Sociopaths in Literature

Sociopath – A person with a psychopathic personality whose behaviour is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

Sociopathic personality traits include – superficial charm, glibness, manipulative behaviour, lack of remorse, grandiose sense of self, lack of realistic life planning, shallow emotions, lack of remorse, lack of empathy, incapacity for love, promiscuous sexual habits and/or parasitic behaviours.

My second book, Necropolis (release date April 24th) is a humorous work of dark fiction about a sociopath, who works for the Burials and Cemeteries department in his local council.  His name is Dyson.  Dyson has many of the characteristics associated with sociopathic personality types.

Sociopaths have long fascinated us.  One of the reasons for this is that we wonder what we could accomplish if we were not burdened by that complex obstacle that is a conscience.

There are numerous examples of sociopathic type personalities in literature.  These include in chronological order:

The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli (We, the reader are urged to be sociopathic)

Othello by Shakespeare (Iago)

Macbeth by Shakespeare (Macbeth)

Persuasion by Jane Austen (Mr. Elliot)

Vanity Fair by William Thackeray (Becky Sharp)

East of Eden by John Steinbeck (Cathy)

A number of influential books have had sociopathic protagonists.  These include:

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (Alex)

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson (Lou) [Click on link to read my review]

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (Patrick Bateman) [Click on link to read my review]

Necropolis (Release date: April 24th) is a darkly humorous, disturbing and thought provoking addition to the sociopath genre.  Below is the front cover for Necropolis.  I believe it is effective in hinting at the book’s sinister psychological theme, and its protagonist Dyson’s absence of what we consider normal personality traits.


The following is a short extract from Necropolis:

It is the usual Halloween meets council workers scene – ubiquitous witches and black cats, a smattering of demons with horned-headbands, some carrying cheap plastic pitch-forks.  In the far corner two finance workers wrapped in black cloaks, hold Scream film series inspired, white ghost masks to their faces and make ghoul-like noises, as the children surrounding them squeal loudly.  The room falls silent, faces turn to me, mouths agape.  Children cry.


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