From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Illeism /ˈɪli.ɪzəm/ (from Latin ille meaning "he, that") is the act of referring to oneself in the third person instead of first person. It is sometimes used in literature as a stylistic device. In real-life usage, illeism can reflect a number of different stylistic intentions or involuntary circumstances.

In literature[edit]

Early literature such as Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico or Xenophon's Anabasis, both ostensibly non-fictional accounts of wars led by their authors, used illeism to impart an air of objective impartiality, which included justifications of the author's actions. In this way personal bias is presented, albeit dishonestly, as objectivity.[citation needed]

Illeism can also be used in literature to provide a twist, wherein the identity of the narrator as the main character is hidden from the reader until later in the story (e.g. one Arsène Lupin story where the narrator is Arsène Lupin but hides his own identity); the use of third person implies external observation. A similar use is when the author injects himself into his own third person narrative story as a character, such as Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation, Douglas Coupland in JPod, and Clive Cussler's novels, beginning with Dragon.[citation needed]

It can also be used as a device to illustrate the feeling of "being outside one's body and watching things happen", a psychological disconnect resulting from dissonance either from trauma such as childhood physical or sexual abuse, or from past outbursts that cannot be reconciled with the individual's own self-image.[citation needed] The same kind of objective distance can be employed for other purposes. Theologian Richard B. Hays writes an essay where he challenges earlier findings that he disagrees with: "These were the findings of one Richard B. Hays, and the newer essay treats the earlier work and earlier author at arms' length."[1]

A common device in science fiction is for robots, computers, and other artificial life to refer to themselves in the third person, e.g. "This unit is malfunctioning" or "Number Five is alive" (said by Johnny Five in Short Circuit), to suggest that these creatures are not truly self-aware, or that they separate their consciousness from their physical form.[citation needed]

Illeism may also be used to show idiocy, as with the character Mongo in Blazing Saddles, e.g. "Mongo like candy" and "Mongo only pawn in game of life"; though it may also show innocent simplicity, as it does with Harry Potter's Dobby the Elf ("Dobby has come to protect, even if he does have to shut his ears in the oven door").

In everyday speech[edit]

Illeism in everyday speech can have a variety of intentions depending on context. One common usage is to impart humility, a common practice in feudal societies and other societies where honorifics are important to observe ("Your servant awaits your orders"), as well as in Master–Slave relationships ("This slave needs to be punished"). Recruits in the military, mostly United States Marine Corps recruits, are also often made to refer to themselves in the third person, such as "this recruit", in order to reduce the sense of individuality and enforce the idea of the group being more important than the self.[citation needed] The use of illeism in this context imparts a sense of lack of self, implying a diminished importance of the speaker in relation to the addressee or to a larger whole.

Conversely, in different contexts, illeism can be used to reinforce self-promotion, as used to sometimes comic effect by Bob Dole throughout his political career ("When the president is ready to deploy, Bob Dole is ready to lead the fight on the Senate Floor", Bob Dole speaking about the Strategic Defense Initiative at the NCPAC convention, 1987). This was particularly made notable during the United States presidential election of 1996 and lampooned broadly in popular media for years afterwards. Deepanjana Pal of Firstpost noted that speaking in the third person "is a classic technique used by generations of Bollywood scriptwriters to establish a character's aristocracy, power and gravitas".[2]

On the other hand, third person self-referral can be associated with self-irony and not taking oneself too seriously (since the excessive use of pronoun "I" is often seen as a sign of narcissism and egocentrism),[3] as well as with eccentricity in general. Psychological studies show that thinking and speaking of oneself in the third person increases wisdom and has a positive effect on one's mental state because an individual who does so is more intellectually humble, more capable of empathy and understanding the perspectives of others, and is able to distance emotionally from one's own problems.[4][5][6] Accordingly, in certain Eastern religions, like Hinduism, illeism is sometimes seen as a sign of enlightenment, since through it, an individual detaches his eternal self (atman) from his bodily form; in particular, Jnana yoga encourages its practitioners to refer to themselves in the third person.[7] Known illeists of that sort include Swami Ramdas,[8] Ma Yoga Laxmi,[9] Anandamayi Ma,[10] and Mata Amritanandamayi.[11]

A number of celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe[12][13], Alice Cooper[14], and Deanna Durbin[15], referred to themselves in the third person to distance their public persona from their actual self.

