What Writers Need To Know About Predatory People

This article is for those who want to write the kind of cold, callous people who deliberately and knowingly harm others for fun and personal gain without the smallest trace of remorse whatsoever. All of this is based on years of observing actual predators (they aren't really that hard to find), as well as reading and listening to other people's experiences with them. So for those of you who want to know how they work, here you go.

Last updated March 28, 2021

All kinds of people can be predators. It's not uncommon to think of predators as strikingly handsome rich guys or as ugly middle-aged creeps, but the fact is that any kind of person can be a predator. Predators can be any gender, have any income level, and have any job. They can belong to any religion and have any political affiliation. They can look like anything and be any age. Basically, any type of person can be a predator.

Different predators have different hunting methods. We often think of predators as people who physically overpower people or sweep them off their feet with incredible charisma, but this is only how some of them hunt. Others snare their victims by framing themselves as helpless and needy, or as the victims of a cold and uncaring society. They'll often go after jobs that will easily let them to prey on others (EG, therapists, doctors, clergy, managers, etc.) There's no end to their methods - as long as they think they can work it in their favor, they'll do it.

Many predators try way too hard. An adult predator trying to look "cute" might attempt to imitate the behavior of a child by pouting, whining, or using a "childish" vocabulary. A predator trying to look like a loving parent might start cooing or babytalking to someone much too old to be spoken to that way. Predators who want to look tough might boast about or show off how strong they are, or carry around weapons where others can easily see them. A predator who wants to seem sexy and alluring might wear an outfit suitable for an intimate date to a casual meetup for coffee. Predators trying to look smart might often bring up their IQs or their degrees (even when it's not particularly relevant or appropriate), or use unnecessarily technical or flowery language, or use outdated writing styles because classic authors wrote like that way back when. Their text messages might be heavily sprinkled with smiley or winky emoticons. And of course, predators trying to seem like wonderful romantic partners might lavish people with no end of praise and gifts, even when the recipients are clearly uninterested in them. When all of their tryhard antics fail, they rarely think to just knock it off and act like normal people. Instead, they're more likely to get mad and blame whomever it's not working on.

For many predators, there are basically five kinds of people. These types of people can be described as alphas, pests, minions, marks, and nobodies. Here's how they work:

Alphas are authority figures (bosses, teachers, admins, etc.) whom the predator believes must be obeyed and kissed up to in order to advance or stay safe. Predators frequently idealize and idolize those they perceive as alphas, and will often quote or namedrop them. They'll often show them the utmost respect and give them no end of praise. Because predators are often on their best behavior in front of alphas, it's easy for alphas to miss how badly the predators treat other people. They might also assume that because the predator is nice to them, means that people who complain about the predator's behavior must be lying or mistaken.

Pests are people who have caught the predator's attention in a negative way, and must now be dominated and/or destroyed in their minds. Pests may have done nothing worse than have a better social life or be more knowledgeable in something than the predator. They may have dared to talk about the subject that the predator doesn't like. They might be more popular with the boss, or they might just take up time and space that the predator feels the pest does not deserve. Or they might simply belong to a category that the predator finds disgusting or threatening.

Minions are people whom the predator finds useful. They might bolster the predator's ego with praise and admiration, or by sucking up the predator's opinions like chilled Kool-Aid. Minions might do favors for predators, give them emotional support, take their sides in fights, or otherwise protect them from criticism. (They often believe that they're just standing up for a friend or a misunderstood person, since they're usually ignorant or willfully blind to how horrible the predators are to others.) Anyone whom the predator considers a "friend" is probably a minion. Minions who stop aiding and enabling predators will likely become pests.

Marks are those whom the predator has chosen to prey upon for personal gain. A mark might be a young woman perceived as trophy wife material, or an old man with a tempting fortune to steal. A mark might also be someone whom the predator finds sexually desirable, or someone who can teach a skill the predator finds useful. Basically, anyone who has something the predator wants can be a mark. Also, a mark who gets into a relationship with the predator will likely be seen as a pest when the predator finds a reason to dislike the mark (which might be nothing more than the predator growing bored with the mark when the relationship's novelty wears off).

