Question about the tv show, Dexter

(not sure if this is the right forum, please move if necessary)


I started watching season 1, and I was wondering if this was a realistic depiction of sociopathy or antisocial personality disorder. To me, it seems that a true sociopath feels no emotion and usually just fakes them, but Dexter seems to go through the whole range of human emotions constantly. In voiceovers, he always talks about how emotionless he is, but at certain points in the series, he seems to show anger, sadness, happiness, fear, elation, etc.

My other theory is that Dexter is not really a sociopath, but maybe he has something else where his emotions are muted, but not absent. What would be an alternate diagnosis?

Or, maybe I’m not understanding the disorder correctly, and maybe there’s a range of severity, like autism.

Oh, one more thing: both he and his brother have this disorder because of the same traumatic event. Can a single, non-physically traumatic event (vs. brain damage) cause sociopathy? I also thought that sociopathy was a combination of genetic and environmental conditions.

That’s a big part of the show. Is Dexter an emotionless sociopath or was he just TOLD he was one enough times that he started to believe. I want to say Season 3 played on this a lot and started to shift some of the blame onto his adopted father for “molding” him.

There’s a book series, too, with a completely different take on the cause of his otherness. The books are written in the first person with Dexter talking about the prodding of his "dark passenger,’ which urges him to kill.

In the third book the “dark passenger” is revealed to be a supernatural being inhabiting Dexter. That kind of complicates any questions about whether he’s a real sociopath or not.

There are a few moments here and there when Dexter goes off on a conversational tangent that causes obvious discomfort in the other characters, but it turns out they tolerate him much better then the relentless crudity of Dexter’s supervisor, Masuka.

Well, except Sgt. Doakes. He hates Dexter.

Dexter is an unreliable narrator when it comes to describing himself. He’s clearly not a pure sociopath, although he does display elements of thinking of a lot of social situations like a sociopath would.

You wonder if his father jumped the gun on declaring him to be an unrecoverable serial killer and really pushing him in that direction early on.

I’m not a psychiatrist in any way, shape or form, but I’m thinking honest to god sociopathy has a physiological component - that is to say, you’re born with a number of brain connections either physically cut off, or with wonky brain chemistry that preclude you (either temporarily or permanently) from experiencing emotions. I remember a House MD episode featuring a sociopath that was one because… something fixable. Either her neurons didn’t function in conjunction with a neurotransmiter, or some of her glands didn’t produce some hormone, I don’t really remember ; the point is that they gave her meds and suddenly, bam, emotions she never had. Which kinda fucked the girl up worse :stuck_out_tongue:

Trauma might lead you to redirect emotions, or experience them differently, or even ignore them entirely/assign them to “someone else” - but I wouldn’t think it absolutely negates emotional impulses.

Quinn doesn’t much like Dexter, either.