‘Black Phone’: We talk about psychopaths with Juan Enrique Soto

On the occasion of the premiere of black phone in theaters on June 24, we have been able to speak with Juan Enrique Soto, PhD in Psychology and creator of the National Police Behavior Analysis Sectionwhich he has directed since 2010. The first thing he explained to us is that, despite what we may believe at first, psychopathy is a more popular than scientific concept, stating that it does not officially exist as a mental illness.

In addition, Soto commented that aggressiveness is something that is innately part of our code of conduct, but we manage to learn to inhibit it. This is why two types of psychopaths can be differentiated: primary and secondary.

The primaries are the best known, at least at the cinematic level: affectively insensitive, without remorse, manipulative and arrogant. They also have little tendency to experience fear, which makes them dangerous and makes it difficult for them to achieve two key components of awareness (avoidance and remorse), key elements for socialization. Secondaries, however, do not tolerate boredom well, are highly impulsive, violent, and have trouble setting long-term goals. After the talk, we had the opportunity to talk with Soto about murderers and cinema.

After determining these two types of psychopaths, are there more integrated psychopaths among us than we think?

The problem is that we take an approach that favors certain profiles. We tend to think that a great, successful executive has gotten there through more aggressive behavior, the complete opposite of a pushover. But we have an aggressive executive as something positive, and for me this is a clear example of being an “unscrupulous egoist.” Reaching certain positions means having made certain decisions that have hurt more than one. Turning that into psychopathy is hard for me, really. I don’t see the concept of integrated psychopath.

Do you think that the movies provide a true focus on these individuals?

No, in general, dramatic license is what prevails in these films. Even the genre of psychopaths has been created and they have a very stereotyped image. It started with Hannibal Lecter and has followed that line, and while some elements fit, others not so much. Thinking about this, the movie ‘American Psycho’ came to mind, in which the protagonist displays a series of emotions: anger, anger, frustration, jealousy… this at least considers elements that other films do not.

So, does ‘American Psycho’ make a good reflection of what a real psychopath would be like?

I think not in general, but the elements it uses work very well on the screen. This one stands out because it considered traits of a psychopath that others have stopped considering.

In movies like ‘Scream’, the murderers blame horror movies for their crimes. Do you think horror movies influence psychopaths?

Getting to commit acts of this type cannot be simplified. There may be cases in which a murderer becomes obsessed with an element, whatever it is, and that becomes the thread that moves him, his motivation. For example, in the shootings in the United States, one of the last ones may have idealized the Columbine murderers, but that does not mean that we can talk about psychopathy. It is very complex.

In ‘Black Phone’ the police turn to someone with a supernatural gift to solve the case, does this happen in real life too?

Yes. At a certain point, an investigator who can’t get the case out resorts to anything. I remember having an elderly Chinese gentleman in my office doing the Chinese horoscope for the victim to see what he said, to prove. There comes a time when anything goes, although that is extreme and not commonly used.

By Pablo Pastor.

‘Black Phone’: We talk about psychopaths with Juan Enrique Soto