This is the last post on the thirteen mental illnesses discussed in Sean Mactire’s book Malicious Intent: A Writer’s Guide to How Murderers, Robbers, Rapists, and Other Criminal Think. In it, Mactire offers three factors in creating a great antagonist: the Four Basics (irresponsibility, self-indulgence, interpersonal intrusiveness, and social rule-breaking), a mental illness, and one or more characteristics from the list I posted on June 22, 2012. The last illness is the Sadistic Personality Disorder (SPD).
Mactire says, “These are the ultimate destructive individuals. This is not to be confused with sexual disorder. Sadists live assertive life-styles with self-righteous manners. They are motivated by power, which is typically displayed in individuals committing acts of spouse or partner abuse and/or child abuse. At least four of the following factors must be evident:”
- Uses violence or cruelty to establish dominance in relationships
- Enjoys demeaning or humiliating people in public
- Enjoys inflicting physical and/or psychological pain on humans or animals
- Disciplines persons under his or her control with excessive force and/or harshness
- Tells lies for the purpose of causing pain and harm
- Uses intimidation, or even terror, to force people to do what he or she wants
- Has little regard for the rights of others and tends to restrict the freedom of those with whom he or she has a close relationship
- Has a fascination with anything involving violence, torture, death and destruction
I went online for further information and found examiner.com
. Theodore Milton (don’t know who he is or what his credential are, but it’s on the internet so it must be true. I’ll give you a minute to stop giggling…) says that there are four types of sadistic personalities:
1. Explosive sadists: uncontrollable outburst sof anger followed by feelings of contrition
2. Tyrannical sadists: brutal, inhumane, verbally abusive, menacing
3. Enforcing sadist: merciless, barbarous, judges others harshly
4. Spineless sadist: insecure, cowardly, selects weak victims, relies on group support
He goes on to say that “sadists rarely use physical force in the commission of crimes. Rather, their aggressiveness is embedded in an interpersonal context and is expressed in social settings, such as the family or workplace. Sadists strive to humiliate people in front of witnesses. This makes them feel more powerful. Power plays are important to them and they are likely to treat people under their control harshly: this includes a subordinate, a child, a student, a prisoner, a patient, or a spouse. Sadists like to inflict pain because they find suffering, both corporeal and psychological, amusing. They torture animals and people because, to them, the sights and sounds of a creature writhing in agony are hilarious and pleasurable. Sadists go to great lengths to hurt others: they lie, deceive, commit crimes, and even make personal sacrifices merely so as to enjoy the cathartic moment of witnessing someone else’s misery.”
You don’t want this guy for a family member or a boss, that’s for sure. He will make an awesome antagonist, but he’ll easily become unbelievable just because he’s so disgusting. I found Milton’s assertion that sadists rarely use physical force contradicting Mactire’s number one factor, which is violence. However, I can see where a sadistic antagonist could use verbal abuse as easily as physical abuse. When choosing a personality type to base your SPD antagonist, I’d avoid all the Introverted personalities, and the Feeling personalities (the SPD guy will have absolutely no empathy for anyone but himself). That leaves you with six personality types to choose from. The Field Marshall (ENTJ) is a natural fit for this character.
Whatever you choose, this guy will be nasty. He will humiliate and hurt everyone around him. He’s incapable of loving anyone, but he’ll definitely be attractive to someone with the Self-Defeating Personality Disorder, so if you give your SPD a spouse, she will likely also be mentally ill. You will create immense reader sympathy for any children of this couple or other victims of this guy’s wrath.
Do you have anything to add? Feel free to share.