I’m no doctor, so I can’t say for certain whether the following psychos have true psychopathy/sociopathy, however they all display many of the traits of a psychopath and it’s invariably what makes them so good at being villainous. Now, not all of these are actually villains but they are all, to varying degrees, villainous. A couple of these nasty gits also appeared on my list of top 10 villains of the 20th century, so give that a read too, if you feel like it.
- Tom Ripley – The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
If you didn’t know anything about the book but the title, you may be forgiven for thinking that Mr Ripley was a Mr Darcy-esque gentleman who rides around the country looking after lost sheep and petting rabbits … however you’d be wrong … dead wrong, like most of the people who meet him. Ripley is a conman who’s cons usually lead to him murdering people with boat oars … or whatever he has handy, really. He plays the role of the suave gentleman very well, but his dark side is always waiting to burst through.
- Judge Holden – Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
I was tempted to include Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men, another of McCarthy’s evil creations, but I think The Judge is too terrifying and psychotic to leave off the list. Whilst Chigurh’s psychopathy can be put down to that fact that he’s a hired gun, Judge Holden is just a seven-foot hairless monstrosity of a man who delights in the murder, torture and rape of pretty much anyone he meets. I’d take my chances with Chigurh any day over this devil.
“Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge, exists without my consent.”
-Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
- Frank – The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
Living on a very remote Scottish island, Frank is a teenager who delights in the murder and torture of animals (before putting their heads on spikes), and at the beginning of the book we learn he murdered three children when he himself was a child … but don’t worry folks, as it was ‘just a phase’ … They say the youth of today is being deadened by the constant mobile phone use … well it’s better than the alternative. Frank may be a deluded psychopath (with an excellent twisty secret) but his father and brother, may even be worse …
“A death is always exciting, always makes you realise how alive you are, how vulnerable but so-far-lucky; but the death of somebody close gives you a good excuse to go a bit crazy for a while and do things that would otherwise be inexcusable. What delight to behave really badly and still get loads of sympathy!”
-The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
- Kevin – We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver
From one psychopathic child to another. Kevin was pretty much born evil, and you know what you should never teach to an evil child? Archery. It will not end well if this book is anything to go by. Kevin is a monster, who has been known to coerce other children to self-harm and he even kills his sister’s hamster. His own family fear him and when he’s not deliberately destroying people’s lives, he’s just being a real asshole.
- Alex – A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Who doesn’t love a bit of ‘ultra-violence’ every now and then? Set in a semi-futuristic dystopia, the gang of ‘Droogs’, led by Alex in the novel, don’t just hang around street corners, shouting at old people and spitting on the floor; they would much rather be raping children, murdering old women, robbing shops, and stamping on homeless people’s faces. Even when Alex gets put in prison, he still carries on his murder spree … until he is sent in for a cutting-edge new rehabilitation programme that is …
- Patrick Bateman – American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
The clue is in the title of the book, isn’t it? Patrick Bateman is one psychotic mother-effer. When he’s not murdering tramps, he’s raping and murdering countless women. The actions of Patrick Bateman are almost too stomach churningly horrendous, that the book is at times too difficult to read, however if you stick with it, you will, through the eyes of Bateman, come to look at what it actually means to be a psychopath.
“I’m into, oh, murders and executions mostly. It depends.”
-American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
- Hannibal Lecter – Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
When I think of psychopaths, I think of Dr Hannibal Lecter, the most charming and likeable serial killer ever written. You aren’t supposed to like serial killers, but there’s something so witty and erudite about this Doc, that I just can’t help it. Yes, he murders his psychiatry patients and then either eats them himself or serves them at dinner parties with his socialite friends … but we all have our little quirks, don’t we?
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