Psychopaths Among Us Part 1

I recently read and reviewed an advance copy of Diane Capri’s terrific new thriller (after Don’t Know Jack) featuring a chillingly accurate villain. Fatal Distraction was released on 5/24 and is already climbing to the top of the charts garnering more rave reviews.

Fatal Distraction introduces Jess Kimball, a relentless investigative columnist with a tragic past in the style of Dominick Dunne, on the trail of a cunning Florida killer who’s targeted Florida’s first woman governor, Helen Sullivan. Helen and Jess together face the determined killer in a pitched battle of wit and nerve. Who will survive? Here’s what I said in my review:

5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, Scary Read, May 19, 2012

By Louise Behiel (Alberta, Canada) – See all my reviews

This review is from: Fatal Distraction (Kindle Edition)

Normally, I read romance, but Ms. Capri’s thrillers are slowly pulling me over to the dark side. <vbg>

Fatal Distraction was a thoroughly enjoyable book. I couldn’t put it down. Looking into the mind and heart of a psychopath is always frightening and Ms. Capri does a good job of keeping the reader on the edge of her seat. She clearly shows the logic and reasoning of a twisted mind. Pitting him against an intelligent and driven reporter and a smart female governor is putting a flame to tinder and it’s always fiery.

Tight plotting and Ms Capri’s typical well developed characters make this book a compelling read.

After I posted my review of the book, Diane and I began a fascinating conversation about psychopaths among us. The more we talked, the more we discovered. We’ve broken the conversation into two parts. This is part one and we’ll post part two next time. Come listen in:

Louise Behiel:  I loved your book, Diane. Your villain is one of the most realistically portrayed psychopaths I’ve seen in popular culture. What inspired you to write about a psychopath and how did you create him so realistically?

Diane Capri:   Ideas that grow into novels for me often begin with something I don’t even notice at first. But it comes up and later grabs my emotions in a way that makes me realize a good story lives there. That’s what happened with Fatal Distraction.

Louise Behiel:  What was that?

Diane Capri:  At a dinner party, someone mentioned that a retired homicide detective we knew had recently died. We began reminiscing about him and the most notorious unsolved case he’d investigated decades earlier involving a local killer with multiple victims. He was dubbed The Oakland County Child Killer. Although the investigation was the largest in U.S. history at the time, it ended abruptly when he simply stopped abducting and killing children.

Louise Behiel:  That’s very odd for a psychopath and multiple killer. Once they start, they rarely stop.

Diane Capri:  No one knew why he stopped. At the time, people speculated that he’d actually been killed himself, or sent to prison for another crime, or maybe just moved on to another state or country. The case haunted our friend until he passed away, though. He always believed they’d find the killer.

Louise Behiel: But they never did?

Diane Capri:  *shakes head* The conversation continued to nag at me. Why did he kill? How could he just stop after so many victims? What kind of killer does that? I began research into that question and the answer came soon enough: a true psychopath. Then, the real chill started. I can feel it again as we’re talking here.

Louise Behiel:  Why?

Diane Capri:  Because I realized I’d seen this behavior up close and personal several times. A true psychopath coldly kills or steals or lies or cheats in a way normal people don’t behave. Because a true psychopath simply has no conscience. None at all. He never feels guilt or shame or remorse. Ever. For anything.

Louise Behiel:  Now you’re giving me chills!

Diane Capri:  Sorry! One of the things I learned doing the research for Fatal Distraction was that not all killers are psychopaths and not all psychopaths are killers. In your therapy practice, have you treated psychopaths?

Louise Behiel:   I don’t come into contact with psychopaths who are killers (thank heavens).  But psychopaths are all around us.  My clients are often in relationship with them, either at work or at home.  Psychopaths constitute about 4% of the population, so no doubt we’ve all met one or two of them.

Diane Capri:  Can you give us some common examples?

Louise Behiel:  How often have you worked for a ‘jerk’ boss?  A person who didn’t care about anyone but him or herself? Ever been in a relationship with someone (male or female) who is arrogant, self-centered and lives with a sense of entitlement?  Whose entire life is directed toward self–gratification?  Lying, cheating, and stealing are common with psychopaths.  When this is combined with charm and ingratiation, psychopaths can fool even the wisest among us.  They just don’t care about the rights, property or safety of others and have no remorse or guilt over their actions.  Remember, they will step over you or on you to achieve their goals and they won’t give their behavior a moment’s thought, except to celebrate achieving their goals.

