The Allure of the Psychopath

I saw someone ask why people were intrigued by psychopaths and serial killers and how people would want to know anything about those creepy terrible people. I get it. It is hard to understand what would be so interesting about some guy that killed a bunch of people and even ate some of them. It is icky, disturbing and downright urgh.

But there is a reason why we watch those movies about those serial killers and even follow documentaries and read up on their misdeeds. Some of us do it for the detective bits. We follow the smart detectives who figure it all out and eventually catch the evil guys. We root for them, hoping they get more clues. We submerge ourselves in the puzzle and solve it along with them.

Some of us however, are just fascinated by these psychopaths. Some empathize, unable to understand what could drive a man (or woman) to commit such horrible crimes. We read about Aileen Wuornos and feel sympathy, wondering if a better childhood, a better love-life or even a better experience with her customers would have prevented her from becoming the killer she became. We look to mental illnesses as answers trying to understand what made Dahmer a cannibal and a killer.

When the intrigue isn’t satisfied with sympathy, we look to the motives. Sometimes, we get it. Some guy fell in love, got heartbroken and became a cold-blooded killer. We could never do that, but we get it.

We identify with the freedom to act on our most basic, feral instincts. To go on a killing rampage simply because we are frustrated (and most of us are) is a kind of freedom that many admire. Sure, most of us have a conscious, but we can admire that freedom nonetheless. Psychopaths do not have to listen to their conscious. Let’s be honest with ourselves, our conscious gets in the way of A LOT. Psychopaths would kill that guy that has been causing harm to everyone else. They would have no qualms about getting rid of that guy in the office that constantly spanks your ass for no other reason other than that you are a woman and have no voice. And best of all, they would risk a few innocents “for the greater good”. The rest of us can’t do that so, we admire the psychopaths instead. We feed the idea that if we really wanted to, we could do it too. And somehow that is okay because we don’t want to.

Psychopaths don’t have to suffer the burden of emotion. They don’t get hurt, or cry or feel weak and humiliated because some guy dumped them on their birthday because he thought their best friend looked a bit more interesting. They don’t have to deal with all of the hurting that comes with being human. Sure, they also don’t get any of the good stuff like love and happiness, but we can marinate in the idea that their lives are kind of better than ours even with that.

And if we are readers, we look at the fictional psychopaths as the evil geniuses whose lives are plagued with mysteries that we get to solve.

And then there are the hybristophiliacs… those one we don’t talk about. At least not today.

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