Thursday, February 11, 2010

Today's Lesson: Psychopath

My Quick Guide To Creating A Psychopathic Character!

In order to create a believable character, a writer must attempt to understand the psychology and traits that drive the personality and compulsion behind the character.  If you're not a psychopath or know a psychopath how can you write a convincing depiction?  First, do research. 

Don't be tempted to turn to the highly publicized or Hollywood version of 'psychopath,' as a short cut.  Readers will pick up on cookie cutter imitations and discard them just as quickly in the trash.  Remember, what is more terrifying is not the Manson or Dahmer, but the psychopath we pray isn't living next door.  Go ahead, pull back the living room curtain and watch Mr. X take his garbage to the curb at 2 a.m. and see if that doesn't give you a good old-fashioned shiver.

Psychopathic Factoids

*   Most of the two million psychopaths in America never murder.

*   They typically are outgoing and persuasive individuals who dazzle others with charm and flattery.

*   They are very good at playing a part so they can get what they want.

*   They have no conscience and their ONLY goal is self-gratification.

Building Blocks Of A Psychopath

*   Generally, they are not products of broken homes or creations of a materialistic society.

*   They come from all circumstances, economic backgrounds, race and family dynamics and there is little evidence that their upbringing affects or influences behavior. 

*   Evidence of personality is evident at a very early age and is due to biological or genetic factors.  By the late teens, the disorder is almost certainly permanent.

*   A psychopath has a shallow range of emotion and lacks guilt.

*   They often see themselves as victims and lack remorse or the ability to empathize with others.

#1 weapon:  They are very aware and make it a practice to bet on the fact most people are trusting and forgiving creatures by nature (unless they are a psychopath).

*   They rarely stay in long-term relationships and often are involved with 3 or more partners at once.

*   They tend to frequently switch jobs and their performance is generally erratic, with chronic absences, misuse of company resources and failed commitments.  Some go to extremes by not being qualified for a job and using or manufacturing fake credentials.

Redemption and Rehabilitation 

·      Psychopaths will never seek therapy willingly.  A therapist is just one more person they will try to con.

·      All current studies suggest they cannot be treated effectively with therapy. 

The Fall

By nature, a psychopath is a master chameleon.  However, over time their perfect imagine will begin to crack and signs of insincerity or falseness will gleam through.  By this time, it is usually too late and the person has already moved to a new neighborhood.


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