Diane Capri:  But what motivates them to engage in such behaviors?

Louise Behiel:  Psychopaths get incredible pleasure and satisfaction from humiliating, demeaning, dominating and/or hurting others. What is most confusing is that they pass for normal in our lives. So sometimes, when you think a person is taking advantage of you and playing games, they might well be.

That’s all we have time for in this post. But join us next time when we’ll cover much more about the Psychopaths Among Us in Part Two. In the meantime, tell us about psychopaths you’ve known? We’ll tell you about the ones we’ve met next time.

About Louise Behiel

Author, coach, therapist, mother and grandmother. I'm on a spiritual journey and consciously work to grow every day.
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50 Responses to Psychopaths Among Us Part 1

  1. Soph says:

    I love how interactive the interview became! Such lovely women! I love your blog Louise, its beautiful and very healing.

  2. Diana Layne says:

    fascinating interview! I’m curious whether psychopaths are capable of love at all-I’m not talking about romantic love, I don’t think so in the case, from what I’ve read. But what about blood relations such as their children or siblings?

    • Hi, Diana, Good question. I’d be interested in Louise’s take on this. My answer would be yes, they can love, in the same way they feel other emotions. But that doesn’t mean they suddenly develop a conscience about how they treat the ones they love (which is usually a lot different than the non-psychopaths among us thing we should treat each other!). What say you, Louise?

      • I think it depends on your definition of love – if that means putting someone else’s needs before yours, then psychopaths can’t love because their needs come first. But since they do experience their version of all emotions, I’d agree with Diane.

  3. Roxy Boroughs says:

    Fascinating. I think this describes my grandmother who was the original monster-in-law.

  4. rubypjohnson says:

    This was a very educational post. Now I know what was wrong with one of my bosses. Thank god, I left with my sanity intact. Excellent interactive review-interview.

  5. dianalayne says:

    I tried commenting twice, maybe third will be the charm. I am curious whether psychopaths are able to love–not talking about romantic love, I don’t think that’s possible. But someone blood-related to them such as their children or siblings? (and if this posts a bunch of times, sorry! I’m not seeing it on my end.)

    • Generally, I would say ‘No” psychopaths aren’t able to love. remember that loving someone means the ability to put them first — and psychopaths can’t do that. their goals, their needs are always primary. That doesn’t stop them from having chidlren, but those children have a difficult time.

      sorry about the multiple comments – new commenters have to be approved – but only the first time. from here on out it will be easy.

  6. LOVED this interview! And with two of my favorite ladies! 😀
    I dated a psychopath once. And let me tell you, he was a charmer! He knew exactly what to say, how to say it, and when. He was an expert at manipulation and mind games. I was never fearful of him on a physical level. Never once thought he’d hurt me physically. But mentally and emotionally, he tore a path through me like a F5 tornado in a corn field. Taught me a lesson though – trust your instincts! 🙂
    I’m looking forward to the next part of this post!!

  7. Karyn Good says:

    Thank you for a wonderful interview, Diane and Louise. I can’t wait for part two and further insight into the mind of a psychopath. I don’t think I’ve met a true psychopath. I’ve come across bullies and vengeful people but they all seemed to love their kids or didn’t have some of the red flags you’ve mentioned. But my husband, who has worked in the financial industry for many years started out as a teller in bank. One bank in particular, was robbed three times. One time by a man who the police warned was indeed a psychopath. He had absolutely no remorse for his actions and who in fact stated when captured that he would have shot anyone involved with no thought or hesitation. It was a horrifying thought at the time and still is.

    • Antisocial Personality Disorder/Psychopathic Personality Disorder does exist on a continuum. and some of them have values that will extend to murder and robbery etc. Others won’t go as far. Hope they caught him.

      • Many psychopaths are smart enough to deny their true intentions, because they know society doesn’t accept their actions as normal. They learn to fake it very convincingly, sometimes in close relationships for years.

