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Necessary Evil is a story about a 10-year-old boy who witnesses the murder of his grandfather, his closest friend and confidant, from the hands of two drunks during a driving altercation. After Billy McIlvain?s grandfather?s death, his family life falls apart even worse. His mother falls deeper into alcoholism and his father does not want anything to do with the family. Billy?s mother attempts to commit suicide but Billy intervenes and calls the paramedics. Billy?s father leaves shortly after. After years of withdrawal of love from his mother, Billy ends up murdering his mother and is sentenced to prison for thirteen years. When Billy gets out of prison, he is filled with an obsession to ?close the circle?. Billy? life is filled with death and his thoughts seem to be calm and coherent and then suddenly change t slightly bizarre thoughts and rationales for committing certain acts.

Criminal Behavior

Billy commits a number of criminal acts through out the novel, but only a few will be explained. At age 16, Billy murders one of his grandfather?s killers and later kills his own mother during an argument. The murder of a man named Charles Spencer, who Billy believes is the father that abandoned him, and his family will also be discussed. Billy murders the family by stalking them and carefully planning the executions. Dressed up as a Federal Express courier, he kills the family in their own home using a gun and sexually assaults the dead wife, which is his first experience of intercourse.


Psychoanalytic Theory

The character in the story suffers much abuse in the early stages of his life at home and later as a juvenile. This abuse drastically affects the way Billy acts as an adult since the moral values Billy was supposed to learn never take shape.

Billy is fixated on the Anal Stage since he is consumed with the beauty of fire and finds it exciting and arousing. At one point as an adolescent, Billy almost sets fire to a girl?s hair in church because he is compelled with the rush and excitement of the thought of burning her hair. After this incident, Billy often set fires in dumpsters at his school and around the parks he lived by. Billy gets sexually aroused watching the flames and heat being emitted from his fires.

Billy also has a fixation in the Phallic Stage since he does not have a strong superego. The lack of the Superego is mainly due to the fact that Billy has never resolves his Oedipal Complex. Whenever his mother had an intimate partner, Billy would feel betrayed and threatened and was likely to get into a violent rage. The final violent rage against his mother resulted into her death. It becomes clear that Billy is suffering from the Oedipal Complex near the end of the story when he murders the family of Charles Spencer, whom he believes to be his father. After he murders Spencer?s wife, he sexually assaults her and commences intercourse with her. Billy acknowledges that Spencer?s wife greatly resembled his mother but continues with his actions. Prior to that incident, Billy had no experience with sexual intercourse because he wanted to wait for the right woman. Before Billy kills Spencer, Billy cuts off Spencer?s genitalia and forces Spencer to chew on his own organs. While this is occurring, Billy is sexually aroused by what is occurring. This clearly illustrates that Billy subconsciously feared his father castrating him as a child and as an adult, he wants to have revenge on his father for terrifying him and for being a rival for his mother?s affections.

The lack of a strong Superego causes Billy not to have any strong moral values and causes Billy to act in ways that only bring immediate gratification. Therefore Billy is not successful in learning proper ways to behave and continues to commit acts, whether criminal or not, to satisfy his current needs.

Eysenck?s Theory

In accordance with G factor, Billy seems to have a lower IQ than the general population. He did poorly in high school before he was sent to prison and as an adult, is employed as a security guard and newspaper courier. Then again, these medial jobs may be due to the fact that Billy did not have the opportunity to finish high school and did not have the family support he needed to be encouraged to do greater things with his life.

Billy seems to be an ambivert since he does not have high levels of sociability and at the same time he is not ethical. Billy leans more toward the extravert side than the introvert. He becomes agitated quickly and this is apparent when he murders his mother. She scolded him for interrupting her date and Billy went into a rage and could not control his actions. He ended up hitting her with a dumbbell on the head and stabbing her over a hundred times with a pair of scissors. This was not the first time Billy lost his temper, which caused a death. When he was sixteen, he killed one of his grandfather?s murders with a knife and dumped him into the river. While these murders were taking place, Billy?s thoughts became short and rapid which leaves the impression that his violent thoughts are basic instinct and he cannot control his actions.

On the Neuroticism ? Stable scale, Billy is high on Neuroticism. Billy?s nature to be violent when he lost his quick temper was discussed earlier. Billy is quick to be obsessed to something he finds intriguing, whether it is a girl or revenge. In prison, Billy located a magazine which featured a man whom he believed was the father that abandoned him. From a prison contact, Billy was able to gather mountains of sensitive information about Charles Spencer while he was in prison. After Billy was released, he would prank call Spencer on a regular basis and eventually met Spencer at his home where he murdered him and his family.

Billy is high on the Psychoticism scale since he displays many of the characteristics. Billy is cold hearted, socially insensitive and is a loner. These characteristics were all present in his crimes. Billy has committed multiple homicides using various cruel methods and enjoys fire setting because of the rush it gives him. Billy isn?t sociable and this was apparent when he stated that after owning a car for two years, he was yet to have a passenger.

Billy continues to commit crimes due to operant conditioning. Billy has only been caught for one of his crimes even though he has committed numerous murders and other types of crimes. After Billy murdered his grandfather?s killer at age sixteen, he was certain he was going to get caught. But after months of nobody being suspicious of him, his confidence grew and he committed more crimes on a regular basis.

