Monthly Archives: November 2018

Psychopaths, Sociopaths and Other Bad Guys and Gals

by Kassandra Lamb

By far, the most popular posts on our site are those discussing psychopaths:  What Is a Psychopath?, Are Psychopaths Born or Made?, and Can Psychopaths Be Cured?

Why are we humans so fascinated by these people who are essentially evil incarnate? I don’t have a good answer for that, but I don’t think it means we like that evil. Perhaps we are so intrigued because it is hard to fathom how some people can end up that way.

Today, I’m hanging out over at Jami Gold’s cyber-home, talking about psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists and other kinds of villains. What are the differences between these labels? How do the people who merit these labels behave? And what causes these pathological patterns of behavior?

Psychopaths, Sociopaths and Other Bad Guys and Gals

One of the toughest tasks we authors face is deciding how to portray our bad guys and gals. Will we make them out to be misguided and conflicted souls, or totally evil psychopaths, or somewhere in between? And exactly what is a psychopath anyway?

Legend of Sleepy Mayfair coverThis question came up for me recently as I finished up a Halloween story in my cozy mystery series. I was tempted to go the conflicted soul route and have my antagonist be at least partially redeemed at the end, but some of the things this antagonist was destined to do, it would take a full-blown psychopath to go there. So that’s the direction I had to take.

Sometimes, like in this case, the plot dictates how evil and lacking in remorse the antagonist must be, but other times, most times really, we may want to have at least some positive traits in our bad guys.

So how to do that and still be true to human nature? (As it really is, not how it is portrayed all too often in movies and TV shows.)

What Is a Psychopath Anyway?

First, let me clarify our terminology. Sociopath and psychopath are essentially the same thing. They are two different words, coined at different points in the history of the mental health field, but referring to the same people … and neither is still officially used in the field today.

The official terminology is now antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), and members of the mental health field will rarely use the terms sociopath or psychopath in any official capacity.

But saying “a person with antisocial personality disorder” is a bit cumbersome, so mental health professionals, especially in conversations with lay people, may unofficially use the word psychopath.

I will come back to the concept of sociopath in a bit.

So again, what is a psychopath exactly, i.e., someone with ASPD? They are noted for several personality traits, the most troublesome being a lack of remorse and inability to feel empathy for others. They engage in antisocial behaviors, such as aggression, stealing, lying, etc., with no concern for who they are harming. Indeed, they often get off on the sense of power that harming others gives them. They also tend to be thrill-seeking and impulsive.

What is a psychopath? A man who smiles for his mugshot.

This psychopath has just been arrested for multiple murders. He is smiling for the mugshot.

They have a very high threshold for stimulation, a fancy way of saying that it takes a lot to make them feel anything. So normal life, that would make most of us quite happy, feels incredibly boring to them. Thus the thrill-seeking. Also, their high threshold for stimulation keeps them from feeling fear in situations that most of us would find quite scary (like being arrested).

This means they will do some pretty outrageous things, either ignoring or rationalizing away the potential negative consequences for themselves. The really smart ones, however, may meticulously plan out their evil deeds, but this lack of fear can often be their downfall.

Antisocial Personality Disorder is caused by a combination of genetics and a harsh, abusive environment growing up. More on this in a moment.

Other Bad Guys and Gals

Sometimes we will want our antagonists to be basically good people who find themselves in bad situations. Maybe something pointed them down the wrong road—an event where they did something bad accidentally, or in self defense, and are now tortured by guilt about it. Maybe something extremely important to them is at risk and therefore they are willing to violate their moral code in order to protect it.

These bad guys and gals will feel guilt regarding their behavior, but they will push it aside as best they can and/or rationalize it, sometimes via displaced anger … READ MORE

And stay tuned. Next week, I will delve further into how authors develop the villains in their stories.

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kass is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

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An “Off” Week Treat: Book Review of The First Time I Died

by Kassandra Lamb

cover of The Frist Time I Died

My Review of The First Time I Died by Jo Macgregor

This is one of the best written books I’ve read in a long time (excluding misterio press authors, of course 🙂 ) And the story concept is quite original, a new twist on the protagonist going home to find closure for old unresolved issues.

