What are the films that best portray the psychopathic personality

Photo by Liza Polyanskaya on Unsplash

Much of what we learn about psychopaths it is through movies, despite the fact that they represent about 4.5% of the general population. The number of psychopaths in the population rises between 10% and 35% if the count includes those in prison. If movies depicting psychopaths shape people’s views as a whole, the depictions may not be as accurate as we see on screen.

A group of psychiatrists spent three years watching 400 films with characters who could be described as psychopaths to determine which accurately describes the clinical condition of the psychopathy. The list includes 105 male and 21 female psychopaths, all portrayed in films since 1915. The team of 10 forensic scientists and film critics decided to choose who could actually be diagnosed as a psychopath.

The researchers outlined some compelling portraits of psychopathywhich could be used for “teach and illustrate various aspects of forensic psychiatry“. These, however, were in the minority. “Some of the most famous psychopaths in movies are not psychopaths but psychotic“Wrote the team in the study published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences. Well known examples of these are found in movies Psyco (Norman Bates) e Taxi Driver (Travis Bickel). These characters are, in various ways, disconnected from reality and suffer from delusional ideation. One of the best portrayals of psychopaths, according to the team, was Anton Chigurh, the antagonist of No Country for Old Men of the Coen brothers. “Anton Chigurh is a well-conceived psychopath“, The team wrote in the study. “We lack information about his childhood, but there are enough arguments and detailed information about his behavior in the film to get a diagnosis of active, primary and idiopathic psychopathy.“, They explain. The character shows “inability to love, absence of shame or remorse, lack of psychological insight, inability to learn from past experiences, cold-blooded attitude, cruelty, total determination and lack of empathy“.

Other good portraits of psychopaths have been Henry by Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, itself inspired by real-life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. “In this film, the main and most interesting theme is the chaos and instability in the psychopath’s life, Henry’s lack of discernment, a strong lack of empathy, emotional poverty and a well-illustrated inability to plan ahead.“, Underline the investigators.

Some of the most famous movie psychopaths don’t match what psychiatrists observe in real life. Hannibal Lectera well-known and “caricatured” example of a psychopath, is described as having “many personal characteristics that are not usually found in daily clinical practice“.

The team of experts believes that while many depictions of psychopaths do not meet clinical descriptions of the condition, films portraying psychopaths can be beneficial to society. “Indeed, some of these fictional characters can be considered invaluable in teaching and illustrating various aspects of forensic psychiatry, such as personality disordersparaphilia, representations of the legal system, attorney behavior and judicial proceedings“, Observes the team.

What are the films that best portray the psychopathic personality