Nobodies are everybody else. They have no impact on the predator's life nor have anything the predator is interested in taking (at least at the moment), so they are largely ignored. Should they ever step up to defend the predator against any perceived bullying, they might become minions. Should they rub the predator the wrong way, they might become pests. And of course, if the predator ever takes an interest in anything they have, they might become marks.

They don't have anything that normal people don't. It's what they lack that makes them different. Normal people are perfectly capable of being cold and ruthless under the right circumstances, but they also generally have compassion for others and care about right and wrong. Predatory people, however, don't really care about right and wrong (except in completely self-serving ways), and they don't really have compassion for others.

They don't really find it rewarding to help others, let alone understand that doing a good deed can be its own reward. If they give someone a gift, it's because they think they're socially obligated or think it means the recipient now owes them something in return. If they take the time to educate someone, they probably just saw an opportunity to show off their knowledge.

They don't find it rewarding to see other people succeed, either. The only reason they'll care about someone else's success is if it brings them a profit in some way, or makes them look better. For example, a predatory parent might push a child toward a high-paying career so that the child will be able to provide money to the parent, or so the parent can brag about raising a successful child and thereby gain social status.

Their sense of humor is often very cruel. They might enjoy hurting others for their own amusement, such as with cruel remarks about their competence, body, etc., or with casual threats of violence. Sometimes they'll laugh over seeing something or someone they don't like fail or suffer. They often especially love seeing someone they think deserves to be punished "finally get what's coming to them." Of course, they often have some very bizarre ideas on what makes someone deserving of punishment (which will be explored in more detail later), and they often have no sense of what constitutes disproportionate retribution.

On the other hand, if someone makes a joke at the expense of something they actually like, they might throw a fit over this person's "disrespect." (A predator who likes Star Wars, for example, might take great offense at the very existence of Spaceballs.) Likewise, a predator who likes comic books might think the only way to make a "good" movie adaptation is to make a film comprised of non-stop gritty action and no jokes - even if the source material contains plenty of them.

Their lack of compassion and sympathy is why so many of them regularly start drama. Whether they're just bored and want some entertainment, or want to create a conflict they can frame themselves as having the high ground in, or just want to draw attention to themselves, they don't feel remotely bad about sowing discord. For this same reason, they see nothing wrong with bullying and trolling for fun.

Predators love authority and rules - when they can exploit them. You may have heard that people like this are disrespectful of authority and flout the rules, and that is often true. However, it's not always the case. Predators love rules and systems they can exploit for their own gain. Is there a rule against gossip? You can bet they'll bring it up to stop people from comparing notes on how the predator abused them. Can they ruin someone's life by simply accusing them of a given crime or misdeed? You can bet they'll start pointing fingers whenever they're feeling vengeful or want to get someone out of the way. Are there any technicalities or loopholes that will get them out of trouble for doing things that should be considered horrific? They'll exploit them every chance they can get. (This is why authoritarianism and absolutism of any kind are so dangerous - they create the perfect environment for a predator to game and exploit with abandon.)

Predators might spend years kissing up to their superiors so they can get promoted and gain power over people. They might memorize all kinds of regulations and rules so they can bring them up whenever someone is doing something they don't like. (Of course, it's not uncommon to see them breaking these very same rules for their own ends. Naturally, they'll always try to minimize or justify it when they do it.) They'll wave around any titles, degrees, social statuses, etc. that they believe establish them as unquestionable authorities. (If they don't actually have anything like that, they might just lie about having it.) They're the type of people who will tell you that you can't criticize their books because you haven't written a best seller yourself, or tell you that your lived experience is worth nothing because you don't have any cred in academia. It's also not uncommon for predatory people to idolize authoritarian power systems such as absolute monarchy, theocracy, or fascism, because they tend to imagine that they would be on top in such systems. (Conversely, they might not be fans of democracy because democracy means having to share power with other people.)

Of course, they also simply enjoy making others obey them just because it makes them feel powerful and in control, so they might impose pointless rules and regulations for that reason alone. (Though they might claim it's all in the name of maintaining order and respect, or for people's own safety, or some similar nonsense.) If they're particularly sadistic, they might make the rules impossible to follow or change them on the fly just so they have an excuse to punish someone.

