Dexter the psychopath and the mentalization of emotional states.

The Genesis of the Serial Killer Dexter and his psychopathological profile capable of changing and evolving.

For several years we have been witnessing the proliferation of mostly American television series focused on rather recurring themes, one of which, perhaps the most explored, is criminology. There are now countless productions that tell us about detective stories, legal investigations, searches for ruthless assassins or intrigues in which criminal and political aspects intersect. The public is interested in finding out what lies behind the often mythologized image of the great American organizations against crime, the CIA, the FBI, the police departments and the investigative units that deal with reconstructing the dynamics of the crimes in scientific terms. criminal facts. Naturally, TV series tend to offer a portrait that confirms viewers’ expectations, presenting the most efficient and energetic face of the fight against illegality.

Among the strands that describe the behind the scenes of investigative activities the forensic investigation of the crime scene achieves constant success. Brought to the fore by Csi and subsequently taken up by many other series, this modality uses the contributions of sciences such as chemistry, biology and physics to interpret the meaning of the traces found at the scene of the crime. By extension, it analyzes the artifacts which, even in later stages, can be found following searches or new investigative discoveries. The scientific examinations are then correlated to more strictly criminological elements, i.e. an attempt is made to reconstruct the personality and modus operandi of the alleged murderer by making use of the marks he has left behind.

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Serial killers are the preferred subject for many of these narratives, as they effectively combine the two components considered; in fact, the serial killer tends to reproduce his own system of action, leaving redundant clues that often correspond to a language whose purpose is to communicate with the police, challenge them and sometimes show them the right way to solve the mystery, when the murderer you cultivate the not too unconscious desire to be discovered and to put an end to an emotionally exhausting escape that you can no longer sustain. Criminological TV series are often well done, albeit in some cases they appear a little forced; in fact, it is not uncommon for some aspects of the plot to clearly prevail over others, for example when the exercises of deductive logic aimed at describing the mind of the murderer prove to be too didactic, subjected to the use of diagnostic criteria rigidly drawn from psychiatric classifications.

Or when the voice of science becomes a schematic path that excludes psychological variables. In the middle ground, confirming the Latin sentence “in medio stat virtus”, it is placed Dexter, the serial killer of serial killers. Very few aspects of this show are approximate: Dexter is one of the characters best represented on a psychological level, coming to touch Hichtcockian nuances.

Advertisement MASTER DSA His criminal history stems from a trauma suffered in early childhood, when his mother is brutally murdered in a container and he witnesses the murder remaining motionless and helpless to observe the lake of blood that bathes him. Carried away by a policeman who will become his adoptive father, Dexter soon betrays a disturbing nature, full of aggression. It is at that point that his father teaches him the Code, a set of rules with which Dexter will be able to follow his murderous instinct, however, turning it towards behaviors that are in some way remedial. The Code prevents him from attacking innocent people: thus an avenger of criminals will be born, careful to verify the actual guilt of the victims before taking action.

As in a destiny that cannot fail to follow precise rules, the adult Dexter returns to live with blood and not only by making it flow from those he suppresses; in normal Miami life, before the humid nights when predatory lust grows, he works for the police analyzing blood traces at crime scenes. The plot therefore develops on a double track: the light of day and the dark passenger – as Dexter defines his irrepressible impulse -, the murders and the acrobatics necessary to disguise them which often consist in the direct manipulation of the evidence.

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What is most fascinating about this show is the refinement with which the main character is outlined: Dexter feels an emotional chill that makes him perfect in the task he is called to perform, an absolute inability to really enter into a relationship with others. These characteristics are distributed in the narration as a constant trickle, both through Dexter’s narrative voice who exposes his experiences in the nights spent on the trail of the chosen victim, and with the deepening of normal life events: the beginning of the relationship with a woman and the impossibility of feeling emotional closeness, the observation of other human beings while they implement social sharing behaviors that are impossible for Dexter to spontaneously imitate, the relationship with his partner’s children.

And it is precisely in the apparent inevitability of this fate that the series becomes even more surprising, since Dexter begins to choose. He begins to reason about real or potential corrective experiences, love changes him and without following rhetorical paths; he confronts the past, questions the certainties imposed by his father, less and less idealized in the course of the narrative plot, regarding the a priori unchangeability of violent impulses, and glimpses the space of conscious will, of reflection on alternative purposes.

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He sees the need to protect the normality that is looming on the horizon. Without giving away too much of the plot it can be said that the transition from the total absence of empathy, peculiar to a personality psychopathto the emergence of an approach dear to us cognitivists, in which the mentalization of emotional states helps to modify them, is outlined with remarkable conceptual rigor and sensitivity.

It is also significant the evolutionary complexity of Dexterwhich does not abandon the first state to generate the second, but modifies the primary meaning of the dark passenger to be able to integrate it with the new desires, the new existential projects that come to light. He continues to kill and the opposite would be hardly credible, given the structuring nature of the pathology that accompanies him, but his gestures cross a variegated spectrum of emotional tones and cognitive attributions, leaving room even for simple relapses with which he regresses to organizations of conscience more primitive. A great series, to follow in the English version to appreciate the depth of the original voice.

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Dexter the psychopath and the mentalization of emotional states.