Having an anti-social personality disorder does not mean that your character is unsociable. It means that they are indifferent to what others think of them.
They violate and disregard the rights of others and they do not believe that the rules of society apply to them. Characters with anti-social personality disorders frighten us because they lack empathy.They are formidable enemies, and a great resource for writers when creating villains who show no remorse, no guilt, and no shame.
Remember that not all people with anti-social personality disorder are psychopaths or sociopaths, but every psychopath and every sociopath has an anti-social personality disorder.
As writers, we often use sociopaths or psychopaths as antagonists in our novels. Here are nine examples:
- Tyler Durden from Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. Tyler, along with the narrator, is the founder of Fight Club. He launches Project Mayhem, committing violent attacks on consumerism. He is magnetic, unhinged, lethal, and demands blind obedience from his followers. In a terrible twist, we find out that Tyler is really a projection of the narrator.
- Tom Ripley from The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. Tom will do anything to maintain his fraudulent life of luxury. He is an expert at forgery and deception, and he does not mind murdering anyone who threatens to reveal his true identity.
- The Jackal from The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. The assassin known only as ‘The Jackal’ is hired to kill Charles de Gaulle, the President of France. He is a chameleon who plans his mission meticulously, evading capture, mercilessly killing anyone who stands in his way.
- Patrick Bateman from American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. Patrick is a stylish investment banker with the meanest of streaks. He tortures, kills and mutilates his way through the book. This detached killer never shows any emotion or remorse.
Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. Anton is a relentless, cold-blooded assassin who enjoys his job. He kills almost everyone he meets, occasionally allowing a coin toss to decide their fate. He is devoid of compassion and immune to pain. He is terrifying.
- Casanova from Kiss the Girls by James Patterson. Casanova is a serial killer who ‘collects’ beautiful, intelligent young women. He keeps them captive in an underground harem, where he rapes and eventually murders them.
- Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. Alex is pure evil. When he isn’t killing, torturing, raping and destroying, he relaxes by fantasising about more violence.
- The Joker from Batman. The Joker is a vicious, calculating, psychopathic killer who is responsible for numerous tragedies in Batman’s life. He is a criminal mastermind with a warped sense of humour and zero empathy.
The best thing about having a strong antagonist is that you have to create an equally strong protagonist to confront and defeat him.Who is your favourite anti-social fictional character?