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The Psychopath Between Your Pages…

Villains just seem to get ever more villainous. But there is a limit to how dark you can paint your antagonist and retain plausibility. To keep the reader glued to the page, create contrast with some lighter aspect of the evil you are attempting to portray. Off the page, villains are only distinguishable by their odious actions, not their appearance or demeanour. So it may be helpful for writers to probe their unseen psychological motivations. Hannah Arendt, reporting on the trial of Adolph Eichmann, coined the term ‘The Banality of Evil.’ Few monsters in our midst are as flamboyant as Jimmy Savile or Gary Glitter. They are more likely to be bland individuals you’d pass in the street without a flicker of concern. Try persuading your antagonist to complete the Hare Psychopathy Checklist. You might even attempt it yourself. I did, the results were nothing if not disturbing.

References Hare, R. D. (2003).

The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, 2nd edition. Toronto, ON: Multi-Health Systems.

See also e.g., Brazil, K. J., & Forth, A. E. (2016). Hare Psychopathy Checklist. In V. Zeigler-Hill, T.K. Shackelford (eds.), Encyclopaedia of Personality and Individual Differences, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319- 28099-8_1079-1.

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