Laughter in the Dark: The Femme Fatale

She had the look of an insect – the cold, glittery eyes that hollowed you out, left you empty and numb as if she’d just latched onto your brain like a parasite sucking every last semblance of humanity from your dead flesh, leaving nothing but the dark carapace of some inhuman thing twitching and wriggling out of your cracked skull like a centipede. She was sitting at the end of the bar in the Greek’s place on Colfax.

Our eyes met briefly, just long enough that I smelled trouble. She had that soft pouting mouth, long black hair flowing round her shoulders with just a hint of coppery flesh hidden in its folds. I was hooked the moment I saw her as if the Medusa herself had appeared in the night to claim my flesh as her own. I’d had a hard day, working a case that wasn’t going anywhere but south. I was tired, hungry, and most of all in need of drink.

I was supposed to meet Joey Briscoe here, but he’d already left shortly before I’d arrived the Greek said as he fixed me a cool one. I wanted to forget Joey and the case, wanted to get up and walk slowly down to the end of that bar and talk to her, ask her in a cliched tone what such a beautiful woman like her was doing in clip joint like this. But I just sat there like an idiot, passive and alone. I looked at the Greek, saying:

“Who’s the looker?”

“Forget her,” he said. “She’s nothing but trouble, Johnnie.”

That intrigued me even more. I said, “Give the lady what she wants.”

He shook his head, didn’t say a word. He knew better. He poured a double-splash of vodka and soda, squeezed a fresh lime in and topped it with a couple of ice cubes, walked down and place it in front of her. She looked up briefly in my direction, but not directly at me, like she was staring straight through me at a ghost. I felt a chill.

The Greek came back, pondered me for a moment, said she wanted to know if I’d like to join her at a table.


– Laughter in the Dark (a work in progress)

The rendition above is more parody than anything, a sort of throwback to the old school noir and hard-boiled. I love to piddle with such scenes, work them up see where they’ll lead me. It’s like drinking a nice glass of wine, listening to one’s favorite jazz record, sitting back imagining a sort of sordid night in a lonely bar somewhere just west of the Twilight Zone.

Playing around with this psychopath madness in a short story. Lauren Becall above among other women of the screen has that allure of the Medusa about her, the seductress who can love you and murder you as you willingly submit to her dark sorceries.

The term “femme fatale” circulates in literary, cinematic, and cultural portrayals of women. As a standard figure (even a cliché) in popular culture, the femme fatale is deemed to be sexually voracious, irresistible, and dangerous, leading men to their ruination. She is an archetype, one as old as Eve – a figure who has existed in various forms since ancient times, in folklore, myths, and literatures. She comes to life in different guises: the spider woman, the evil seductress, the sexual predator; she stands for the vampire, the temptress, the wild woman, the prostitute, the murderess. She still makes her presence felt in literary works and films. The femme fatale became a stock component of mid- twentieth century crime fiction and film noir in the United States from the interwar period extending to the post- World War II period. She particularly dominates the texts of hardboiled crime fiction, a distinctively American tradition of crime writing that originated in pulp magazines, most notably Black Mask in the 1920s. Hardboiled crime narratives tell stories of violence, corruption, and betrayal, and portray characters (both detectives and criminals) enmeshed in urban chaos and an amoral underworld, an underworld in which the femme fatale is more often than not a criminal: a beautiful and perhaps promiscuous woman with a gun who, by the end of the story, might shoot a man dead.1

The lady strange made answer meet,
And her voice was faint and sweet:—
Have pity on my sore distress,
I scarce can speak for weariness:
Stretch forth thy hand, and have no fear!

—Coleridge, Christabel

She rises out of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Christabel like a dark woman on the threshold in-between the wild places of nature and the warm fireplace of some ancient castle. Her Gothic forms were to inhabit Edgar Allen Poe in many stories, while her visage would rise from those gothicisms into the hard-boiled worlds of Black Mask magazine during the pulp era of crime fiction.

Shrinking from my touch, she let fall from her head, unloosened, the ghastly cerements which had confined it, and there streamed forth, into the rushing atmosphere of the chamber, huge masses of long and dishevelled hair; it was blacker than the raven wings of the midnight! And now slowly opened the eyes of the figure which stood before me. “Here then, at least,” I shrieked aloud, “can I never –can I never be mistaken –these are the full, and the black, and the wild eyes –of my lost love –of the lady–of the LADY LIGEIA.”

