S36E6 – Dark Psychology: The Effects of Imprisonment

Imprisonment has a major effect on the minds of both the captives and the captors, which is important to remember when including this theme in your story. Not only are there plenty of fictional works which tell the tale of a prisoner and their life after release or escape, such as The Count of Monte Cristo or Les Misérables, but this idea of captivity is used as a subplot in many other stories.

When you choose to write captivity into your story, you’ll need to look at the psychological impacts. For the imprisoned, there is a major change in how they manage their own lives. They no longer have control over things as simple as choosing when to eat or when to sleep. For the impact on the captors, just look at the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment’s impact on normal students. The guards became sadistic within just a few days and the whole experiment had to end early because of the strong negative influence it had on both sides.

You also need to think of why you’re including this theme. Is it to tell the story of imprisonment like in the examples mentioned above? Or is your villain trying to get information out of a hero’s ally? Will their be torture involved? All of these things will change how you approach imprisonment in your story. Listen to this episode for a further breakdown of how and why to include this trope.

First aired October 20, 2022.

About the Author
I'm an editor and cover designer for AspenHouse Publishing. I am also a host for AspenHouse's poscast, Writing Roots.

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