They're control freaks. They hate other people doing things they don't understand or approve of (especially when it could conflict with their own desires), so they try to control them however they can. If, for example, a predator doesn't like the idea of someone painting hobby (as opposed to, say, lavishing the predator with praise, running favors, or having sex with the predator), the predator might destroy that person's equipment, or perhaps "accidentally" destroy the art, or constantly make disparaging comments over how useless and pointless painting is or how only losers do that kind of thing. Sometimes they'll find a way to make a scene or start a fight in order to interrupt what the victim is doing. Sometimes they'll try to frame themselves as "the voice of reason," "just someone trying to provide an alternative point of view," or "just trying to maintain some sanity around here." (For more information, see The Voice of Reason vs. the Control Freak - The Difference.)

They often have explosive tempers. When their ego takes a blow, or their status is threatened, or they otherwise feel like they're losing control, they'll often fly right off the handle. If they become upset around anyone they can't afford to throw a tantrum in front of (such as a boss), they might repress it until they can find someone else to take their rage out on, such as a spouse or child. (Ironically enough, these very same people will often claim that they're intellectually superior and operate on "pure logic.") They will often will blame whomever they got mad at for "making" them do this or claim they "had" to behave this way (EG, "By nature I am a very kind and fair person, but your behavior has left me with no other choice!", or "I'm normally a very calm person, but you made me so mad that I had to go kick my dog!"), but there's also a chance that they'll make an insincere apology just to get out of trouble.

Not all predators are physically violent. Physical violence is hard to get away with sometimes and not all predators have the physical strength for it, so they use other tactics to control and hurt people. Gaslighting, guilt tripping, and moral abuse are common tactics. They might make a point of making snide, disparaging comments whenever they have the chance, aiming for a sort of "slow death by a thousand cuts" approach. They might keep track of any little "bad" thing that someone said or did so they can use it for ammo later. They might try to make their monstrously depraved actions seem like no big deal by comparing them to much smaller deeds committed by others. ("How is it bad that I stole a thousand dollars? You just stole a candy bar the other day. You hypocrite!") They might try to make their behaviors seem sympathetic, even virtuous. ("How dare you accuse me of having a bad business ethic! All I did was work hard for the company's best interests!")

They're often good at DARVO. "DARVO" stands for "Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender." When confronted on their awful behavior, they'll try to make it out that they are the real victims and the ones confronting them are the actual bad guys. For example, if someone takes a predator to task for being verbally abusive, the predator might say that this wasn't real abuse because it wasn't physical. Then the predator might break down in tears and accuse the victim of being cruel and heartless for not realizing that the predator is too emotionally fragile not to scream at the victim like that. For another example, a predator whose illegal activities were exposed when someone got suspicious and did a little investigative work might first claim to have been framed, then shriek about privacy violations. And when predators are made aware that resources exist to help people avoid, cope with, and escape from people like them, they'll often throw a fit and claim this information unfairly demonizes them and makes them the real victims.

And they're usually great at projection. When called out on being horrible and selfish, they might claim it's everyone else who are the truly horrible and selfish people. And they'll also just accuse everyone else of being whatever they themselves don't want to admit they are. (For example, a predator obsessed with sex might often accuse others of having filthy minds or lewd intentions.) And sometimes they'll even project their own habit of projection!

There are no good intentions behind any of their "gifts." Predators never really give for the simple, pure sake of giving. They tend to see gifts as matters of obligation and debt, or as a way to butter people up or buy their favor. They might think they can pay off whatever moral or emotional debts they've incurred toward their partners with jewelry, cars, computers, games, or whatever. If they aren't giving a gift to pay off a debt of their own, there are good odds they're just trying to indebt the recipient to them. They often give gifts on birthdays and Christmas simply because social obligation demands it, nothing more. Gifts given out of social obligation often have no thought or effort put into them whatsoever - they might be as cheap and thoughtless as a package of pens they saw near the checkout stand.

They also seem to frequently make a point of refusing to give people what they genuinely want. They might make a big deal out of asking people what they'd like, only to disregard the answers they get and give them something else entirely. Of course, they'll get offended when the recipients aren't grateful. This might result in anything from pouting and sulking to breaking down in tears to angry shouting.