—Edgar Allan Poe, Ligeia

The nineteenth century is an important moment in that it witnessed an explosion of femmes fatales, especially in the literature and art of the fin- de- siècle period, and has consequently been the focus of many critical studies. The pervasive presence of the femme fatale at that time denotes the “confluence of modernity, urbanization, Freudian psychoanalysis and new technologies of production and reproduction (photography and cinema) born of the Industrial Revolution”. Examples of the scholarship on the nineteenth- century femme fatale include Bram Dijkstra’s 1986 study, which examines images of women in the second half of the nineteenth century in both European and American art, and shows that the representation of the femme fatale was influenced by quasi- scientific discourses of the period, such as evolutionary theory and Darwinism. Rebecca Stott (1992) also studies the femme fatale in the Victorian age, contending that she is “fabricated” – that is, she is constructed according to the specific preoccupations and predilections of the Victorians. For Stott, the positionality of the femme fatale is intimately related to and probably dependent upon dominant nineteenth-century notions of sexuality and class – the seductive woman with destructive sexuality thus embodies fears about threats to the normative sexuality of Victorian society. (Jaber, 6)

The French phrase “femme fatale” literally means “deadly woman,” which understates the human embodiment of lust and peril, that intoxicating allure of sex and death that makes these creatures so fascinating. The femme fatale is a sleek and sensuous creature, dangerous either physically or emotionally to her victims. Unlike the more overtly aggressive warrior-woman archetype (see our book The Modern Amazons), the femme fatale’s weapons are more covert and elusive. She would often use poison instead of a knife and employ intelligence and sexual prowess to further her quest for power. But although femmes fatales differ from warrior women, at times they overlap in that they too assault the patriarchy, albeit from behind the scenes and more to fulfill their own personal needs or transgressive desires rather than any ideals. They are Mata Haris, as opposed to Boudiccas. A femme fatale slowly drains her victims of their morals, values, their friends, and often their money. She is sexually insatiable, and may even love her victims in her own way, but it doesn’t stop her from driving them to obsession. The male’s resulting exhaustion leads to confusion and inability to make sensible or rational decisions. Men who pursue the femme fatale risk being cuckolded, humiliated, and driven to poverty and despair in the pursuit of her attention.2

In the modern crime novel from Hammett onward women are depicted within a dark urban space of chaos and crime where they are portrayed outside of the domestic context, and are usually not married or attached. Their transgression from traditional values thus illustrates how the narratives both invert and critique not only the classical formula of home life and family values, but also the institutions that create and support these values, such as the police. (Jaber, 22) Many of these more misogynist views stem from a long history of folklore some scholars trace back to the image of the Witch in Medieval times and before in such works as the tragedians like Sophocles Medea or Antigone. Male fear and need to dominate women would cast them as angels or devils, goddesses or whores. The literary workers of crime fiction in the pulp stage and into noir films and novels would exaggerate this whole complex of myth, folklore, and criminality.

The femme fatale is seen against the backdrop of her male predators or victims. As Megan Abbott tells us these “men repeatedly find themselves dissembling, fainting, unconscious, overpowered, and out of control while their ideals of masculinity continue to require of them self-discipline, toughness, and the quintessential hardness that gives the genre its name.”3 She goes on to give a gender reading of the Hard-Boiled tradition saying: “Without question, a central characteristic of hardboiled fiction is the configuration of gender through binary structures—in particular, binaries produced in the service of constituting a fearless and potent maleness. Two binaries in particular predominate, that of the private eye/femme fatale and that of the sap-driven-to-crime/femme fatale—the former binary operating in Chandler, the latter in Cain, and both within Himes.” (7).

