73 pages 2 hours read

Caleb Carr

The Alienist

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1994

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Character Analysis

Laszlo Kreizler

Content Warning: This section includes references to graphic descriptions of violence against children and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Furthermore, because the novel is set in 1896, it includes dialogue that reflects the language of that era.

Dr. Laszlo Kreizler is the book’s title character, an alienist who leads a clandestine search for a serial killer. In the 19th century, doctors who treated patients with mental illness were called “alienists,” and the patients themselves were called “aliens.” Throughout most of this period, treatment consisted of little more than keeping patients sedated and isolated from the general population (Bhugra, Dinesh, and Susham Gupta. “Alienist in the 21st Century.” Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 4(2):92-5, June 2011). Kreizler is depicted as a man ahead of his time—as controversial in the field of medicine as he is in that of crime solving—and as such his theories and practices have more in common with those of a 20th-century Freudian psychoanalyst than a typical 19th-century alienist. Kreizler subscribes to a theory of individual psychological context, which holds that childhood experiences, particularly traumatic experiences “concealed by the family structure,” shape perceptions and behavior in adulthood (301).

blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
Unlock IconUnlock all 73 pages of this Study Guide
Plus, gain access to 8,000+ more expert-written Study Guides.
Including features:
+ Mobile App
+ Printable PDF
+ Literary AI Tools