What Is the Difference between a Thriller and a Psychological Thriller?

What is the difference between Thriller & Pshycological Thriller

Let’s find out the difference between a thriller and a psychological thriller.

Thrillers are books that begin to excite readers early in the plot and continue to do so until the climax. They keep readers confused with plot twists or red herrings, and keep them engaged with cliffhangers at the end of chapters. The goal is to keep the reader enthralled, rendering the book unputdownable.

Due to this addictive quality, thrillers are often bestsellers. Thrillers are frequently based on a crime, although this is not a prerequisite. A psychological thriller, on the other hand, is one of the 4 popular thriller subgenres. As the name implies, a psychological thriller is about the complicated emotional state of one or more characters, usually the narrator or antagonist.

The narrator is paranoid or psychotic at times, and at other times, the narrator is the book’s criminal, giving readers insight into a criminal’s disturbed mind. Sometimes psychological thrillers center around the hunt for a criminal who has a psychological problem and needs to be apprehended by understanding how his mind functions.

Elements of a Thriller Novel

Tension and suspense are hallmarks of the thriller genre in general. As the story progresses, this tension will keep readers on the edge of their seats. A thriller novel focuses on suspense, dread, and the fear of a potential crime rather than one that has already occurred. Most thrillers start with a crime and then ask the protagonists to work backwards to find out who did it.

In a thriller, the bad guy is always introduced early on, and the protagonists must work together to prevent them from committing evil acts. Examples of high-stakes thriller novels include Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series and R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series for young adults.

Elements of a Psychological Thriller Novel

Unreliable narrators are common in psychological thriller novel, and the ‘thrill’ comes from the fear or paranoia the narrator instils in the reader. The books also offer insights into minds that work differently from the readers’ – the reason why they are often fascinating, difficult to foresee, or morbidly interesting to readers.

In a psychological thriller novel, madness and fear are used to generate terror. Robert Bloch’s Psycho, made popular by Alfred Hitchcock’s film adaptation, is a tale of mental illness rather than monsters, though it does include several graphic scenes.

In a psychological thriller, characters rarely rely on their physical strength to overcome their enemies, but rather on their mental resources. Often the enemies are not external (other circumstances or characters) but internal (insanity, phobias, feelings, urges, and fears).

Even when the enemies are other characters, the conflicts are typically resolved by mind games, deceit, and manipulation, or even long-term efforts to destroy each other’s mental equilibrium, rather than the normal violent action seen in classic thrillers.


Whether it’s a thriller or a psychological thriller, suspense and tension take the central stage. A thorough read of this blog should be enough to help you differentiate between a typical thriller and a psychological thriller book.

Meanwhile, why don’t you check out some of the popular books by Brian T. Seifrit, a fourteen-time published author, that will take you into a world of suspense, confusion, and the depths of the human mind?

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