While sexually insatiable male characters and “hommes fatales” from Don Juan to James Bond are generally enviable heroes in movies, the sexually insatiable woman is usually cast in a darker manner, as an anti-heroine or villain and frequently making her appearance in horror films as a monster or vampires. There is a tendency to attribute supernatural qualities to these women, as their power has such a mesmerizing, enchanting quality. Femmes fatales are present in countless murder mysteries, and of course a staple of film noir that enhanced the careers of legendary actresses such as Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, Gene Tierney, Linda Darnell, Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner, and Hedy Lamarr. (Ursini)

Raymond Chandler more than any other crime fiction writer of his time would make substantial use of the figure of the femme fatale. In fact, he habitually places the dangerous woman at the center of his plots, in what many have interpreted as a neurotic response to the sexy manipulativewoman, associated with ‘the nastiness’ of which Marlowe fears he has become a part. Resistant to the depraved society around him, Marlowe assumes a role often compared to that of the questing knight, undergoing tests that involve skill in arms, fearlessness, and integrity. Marlowe’s knightly qualities are hinted at by the history of his naming: the ‘Mallory’ of an early Black Mask story, ‘Blackmailers Don’t Shoot’, eventually became ‘Marlowe’, a ‘coded version’ of the medieval romance-writer’s surname. Chandler further drew attention to the image of the knight-at-arms in his description of the man ‘good enough for any world’, who must go down ‘these mean streets’. In creating such a protagonist, Chandler can be seen as promoting the positive side of what Auden calls the ‘Great Wrong Place’ myth: against this pessimistic vision, he sets the American dream of the ‘last just man’ whose alienation guarantees his honour.4 As Horsley suggests the stereotypes of the femme fatale have been challenged by feminist criticism and critique.

An often-voiced feminist criticism of male-authored crime fiction is that women’s roles tend to be confined to clichéd versions of the victim or transgressor––the good but weak woman who is the murder victim; the evil woman who is the femme fatale. This not an unfounded generalization, but there are some very notable exceptions to this reductive view, the most interesting of which is the representation of the femme fatale. Hollywood was constrained both by the Hays Code and by expectations that the sexual or aggressive woman would be subjugated. For these reasons it tended to contain the femme fatale narrative, limiting the ‘progressiveness’ of the cycle and confirming popular prejudices by reasserting male control over the independent female. Novelists, on the other hand, were free to play much more extensively against stereotype, often setting up plots that initially lead us to judge according to stereotype and then reversing our expectations, or complicating our judgements and in the process establishing strong female figures who, though sexual, are admirable and/or indomitable. In novels which focus our perceptions through a single protagonist, some of the most effective mid-century male writers––especially Charles Williams, Charles Willeford, and Jim Thompson––structured entire narratives around the satiric presentation of the male point of view. They implicitly reassessed the role of the tough and triumphant femme fatale, subverting male stereotypes and creating a space within which the strong, independent woman could get and even sometimes keep the upper hand. (Horsely, 257).

Coming out of the various decadent traditions of the Nineteenth-Century in which she is found in the paintings of the artists Edvard Munch, Gustav Klimt, Franz von Stuck and Gustave Moreau. Along with her literary image in such novels as À rebours by Joris-Karl Huysmans where he portrays her in the fevered images of Salome from contemplating a Moreau painting:

No longer was she merely the dancing-girl who extorts a cry of lust and concupiscence from an old man by the lascivious contortions of her body; who breaks the will, masters the mind of a King by the spectacle of her quivering bosoms, heaving belly and tossing thighs; she was now revealed in a sense as the symbolic incarnation of world-old Vice, the goddess of immortal Hysteria, the Curse of Beauty supreme above all other beauties by the cataleptic spasm that stirs her flesh and steels her muscles, – a monstrous Beast of the Apocalypse, indifferent, irresponsible, insensible, poisoning.

— Joris-Karl Huysmans, À rebours, Sisters of Salome

Tramp, whore, goddess, temptress and seducer whose wiles trick and enmesh men in her ancient world of sorceries she seems to live on like a dark angel riding out our darkest fears and most persistent dreams of sensual languishment.

  1. Jaber, Maysaa Husam. Criminal Femmes Fatales in American Hardboiled Crime Fiction. Palgrave. 2016.
  2. Ursini, James; Mainon, Dominique. Femme Fatale: Cinema’s Most Unforgettable Lethal Ladies. Limelight Editions. 2009.
  3. Abbott, Megan. The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir. Palgrave. 2002.
  4. Horsley, Lee. Twentieth-Century Crime Fiction. Oxford. 2005.

The American Nightmare: Psychopaths and Sociopaths

…this account suggests that genetic anomalies give rise to a disorder where there is reduced responsiveness of the amygdala to aversive stimuli in particular. This specific form of reduced emotional responsiveness interferes with socialization such that the individual is more likely to learn to use anti-social social behavior to achieve goals.