Young children in Japan commonly refer to themselves by their own name.[citation needed] This is due to the Japanese way of speaking, in which referring to another in the third person is considered more polite than using any of the Japanese words for "you". As a Japanese child grows older they normally switch to using first person references. Japanese idols also may refer to themselves in the third person so to give off the feeling of childlike cuteness.[citation needed]

Notable illeists[edit]

Real people[edit]




Religion and spirituality[edit]


Fictional characters[edit]



Marvel Comics
  • Doctor Doom is known for more often than not referring to himself as "Doom" instead of "me" or "I".[69]
  • The Hulk uses illeism while saying his iconic "Hulk smash!" or variations thereof.[69]
  • Mantis almost always refers to herself as "Mantis", "she", and "this one"; this has to do with her upbringing at the Temple of the Priests of Pama, an alien pacifistic sect heavily inspired by real-life Eastern religious movements.[70]



Manga and anime[edit]


Video games[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Richard B. Hays, “‘Here We Have No Lasting City’: New Covenantalism in Hebrews” in Richard J. Bauckham et al. (eds.), The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 151–173, esp. 151–152, 167.
  2. ^ "Rahul Gandhi, blurring lines between filmi and real politicians". Firstpost. 2014-01-28. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  3. ^ Raskin, Robert (1988). "Narcissism and the Use of Personal Pronouns". Journal of Personality. 56 (2): 393–404. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.1988.tb00892.x. PMID 3404383.
  4. ^ "Why speaking to yourself in the third person makes you wiser". Aeon. 2019-08-07. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  5. ^ "The Benefits of Talking About Yourself in the Third Person". HowStuffWorks. 2018-04-16. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  6. ^ "The Psychological Case for Talking in the Third Person". Mic. 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  7. ^ "Hinduism-The Religious Life". Archived from the original on 22 October 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  8. ^ "Swami Ramdas". Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  9. ^ "Osho World Online Magazine :: February 2013". Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  10. ^ Aymard, Orianne (2014-05-01). When a Goddess Dies: Worshipping Ma Anandamayi after Her Death. ISBN 978-0199368631.
  11. ^ " The Rediff Interview/Mata Amritanandmayi". Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  12. ^ a b Spoto, Donald (2001). Marilyn Monroe: The Biography. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 324. ISBN 9780815411833.
  13. ^ a b Leaming, Barbara (2010). Marilyn Monroe. Crown. p. 404. ISBN 9780307557773.
  14. ^ a b Whitworth, Melissa (August 28, 2007). "Alice Cooper: 'Some people turn to God, I turned to golf'". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on August 29, 2007. Retrieved August 13, 2011.
  15. ^ a b Private letter to film historian/critic William K. Everson in the late 1970s
  16. ^ Alexander, Catherine M. S., ed. (2003). The Cambridge Shakespeare Library: Shakespeare's times, texts, and stages. Cambridge University Press. p. 101. ISBN 9780521808002.
  17. ^ See the Wikisource of the book: s:The Education of Henry Adams
  18. ^ Glass, Loren Daniel (2004). Authors Inc: Literary Celebrity in the Modern United States, 1880-1980. NYU Press. p. 29. ISBN 9780814731604.
  19. ^ Eisenhower, Dwight (1967). at ease. DoubleDay & Company. pp. 214.
  20. ^ "France: Third Person Singular". Time Magazine. 1970-10-19. Retrieved 2009-01-22.(subscription required)
  21. ^ a b c d Barford, Vanessa (2015-08-28). "Why do some people refer to themselves in the third person?". BBC News. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  22. ^ Harris, Scott (1996-03-10). "Bob Dole Needs to Put the 'I' in Identity". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-12-07.
  23. ^ a b "Acervo Digital VEJA – Digital Pages". Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  24. ^ Bourn, Chris. "Why People Like Trump Refer to Themselves in the Third Person". Mel Magazine. Mel Magazine. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  25. ^ Alberts, Sheldon (9 November 2011), There's no 'you' in Herman Cain, The National Post
  26. ^ "Hang me if I have committed any crime, but no apology, Narendra Modi says – The Times of India". 2014-04-16. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  27. ^ "泛民5名單報名參選超區議席". 2016-07-17. Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  28. ^ Landers, Chris (2016-02-11). "Johnny Cueto was pretty impressed with Johnny Cueto's Game 5 gem in this third-person interview". How was Johnny Cueto able to step up in such a pivotal Game 5? "Games like this are where you see Johnny Cueto -- the real Johnny Cueto." Yes, Cueto gave his interview through an interpreter, but if you listen closely, you'll hear the pitcher was speaking in the third person the whole time.
