Character Study: The Making Of Marie

“My heart isn’t cold, it’s empty.” – Marie

Marie is a novel I published early last year about a psychopathic, but oddly put-together woman. At the start of the story, Marie is cold, calculating, and conceited. To the uninformed observer she’s just a vain trophy wife who can plan a good house party, but she is in fact very dangerous.

Who is her next target? Her husband.

He works as a commercial pilot and doesn’t seem to notice that anything is off about Marie, but while he’s away from home most of the week, she’s got his death planned to the very last detail.

Where did I get the idea for this chilling, self-serving, and fashionable character? Over the years I’ve done some research on personality and mood disorders then I took a two year college diploma in counseling psychology. This background education that included subjects on sociopathy gave me the foundation to base Marie’s disorder on. She has her own quirks, as everyone does, but her motivations are very spot on to that of the dark triad personality.

She’s meticulous about her hair, makeup, and clothes – even if she doesn’t intend to leave the house. She pouts when the pool boy saves a bunny from a terrible fate by her hands; this childish display of not being allowed to toy with life adds another chilling layer to her destructive personality. She gets gratification from hurting and killing in the only way a psychopath would. No, Marie is no ordinary woman. She’s well beyond a mere narcissist – she will kill to get what she wants and she’ll do it without flinching.

So, why would I write a book about a woman who does terrible things to get ahead? Well, if you’ve read a couple of my books by now, you might notice that I love character arcs. I always wondered “What would happen if a glib, uncaring personality suddenly started to feel guilt and empathy for others – how would that feel for them and would it be horrifying?”

The psychiatric term for a psychopath/sociopath is “Antisocial Personality Disorder”. No, the disorder isn’t referring to introverts or hermits. It’s referring a lack of regard of others – a lack of social conscience, if you will.

Here’s the DSM 5’s way of diagnosing someone to have this disorder:

“For a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, patients must have

  • A persistent disregard for the rights of others

This disregard is shown by the presence of ≥ 3 of the following:

  • Disregarding the law, indicated by repeatedly committing acts that are grounds for arrest
  • Being deceitful, indicated by lying repeatedly, using aliases, or conning others for personal gain or pleasure
  • Acting impulsively or not planning ahead
  • Being easily provoked or aggressive, indicated by constantly getting into physical fights or assaulting others
  • Recklessly disregarding their safety or the safety of others
  • Consistently acting irresponsibly, indicated by quitting a job with no plans for another one or not paying bills
  • Not feeling remorse, indicated by indifference to or rationalization of hurting or mistreating others

Before you go “I think I know someone who’s a psychopath!” keep in mind that antisocial personality disorder should be distinguished from substance use disorder, conduct disorder (Before age 15), narcissistic personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder – or anything that isn’t actually antisocial personality disorder.

As with all of my stories, there’s more to the character than their psychiatric diagnosis. Marie buries her humanity deep within her psyche, because a psychopath’s worst fear is to seem vulnerable or weak. Only regular people feel pain and regret and like all psychopaths, Marie thinks she’s several steps ahead and above everyone else.

Without spoiling the story too much, a few events force Marie to look at herself and what she’s done. Who, or what, pulls the first string from her violent and unfeeling identity? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

You can read Marie in print and on Kindle.

(Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy from Pexels)

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