—James Blair, The Psychopath

American Culture has a fascination with evil, with the sociopaths and psychopaths among us. In film, fiction, or true crime – or its non-fictional fiction such as Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Why? What is it about serial killers, rapists, and terrorists that keep us glued to the ongoing trials of celebrities like O.J. Simpson, etc.? What do we see mirrored in these dark minds? Do we fear that lurking in the depths of our own being is this same monstrous impulse to murder, mayhem, and rapine? Do we believe we can tame the beast by exorcising it, purging it in a drama of blood on the screen or theatre? Are we after all shaped by the tragic vision of ancient Greece but in a starker and more realistic vein? Do we identify with these dark figures or with their victims? Think of the many serial killers: John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Zodiac Killer… the list seems interminable.

“I knew both of them were psychopaths. This country is turning out more of them than any other place on the planet. They come in all shapes and sizes, all races and creeds and genders. That’s the scariest thing of all.”
― James Patterson, Along Came a Spider

Is it fear that drives us to suffer such images of madness on the screen or in a book? The Gothic, Horror, Weird, Crime and Punishment, the noir depths of modernity as the city of hell or Dante’s Inferno become all too real in our own lives enmeshed as they are in drugs, alcohol, and various forms of sado-masochism in the lingering dependencies of love and war? We seem to thrive on lunatics in the hinterlands as well – David Koresh, Charles Manson, Jim Jones, Marshall Applewhite, David Miscavige among others. Are we fascinated by these strange psychopathic sociopaths who with a certain charismatic appeal manipulate and coerce average run-of-the-mill Americans into their dark narcissistic dreamlands of horror? Some may think of characters from the movies: Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs, Mr Blonde from Reservoir Dogs, Norman Bates from Psycho, and Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street. These larger-than-life creatures of nightmare that stalk us from the flickering screen. Who are they?

I began writing what would eventually become the book Puzzling People: the Labyrinth of the Psychopath. This was an earnest attempt to try and alert other members of the human family that we were under attack from something hidden in plain sight within our own species, an entity very different from us indeed, a predatory parasite that was not just another product of poor families, unfortunate social conditions, structural brain damage or some other ‘diagnosis’ from the increasingly contradictory and bizarre world of psychiatry but a thing apart from humanity.

—Thomas Sheridan, Defeated Demons: Freedom from Consciousness Parasites in Psychopathic Society

Are we becoming alien to ourselves? Is there something outside the human that is mimicking our ways of being in the world, but are creatures from the outside invading our humanity from within? In the epigraph a professional dry report is offered of this dark condition so contrary to the normal socialization of humans in our society. The psychopath and sociopath seem to lack the ability to fear or show empathy that most of us have. This lack of empathy or fear allows them to respond to anxiety about life and others in ways that on the surface distort their view of the world and human relations. One makes a difference between the psychopath and the sociopath only in the sense that the one has that little sense of moral conscience (although weak) while the other does not. In the actual literature they are discussed under the term APD (Anti-Social Personality Disorder), often victims of severe abuse, they are bereft of all human connection, unable to tell truth from lies, charming and manipulative for a few minutes at most but with no real ability to formulate meaningful goals.

“Similar to the organic parasite, a consciousness parasite has always managed to find hosts within the Psychopathic Control Grid; their ultimate aim being to control the destiny of their enablers to serve their own ends.”
—Thomas Sheridan

Adam Kotsko in his book on our fantasies and fictionalization of these creatures in American Society says “there is something new going on in this entertainment trend that goes beyond the understandable desire to fantasize about living without the restrictions of society. The fantasy sociopath is somehow outside social norms—largely bereft of human sympathy, for instance, and generally amoral—and yet is simultaneously a master manipulator, manipulator, who can instrumentalize social norms to get what he or she wants.”1 Is this just the American Dream, the Horatio Alger story of rags to riches somehow turned inside out, revealing the true state of capitalist culture as a sociopathic world driven by the need for success?  As Charles Derber asks: “Is the United States—the world’s most powerful nation—already a sociopathic society?”2 He continues saying,

“the United States, with a long history of sociopathic institutions and practices, is now evolving toward a full-blown sociopathic society. We still have a chance to change course. But our society is increasingly structured to turn people and institutions toward sociopathic behavior that harms other individuals and entire societies, including our own. The United States is beginning to socially unravel, haunted now by the specter of war with weapons of mass destruction, economic meltdowns, and uncontrolled climate change.”

