1. Xerclipse
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    Xerclipse Member

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    Dynamic characters that are sociopaths

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Xerclipse, Apr 6, 2016.

    What character in books, TV, movies, anime, comics, or any form are dynamic sociopaths, but stay as sociopaths?

    In other words, how can you develop a sociopathic character without making him less of one?
     
  2. SadStories
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    I'm mainly writing about sociopaths/psychopaths. I think about it this way: They're people like everyone else, with their own wants and sorrows. The only difference is that they see others as competitors who they will, if they get in their way, harm without remorse as long as the chance of repercussions seems reasonably low to them. So you might for example make your sociopath more trusting of other people, or have them come to terms with the fact that they'll never be good cooks. This is character development that doesn't change the fact that they don't care for anyone but themselves when push comes to shove. I may be wrong though. In an attempt to give readers more freedom to interpret my characters and because I might make mistakes, I always avoid explicitly diagnosing my characters. I've seen this other places too, for example no one ever says the woman detective in The Bridge has Asperger's syndrome even though it's quite obvious. Don't know if it's for the same reason though ...
     
  3. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I have to say, you're generalizing a bit there. That description is only for a heavy psycho/socipath, arugably only a complete psychopath or sociopath. Also it's worth noting sociopaths are more emotional and have more of a sense of right and wrong, rather than not caring at all about morality like a complete psychopath does. However, a psychopath can be mild and have pretty good morality, there's a lot of mild psychopaths in big business. And a complete psychopath can have a sense of logical good; in that they can do population maths and say "well this benefits the species" but not motivated by any compassion. And surprisingly, both psycho and socio even in complete forms can have a sense of love for their parents, in their own way.
    As for character development. I have a mediumly psychopathic character (not diagnosed but it's clear) Bradford, whose morality is further deadened by a psychological training program. He's pretty heartless, but he did love his mother before she abandoned him, and he has more complicated inner feelings than he usually expresses. When he has a relationship with this guy Sebastian, originally for fun, he accidentally falls in love. He then has to deal with the re-emergence of a little of his compassion, and begins to be more neutral and less antagonistic. It gets kind of weird actually.
    Also I think the Bridges of Spies might not be diagnosed because they might not have the diagnosis at the time. Historical accuracy might just cover that.
     
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  4. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    The only good one I can think of is the MC from the show Dexter. Great show but I'm not sure where he falls in the sociopath vs psychopath category.
     
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  5. SadStories
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    SadStories Member

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    Maybe I am generalizing! No expert here, lol. But I think a sociopath means you have more anti-social traits, which means you have an easier time breaking the law. On the other hand a psychopath is more someone who does cold-hearted things within the confines of the law. Which is funny since that movie/book is called American Psycho and Christian Bale kills people with axes ... In any case though, I think all psychopaths/sociopaths to some degree regard other people as competition. And that they all to a lesser degree than normal people mind harming people if it's convenient for them. I do agree that they can still feel love, etc. though. I read about a study once where they found out that psychopaths are perfectly able to empathize if they are asked to. It's just more natural for them not to. Oh, and I meant that Swedish TV show The Bridge! (There is an English remake too.) I haven't watched Bridge of Spies yet. I totally should though. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are awesome.
     
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  6. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Oh, oops. Read that wrong. :bigoops:
     
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  7. DystopianApocolypse
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    Well, if we're talking anime, then there are many supreme options. If you're looking for a sociopath villain, then I would say Esdeath from Akame ga kill. Just got done watching that show and I in my non expert opinion would classify her as a moderate sociopath.

    Something you have to keep in mind though, is that sociopaths aren't meant to have character, as for many years they have been written in as the villains of stories. We paint them as serial killers and violent murderers, when the basis for a sociopath is that they lack empathy and can't comprehend other's emotional states. They study humans though, taking in every little detail and everything. It's why part of the description for a sociopath is often cunning, manipulative, and calculative.
     
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  8. doggiedude
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  9. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bingo:

    Psychopath: "bad mind," nature (no emotional connection to other people, we might as well be walking lawn gnomes to them)

    Sociopath: "bad environment," nurture (raised in an antisocial environment, learned to survive by connecting emotionally with some people but not others)

    Psychopaths are different from normal people, sociopaths believe different things than we do about right and wrong. Sociopaths' moral compasses are pointed in the wrong directions, but psychopaths don't have them in the first place.
     
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  10. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I'm sorry, I almost completely disagree.
     
  11. DystopianApocolypse
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    Okay.
     
  12. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    To restate what I earlier said more simply, it's a complicated issue, and the two are treated with a vast degree of generalization and line-blurring. It's really not helpful to anyone and isn't a good thing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2016
  13. Simpson17866
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    Go back and forth between emphasizing A) the moral lines that your sociopath won't cross B) the lines that your sociopath will gladly cross, C) how your non-sociopaths react to seeing your sociopath insist on certain moral lines after steamrolling over so many others.

    My favorite example: "Gentleman" Johnny Marcone, Chicago crime lord from Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. He genuinely cares about the city that he lives in and Harry Dresden will consistently count Marcone as an ally when they have to work together against rival villains, but Marcone still has no qualms about the people in his city getting hurt as the cost of "doing business" and Dresden frequently gets whiplash from seeing how quickly Marcone goes back and forth between "villain who will hurt this person" versus "villain who won't hurt that person."
     
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  14. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    In general reference to the question; there are many dynamic you can give these sort of traits. They can have all sorts of traits. Regardless of the personality disorders effects severity, they have other stuff.
     
  15. Feo Takahari
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    The simplest example that comes to mind is Belkar in The Order of the Stick, who realizes that helping people instead of backstabbing them gets him better rewards. John Cleaver in I Am Not a Serial Killer takes a more complex tack, fighting the villains because he has a strong sense of order and wants to follow the rules he's been taught, gradually becoming a heroic (if alarmingly ruthless) figure who protects others even though he can't truly empathize with them.
     
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  16. Simpson17866
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    How did I forget Belkar, Belkar is even more perfect than Marcone! :D
     
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  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Again (I had a similar question in another thread) what does "dynamic" have to do with the discussion? I feel as if this word is being used as a new writing jargon, and I haven't seen the source of that jargon yet, so it keeps throwing me.
     
  18. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    Yeah, I don't know enough about the two to comment, but I agree the lines are commonly blurred and I often confuse the two.
     

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