  29. ^ Marchman, Tim; Fischer-Baum, Reuben (September 25, 2013). "Who Is The Most Pompous Sports Pundit? A Scientific Investigation". Deadspin. Pronouns within quotes weren't counted unless the author was quoting himself, and we also counted when Gregg Easterbrook used "TMQ" or "your columnist" in the obvious place of a pronoun. ("TMQ's been on the record as saying…")
  30. ^ Mewis, Joe (2013-10-03). "Read the best Zlatan Ibrahimovic quotes on the outspoken Swedish striker's birthday". The Mirror. Retrieved 2016-05-17. There's big boasts, lashings of ego and plenty of third person references ahoy
  31. ^ Hruby, Patrick (2012-08-18). "Lebron James definitely has Dan Gilbert all wrong". ESPN Page 2. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 2012-12-07.
  32. ^ Nordquist, Richard (2012-09-24). "A Few More Oddities: Illeism, Semantic Satiation, and Garden-Path Sentences". guide. Retrieved 2012-12-07. Here, for instance, is how pro basketball player LeBron James justified his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat: I wanted to do what was best for LeBron James and what LeBron James was going to do to make him happy.
  33. ^ Taibbi, Matt (2010-03-02). "A Field Guide to Sports Egos". Men's Journal. Archived from the original on 2013-01-28. Retrieved 2012-12-06. They actually have a word for what Rickey Henderson is: illeist.
  34. ^ "Doug Robinson: Karl Malone is one of a kind". Deseret News. 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2012-12-06. Maybe Malone didn't even know he was the one who was saying those things, because he tended to talk about himself as another being, in third person. Or maybe he was just schizophrenic, whatever.
  35. ^ Amis, Martin (2004-10-01). "In search of Dieguito". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2018-02-22.
  36. ^ e. g. here
  37. ^ Shefter, Adam (2011-02-27). "Sources: Cam Newton thrown for loop". His comment drew such a reaction because some say his swagger teeters on the edge of pure arrogance. In roughly 12 minutes at the podium, he referred to himself in the third person three times. When asked if some mistake his confidence for cockiness, he said: "I'm not sure, but I'm a confident person, and it was instilled in myself at an early age to believe in myself".
  38. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (2003-06-30). "And God created Pele". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
  39. ^ Fink, Jesse (2011-11-13). "Pelé's mouth should get a straight red". The Sunday Guardian. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
  40. ^ "Former Nottingham Forest manager Billy Davies claims 'whispering campaign' has sabotaged Premier League ambitions". The Independent. 27 February 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  41. ^ Wiltz, Teresa (2006-11-02). "Love Him, Or Leave Him?". Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-12-06. They all purport to be in love with Flav, a man who refers to himself in the third person and whose idea of fine dining is a dash to Red Lobster.
  42. ^ Fowler, Matt (2009-07-02). "Line-O-Rama: The Rock Says". IGN. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
  43. ^ "The Deseret News – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  44. ^ Canales, Luis. Imperial Gina.
  45. ^ A simple country girl The Boston Globe, 29 July 1956
  46. ^ Barton, Ruth (2010). Hedy Lamarr: The Most Beautiful Woman in Film. University Press of Kentucky. p. 108. ISBN 9780813126104.
  47. ^ Bret, David (2014). Jean Harlow: Tarnished Angel. Aurum Press. ISBN 978-1-781-31343-5.
  48. ^ Porter, Darwin (2003). The Secret Life of Humphrey Bogart: The Early Years (1899-1931). Blood Moon Productions, Ltd. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-966-80305-1.
  49. ^ "Queremos tanto a Lila". 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  50. ^ IGN Staff (October 10, 2006). "Mr. T Reveals Why He Pities Fools". Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  51. ^ Aymard, Orianne (2014-05-01). When a Goddess Dies: Worshipping Ma Anandamayi after Her Death. ISBN 978-0199368631.
  52. ^ " The Rediff Interview/Mata Amritanandmayi". Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  53. ^ Susunaga Weeraperuma. "The Life of Swami Ramdas" (PDF). Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  54. ^ Singh, Puran (1924). The Story of Swami Rama: The Poet Monk of the Punjab. Madras: Ganesh & Co.
  55. ^ "Osho World Online Magazine :: February 2013". Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  56. ^ Rod Elledge (2007). Use of the Third Person for Self-Reference by Jesus and Yahweh: A Study of Illeism in the Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Texts and Its Implications for Christology. Bloomsbury T&T Clark. ISBN 9780567671448.
  57. ^ Dali, Salvador (April 19, 1958). "Salvador Dali – The Mike Wallace interview – Transcript". The Mike Wallace Interview (video). Interviewed by Mike Wallace. Retrieved 2017-03-31 – via Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin.
  58. ^ Norman Mailer (1997-09-30). The Fight. Vintage. ISBN 0-375-70038-2.
  59. ^ "Piazza • Ask. Answer. Explore. Whenever". Retrieved 2019-12-12.
