Quentin Rowan, a.k.a. Q. R. Markham, Plagiarism Addict
Most psychiatrists I talked to suggested that chronic plagiarism falls under the rubric of pathological lying, not addiction. Michael Stone, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia, places it in the “impostor” category, which includes financial fraudsters, such as Bernard Madoff. “It’s somebody who pretends to be someone who he isn’t and pretends to have skills that he doesn’t have,” Stone said, adding that it’s not unusual for this type of person to be law-abiding in all other areas of life: “It’s someone who you would speculate is making up for feelings of inadequacy by being overtly generous and ingratiating.” Of the wild risk-taking, he added, “The expectation that they’ll get away with it is embedded in their characters.”
A profile Quentin Rowan, who scared up a halfway decent literary career by cutting and pasting other authors’ works and selling them—to places like Paris Review and Little, Brown—as his own. Widdicombe also briefly considers how it is that people resort to actions like plagiarism, and in the text above, likens it most to pathological lying.
If only Jonah Lehrer had been paying attention.
“Quentin Rowan, a.k.a. Q. R. Markham, Plagiarism Addict” by Lizzie Widdicombe for The New Yorker