Are Horror Writers Psychopaths? Test Yourself

Alex, the teenage protagonist from “A Clockwork Orange,” a dystopian novel by English writer Anthony Burgess.

People often assume horror writers must be psychopaths that keep bodies in the basement. The truth is, horror writers are too busy writing to worry about real bodies. Case in point—what books have you read by Norman Bates and Dexter lately?

In reality, horror writers tend to be some of the more emotionally stable people in our society. Anyone that says they don’t have negative thoughts and emotions sometimes is lying. We all go through dark times. Rather than bottle it up, writers of the dark arts express, deal and then transform that negative energy into something positive.

Writing is a form of therapy that can pay if you have the talent. Many writers capitalize on personal negative experiences by mining them for inspiration. I can’t think of any other line of work that pays for your emotional baggage.

Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, the fictional character created by Robert Bloch.

Personally, I’m often told that I have an upbeat, positive personality. People are surprised when they read some of my darker work, but it is because I write about terrible things that I can be so happy.

If I get mad at someone, including myself, I kill them with ink. There is nothing like a violent  fictional bloodletting to put me in a good mood.

But rather than have me convince you, let science decide. The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised is the industry standard for identifying psychopathic individuals. At £400 for the complete test kit, the official text would be outside of the Bates’ budget and mine as well.

Fortunately, for those of us without government backed funding, we can take a test based on the Hare version. It’s free, fast and available online here. I invite everyone I know—fellow writers, friends and fans—to take the test and share results. I scored an 18, so you are safe with me in a dark alley. Scores above 30 indicate psychopathy.

Michael C. Hall as Dexter, the mild mannered serial killer that targets other killers.

As a bonus, I invite writers to take the test from the mindset of a psychopath and try to score high. To write a compelling perspective we have to be able to slip into the skin of others. See how well you do when you test from a different mindset. As a psycho, I scored 32, so I made it.

What are your scores?

Note: This test is just for fun. Only a professional, which this test is not, can make a true assessment. Please don’t take this as anything more than an exercise in creativity and self assessment.

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith's work has been published in several print and online publications, including the “Horror Writers Association's Poetry Showcase” vols. 2-4, “Christmas Lites” vols. 1-6 and the “Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy” anthology. She has nearly 20 books of speculative fiction and poetry for adults, YAs and children. Her first collection of poetry, “In Favor of Pain,” was nominated for an 2017 Elgin Award.
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