Game of Thrones - Tywin Lannister

Mental Health and Pop Culture Series

Game of Thrones Series Extras

Tywin Lannister is the patriarch of the Lannister family; he is father to Jamie, Cersei, and Tyrion, and grandfather to Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen. Tywin is characterized by being ruthless, calculating, and cold; he easily intimidates those around him. Based off of the character history, I do not doubt that he has been a proven military leader and a strategist. He exhibits his prowess and his cunning as the Hand of the King to his grandson Joffrey.

Tywin comes across as being very self-important; in part, no doubt, to the role that he played as Hand of the King Aryes II Targaryen, and the fact that he is the father of Queen Cersei, but his self-importance goes beyond that. He is calculating and manipulative. He places pride before honor, and this is one of the reasons, I believe, why he treats Tyrion so poorly. Additionally, Tywin exhibits a lack of empathy, he believes that he knows more/better than everyone else and that few can truly understand him, he exhibits an air of entitlement that seems to go above and beyond his already impressive background and role, he exploits others for his own gain, he believes that others are envious of him, and he is very arrogant. All of these traits are classic signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

I think that it is especially noteworthy that Tywin is so condescending toward his son Tyrion, despite the fact that Tyrion has exhibited time and again his intellectual prowess. Consistent with the diagnosis of NPD, I don’t think that Tywin would recognize the need for treatment; despite the fact that he believes himself to be aware of everything, he appears to have a flawed insight, and he certainly fails to recognize how others perceive him or his behavior, in part because they are afraid to tell him, and in part because he refuses to listen when they do. I imagine that despite the bad relationship that they have with each other, Tyrion would be the most likely person to bring Tywin to therapy.

I believe to best treat Tywin, as well as others with NPD, individual psychotherapy is the best model, though I may bring in other members of the family if needed. I would likely approach Tywin using mixed methodology, relying heavily on systems theory, the psychodynamic approach to talk therapy, and elements of CBT. Systems theory would be beneficial because it would give a perspective of understanding just how/why Tywin thinks and acts the way he does; that is, what brings him to his symptomology. Psychodynamic therapy would be useful because it would give insight into the thought process that creates the behavior, and thereby enhance awareness Tywin’s awareness of his disorder, by giving him guidance to help him explore unresolved conflict in dysfunctional family relationships. CBT would be helpful as a means of helping to discover the distorted thoughts and replace them with positive, reality-based ones; additionally, once the distorted thoughts are identified, it becomes easier to identify and replace maladaptive behaviors with positive ones.