Sometimes their gifts are meant to be insults or personal jabs - for example, something like deodorant to imply that the recipient has a bad smell, or a book on dealing with unruly children to imply that the recipient is a bad parent or has bad children, or a mop and broom to imply that the recipient is a bad housekeeper.

Some gifts are simply meant to erode and erase someone's individuality and autonomy. For example, a predator might buy someone an entirely new wardrobe of "decent" clothes and insist that the recipient stop wearing "those rags." (Naturally, refusal to comply will result in a tantrum.) Or the predator might buy somebody an expensive piano so that person will learn to play it instead of engaging in whatever hobby the predator doesn't approve of.

And of course, gifts are often part of the love bombing process, where the predator tries to sweep up a mark with a flood of positive attention.

They see other things as a matter of debt, too. These are the type of people who refuse to help a sick or injured person because this person hasn't "earned" their assistance yet, even if this person is an innocent victim of circumstance. (If they actually do help this person, it's probably a ploy to indebt this individual to them.)

They often see punishment as a form of paying debt that one owes to society, and they might not care about important factors such as mens rea and legal culpability. As far as they're concerned, it makes no difference whether this person didn't have the knowledge or means to know that harm would be caused or how to avoid causing harm, the person still owes the same debt as someone who knowingly and willfully caused harmed, and is just as bad of a person. Thus this type of personality might declare that someone who made a well-intentioned but disastrous judgement call that got someone killed deserves to punished as much as someone who committed deliberate murder, or that someone who caused harm while unwillingly dosed with a powerful mind-altering substance deserves to be punished just as harshly as someone who did the same thing while sober. Likewise, they might make no distinction between innocent ignorance and willful ignorance, and they may harshly condemn people for being ignorant of things they had no feasible means to learn about, and/or never knew they should have learned about in the first place. (Additionally, normalizing and maintaining such a hardline black-and-white approach makes it easier for them to justify and get away with hurting or disposing of whomever they don't like.)

Of course, they will never apply this strict black-and-white moral thinking to themselves and the people they admire, relate to, or find useful. They will either claim they are justified or excused for some reason or another, or will deny that they ever did such a thing in the first place.

Predatory people pretty much only care about status and personal pleasure. They crave status because it gives them power to make people do as they want while also putting them in a position to be admired. "Status" can entail things like being rich, influential, attractive, wise, intelligent, or physically strong. It can also entail being the biggest martyr, the deepest sufferer, or the most pious devotee, since positions like these can make them appear beyond reproach. It can also entail belonging to groups or societies they perceive as elite or exclusive. "Pleasure" entails anything else that makes them feel good, whether it's nice surroundings, food, drugs, sex, or whatever. Just about everything they do connects to obtaining or keeping these things, maintaining an illusion of having them, or fantasizing about them.

Their narrow focus on these things is a huge part of why they have that "superficial charm" that so many people talk about. Predators can sweep people off their feet with the promise of glamorous living and intense romance, but deep and illuminating conversation isn't going to happen. Instead, the predator will probably spend the whole time doing some combination of boasting, complaining, insulting things and people, preaching at you, kissing up to you, trying to get you to agree with some twisted value of theirs, or trying to get you into the sack. Predators' lack of genuine concern about anything beyond status, sex, and their own personal comfort ultimately makes them very boring and predictable people.

Their craving for status might lead to virtue signaling. They might pick a cause to champion because it makes them look good in front of others (or at least, they think it makes them look good). So you might find a predator making a big ruckus over how terrible it is that there are homeless orphans out there and find said predator posting links to relevant programs and demanding that everyone goes and donates to them. This predator might frequently interrupt and derail conversations to virtue signal, then shame and guilt trip everyone for "not caring" when it's pointed out that this behavior is unnecessary and inappropriate. Also, predators will sometimes pick extremely bizarre causes to champion. For example, they might decide to defend the image of some criminal convicted of heinous crimes, or aggressively promote a bogus "scientific theory", or stand up for the "right" to do something most people quite rightly consider creepy and inappropriate. Upon being challenged or told to tone it down, predators might throw a huge fit about their rights being trampled, or lob insults and mockery, or accuse everyone of being hypocrites and bigots. They'll frequently compare apples and oranges, too - for example, one might tell you that if you don't think it's wrong to kill in self-defense but think that people who murder others over petty grievances ought to be punished, then you're a hypocrite and that you must either support or condemn both equally.