In the Age of Trump we’re discovering just how sociopathic we’ve become as well as how divided or even schizophrenic we’ve become as well. The political divide has become so extreme that both sides seem on the verge of absolute disintegration into madness, war, and sociopathic darkness.

“A scene like that wouldn’t normally interest me, but there was something very special about this one—something abnormally crazy in the way he was talking. There was something very familiar about it. I listened for a moment and then recognized the Neal Cassady speed-booze-acid rap—a wild combination of menace, madness, genius, and fragmented coherence that wreaks havoc on the mind of any listener.”

—Hunter S. Thompson,Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72

In our age social media and the mainstream media have become the greatest tool of social manipulation or social engineering-hacking. Political figures have learned this lesson well, and those who are sociopathic turn it toward their constituents and enemies alike. As Steven Hassan informs us,

There is a method to the madness. Cult leaders may look and behave differently, but even the craziest, most chaotic ones follow a similar pattern. While they usually have no academic training, they are masters of human psychology, especially social psychology. They understand that human beings are social creatures who, at some level, are wired to follow leaders and powerful members of their group. They know that they can confuse people with false information and lies, and then sow doubt by claiming that they never said what they said in the first place. People like to think they are rational and in control, but the lessons of history and social psychology demonstrate, time and again, that simply isn’t so. We go about our days, and our lives, using unconscious mental models. When cult leaders manipulate those models, in subtle and overt ways, we can be persuaded to believe and do things we might never have considered without such systematic psychological influence.3

Chomsky once stated that there were two conceptions of democracy, on in which the vast majority was in control of its own affairs, and the other in which the “public must be barred from managing of their own affairs and the means of information must be kept narrowly and rigidly controlled.”4 This was written before social media and the twisted world of algorithmic governance that erodes all control turning it into a sociopathic game pitting extremes against each other in an ongoing twitterfest of disinformation and hype. Watching Twitter, Face Book, Tik-Tok, and so many other social media platforms one discovers right away that the sociopaths are winning, that the great drift of social interaction is about manipulating the public opinion with each blip in the electronic void. As one contemporary author suggests we are being modulated by our false sense of freedom,

Strategies of control license and sanction the subject as autonomous only in that their choices are regulated through their relation to the devices that enable them to exert control. Strategies of control do not focus on a subject’s ability to use various devices (recall they do not have to be used) or seek to impose restrictions on the subject’s possibilities (the means of control multiplied). They govern, rather, through the regulation of choice. Choice becomes objectified through the modulations of control: like the body in disciplinary societies, choice is “subjected, used, transformed and improved.” In this sense choice is a normalizing “object”; its strategy is to become the only acceptable condition for the discipline of freedom. The multiplication of devices for control-the multiplication of the means of governance-enables objects for choice; it provides highways upon which “to drive infinitely and `freely’ without being at all confined yet while still being perfectly controlled.” In return, control devices make operational a series of practices that provide assurance that some action is being taken to further maximize choice while extending it as a self-regulation across media. As practiced in the porous constrictions of technologies of control, choice is enabled continuously and freely.5 [my italics]

Our mobile phones are such devices which appear to give us absolute freedom of choice, but are in fact modulating our choices, manipulating us through a very careful ‘ai’ driven world of algorithmic governance. As he suggests the ‘discipline of freedom’ enables us to choose what has been normalized for us through a series of choices that provide safety, security, and control all under the banner of self-regulation. We are controlling ourselves through our own need for security in an unsafe world, and we are doing it oblivious of the fact that we are being governed and manipulated, modulated by the very notions of freedom and security that are socially engineered.

