Re: RARA-AVIS: Two kinds of psychos

From: Patrick King (
Date: 26 May 2008

--- wrote:
> I think Patrick is talking about the latter
> definition, while many here are
> talking about the earlier. (I'm still quite not sure
> whether the definition
> fits The Maltese Falcon.)
***************************************************** The information I've got about psychopaths and sociopaths comes for the most part from research in the studies on the subject by the US FBI. PROFILES IN MURDER by Russell Vorpagel details the legal difference between psychopath and sociopath. Roy Hazelwood's THE EVIL THAT MEN DO, teaches how to profile a crime scene and dispels popular myths and generalities about serial killers. Robert Ressler's WHOEVER FIGHTS MONSTERS explains the early attempts to interview and learn the personality issues that drive this type of thinking. And John Douglas entire body of work beginning with MIND HUNTER detail numerous interactions with murderers and other narcissistic criminals and what sets them apart from less imaginative criminals.

As the title implies, the Falcon, itself is the deciding factor determining the mental problems of the people seeking it. A "professional" criminal stealing such an object would melt it down for the jewels and metal and sell it to a fence. For all of these people, Gutman, Cairo, Cook & O'Shaughnessy, the object has taken on a mythology of its own as if it had magical properties. They are willing to kill just to possess it. As Jack pointed out, there's no logic to O'Shaughnessy's murder of Archer. Murder has become her first option for solving problems.

None of these people seem to have any plan on what to do with the Falcon when they get it; where to sell it for the million Gutman believes it is worth. Mere possession is their motive for murder. This is a psychotic world view.

Compare it to the theft of the Socrates cup in Ed McBain's LAST BEST HOPE. These crooks were sociopaths but they had an objective. They were hired to steal the cup by a wealthy patron. They killed each other because they feared each other with very good reason. But they wanted the cup for the money, not for any metaphysical belief system like Gutman has expounded and sold to all the others. The Falcon quartet are very interesting examples of four different types of pathology.

Patrick King


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