Book Reviews

What fictional character was accurately portrayed as a psychopath?

Question was initially identified in Quora ( and while the responses consider characters like Norman Bates and Hannibal Lecter, I would like to make a list of my own:

  1. Patrick Bateman American Psycho

Patrick Bateman: Do you know what Ed Gein said about women?

David Van Patten: Ed Gein? The maitre ‘d at Canal Bar?

Patrick Bateman: No, serial killer, Wisconsin, the ’50s.

Craig McDermott: So what did he say?

Patrick Bateman: “When I see a pretty girl walking down the street, I think two things. One part wants me to take her out, talk to her, be real nice and sweet and treat her right.”

David Van Patten: And what did the other part think?

Patrick Bateman: “What her head would look like on a stick… “

2. Dexter Jeff Lindsay * Darkly Dreaming Dexter Book 1

She’s the only person in the world who loves me. I think that’s nice. I don’t have feeling about anything, but if I could have feelings at all, I’d have them for Deb.

Needless to say I have some unusual habits, yet all these socially acceptable people can’t wait to pick up hammers and smash their food to bits. Normal people are so hostile.

3. Joe You – Caroline Kepnes Book Review

You never sounded farther away from me and I will take that balloon and stab the fuck out of and at the same time I will take that balloon and tie it around Peach’s neck because WHO THE FUCK CAN CUNT OUT OVER A BALLOON?

Oh Beck, I love reading your e-mail. Learning your life. And I am careful; I always mark new messages unread so that you won’t get alarmed. My good fortune doesn’t stop there; You prefer e-mail. You don’t like texting. So this means that I am not missing out on all that much communication. You wrote an “essay” for some blog in which you stated that “e-mails last forever. You can search for any word at any time and see everything you ever said to anyone about that one word. Texts go away.” I love you for wanting a record. I love your records for being so accessible and I’m so full of you, your calendar of caloric intake and hookups and menstrual moments, your self-portraits you don’t publish, your recipes and exercises. You will know me soon too, I promise.

4. Hannibal Lecter Hannibal Book Review

“I think it’s easy to mistake understanding for empathy – we want empathy so badly. Maybe learning to make that distinction is part of growing up. It’s hard and ugly to know somebody can understand you without even liking you.”

5. Lucien Chris Carter – An Evil Mind book review

Why are we fascinated with psychopaths?

There’s a difference between fascination and admiration. The former doesn’t always imply the latter.

All of the characters you have mentioned, plus a few more (think The Joker, Col Hans Landa, Hannibal Lecter, James Moriarty etc) are fascinating no doubt. They all represent something exceptional, something so outside the “norm” that most humans will never encounter in their lives. All of them exemplify one or more qualities, showing us what it would mean to be the very best in that regard.

Think of it.

Lecter is, as Sherlock would describe him, a “high-functioning sociopath”. He routinely kills people, cooks them in a beguiling gourmet manner, has a certain dangerous charm and allure to his ways, and is almost always ahead of the game. Batman represent human will-power at its absolute best. His obsession (kept in check with his resolve, and with the help from the Justice Friends and the Bat-family) drives him to be a God among humans. Dexter is, by any legal definition, a murderer and a psychopath. But he has never harmed anyone who didn’t deserve it. Was it the right way to punish those offenders? No. But was it totally wrong too? No.

I don’t “like” any of them. In the sense that, I would not “aspire” to be like them (though in a lot of cases, it would simply be humanely impossible to even remotely come close) or teach my kids to look up to them.

But I am, damn sure, fascinated by them. They do make for a compellingly interesting study. I mean, so do Hitler, Stalin, Genghiz Khan, Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin. People spend their careers analyzing their personas, their motives, and the impact their (oft ruthless) actions have had on the course of human history. But I am pretty sure no one goes around worshiping them.*

* of course, there are some who do. But they too fall on the undesirable end of the psychopathic spectrum and do not accurately represent the average human being.



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