Essentially, I have a virus which temporarily turns people into psychopaths. This virus is being used by my antagonists to collapse a city.

I will be using a lysogenic virus which is triggered by some form of EM waves. It will limit the production of the hormone oxytocin, which is the main chemical regarding our morality (link to research).


The first infected person will be infected in a lab by a tiny dart (similar to a tranquiliser dart in terms of mechanics) which contains the virus. This person will then be released into the public. The virus can spread as per normal i.e. coughing, bloodstream, saliva etc. (not airborne but waterborne). However, once a certain radio wave is emitted from my antagonists' HQ, the darts will become 'live' and will emit the EM waves required to trigger the virus. Once this happens, the people with darts will turn into psychopaths, but so will any infected people around them (as long as they're within a short distance). Once these people have turned evil, they will be armed with darts (from the antagonists) and will attempt to infect any healthy people (as they're psychopaths so they'll want the city to collapse as well). However, once my antagonists' turn off their signal, the darts will stop emitting their waves and the infected will go back to normal (i.e. stop being psychopaths).

Would this work?

(If you need any clarifications, feel free to ask in the comments)

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ How would everyone being psychopaths collapse a city? Most psychopaths can function like normal people, and in some cases are more successful than non-psychopaths. $\endgroup$
    – Starpilot
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Starpilot Maybe not psychopaths then ... I mean people who have no moral boundaries and are pure evil (i dont know if a term exists for these people so I used psychopaths) $\endgroup$
    – Adi219
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 16:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ As we established, there is a big difference between psychopathy and evil. If you want to turn infected people into "pure evil", please edit your question accordingly. $\endgroup$
    – Elmy
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 16:31
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ My first thought was a poor infected pregnant woman who has just given birth... and is not rewarded with the oxytocin rush that helps her bond with her child. The pain of that situation brought a tear to my eye. Apparently I'm not infected yet. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 16:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If the dart is sufficient to turn people psycho, why do you need the virus? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 17:29

2 Answers 2


It sounds like you have a dangerously wrong idea of what psychopathy is...

A psychopath is not some crazy killing machine whose only goal is complete chaos. It's a person whose empathy and remorse is impaired in a way that makes them often egoistical, cold blooded and manipulative, but not destructive per se.

The Wikipedia article about psychopathy states in the section "Violence":

Studies have suggested a strong correlation between psychopathy scores and violence, and the PCL-R emphasizes features that are somewhat predictive of violent behavior. Researchers, however, have noted that psychopathy is dissociable from and not synonymous with violence.

It has been suggested that psychopathy is associated with "instrumental", also known as predatory, proactive, or "cold blooded" aggression, a form of aggression characterized by reduced emotion and conducted with a goal differing from but facilitated by the commission of harm.

Why would an egoist who manipulates people to get their way actively use dart guns to spread some diseas he doesn't know about?

If you want infected people to actively infect more people, you should find other means. The 2007 anime "Appleseed Ex Machina" had a similar plot, in which a company spread new mobile devices (that looked like bluetooth headsets and were worn in one ear) among people, then activated their trigger signal. The devices would somehow connect to the wearers nervous system and make them force anyone around them to also wear such a device.

There are also some examples of parasites influencing their hosts behavior. See this video for examples, but be warned of gross content! The parasites seem to manipulate base instincts of their hosts, like snails seeking out sunlight or infected crickets diving right into water. Your virus could make humans more social, thus infecting their family and friends.

  • $\begingroup$ I misunderstood what psychopaths were 😂 Please see my comment on my question. A parasite would also be alright but it needs to turn its host to someone who has no moral limits temporarily $\endgroup$
    – Adi219
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 16:21
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ No moral limit is just one side of the equation. You still need a realistic incentive for infected people to actively take weapons and infect more people. $\endgroup$
    – Elmy
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 16:26

This sounds a lot more like a classic "brainwashing" plot than anything else, and you may find it helpful to look at both fictional and real-world experiments in that direction. A variant on some of the modern Doctor Who cybermen recruiting approaches seems closest to what you're looking for-- Rise of the Cybermen, in particular, has background technology nobody notices and everyone uses right up until it's activated for nefarious purposes.

Assuming you have a virus that is capable of causing people to behave in a programmed way, you're also going to need a way for the controllers to convey their message and communicate practical information. Audio isn't necessarily a bad idea here-- there are some really neat computer attacks today that communicate solely via sounds out of human hearing range-- but you'll also need to explain why non-infected people are either not hearing or not reacting. And the more complex the information conveyed is, the less sense a virus transmission mechanism makes-- you'd have to be causing some extremely complex brain changes to handle all of the decision-making processes involved, and while the brain's defenses against viruses certainly aren't perfect, it's one of the by far better-defended systems. A "zombie" infection (see the parasites noted in the previous answer, there are some horrific fungi out there) that skips all of the high-level decision-making and goes straight for control of the central nervous system seems more plausible (though I am not a biologist, I just like reading about this stuff) but isn't going to get you complex actions unless there's something actively controlling it. Which loops back again to the convenience of a technological device being part of the cause-- then you've got a microchip that can be making decisions instead of the brain, or calling home to get up-to-date instructions.

I'd also ask about memory: do these people remember what they've done? "Return to normal" implies that they don't-- if they do, whatever else happens to the city, normal isn't coming back.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .