- Published: November 13, 2012
Recently I watched the Silence of the Lambs, with the probably the most famous pop culture psychopath of all time: Hannibal Lector. Lector so clearly has some sort of severe antisocial personality disorder. He shows a complete lack of remorse for any of the gruesome murders that he has committed and a lack of empathy for everyone. Probably the most disturbing part is that he eats human flesh, and while doing it, his pulse shows a rate that is at rest. He isn’t fazed at all by eating human flesh. This character is really fascinating (re: horrifying). What would compel someone to eat human flesh? I know that this isn’t just fiction; people have done this in real life. So psychopaths don’t feel remorse or empathy—but isn’t there still a certain repugnance associated with eating human flesh?
Hannibal Lector may be the classic movie psychopath, but the release of the new James Bond movie brings another psychopath into question. This article points out all the characteristics that make James Bond seem like a psychopath: He kills ruthlessly without blinking an eye. He shows no empathy for others. He is a complete narcissist. He is manipulative and dishonest. The article points out that the only other on-screen psychopath of this caliber is, in fact, Hannibal Lector. The commonalities between the two go further. They are both highly intelligent and extroverted, characteristics that are usually portrayed positively. So if both these men share all of these characteristics, both are “psychopaths,” then what makes one a celebrated hero and the other one of the worst villains in movie history?
As the article points out, part of what makes Bond so appealing is his psychopathic tendencies. Although Hannibal is a villain, arguably his psychopathic tendencies are what make him such a compelling and interesting character. The article calls Bond a “socialized psychopath” and claims that they are more common than anyone would think. So what makes the difference between a psychopath that commits serial murders and one that can function in normal society and even be successful? From this point of view, psychopaths don’t seem as incorrigible. If psychopaths can potentially be successful, doesn’t that mean that psychopaths could potentially be rehabilitated? Maybe we don’t know how to do it yet, but that doesn’t mean we never will. Psychopaths may be more likely to commit crimes and they may be harder to rehabilitate, but if they can be successful in non-criminal endeavors, than the potential for non-criminal behavior is there.