The Psychopaths In Film

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The concept of psychopaths and sociopaths in Western society and culture is not clearly defined, and covers a great range of character, attitudes and behavior. This range includes everything from someone who is introverted and not socially adept to mass murderers and cannibals. Characters of psychopaths in early films were often created without a real understanding of psychopathic personalities. They were often portrayed as caricatures, being emotionally unstable, sadistic, sexually compulsive and with an urge to engage in random violence, murders, and destruction. This was often accompanied by bizarre mannerisms, such as giggling, laughing, or facial tics, often creating famous but unreal characters. The public’s general lack of unawareness of mental illness or psychological disorders led them to accept this portrayal and even consider it as “realistic.” American cinematic conventions usually relegated psychopaths to villains, such as gangsters, super villains, serial killers, mad scientists and many other types of criminals, at least until the late1950s. In films such as They Only Kill Their Masters (1972), even homosexuality was represented as psychopathic behavior, prior to the removal of homosexuality from the DSM in 1973. What constitutes psychopathic behavior to a clinical psychologist may be completely…show more content…
An increasing interest in the realistic depiction of psychopaths led to the formation of a new hybrid of traditional psychopaths, which led to the popularity of the “elite psychopath,” or a psychopath exhibiting exaggerated levels of intelligence, sophisticated manners, and cunning. One of the best examples of this type of unrealistic but sensational character is Dr Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. Starting in the early 2000s, the portrayal of psychopaths has changed, becoming more human and vulnerable, with realistic
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