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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SIGNED Mortal Ties Giveaway + Guest Blog by Eileen Wilks!

18 Lovely Comments!


A Fearless Life Is Not All It's Cracked Up To Be

I geek out over books on brain science. Also over books that draw on brain science.  A quick check of the books I've unpacked and shelved (hey, I've only been in the new house for five weeks; many, many boxes of books still in the garage) reveals titles like The Gift of Fear, Buddha's Brain, The Paradox of Choice, and The Owner's Manual for the Brain.
Oh, the things our amygdalas get up to!  Not to mention the sly antics of the cerebral cortex, or that pain-killing pro, the periadqeductal gray . . . but I promised not to mention them, didn't I?  Point being that naturally I was drawn to a title like The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson (highly recommended) when I wanted to learn more about Robert Friar, the chief villain in my lupi series.  Robert Friar, who is the chief agent for an Old One who wants to destroy the lupi.
My takeway from The Pschopath Test: psychopaths are not like us.
With most mental disorders, we can―if we squint a bit―see our own flaws and foibles, simply writ large.  Maybe in screaming Sharpie ALL CAPS, but who doesn't have a wee trace of the narcisist?  We're born knowing the world revolves around us.  The world disabuses most of us of this delusion, but a whisper of it lingers.  Most of us reserve our panic attacks for appropriate situations like speaking before a large audience, but we can understand how terrible such spells must feel to those who have them more randomly.  And who doesn't have some kind of phobia, even if it doesn't rise to the clinical level?  I can't be the only one who refused to seeArachnophobia. . .
But psychopaths, however well they may blend in, however reasonable and even charming they may seem, have some serious deficits in the way their brains work.  You probably know that they lack empathy.  What you may not know is that humans are hard-wired to feel empathy.  The ability to share in others' feelings is built into our brains.  This starts with what are called mirror neurons―which, by the way, are the reason you can get so scared while reading a Stephen King book―that are designed to fire in sympathy with observed actions and emotions.  We respond to smiles, to an angry exrpession, and to tears.  Show most of us a grisly picture―say, crime-scene photos involving blown-apart faces―and we recoil in horror.
Psychopaths don't.  Instead they are fascinated.  They are often especially absorbed by the expression of fear or terror . . . because they don't feel it themselves.
That's what Bob Hare concluded, anyway, as the result of experiments he conducted with prison inmates.  He gave two groups of inmates a painful electrical shock while wired up to EEGs and other instruments to measure their sweat and blood pressure.  Those with normal brains reacted predictably as the countdown approached zero, when they knew they'd be shocked.  They grew fearful.
The psychopaths didn't.  They had no measureable physical or neurological experience of fear.  Even after experiencing the countdown culminating in a painful shock once, they failed to react the next time.
Fear comes from the amygdala, which is part of the limbic system.  The limbic system is a set of brain structures that support a number of human functions, including emotions, behavior, and motivation.  Many experts believe that psychopaths don't have a fully functioning limbic system.  They don't feel anything deeply.  They don't have a conscience.  And they don't ever, experience remorse.
Every work of fiction explores what it means to be human.  I do that, too, in my lupi books, but I also look at what it takes to be a monster.  In MORTAL TIES, Lily wonders what it means if the Great Bitch, the Old One who wants to destroy the lupi so she can remake the world according to her own notions, keeps using human agents who look, act, and react a lot like psychopaths.  Did they start out that way . . . or did close connection to her change them?
Either way, it's not a happy thought to know that the immortal being who's out to get you is some kind of psychopath.



Find out more about Eileen on her website:






Win a SIGNED Copy of Mortal Ties by Eileen Wilks!

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*Please check back on this SAME post to find out the winner on October 8th!




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18 Responses so far.

  1. Psychopaths make terrifying villains because they're so unpredictable, and it sounds like the Great Bitch is one terrifying adversary.

  2. donnas says:

    Great post. I know I would hate to face an immortal psycho.

    Love this series, its great.

  3. erin says:

    Thanks for a great post!!!! I'm such a fan. I love, love, love this series!!!

  4. NoraA says:

    Since I'm sure that mommy dearest is a psychopath I'm so glad the old bat isn't immortal. I'd hate to have to listen to her till the end of days.

  5. Wendy M. says:

    Love this series. I can't wait to read Mortal ties

  6. Carl says:

    Great post, very well researched and presented in an interesting way. I was not aware of many the aspects of psychopathology that Eileen brings up. Great information, thanks for posting.

  7. Oh! This sounds like a great creepy series! One that will take hold and not let go till the last page!

    Thanks so much!

  8. Tore says:

    I really want to read this book. It sounds very good. Thanks for the giveaway.

  9. Kassandra says:

    I LOVE this series! Good choice ;)

    Kassandra
    sionedkla@gmail.com

  10. hmmm.... what does it take to be a monster? Something to ponder.

  11. marybelle says:

    MORTAL TIES looks like such an amazing read!!!

  12. Great post! That's a whole lotta food for thought! Looking forward to this coming out! Thanks for the giveaway!

  13. Beckie says:

    I love her novels! Her cast is stellar! Plus, she's fantastic about interacting with her fans.

  14. Pamk says:

    interesting post. I thought pscyhopaths didn't feel anything> sounds like an interesting subject just not someone I'd like to meet in the dark.

  15. JenM says:

    That's really interesting information about psychopaths. I knew they didn't feel empathy, but I didn't realize that they don't usually feel fear. I can't wait to read Mortal Ties. I love this series.

  16. Leigh says:

    The Great Bitch is a terrifying adversary and I can't wait to see what happens.

  17. Natasha says:

    Sounds like a great read!! Thanks for the chance to win!

  18. Jo says:

    I'm impressed with all the consideration you put into this - and I think what freaks me out the most about psychopaths is that I think for most mercy is a completely foreign concept.

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