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BASIC PSYCHOLOGY FOR WRITERS

Posted by peggyholloway62 on January 17, 2013 at 11:20 PM

BASIC PSYCHOLOGY FOR WRITERS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLERS

 

Before you write that psychological thriller, be sure to get the facts right. I recently read a very good mystery with a good plot, but I found myself cringing when the detectives were gathering information on the serial killer suspect. They said he had been diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder and was taking medication for that plus medication for depression.


Antisocial personality disorder is a personality disorder that was originally called sociopathic personality disorder. Basically they are people without a conscience. They are not prescribed medication. They would not take a medication, even if they were. They think they are the only person who is sane. In fact there is no medication for most personality disorders. They may cause others to get depressed but they do not get depressed and would not take medication.


A personality disorder develops when the personality is being formed, around two or three years old. It is a very ingrained disorder because it is that person’s personality. Some of the other personality disorders are: Borderline personality disorder, (The movie Fatal Attraction is a perfect example of this), Narcissistic personality disorder, (Betty Broderick, the woman who murdered her husband and his new trophy wife, is a textbook example), Histrionic personality disorder, (recognizable right away, the person’s life is like a soap opera). These are just a few and many people have mixed personality disorders, having components of several. Changing someone’s personality takes years of deep level psychotherapy. But most people with personalitie disorders don’t want to change, so you won’t find many of them in therapy. If they are court ordered into therapy, they usually treat therapy as a game, and try to con the therapist. There is a character in a couple of my books called Jupiter that cons my main character, Judith McCain, who is a psychologist for the FBI. A serial killer can have one or a combination of personality disorders.


Another disorder that would make a good serial killer would be any of the delusional disorders. These people may, for example, think they have a special calling from God to rid the world of all Jews or all black people or all people with red hair, etc. They may hear voices telling them to commit a crime. Schizophrenia is one of the delusional disorders and is not the same thing as multiple personality disorder, now called dissociative identity disorder, no matter what Hollywood would have you believe.


Multiple personality disorder is not a personality disorder which is probably why the DSM renamed it dissociative identity disorder. It is a dissociative disorder. Other dissociative disorders are amnesia, fugue, and depersonalization, where the person has a feeling of leaving his or her body. Dissociative disorders are really symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. These people can make very good serial killers for your novel. If you’ve read my book, Terror on the Beach you will see a good example of this.


If you want more information about all the wonderful disorders that you can use for your novels, I would suggest you get a copy of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.). It is a very thick book and gets thicker with every revision, so you might find some rare disorder you can use in your wonderful novels that I’m enjoying reading so much. By the way, keep those novels coming!


 

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