Introduction: The Psychology of Dexter
For the Love of Dexter
Dexter may well be one of the most psychologically delicious
treats in television history. We love Dexter. We
root for him, season after season.
But he’s a killer–a serial killer! Why do we relish Dexter so
much? And why don’t we at least feel guilty about our love? Is
it because Dex is so unlike us that we don’t worry others might
misinterpret our interest in him as a sign of our own darkness?
Or is the dynamic something much different–that we all have
a wisp of Dex’s Dark Passenger within us? As fans who identify
with our twisted hero, do we get to let our own demons out to
play an hour a week, knowing that it’s not for real and no one
will actually get hurt?
I’ve tried to talk about Dexter to all sorts of people. Some
I just know will be interested. They are the people who read
true crime books and watch other murder-filled movies and TV
shows. What stuns me, though, is when I discover, time and
again, that Dexter has resonated with people who simply don’t
fit that mold. What is it about the hero and the show that is so
Dexter is a feast for the psychologically-minded. Watching
him, we realize–maybe in a way we never have before–what
makes us human. We all feel things. We read other people effortlessly