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I'm analyzing a story in which there is a character who has unnecessarily extreme reactions to any situation that she's in — for example, she falls in love with a man (who she can't even speak to because of a language barrier) practically at first sight, and when he eventually dumps her, she is so distraught and so convinced that she will never be happy again that she (content warning) commits suicide. I am looking for a single noun that describes this as a character trait because I am trying to write a sentence like this (in which "foobarity" is a stand-in for the real word that I'm looking for):

She has essentially four character traits: compassion, naïveté, foobarity, and discontent with the norms of her society.

I could simply write "tendency to overreact/catastrophize," but this does not flow as well as a single word would, and I feel like there is a single word. That phrase as a Google query doesn't yield any useful results, and "volatility," "irascibility," etc. feel not quite right because they carry a connotation of specifically having a temper. Am I simply imagining that there's a word for what I'm trying to describe?

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    She sounds like an airhead suffering from flightiness. Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 5:28
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    And impetuous. . .
    – Xanne
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 6:05
  • It depends if you want something stereotypically feminine and weak (like flightiness) or something more positive (being quick to react).
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 12:42
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    I would go with volatility. I don't think it implies anger, necessarily.
    – ralph.m
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 21:49
  • @Xanne — The noun impetuousness doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue or out of the brain. Commented Dec 13, 2023 at 3:27

6 Answers 6

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You could call the person dramatic, defined by MW as:

having or showing a tendency to behave or react in an exaggerated way

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While dramatic may fit the bill, there is also melodramatic or overdramatic, both of which Cambridge defines as

showing much stronger emotions than are necessary or usual for a situation:

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Such a trait is hypersensitivity.

Merriam-Webster gives one definition of sensitive as

3: highly responsive or susceptible: such as

a(1): easily hurt or damaged especially: easily hurt emotionally

and Cambridge Dictionary defines the related sense of hypersensitive:

too easily upset by criticism:

hypersensitive about: He's hypersensitive about his height.

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You could say she is Passionate, although it may require rearranging your example sentence as-written.

having very strong feelings or emotions:

Another option could be Impulsive

showing behaviour in which you do things suddenly without any planning and without considering the effects they may have:

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Mercurial

adjective 1. (of a person) subject to sudden or unpredictable changes of mood or mind. "his mercurial temperament"

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Since this "trait" results in suicide:

self-destructiveness

Someone who is self-destructive tends to make poor choices that harm themselves in a variety of ways, and as their choices become more consequential, so too does the harm.

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