  8. Jill James says:

    I loved the dialogue. We had a psychopath in our family. It wasn’t until he left that we realized what we were are living with.

    • it’s emotionally draining and ‘crazy-making’ to be in a relationship with a psychopath. but we get into these relationships and they suck us into the vortex and most of us keep thinking it’s our problem or that something is wrong with us.

  9. Debra Kristi says:

    I felt like I was sitting in the room with you ladies. Great interview! And what an interesting and creepy subject that can easily affect us all! Thank you!

  10. Wow! I absolutely love your review, Louise. I have to read Diane’s book now! I’ve been following her conversations about the book online and was intrigued, but with all this talk of psychopaths living among us, I’m totally hooked. Your information is always so fascinating, Louise. I’m going to be looking at everyone now wondering if they’re just selfish or psychopaths (I’m guessing most will fall into the latter category). Thanks for the cool interview-ish thing with Diane. You both are fabulous women.

    • Thanks Tameri. Glad you stopped by. I enjoyed Diane’s book, as is obvious from the review. there are many good things about it but i loved watching the thought process of the psychopath. Fascinating. the difference between psychopaths and selfish is the degree and the answer to the question “Do my wants matter?” usually selfish people have places they can bend. Psychopaths, not so much. or maybe not so many places. LOL

      • Writing the deep POV for the villain in Fatal Distraction was an engrossing exercise for me. Louise and I talk in Part Two about psychopaths we’ve known. I feel like I understand them much better now. The big question is how to recognize them early and get out of bad relationships quickly.

  11. Tawny Stokes says:

    I dated a couple of psychopaths, one of them started to show their true true colors after we broke up. I feared for my life for a long time.

    Thanks for this blog Louise and Diane. I am off to buy Diane’s book now….

  12. Great post ladies. Having done investigations for the state and also for the courts, I’ve ran across more than my fair share of psychopaths. I have lots of material to use for my writing though. 🙂

    • it’s amazing how many of them there are. depending on what you read it’s 4 – 8% wow. 1 out of 25 folks is a psychopath. ouch – means we all have to be attentive. Thanks for stopping by Rhonda. I’ll be sure to contact you for deeper information.

      • Good to know, Rhonda. And Louise, the stats really are frightening. I think the main takeaway from all of this is not to stay too long with a suspected psychopath. They never get better and there’s nothing we can do to change them. Hard to accept, I know. But true.

  13. I’m sure I’ve met someone like this, but can’t think of them offhand. Which is probably a good thing! I’m curious, what’s the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath? Looking forward to the next installment! I’m going to have to check out the book!

    • actually the original term, in the DSM was psychopath and then it became Sociopath and then it became Antisocial personality Disorder. In the next release of the DSM (the diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association), the disorder is now called antisocial Personality Disorder/Psychopathic Disorder. Each version of the DSM has slightly different characteristics and different people use the words differently but from an official, medical view, there is no difference.

      • And I would add that from a personal relationship point of view, it doesn’t matter what you call it as long as you recognize it when you see it. That’s the thing that’s hard, especially in the beginning. Remember all that charm….

  14. Kourtney Heintz says:

    I love how you combined a book review with an author interview. Fantastic stuff here. I will have to look into this book!

  15. Coleen Patrick says:

    I love how you and Diane collaborated on your posts! Fascinating interviews!

  16. I read this post on a plane, and again over at Diane’s blog today. Enjoyed it all three times! 😉 You two make a fun pairing. Thanks for another awesome post!

  17. Joan Leacott says:

    Thanks for letting us eavesdrop on your conversation. Louise, what makes a psychopath? What’s the current nature vs nurture understanding?

    • Right now the common wisdom is that it’s a biological cause – particularly since there has been o successful treatment modality for the disorder. I think that home life can exacerbate certain problems, though so a person with those tendencies from their brain and iving in a dysfunctional home may be totally consumed by their wants and goals. But that and $5 will get you a venti coffee

  18. Stacy Green says:

    So sorry I’m late to this, but what a fascinating interview. Diane’s book is on my imminent TBR list, and it just sounds wonderful. And I love the direction your interview took. I’m currently mapping out a series involving a psychopath, so there was a lot of information here I can use. Would love to know what books you both recommend for research.


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