RARA-AVIS: Re: Psycho Noir

From: George Tuttle ( noirfiction@whoever.com)
Date: 20 Mar 2006

Thanks Charlie. I like that term "mentally fragile." I find I don't have clear concept of psychotic behavior, and I often don't understand when a character is psychotic or just highly neurotic or when that line is crossed. Often it's obvious, but I suspect my knowledge in this area is so limited that I am only catching the obvious and not the nuances.

A follow up question to all: Do you find that psychotics are greatly maligned in crime fiction? That they get a bad rap? I mean that word psycho is so often associated the word "killer," do you think it is unfair? Do you find that there are a disproportionate number of psychotic criminals to psychotic victims in noir fiction?

When I think of a psychotic victim, the first protagonist that comes to mind is Jim Thompson's Kid Collins in After Dark, My Sweet. His psychotic tendencies make him highly vulnerable, easy to exploit. I tend to see him more of a victim, than a criminal, but that might be the romantic in me.

Thanks to all, George

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "Charlie Williams" <cs_will@...> wrote:
> --- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "George Tuttle" <noirfiction@>
> wrote:
> > Question:
> > No doubt, psychosis is a great story devise in noir fiction, but how
> > true is it to real behavior? Has there ever been a critical analysis
> > of Nick Corey and other representations of psychotic behavior from a
> > psychologist's point of view? Does this type of fiction capture the
> > symptoms and traits? Having no training in the area, I am curious.
> George,
> I can only speak for myself but characters just come out like they
> do. Plus, a mentally fragile character is always going to be more
> interesting than one who is rock solid up top. In fact, if I find
> myself (as a writer) with a character who is starting to look a bit
> too sane, I'll (subconsciously?) slip in a little flaw that will
> ultimately lead to his mental unravelling, and by the end he's
> crawling around in a puddle of his own urine, making hyena sounds.
> As far how "real" this behaviour that behaviour might be, I don't
> think it matters. You don't need a syndrome label to describe how a
> character is. Then again I'm not a great one for research. My mum was
> a mental nurse - that's enough for me.
> Good question.
> Charlie Williams.
> -------
> charliewilliams.net

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