Also, they'll frequently idolize the words, deeds, and philosophies of people they perceive as highly successful in obtaining sex, status, or wealth. In their minds, anyone who doesn't agree with the people they admire are unintelligent and inferior.

They love ideals. Not so much actual reality. You may have heard that people like this are often preoccupied with fantasies of ideal love, power, wealth, etc. It's very much true, and it's probably about the only thing they're really capable of falling in love with. You might see them talk up how great true love and selfless devotion is, followed by complaints about real people who can't live up to their impossible standards of what "true love" and "selfless devotion" actually entail. Conversely, you might see them idealize a blatantly abusive relationship by ignoring or romanticizing the abusive elements. They might also spend ages developing what they believe to be an ideal fantasy culture, believe that others should adore it as much as they do, and then get in a dander when people actually find the concept contrived, boring, or santimonious.

Their love for ideals coupled with their intense disdain of flaws is also why they're prone to intense, yet short-lived relationships. When they first meet someone, it's easy for them to imagine that this person will love up to all of their ideal fantasies. But once they get to know this person well enough to see the imperfect reality, revulsion sets in. At this point they usually start looking for someone else and/or begin abusing the hapless partner.

Many of them see life as a zero-sum game. What this means is that predators often perceive other people's successes as their own losses, even if they haven't actually lost anything. Thus they may believe that compromise between two parties is impossible, because there must be a winner and a loser. They may also believe that granting anyone else status or respect diminishes their own status or respectability. They may believe that if you care about more than one cause, then one cause must be subtracting from your ability to care about the other. And they often believe that other people's successes diminish or devalue their own, which can sometimes lead to excessive (and sometimes highly inappropriate) competitiveness, or drive them to sabotage the perceived competition however they can - for example, trying to trick or guilt-trip someone who recently lost weight into overeating, spreading malicious rumors about someone who just got a promotion or is simply more popular, or doing whatever they can (and sometimes trying way too hard) to look better than this person.

They will often spam whatever they think is a social "I Win" button. It's common to see them "pulling rank" in whatever way they can. If they get into an argument, they might bring up how they're smarter, more educated, was a total badass in the army - whatever they think will work. They'll also sling whatever accusations they can think of to decredit their opponents. If a predator thinks that accusing someone of being a gingham-loving duck-keeper ought to damage someone's credibility, then the predator might hurl accusations of such left and right. If a predator thinks that hoarding packing peanuts is utterly disgusting, then you might see the predator accuse people of hoarding packing peanuts, or telling them that they don't have time for people who hoard packing peanuts. (Note that these examples are deliberately tame for your sanity, and real predators often go for far more disgusting and disturbing accusations.)

What any given predator will go for varies, but it's usually based in cultural taboos the predator is aware of and thinks are supremely devastating or shameful to be accused of. Sometimes they're even several years out of date - a predator might accuse someone of being a Twilight fan, even though the last movie came out in 2012 and pretty much everybody has moved on. Or the predator might accuse someone of having certain kinks, even though said kinks aren't considered all that shameful or weird anymore. Exactly what it is doesn't really matter so much as its perceived ability to tear someone down.

Many predators believe that everyone else thinks the same way they do - or that most of them don't think at all. Some predatory types assume that other people are as jealous, bloodthirsty, selfish, and cold as they are inside, and that whatever compassion and sympathy they have for other people is just a lie. They think that everyone else sees the world and everyone in it the same way they do. (It's not uncommon to find them accusing perfectly well-intentioned people of being conniving and selfish, as they genuinely believe they're "just exposing the real intentions behind the facade" or somesuch.)

Some of them even believe that the only people who are truly capable of thinking are themselves and those who share their beliefs. They might believe that everyone else doesn't actually think at all and just mindlessly repeats whatever they've been told from whatever news outlets, authority figures, etc. they're exposed to. Thus they may believe that people are "brainwashed" until they start agreeing with the predators. Sometimes, they might even see other people as mindless puppets or robots to be programmed and manipulated into doing whatever they want.

