The Evil Mind
Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 13, 2012
Rick David, a licensed Florida mental health therapist for over thirty years, spoke at the Florida Romance Writers monthly meeting in Fort Lauderdale on “Inside the Mind of Evil”. First he differentiated between a sociopath and a psychopath. The sociopath lacks empathy and remorse and is fueled by narcissism. He has feelings of omnipotence and is ego-centric. These people may be criminals but “not all sociopaths are psychopaths.”
Psychopathy means mental illness. The psychopath may be a sociopath with a mental illness, usually psychosis in that he’s out of touch with reality or living in a fantasy world of his own creation. All psychopaths are not criminals.
Killers objectify people and see them as things to bring gain. These psychopathic killers are incapable of meaningful relationships. They lack remorse in their actions. They can be deceitful, impulsive, and glib. Power, control, and fear are their motivators. They are cold and calculating. Many have early behavioral problems as noted below. They can look at you with a steely, predatory stare (or they can be as friendly as the guy next door). Usually they’ll project blame onto others. Killing fills their emotional void, and it may be the only way they can feel anything. Drugs and alcohol are often involved. If anti-social behaviors are mixed in, they may be the loner type, avoiding social contact with others.
Behaviors in children that may be warning signs when taken to the extreme can be testing limits, kids described as difficult or “different”, young people to whom consequences mean nothing. Aggression, bullying, and lying may be evident. A pattern of hurting animals or setting fires may be signals that this person needs intervention. Also, not every serial killer has had an abusive childhood. Even kids from happy families can take a turn to the dark side.
When writing crime fiction or romantic suspense, the writer needs to get inside the mind of evil. These behavioral factors should help you create your villain. Remember that he thinks differently from normal people and rationalizes his internal fantasy. Better we should meet him on the page than on the street.