He shared both of these passions with Elizabeth as soon as he married her, and she soon began taking turns with him. She loved that “dragging them outside and freezing them” tussle. Loved it.
Now, there was no technical law against killing your servants at that time, in that place. People could be very brutal to their servants and Elizabeth and her husband were often described only as “harsh masters.” But I do want to stress that this is not a normal thing that people do.
But then, maybe, even if she wasn’t a born psychopath, such activities did seem normal to her. She came from a family who stuck gypsies in horse bellies. And I think we sometimes forget that it is not really the job of your brain to make you good. It is the job of your brain to make circumstances seem normal, so you will be able to continue to function. I suspect that Elizabeth Bathory was, very quickly, able to reconcile all these pastimes as being the norm.
Look, here’s the thing. I think we all want to believe that, if confronted with a stranger telling us it would be super fun to freeze servant girls to death – just to literally turn them into ice statues – we would say “no.”
But scientific research indicates that, barring the possibility that you’re an exceptional person, you would not say “no”. The odds are not in favor of that. You would go along with the plan very politely. Seriously. Let’s take a moment to talk about the Milgram experiment.