Graduate student Garnett McGee returns to her hometown for Christmas, and finds herself drawn into trying to solve the ten-year-old murder of her high school sweetheart. But after a near-death experience, she finds herself thinking thoughts and feeling feelings that are not her own, and having flashbacks to experiences she never had.

When she was brought back to life by the paramedics, apparently she didn’t come back alone.

This story is poignant at times, suspenseful quite often, and engaging throughout. And kudos to Ms. Macgregor and her publisher for a practically flawless technical presentation. I spotted no typos and no grammatical errors. Quite refreshing.

I am really looking forward to more Garnett McGee adventures!

The First Time I Died is available  on  AMAZON

Stay tuned for next week’s post on Psychopaths, Sociopaths and Other Bad Guys and Gals.

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kass is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

To see our Privacy Policy click HERE.

When Turkeys Strike Back

Hi Folks! We had a crime writer’s interview scheduled for today that was postponed, so K.B. Owen dug into the archives of her blog and came up with this fun gem: When Turkeys Strike Back 😀

by K.B. Owen

Meet Tom Turkey, the star of the Thanksgiving meal. The poor fella’s often maligned for his stupidity, but the people trying to cook him aren’t always the sharpest knives in the carving block either. In some ways, it’s a form of revenge. Fear the turkey!

Turkeys, humans, and fire

flame

Sometimes turkeys strike back…with fire.

There are almost as many ways to cook a turkey as there are lame jokes in Uncle Harold’s repertoire, right? Bake, broil, brine, deep-fry, spatch-cock….

In other words, lots of potential for messing up the centerpiece of the meal so that dad has to run out to the 7-Eleven for a pack of hot dogs.

Since 1981, Butterball has operated a telephone helpline on Thanksgiving, with real people to talk to when all hell’s breaking loose. (Turkey-wise, that is. They can’t do anything about the heavy-metal boyfriend your daughter brought home, or the passive-aggressive brother-in-law you have to deal with every year).

Speaking of spatchcock, I gave it a go one year. I think we needed a bigger pan. Looks a bit lewd…

The Butterball folks get some crazy questions from callers: how to clean out chainsaw oil residue after trying to cut a frozen turkey in half (nope…go get hot dogs), how long it takes to pop popcorn inside the turkey’s cavity while the bird is roasting (an old myth – and you can’t), whether a frozen turkey can be thawed with a hair dryer (Lord, no), how to get a chihuahua unstuck from inside a turkey (before it went in the oven, thankfully)…the list goes on.

And then there are the fires. According to State Farm Insurance Company, more cooking fires happen on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year. Most occur when folks decide it’s a good idea to submerge a 20-pound turkey in a vat of boiling oil. (If you fry your turkey, don’t send me hate mail. I’m sure there’s a safe way to do it, but I watched too many turkey-fryer disaster videos while preparing this post).

State Farm compiled cooking-fire data between 2007 and 2011 to come up with a Top 10 list of states that have had the most fires on Thanksgiving, based on number of claims.

Want to see the list? Me, too.

Top 10 States Most Likely to Bring Firefighters to Your Door on Thanksgiving:firetruck

#10 South Carolina

#9 Minnesota

#8 Pennsylvania

#7 Louisiana

#6 California

#5 Florida

#4 Ohio

#3 New York

#2 Illinois

…and the #1 state for the most turkey fires:

TEXAS

texas

Source: http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2012/11/21/top-10-us-states-for-turkey-fryer-fires

What do you think of this list? Any states that surprised you? Any you’d like to nominate?

So this Thanksgiving, count yourself lucky to successfully cook your bird without the help of your local fire department! Here’s a humorous video by William Shatner (in conjunction with State Farm Insurance Co) about the dangers of turkey fryers:

 

 

How do you like to cook your turkey? Has the fire department ever paid you a visit on Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes for a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Kathy

K.B. Owen signing books at Prospero’s Books (Manassas, VA)

K.B. Owen taught college English for nearly two decades at universities in Connecticut and Washington, DC, and holds a doctorate in 19th century British literature.

A mystery lover ever since she can remember, she drew upon her teaching experiences in creating her amateur sleuth, Professor Concordia Wells…and from that series came lady Pinkerton Penelope Hamilton.

There are now six books in the Concordia Wells mystery series thus far, and three novellas in the Penelope Hamilton series.

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

To see our Privacy Policy click HERE.