I write about serial killers but the truth is that many psychopaths living in our world have never murdered any one physically. They get off on murdering people emotionally, a sucker of souls. They are users of people. And they are excellent profilers. They look for easy prey they can pounce on and take advantage of.
In fact, my daughter just severed a three-year relationship with a psychopath.
He abused her physically and emotionally. Her physical bruises have healed, but emotionally, she is scarred. I doubt she will ever see another man without worrying about who he really is inside. This man met all the criteria on Dr. Hare’s list. Grandiose (exaggeration of self), he once told me after they broke up that he was “the best thing that ever happened to your daughter.” Mind you, this man weighed close to 300 pounds and was a high school dropout whom my daughter supported (parasitic lifestyle). He is a pathological liar who accused her of cheating, when in fact he fathered another child with another woman, a child five days younger than their son.
These people have a way of twisting the truth to suit their needs or to hide their bad behaviors.
Serial killers are what most people think of when they hear the word psychopath. The only difference between the two is that serial killers need more simulation than the other and want the ultimate high by killing another human being. They can’t stop killing because it makes them feel as good as drugs do to an addict. They must feed the constant need for stimulation.
I’ve often heard the comment about women who married or lived with a serial killer, “How could she not have known?” Well, you have to recall, serial killers are psychopaths and are skilled at concealing their “dark side.”
Remember Dr. Hare’s checklist? The first symptom is glib and superficial charm. Even Ann Rule, who writes true crime stories, couldn’t see the psychopathic behavior in her friend, Ted Bundy. These people enter every relationship hidden in a mask of normalcy. They are experts at concealing their true nature. All psychopaths have this in common.
Judith Mawson/Ridgway was married for 16 years to Gary Ridgeway (The Green River Serial Killer) who was responsible for murdering 48 women. Judith said in an interview on Investigative Discovery channel, “Gary was the perfect husband.” When Judith met Gary Ridgway at a bar in Seattle in 1985, she recalled he seemed like the perfect suitor. He was handsome, polite, had a good job, and treated her like a lady.
She thought she’d found a man she adored and wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Two years later they moved in together. A year after that they were married.
Judith said of him, “He made me smile every day. I had the perfect husband, perfect life. I absolutely adored him.” But Ridgway was also a prolific serial killer. He was convicted for killing 48 women in the Seattle area over a period of 20 years, but officials believe he is responsible for over 70 murders.
She trusted him when he said he was late because of a union meeting. She had no reason to disbelieve him when he told her his ex-girlfriend came and took her bed back or that he replaced the carpet because the kids had ruined it.
Linda Yates slept for two years in her bedroom of her new home and had no idea that her husband had a body buried outside the window. Linda had a 26-year union with her husband, Robert Yates (aka The Spokane Serial Killer), who killed 13 women. This man appeared to be as normal as anyone. He obtained a job as a guard at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, enlisted in the Army where he served his country for 19 years as a helicopter pilot, served in Germany, participated in Desert Storm, served in relief efforts for Hurricane Andrew, and flew on a UN peacekeeping mission to Somalia. Mr. Normal to everyone who knew him. Everyone except the 13 prostitutes he murdered.
When he came home early one morning with blood in their van and told Linda he’d hit a dog and loaded the poor thing in his van to take to the vet, why wouldn’t she believe him?
Psychopaths look like everyone else. Only they are not like everyone else. Their brains are not wired the same as yours and mine. Serial killers are normal looking and act like Joe Blow, but underneath that mask lies a monster, and that’s why I think people (including myself) are fascinated with them.
You don’t have to be a serial killer to be a psychopath. There are many, many functional (I’m using the term “functional” loosely) psychopaths living among us. They leave behind internal scars that wreak havoc on the people they meet. They can devastate person financially, emotionally, sexually, and physically. Many people in therapy are there because they crossed paths with a functioning psychopath.
We are all vulnerable to becoming one of their victims. There are a few resources out there to help victims.
1. A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION PROVIDING INFORMATION AND SUPPORT FOR VICTIMS OF PSYCHOPATHY Aftermath: Surviving Psychopathy Foundation or
2. Victims of Psychopaths Sociopaths—An on-line support group
3. Your local mental health office
The intent of this blog was to tell my readers you don’t have to be a serial killer to be a psychopath. They live among us in all societies and nationalities. They can be your boss, friend, neighbor, minister, teacher, or your love interest. They don’t look like monsters, they look like you and I.
Writers find characters in all sorts of places. The most vivid comes from a personal experience. Having a character that seems normal throughout the book and suddenly takes off his mask and is revealed as a villain makes for a thrilling ride. I hope this blog article inspires you to be both watchful and creative.
Resources used in this blog article were:
Hare’s Psychopathy Check List
Mail Online News by Rachel Quigley
TRUTV Crime Library Criminal Minds and Methods by Gary C. King
The Stranger Beside Me – Ted Bundy: The Classic Story of Seduction & Murder by Ann Rule http://www.mysterycrimescene.com
Blog edited by Sally Berneathy