They are emotionally all take and no give. Predators often expect others to do emotional labor for them, then think they can repay the favor with money, sex, or some other physical gift - if they even bother to trying to pay back at all. Despite often being insecure themselves, they will dismiss and/or mock other people's insecurities. The apologies they give are empty and meaningless (they are masters of the fauxpology), and they often won't apologize at all until they're all but forced to do it.

They aren't all geniuses. In fact, most aren't. And even the ones who are adept at math, science, etc. often fail spectacularly at understanding how people actually work. For example, they might not really be able to comprehend why their actions are more likely to make people angry with them than to win them adoration or pity, or why other people might not want to admire and subserviate themselves to them simply because they're strong, talented, smart, successful, or physically attractive.

Something allegedly said by serial killer Elizabeth Bathory is a good example of how they can be clueless about people. When asked what had become of some of the young noble ladies she had taken to her castle, the countless supposedly responded that one of them had killed the others for her jewelry, and then killed herself. Anyone with a reasonable comprehension of why people do things would immediately recognize this as highly suspect, but a mind like Bathory's would have been incapable of spotting the error.

They don't all love themselves or think themselves special. There's a massive misconception that people like this are all arrogant and think themselves better than everyone else. In reality, only some are like this. Some of them are fairly neutral. Others hate themselves deeply, often because they don't measure up to whatever standards they believe makes someone admirable or valuable. Sometimes the self-loathing ones will act as if they are smarter and more successful than they really are because they can't bear the thoughts of anyone realizing the truth. Sometimes they'll deflect blame for their faults and shortcomings, sometimes they'll project them onto others. Sometimes they'll try to find some sense of value or existential justification by serving what they believe to be a just and noble cause - for example, a self-hating predator might become a priest to serve God, whom he believes is perfect and flawless. (Of course, the predator will likely have a bizarre, even heinous idea of what God expects from him and his flock.) And sometimes, predators will just do whatever they can to make others as miserable as they are.

Many predatory people experience extreme ego states on both ends. When they feel particularly good about themselves, they often feel invincible and infallible. When something finally shatters their delusions of grandeur, they feel abjectly worthless and useless and experience extreme self-loathing until they can get enough narcissistic supply to rebuild their self-image. (And this is why such people will do whatever they can to avoid taking responsibility and being held accountable.)

Predators who can't elevate themselves will try to tear others down. Predators who find themselves unable to gain status or respect in any meaningful way will instead focus on tearing down everyone they consider "better" than them. They might embark on endless campaigns to make anyone who seems happier, more confident, or more successful than they are hate themselves as much (if not moreso) than the predators hate themselves. There are many ways they might do this, including picking on people's appearances, telling them that they're worthless and insignificant compared to something or somebody else, telling them they'll never amount to anything, or by devaluing their achievements. They might bring up gloomy topics in the middle of a cheerful conversation. They might try to outright sabotage other people's success (or potential success) through various means, such as by "accidentally" losing important mail, refusing to give critical assistance, or by trying to convince them that aiming for bigger and better things is a bad idea and doomed to fail. (You can probably imagine how the aforementioned priest could have a field day tearing others down and how easy it would be to get away with because the priest supposedly has divine authority.)

They'll usually avoid taking responsibility for themselves whenever possible. Predators might blame other people for their problems and mistakes, or make themselves out to be victims of circumstances they have no control over. (Predators with a "poor little me!" routine will often refuse to do anything to make their lives better. If they did, they wouldn't have anything to bait victims with.) They will pretty much never take responsibility unless they have no other choice or see it as a means to make themselves look respectable. And when they finally do, their words will be meaningless and their gestures empty. For example, a physically abusive predator might make a big showy apology with flowers and a fancy dinner once his wife makes it clear she'll leave him if he doesn't clean up his act, but in a few weeks or so he'll be using physical violence again.

On the other hand, predators often make a big deal about other people needing to take personal responsibility. This is because they don't want to have to do anything to help anyone else if they don't absolutely have to, and because watching other people admit to being flawed and imperfect makes them feel superior or feel like they've just won a conquest.