“Psychopaths… people who know the differences between right and wrong, but don’t give a shit. That’s what most of my characters are like.”
― Elmore Leonard

There is also the other side of the coin in which those who are seeking safety and security in an unsure world turn toward authoritarian figures, figures who offer a plain and simple vision of life based on some of the oldest myths of the American mythology. Trump has mastered this world of sociopathic insight, turned the mythos of the American West – Manifest Destiny and its sense of outlaws and gunmen into the modern fight to save America form all those external threats of immigration, perversion, and political corruption. Of course, his main target is progressive democracy with its openness to immigration, abortion and women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, racial equality, and all the other well-known aspects of reform ideology. Of course, the democrats for their part demonize the right as fascist, authoritarian, nationalistic, gun-loving country yokels. So, the cycle of accusation and recrimination go on and on as the political charade marches onward. Rather than dealing with real issues both sides deal with fantasy, fiction, and cartoon worlds of American pulp and superheroes-villains.

“It’s a pretty big shock to realise that the only people you can identify with are psychopathic killers.”
― Dan Wells, Mr. Monster

In our age we wonder where the truth of it all begins and ends? Hannah Arendt in The Origins of Totalitarianism told us: “Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.” I remember reading an article a few years back in which the author (I can’t remember now who?) said: “It’s a posttruth world, and victory belongs to those who understand that reality belongs to the person with the best stagecraft.” This seems to revise and repeat Arendt’s notion about the mass leader, the authoritarian individual who through the sheer power of charisma, deception, and stagecraft presents a version of reality – a fictional reality that supervenes on the actual one, replacing it with his own fantasy world. George Orwell gave us a bleak and terrifying world based on such a post-truth society, a sociopathic society engineered and built of lies, deception, and self-deception:

He had no difficulty in disposing of the fallacy, and he was in no danger of succumbing to it. He realized, nevertheless, that it ought never to have occurred to him. The mind should develop a blind spot whenever a dangerous thought presented itself. The process should be automatic, instinctive. Crimestop, they called it in Newspeak.

He set to work to exercise himself in crimestop. He presented himself with propositions — ‘the Party says the earth is flat’, ‘the party says that ice is heavier than water’ — and trained himself in not seeing or not understanding the arguments that contradicted them. It was not easy. It needed great powers of reasoning and improvisation. The arithmetical problems raised, for instance, by such a statement as ‘two and two make five’ were beyond his intellectual grasp. It needed also a sort of athleticism of mind, an ability at one moment to make the most delicate use of logic and at the next to be unconscious of the crudest logical errors. Stupidity was as necessary as intelligence, and as difficult to attain.”
― George Orwell, 1984

In our time stupidity is no longer hard to attain, it seems to be the normal course of action in our sociopathic society. Our post-truth society is an absolute sociopathic world bound to a totalized system of disinformation, manipulation, and modulated corruption. We are creatures of deception and self-deception, bound to our needs for love, acceptance, and security we allow ourselves to be manipulated, modulated, and controlled by those parental-like figures of psychopathic and sociopathic natures. We thrive on the fantasies of madness seeking to purge ourselves of the fears and horrors of the actual world and its literal manifestations. We are becoming less and less able to define the difference between the actual and unreal world which is becoming more and more sociopathic every day. As M.E. Thomas a sociopath once said,

“I’m an ‘intelligent’ sociopath. I don’t have problems with drugs, I don’t commit crimes, I don’t take pleasure in hurting people, and I don’t typically have relationship problems. I do have a complete lack of empathy. But I consider that an advantage, most of the time. Do I know the difference between right and wrong, and do I want to be good? Sure. … A peaceful and orderly world is a more comfortable world for me to live in. So do I avoid breaking the law because it’s ‘right’? No, I avoid breaking the law because it makes sense.”
― M. E. Thomas, Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight

D.H. Lawrence contemplating the American literature of his day and the creatures that inhabited both its pages and the pages of our news once suggested that the “essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.” Like ice frozen in a sea of affectlessness we seem to wander among each other’s lives like isolated ghosts, passionless and full of that disquieting anxiety of the dead.

  1. Kotsko, Adam. Why We Love Sociopaths: A Guide To Late Capitalist Television (p. 2). Zero Books. 2012.
  2. Derber, Charles. Sociopathic Society: A People’s Sociology of the United States . Taylor and Francis. Routledge. 2019.
  3. Hassan, Steven. Cult of Trump : A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control. Free Press. 2019
  4. Noam Chomsky. Media Control, Second Edition: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda. Open Media. 1991.
  5. Raiford Guins. Edited Clean Version: Technology and the Culture of Control. University of Minnesota Press. 2009.