Crimes stir feelings in all of us and, of course, provide the writer with a fertile creative soil in which to grow a fictional crop. As someone who has to admit to being enthralled by the psychology of the perpetrator of crime, I join the ranks of those who pursue every detail of real crime to try to discover the mentality which could explain ‘why’… So what kind of crime touches me most? Not necessarily the most grisly; not the most brutal. I am likely to be fascinated by something which may seem to most to be quite venial. It’s also true that I find my interest stirred by offences against victims who cannot understand what is happening to them: the mentally infirm, children, animals. I heard yesterday of the rescue after six years of two golden eagles, imported as eaglets without legal paperwork and kept in a small garden shed with no windows; in six years, they never flew and never left the shed. Though I am not a bird fanatic, I find myself stirred by the power and majesty of a bird which I have seen flying free on Mull and which Tennyson memorably compared to a thunderbolt in its stoop. Because the ‘owner’ of these two birds put shelter over their heads and fed them appropriately, he was not prosecuted. I’m delighted to learn that both birds were bought by a specialist falconer, who has transformed their lives, training and flying them and bonding with them; but what of the man who kept them? What was it in him that wanted to keep eagles in the first place if he had no intention of training them and why did he commit them to a life of imprisonment? Will he do the same again? Is his a similar mindset to that of the egg-robber who keeps his wild birds’ eggs in secret to fulfil some inner personal need? What most grabs your interest in crime?
2 thoughts on “What makes the criminal mind tick?”
Christina – That’s such a fascinating question! What is it in a person that leads her or him to commit crime. I think for each criminal the answer’s different. I find myself very much drawn to the psychology angle of crime myself. In fact when I’m reading crime fiction, I always try to think through what drives a person to commit a crime, and why a particular person might end up a victim. It’s not always straightforward. Interesting ‘food for thought’ here, for which thanks.
Thanks, Margot, for your contribution. Obviously, when crook and cop are both interesting psychologically, the story is even more enjoyable!