get what she wants and a cutthroat determination, regardless of who gets hurt.
The North would probably have run for their lives if she showed up like this.
And while those traits would win her a lot of competitive reality shows, they are also the definite symptoms of antisocial and histrionic personality disorders.
The Red Flags
One of the chief signs of antisocial personality disorder is the inability to understand the motivations and feelings of other people. That lack of empathy manifests itself right from the start, when Scarlett tries to seduce the engaged Ashley Wilkes, fails, and then seduces his brother instead out of spite.
What man could resist this?
From there, things just get worse. She burns her way through three marriages over the course of a few years, sticking with each man only until he wears out his usefulness. The worst example is Frank Kennedy, her sister's fiance, whom she tricks into marriage only because she needs him to pay the taxes on her plantation. This seductive behavior, the incapacity to maintain enduring relationships and her persistent manipulation are all signs of a disorder that even Civil War-era doctors could have picked up on. You know, if they weren't busy digging bullets out of Confederates and calming night terrors.
One of most telling signs of histrionic personality disorder, on the other hand, is Scarlett's need to constantly be the center of attention and her wild overreaction to every problem she faces.
"LOOK. LOOK AT MY ENORMOUS HAT."
In the beginning of the film, while the men's conversation changes from her to the war, she says, "War, war, war. This war talk's spoiling all the fun at every party this spring. I get so bored, I could scream." Psychologists would recognize that desire to be at the center of attention at all times -- the disorder means a person's self-esteem "depends on the approval of others and does not arise from a true feeling of self-worth." Now watch Scarlett collapse into a puddle of melodrama when she is rejected by a man:
It's worth watching just to see him give her a handful of soil in the middle of her crying fit.
She literally needs constant praise, or as Rhett Butler puts it, she "needs to be kissed often." Which makes it all the more sad when characters gradually turn their backs on her and her crazy hurricane of bullshit.
Though we're sympathetic with everyone who leaves her, because if we knew someone like Scarlett in reality, it would be hard after a while to pretend to give a damn.
"He'll be back. I'm sure of it. He left his umbrella."
You can find more from Amanda at gizmachronicles.blogspot.com. You can read more from Chris at raddystuition.com or Twitter.
For for more in depth looks at your favorite characters, check out 9 Beloved Characters Made Horrifying by Japan and 6 Famous Characters You Didn't Know Were Shameless Rip-Offs.
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