“Psychopathology” and “Crime” in Joyce Carol Oates’s (Rosamond Smith) novel The Soul/Mate

Dilek Çalişkan

Abstract


Soul/Mate written in 1989 by Joyce Carol Oates under the pseudonym Rosamond Smith, centers on a 28-year-old murderous psychopath Colin Asch and his obsession with a double, an alter ego—a beautiful “ pure “ 39 year-old widow named Dorethea Deverell. When Colin meets her unexpectedly at a dinner party, he becomes obsessed with Dorethea ”as given by God” and considers her his soul mate, “lacking a soul” he dedicates his life to her welfare whereby he wishes to complete himself. Ironically, Dorethea has to be awakened to her own condition  as she is reluctant to take responsibility both as a woman and as an art historian in the capitalist society that is symbolized by the psychopath Colin and Dorethea his double. In this novel Oates uses psychopathology as a metaphor for the invisible harm that the society and the individual is subjected to as the term itself is problematic. Invisible crimes are comitted in the society by respectable members whereas psychopaths are easy suspects. Ironically, psychopaths are not always criminals. The idea of “success” and the “American Dream” make competition a necessity such it becomes impossible to recognize psychopathic doctors, lawyers,  respectable fathers or bossess, who have position and power in the society. This article will explore the relation between psychopathology and crime in the light of R.D. Laing’s view of society and madness and Cleckley’s and Hare’s view of psychopathology.


Keywords


Double, Psychopath, Crime, R.D: Laing, Cleckley, Hare.

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