Whether they’re an anti-hero like Tyler Durden or Alex Delarge, or an unlike-able socio-path like Patrick Bateman or Lou Ford, we love to love violent literary psychopaths, but what is it that attracts us to these dark and depraved characters.
I think some people feel ostracized in their lives, like they’re not heard, like they see things differently than most, like they’re special. We relate to the darkness in these characters because we share their feelings of isolation, their inability to fit in with the world around them, with their detachment from life.
In the words of Bret Easton Ellis from American Psycho; “though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable… I simply am not there.”
I simply am not there. This sentence encapsulates the feelings of nihilism I’ve had since birth. I think we associate our struggle to understand the beautiful and terrifying world around us, with the naked ferocity of these individuals and their brutal acts of violence.
Separated from ourselves in the real world, cloaked in the uncensored realm of fiction, these characters can act on their feelings of exclusion and resentment in a way we would never consider or enjoy. They attack life in their own sordid way, exorcising their aggression and desperation and by reading about that, we do the same. Thankfully, in a scaled down and much less violent way. Our pain is acknowledged and understood on the dog eared pages before us.
And soon the book becomes a scale, a measurement of our own darkness within. Oh yes, ha ha, I do that all the time. Er, but no, I did not kill my father, sister and nine classmates with a bow and arrow and no I do not fantasize about stabbing someone to death and playing around with their blood.
And you start to feel a little better about yourself and your perception of the world around you because hopefully, you’re not really a psychopath. You’re just having a bad day because your socks are wet or because a man on the bus looked at you funny or because you woke up as a cockroach and you keep shorting out your imagination trying to understand what infinity really means.
So sit down, have a cup of tea and don’t feel guilty about secretly championing these deranged lunatics, for as long as it’s not real blood that you lust, if you were a real psychopath, you wouldn’t feel guilty at all.