  60. ^ De Sousa Correa, Delia (2000). The Nineteenth-century Novel: Realisms. Psychology Press. p. 162. ISBN 9780415238267.
  61. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1997). The Hobbit (Revised ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. p. 72. ISBN 0-345-33968-1.
  62. ^ ""You're Not the Same Kind of Human Being": The Evolution of Pity to Horror in Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon – Cline – Disability Studies Quarterly". Brent Walter Cline. 32 (4). 2012-09-28. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  63. ^ Chalker, Jack L. (2013-07-25). When the Changewinds Blow. ISBN 9780575097995.
  64. ^ [1]
  65. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-01-07. Retrieved 2020-02-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  66. ^ RavenWolf, Silver (2001). Witches' Key to Terror. Llewellyn Worldwide. p. 25. ISBN 9780738700496. The three girls milled around the kitchen, dodging Ramona, looking for midnight snacks. Bethany wished for the thousandth time that the housekeeper would not talk about herself in the third person. Too weird.
  67. ^ "Bookslut | Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami".
  68. ^ Mussari, Mark (2011). Haruki Murakami. Marshall Cavendish. p. 77. ISBN 9780761441243. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  69. ^ a b Chris Bourn (April 26, 2018). "The Psychology of Referring to Yourself in the Third Person". MEL Magazine. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  70. ^ Guardians of the Galaxy: 15 Things You Never Knew About Mantis
  71. ^ "Why does Elmo refer to himself in the third person? Won't this teach kids improper English?". Frequently Asked Questions. Sesame Workshop. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2012-12-07.
  72. ^ "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet". TV Cream. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  73. ^ Kettle, James (2011-05-28). "The best of Seinfeld". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-12-07.
  74. ^ "Friends" The One with the Birth Mother (TV Episode 2004), retrieved 2018-09-09
  75. ^ Sullivan, Jonathan (2010-01-22). "DVD Review: Becker – The Third Season". Blogcritics.
  76. ^ Mike Sager (10 June 2015). "Omar Little on 'The Wire' – Why Omar Is the Best Character on 'The Wire'". Esquire. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  77. ^ Hinckley, David (2009-04-07). "ABC's 'The Unusuals' odd squad mixes drama and humor". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  78. ^ Alston, Joshua (2010-10-14). "'Eastbound & Down': The Ugliest American". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  79. ^ Gilmore, Dave (October 22, 2012). "'Boardwalk Empire' recap, 'Ging Gang Goolie'". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  80. ^ Wightman, Catriona (2011-09-27). "'Hart of Dixie': First impressions – TV Blog". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  81. ^ Simpson, Craig (June 17, 2009). "Summer of '84—Waxing on Nostalgia: The Karate Kid". Slant Magazine. Miyagi is a trickier case: at first it looks like Avildsen overplays the man's exoticness (cue that pan flute!), enforced by Kamen's questionable emphasis on the character's me-no-likey phonetic third-person English. ("Miyagi this, Miyagi that...")
  82. ^ "Quotes for Magua (Character)". IMDB. 2014-08-01. When the Grey Hair is dead, Magua will eat his heart. Before he dies, Magua will put his children under the knife, so the Grey Hair will know his seed is wiped out forever.
  83. ^ "Fast & Furious (2009) - Quotes". IMDB. 2020-06-04. Papa Dwight wants you to take off your shoes! Dwight loves feet!.
  84. ^ "Cars 2 – An interview with director John Lasseter". Sound and Picture Online. 2011-06-20. He’s not just any formula car. He’s the star from Italy, Francesco Bernoulli. He is so full of himself—he’s an open-wheel car and in the car world, an open-wheel car is like those guys who barely button their shirts. He talks about himself in the third person. Voicing Francesco Bernoulli is John Turturro and he hit it out of the park. It’s one of the most entertaining characters we’ve ever created.
  85. ^ "A Cracked Concerto". Kanon (2006-2007). Episode 14. |access-date= requires |url= (help) – details back story of Sayuri Kurata from Kanon
  86. ^ Bowers, J. (2007-09-27). "Nodame Cantabile, Vols. 6-10 (Del Rey)". Archived from the original on 2012-05-17. Retrieved 2012-12-19.
  87. ^ Hanley, Andy (2012-03-15). "Manga Review: Highschool of the Dead Vol. 5". UK Anime Network. Retrieved 2012-12-06. At the forefront of this is a young traffic cop with a penchant for referring to herself in the third-person named Asami Nakaoka, who tries to take control of the situation in the absence of her partner who has gone back to base to seek help.
  88. ^ Moody, Allen (2013-11-05). "Haganai – Review". THEM Anime Reviews. Like Tim, I didn't like most of the other characters, especially Rika, whose tics (speaking of herself in the third person, and imagining sexual situations in the damnedest places- for example, in mecha manga) kept making me shout "Make it STOP!!!!"