"I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents. Some you can see, misshapen and horrible, with huge heads or tiny bodies. . . . And just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born? The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?"
In John Steinbeck 1952 novel East of Eden we are presented with what must be the most perfect description of a female psychopath in modern literature. The description of Cathy Ames' pathology - even down to her high-testosterone physiology - leaves the reader in no doubt that Steinbeck, or someone he was closely associated with, must of crossed paths with a female psychopath who served as the real life inspiration for this literary 'monster'.
“the eyes of Cathy had no message, no communication…they were not human eyes”
Steinbeck depicts her as small-breasted, delicate and a sense of strange, if not dangerous allurement to both men and women. Her attractiveness fools most whom she encounters, although some characters in the novel detect her true nature from her emotionless eyes. Even at a young age her father is aware she is not a typical child. Approaching puberty, she becomes aware of the power of human sexuality over others. As the novel nears conclusion, Cathy develops crippling arthritis in her hands, and by middle age is described as “a sick ghost”
Parasitic and manipulative, Cathy is the embodiment of what we have come to recognise as possessing the traits of the female psychopath. She embraces wickedness and depravity wholeheartedly and indulges evil simply for its own sake; the psychopathic 'rush'.