‘Dexter,’ TV’s Affable Serial Killer, Finds Fans In Criminology


Writing in Psychology Today, Bella DePaulo comments on the popularity–particularly among criminologists, apparently–of the Showtime TV network’s “Dexter.” Set in Miami, the 5-year-old show focuses on Dexter Morgan (played by Michael C. Hall), a police forensics expert who moonlights as a serial killer. The program won an Emmy Award this week for best directing in a drama series. DePaulo, a California psychology professor and writer, is editor of a new book, “The Psychology of Dexter,” that features analysis of the character by various experts in psychology, sociology and criminology.

DePaulo writes in the book, “While studying deception for decades, I thought I had come across just about every variation on the theme of living a lie. Then I met Dexter. Like everyone else who is living a lie, Dexter is hiding something almost every moment of his life. Unlike everyone else, though, Dexter is doing so with both hands tied behind his back. (Couldn’t resist that analogy). As a psychopath (or a person with psychopathic tendencies), Dexter can’t read people effortlessly. He doesn’t have an intuitive sense of the right thing to do or to say. So he is always studying others for clues to how to seem, well, human. To me, this isn’t just mindless entertainment; it is totally engaging – a tasty treat for the psychologically-minded.”

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