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

Dilek Çalişkan


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 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 society and the individual are subjected to as the term itself is problematic. Invisible crimes are committed in society by respectable members whereas psychopaths are easy suspects. Ironically, psychopaths are not always criminals. The idea of “success” and the “American Dream” makes competition a necessity such as it becomes impossible to recognize psychopathic doctors, lawyers,  respectable fathers, or bosses, who have positions and power in society. This article will explore the relationship between psychopathology and crime in light of R.D. Laing’s view of society and madness and Cleckley’s and Hare’s view of psychopathology.


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

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