The "Right Man"
"The Right Man," the violent male type. A man who always has to be
FROM: "Written in blood: a history of forensic detection" C. Wilson
"...This also explained another characteristic of such men: that they
could not bear to be contradicted or shown to be in the wrong: this also
threatened their image of themselves as a kind of god or superman. If
confronted with proof of their own fallibility, they would explode into
violence rather than acknowledge that they had made a mistake. For this
reson, Van Vogt labelled this type 'the Right Man' or 'the Violent Man.'
To his colleagues at work he might appear perfectly normal and balanced;
but his family knew him as a kind of paranoid dictator.
"Only one thing could undermine this structure of self-delusion. If
his wife walked out on him, she had demonstrated beyond all doubt that she
rejected him; his tower of self-delusion was undermined, and often the
result was mental breakdown, or even suicide.
"Expressed in this way, it seems clear that the Right Man syndrome is a
form of mild insanity. Yet it is alarmingly common; most of us know a
Right Man, and some have the misfortune to have a Right Man for a husband
or father. The syndrome obviously arises from the sheer competitiveness
of the world we are born into. Every normal male has an urge to be a
'winner,' yet he finds himself surrounded by people who seem better
qualified for success. One common response is boasting to those who look
as if they can be taken in - particularly women. Another is what the late
Stephen Potter called 'One-upmanship,' the attempt to make the other
person feel inferior by a kind of cheating - or example, by pretending to
know far more than you actually know. Another is to bully people over
whom one happens to have authority. Many 'Right Men' are so successful in
all these departments that they achieve a remarkably high level of
self-esteem on remarkably slender talents. Once achieved, this
self-esteem is like an addictive drug, and any threat of withdrawl seems
terrifying. Hence the violence with which he reacts to anything that
"It is obvious that the Right Man syndrome is a compensatory mechanism
for profound self-doubt, and that its essence lies in confincing others of
something he feels to be untrue; in other words, it is a form of
confidence-trickery. It is, that is to say, a typically criminal form of
'shortcut,' like cheating in an exam, or stealing something instead of
saving up to buy it.
"Now the basic characteristic of the criminal, and also of the Right
Man, is a certain lack of self-control. Van Vogt writes that the Right
Man 'makes the decision to be out of control' - that is, makes the
decision to *lose* control at a certain point, expolding into violence
rather than calling upon a more mature level of his personality. But he
is adept at making excuses that place the blame for this lack of
self-control on other people for provoking him. One British sex killer,
Patrick Byrne, explained that he decided to terrorize women 'to get my own
back on them for causing my nervous tension through sex.'
"... It should now be possible to see that the Right Man syndrome is
the key to the serial killer.