Why psychopaths like Dexter aren't really all that bad

Date of this Version


Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Details

Interim status: Citation only.

Wilson, P. (2010). Why psychopaths like Dexter aren't really all that bad. In B. DePaulo (Ed.), The psychology of Dexter (pp. 217-227). Dallas: SmartPop.

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© Copyright Paul Wilson, 2010


Psychopathic serial killers are ruthless executioners who stalk their prey and dispatch them, often by the most sadistic means. Their victims, by definition, number in the tens or, in extreme cases, even the hundreds. Dexter is a stellar example of the psychopathic serial killer. Like others of his ilk, he can be charming, insightful, and even soft and gentle at times. Similar to many killers with predatory inclinations, Dexter hides behind the respectable coat of family and work. But in common with his psychopathic brethren, he delights in ritualistically dissecting his victims and then keeping a trophy of his handiwork—in Dexter’s case a small glass slide of their blood.

Despite their commonalities, Dexter does not quite fit entirely into the serial killer species. He is the Robin Hood of serial killers and is unlike some of the other villains in the show, motivated as they are by sexual thrills or desires to brutally dominate other human beings. The fictional psychopaths in the Dexter series have no aspirations to wipe the evil-doers off the planet. Dexter alone is cannibalistic in his pursuits he kills his own kind rather than seeking the marginalized or defenseless. These killers, who eventually ended up as Dexter’s own victims, did not give a damn about the ideology of those they killed—only about their victims’ physical attributes and how those characteristics fulfilled their murderers’ dark and horrible fantasies.

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