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Origins of Character & Psychosis

by on Mar.25, 2010, under Creators Blog, Writing

Craig Frank as Mark, Janna Bossier as Justine, & Annemarie Pazmino as Cassandra

Looking at my previous post on internal voice overs, I realized that I referenced a great deal of character psychology without even referencing its origins in the series. I think that character origins are so important when trying to craft a continuous story, yes origins can evolve as stories progress but it still is that foundation that drives the character. So in this post, I will touch upon the literary origins of the three leads that will help highlight the basis of their individual psychosis.

In looking at our three leads (Mark, Cassandra, Justine), a common classification is to call them all sociopaths. Personally I feel this is a little extreme of a classification, but that’s just me who read about a lot of sociopaths while researching Compulsions. Granted I do believe that Mark, Cassandra, and Justine are disturbed people, but I feel that they are capable of feeling empathy and thus believe that their levels of psychosis are definitely in the more infancy stages than say Ted Bundy or Charles Manson. But like any sociopath, they all have their origins. Ted Bundy wasn’t always Ted Bundy the serial killer, and thus our leads are at that early stage in their De-evolution. Sure they do bad things, but are capable of growing into so much worse when pressed and stressed.

As for the origins of our three leads specifically, we have to look at each character’s base. This may be hard to catch upon the first viewing on the screen, but each of the three leads is based on a historic literary figure.

Mark “The Sadist” – is based on the French Aristocrat Marquis de Sade, for whom the term Sadism is coined after. His writing was violent, extreme, blasphemous, and bizarre. De Sade was actually imprisoned for much of his life because of his writing, but what did he do? He just kept on writing.

Justine “The Hunter” – is based on the character of the same name in the book Justine (by Marquis de Sade). A story of a young maiden on a quest for virtue, but is presented with abuse, slavery, and other horrific acts all hidden behind a virtuous mask.

Cassandra “The Voyeur” – is based on the character of the same name in Greek mythology, who was given the gift of foresight and the curse that no one would believe her predictions.

Now it’s important to note that the Compulsions leads are simply referencing these figures in broad strokes and are not direct incarnations of them.

If you watch our Season 1 episodes you can see the direct links from our leads to each of these literary figures and therein lies their psychology. At his roots, Mark is confident, he’s in control of his compulsion, and yes he is a sadist. Does he know it’s wrong, yes. But he just keeps doing it. Justine, in a slightly different shade, has her confidence and proper wholesome life, but like the reference is a false facade to her violent life. And Cassandra, is truly the one who can see all but can tell no one without giving away her secret.

Now taking those one line descriptions you should be able to see the origins of their psychosis. Do you need to need to know that the three leads are based on these literary figures? No. It’s just that if you want to dig deeper in to the base of the characters, it makes it easier to piece together knowing their origins. All three of these bases gives you a natural path as to where you can craft the characters, because at their roots they are “disturbed”. Once you have this base it makes it much easier as a writer to guide your characters through their story and make their journey more about the person than the events. For it is not what happens, but who the what happens to that makes the story compelling.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and how we’ve only begun to scratch the surface on our story, thus we hope to give you more of the saga of Mark, Justine, and Cassandra in (crossing fingers) future episodes of Compulsions.

For my other blog posts on writing, you can head over here.

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1 comment for this entry:

One Response to “Origins of Character & Psychosis”

  1. Hello! Just wanted to state that I like your entire writing style and that so I want to visit this blog regularly from now ;) Keep it up!

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