Compare and Contrast

Both of the theories tend to support the notion that the reason for killing Charles Spencer was for revenge against Billy?s father. The theories recognize that the way Billy?s father treated Billy had caused Billy to resent him. Also, both theories agree that the crimes committed by Billy were out of his immediate control. This means that Billy could not be reasoned with when he committed these crimes. Something inside Billy caused him to commit these acts, which meant that the crimes were not based on a rational plan.

The two theories differ in the reasons why Billy committed his crimes. Psychoanalytic tends to see Billy?s crimes as a result of him being fixated on certain stages of early development. This is particularly due to poor parenting practices, such as not having a close relationship with his father and seeing violence at an early age. Eysenck?s theory tends to base its argument more on biological causes for Billy?s criminal behavior. Billy?s violent behavior can be seen as occurring due to his biological make-up and thriving due to operant conditioning. Also, the reason why Billy killed his mother can be seen differently using these two theories. Psychoanalytic sees Billy killing his mother as an act of jealousy after he finds her intimate with another man. His Oedipal Complex causes this jealousy. Eysenck?s theory would explain his mother?s murder as occurring to due a loss of control of his temper. This would not be caused by jealousy but due to Billy?s mother agitating him into a frenzy, which resulted in her death. A final difference between these two theories sees Billy?s fire setting in two different lights. Psychoanalytic sees Billy?s fire setting due to repression of the Anal Stage. Eysenck?s theory sees the fire setting as just another act in order for Billy to experience a rush of excitement and not symbolic of anything.


The basis of the study was to examine the prison populations of convicted murderers and to ascertain a typology of homicides based on personality characteristics. The study took place in S. Mitrovica penitentiary institution in 1992, which is located in Yugoslavia. Of the inmate population, 112 male inmates were used as test subjects but only ninety-three subjects were used since nineteen did not possess the intellectual levels to comprehend the test materials.

A standardized interview was carried out on all the subjects and demographic, criminological, victimological, sociopathological and psychiatric data was collected. After the interview, the subjects were given personality tests, the MMPI and S-R scales of aggression and personality.

The MMPI results backed up by the S-R scales showed that five subjects fit into the psychotic profile, forty-six subjects fit into the hypersensitive-aggressive profile, sixteen subjects fit into the psychopathic profile and twenty-six subjects were classified as normal.

To further investigate, a number of variables place in six different factor groups allowed the findings to become clearer. These variables included alcohol addiction, education level, premeditation and crime in family.

The conclusion stated that almost one-third of the subjects did not meet the requirements to be considered psychopathic. The findings allowed the classification of the subjects into the four groups stated above. Aggression was seen to be a key factor for committing the homicide for the psychopaths and hypersensitives. This was coupled with the decreased control mechanisms and situation that surrounded them. The normal group showed that aggression was not explicit or strongly related to their crime that means that the homicide they committed conflicted with their basic personality structure.

Mental Disorder

Billy seems to fit the criteria for Paranoid Personality Disorder. Billy believes that others are exploiting and deceiving him without reason. Billy does not have many friends as an adult and this is due to the fact that as a child he was often suspicious that the other children were ganging up on him even without cause. Therefore he did not establish many friendships as a child and this persisted into his adulthood.

The few friends that Billy made with in prison were often shuttered out by him when they asked too many questions. This was the case with Stan Mink, Billy?s contact to get information on Charles Spencer. When Mink complained that all of the information he was giving Billy was not being put to use, Billy quickly got defensive and felt as if Stan was threatening to stalk Spencer himself. Shortly after that conversation, Billy ended all communications with Mink in fear that he would get into Billy?s way.

Billy is often to get aggressive with people he finds are demeaning him in the remarks they make. These can be sincere compliments, which Billy will feel are insults against him but are well hidden. This is also another characteristic of Paranoid Personality Disorder. This was the case with the bouncer at a strip club whom said hello to Billy and complimented him on his shirt. Billy quickly got agitated and almost picked a fight with the bouncer because he felt the bouncer?s remarks insulted him.

Billy also holds grudges and never seems to forgive a person for what they had done. This is clear when Billy killed his father for leaving his family. After over twenty years of separation, Billy still found it necessary for him to track down and find his father in order to kill him.


Billy?s behavior in the book seems to fit the characteristics of Anti-Social Personality Disorder of the DSM IV. Billy continually commits acts of violence that can lead to his arrest. He seems oblivious to the notion of arrest and does not feel that he is likely to get caught. This behavior has been persistent while he was growing up, which included fights, fires, and murder. Billy?s anti-social acts continue today as an adult.

Billy enjoys using the alias Steve Hancock among others throughout the book. He used the aliases while prank calling Charles Spencer, checking into the motel and even used the Hancock alias on the stripper he is infatuated with. He uses aliases flagrantly and also often lies to others concerning his past.

Billy also commits a great number of assaults on other people throughout the book. As a youth, he was involved in many fights and after the age of eighteen, continued with violent and unprovoked attacks on others. An example of this is the time he was walking past a young lady on the sidewalk and did not like her smile that she flashed to him. Therefore, Billy stopped her and proceeded to engage in a conversation with her. All of a sudden, he punched and broke her nose and strolled down to the strip club.

Billy also rationalizes the pain he inflicts on others. He murders the Spencer family because he feels that his father plotted a scheme to kill his grandfather. After the murders, he proceeds to stalk another man, whom he also thinks is his father. This type of rationalization will persist until he gets caught or dies.

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