They sometimes do look different from other people. And it's all in the face. Predatory people often have unusually smooth skin around their eyes for their age. The reason is that because wrinkles tend to form wherever muscle movement contracts the skin the most, and they rarely (if ever) feel sympathy enough to form sympathetic facial expressions that would give them wrinkles around their eyes. No matter what their age, the muscles around their eyes are often unusually slack. Additionally, they often have a bug-eyed look when trying to appear happy or friendly, or when they are uneasy. When around others, they often look smug or contemptuous (lots of smirks and sneers), or look like they're thinking about devouring or destroying whoever they're looking at, or just look through people rather than at them. They might also have unusually glassy-eyed (unfocused and uncomprehending) expressions. You can see these kinds of things going on in the faces of people like Martin Shkreli, Elizabeth Holmes, Jeffrey Jones, Bryan Singer, and Karla Homolka. (If you don't see it, compare and contrast their faces with the likes of L. Frank Baum, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Madeline L'Engle, Leonard Nimoy, and Rosa Parks.)

They won't finally develop a conscience one day. This is a hard reality that victims and bystanders alike often struggle (and many times fail) to accept. Victims may spend years exhausting themselves and putting themselves in physical and emotional danger while trying to "heal" the predators. They often believe that if just they keep trying hard enough, they'll one day be able to reach through and activate their consciences. The thing is, if they actually any real conscience to speak of, they wouldn't have been so cruel and selfish in the first place. The ones who finally realize this may find themselves emotionally isolated when friends, family, and even counselors and therapists who refuse to accept that the predator will never become a less selfish person.

Of course, predators will take full advantage of anyone who'll believe that they just need love and patience to get better. They'll frame themselves as tortured souls who just need a bit more love and care to heal, or agree to therapy once it's clear that they'll be in serious trouble if they don't at least look like they're willing to do something about their behavior. It's all a ruse, of course, as many people have learned the hard way. Those who refuse to believe that some people actually are just monsters who can't be helped are both both perfect victims and perfect enablers.

It should never be assumed that just because someone exhibits (or seems to exhibit) a few of these traits from time to time, means this person is a genuine dyed-in-the-wool predator. Although many predators do exhibit a great many of these traits, there are many non-predatory reasons why other people might behave like this. Children, friends, and acquaintances of predatory people can begin to internalize and imitate their horrible behaviors and beliefs, especially if the predators succeeded in normalizing them and framing them in a positive light. Adopted behaviors and beliefs like these are sometimes refereed to as "fleas" (as in, "lie down with dogs, get up with fleas"). Fleas can be hard to shake, but with therapy, mindfulness, and patience they can often be overcome. But if nothing is done about them, fleas can be passed down for generations and can even become enshrined as values and traditions. This video has a more in-depth explanation.

There are other reasons as well. People who are on the autistic spectrum might speak in overformal language because they find it more precise, or because they picked up their linguistic habits from books moreso than actual people. People who suffer from social anxiety might try too hard to look smart or successful. People who appear to be virtue signaling might just feel really strongly about the cause. Someone who was always blamed and punished for everything as a child might have developed a habit of shifting blame to avoid being punished now. Depression can make it difficult, if not impossible to impossible to recognize and appreciate the good in others and humanity in general. Some cultures and social environments encourage cutthroat behavior and penalize those who don't engage in it. Some people honestly just don't know how to be emotionally supportive because they never learned. There are many other possible reasons, too - so don't assume that someone must be a predator because of a few occasional or superficial behaviors in common with one.

One thing's also certain: Anyone who genuinely feels guilt, shame, and horror over the thought of possibly having a predatory personality is most definitely not an actual predator.

And don't forget: mislabeling people as predators isn't just unkind, but it also puts them at risk of being ostracized. It also puts them at risk of being hurt by well-meaning but ignorant vigilantes and/or by actual predators looking for someone that society will let them sink their teeth into.

Also, you might be interested in:

Basic Tips To Write Better Abuse Victims & Abuse Situations
Tips To Create & Write Creepy Characters & Situations
Advice & Tips On Creating & Writing Bullies
Mindsets & Rationales That Lend Well To Villainy
How To Spot Abusive & Manipulative People
"Do My Dark Thoughts Mean I'm Bad?" - No! Here's What You Need To Know

Back to Villains & Villainy
Go to a random page!