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The Seducer painting by Paola Minekov

My friend, the artist Paola Minekov, recently finished a beautiful painting for my new novel, The Seducer. This painting captures perfectly the novel’s main theme– psychopathic seduction–by a social predator who comes on strong and poses, initially, as a romantic Prince Charming or Mr. Right. In Paola’s painting, as in my novel, the victim, Ana seems to hesitate between her strong attraction to her captor and the fear and anxiety their illicit passion provokes. His shadowy figure lurks, ominous yet attractive, like a dangerous lure.  A current of crimson red runs throughout the painting: simultaneously the red of passion and the red of blood, as they become one and the same in this novel about a fatal love.

Psychopathic seducers, as social predators, target countless victims. But they attach like parasites, for a long time, to comparatively few: only to their most promising hosts. I think that promising victims give off a scent of vulnerability, of unfulfilled desires that are perfect lures for pathologicals in need of control.  However many women they seduce and conquer; however many individuals they con; however much power they acquire, they still aren’t satisfied and need moreThat’s because, emotionally, psychopaths are hollow human beings. The emotions, caring, money and time anyone pours into them seeps through them like through a bottomless hole.

Narcissists are very similar psychologically, only instead of control what they desire even more is validationNarcissistic personalities often become famous artists, writers, scholars, movie producers or politicians. They have the drive and dedication to get to the top, but their thirst for validation is far greater than their periodic success. It is only temporarily satisfied and, in some respects, fundamentally unachievable. Success is fleeting and being at the top of the charts–be it as a singer, producer or best-selling writer–quickly turns into yesterday’s news. Narcissistic individuals often end up in an endless rat race, spinning in place, both emotionally and psychologically, no matter how rich or famous they become.

But even those of us who are neither psychopaths nor narcissists, which is to say, even more or less normal human beings experience an insatiable longing: the insatiable longing for love. This is what I describe in my new novel, The Seducer, through the character of Ana, modeled after my favorite heroine by the same name from Tolstoy‘s novel, Anna Karenina (which, incidentally, remains very relevant and is being launched soon as a film starting Keira Knigthley).  If some of us are tempted to cheat on or deceive those we love; if we are lured by the temptation of instant passion, happiness and commitment promised by dangerous social predators, it’s because within us, someplace, somehow, there’s an insatiable longing for love. This need can be a wound from previous betrayals or trauma, or simply an unrealistic, fantasy-driven yearning that can’t be fulfilled in reality.

Real love takes patience, constant nurturing and work. It depends on commitment and strengthIt sometimes takes self-sacrifice. Psychopaths can tempt us with instant fulfillment, instant commitment, instant passionate love that require no work, because we’re “meant for each other,” because this is “the love of our lives”. This promise is not only a false and dangerous illusion, but also rests upon a fundamental repudiation of true love and of reality, flaws and all.

In my novel The Seducer I attempted to offer a psychologically accurate and in-depth sketch of three common forms of emotional insatiability: 1) the insatiable need for control and power over women of Michael, the psychopath; 2) the insatiable need for validation that keeps Karen, his needy and narcissistic fiancee, indefinitely caught in his clutches, and 3) the insatiable need for love of Ana, who represents the force, the need, the empty part that propels each and every victim into the arms of a dangerous social predator.

Any woman can become a tragic heroine like Ana if she gives in to a secret longing that has no realistic outlet or satisfaction. Written in the tradition of my favorite nineteenth-century novels, Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary–but with a contemporary psychological twist–The Seducer shows that true love can be found in our ordinary lives rather than in flimsy fantasies masquerading as great passions.

Claudia Moscovici, The Seducer: A Novel

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