It’s so easy for a moviegoer to slip into a darkened theater and watch movies like Psycho, The Red Dragon, Seven, and the Silence of the Lambs, and maybe even identify with how psychopaths get their grotesque, secret, and compelling revenge. experience. We watched, eyes wide open, fascinated, almost ashamed to enjoy what our own conscience forbids.
Judging by the hundreds of films about psychopaths currently being streamed as documentaries, docudramas, or fictional psychopaths, we remain staunch followers of these characters that tickle our deeper, primitive brains.
Psychopaths cover a wide spectrum. The Psychopath as Avenger is a big winner in the popular imagination.
Though on hiatus for ten years, Dexter returns and struggles not to succumb to his lower instincts. Forced by injustice, his dark passenger rises again to control misdeeds the law cannot. force. They do not offend our sensitivities. Our cognitive brain can understand their justice. Someone has to take care of the evildoers of society when the leadership fails.
In Prisoners, after the kidnapping and dreaded rape and murder of his young daughter, Hugh Jackman takes matters into his own hands. His revenge, while understandable, turns into extreme violence. His behavior becomes psychopathic under this horrible pressure.
The Joker is the delusional abandoned, betrayed and abused human being. Ready to take revenge for a lifetime of abuse, he kills three Wall Street types for mocking a woman on the subway. The Joker, as hero, catalyzes the burgeoning cultural wave of hatred from the powerful, prosperous society. He becomes the avenger of the malcontents.
There’s no end to our fascination with the classic psychopath’s murder rooms and gory rituals, but The Successful Psychopath also wants to take their credit. And we need them to distract us. We have become accustomed to the death toll because we have been at war continuously since September 11. And the mass shootings in our own country seem to have no end in sight. I propose that we long more than ever for the life of the very wealthy; their every move is paraded on television and social media. If we don’t have access to that splendor, we can daydream. These psychopaths, who usually operate within the law, amaze us.
dr. Robert Hare, with whom I did brain scans of psychopaths, is interviewed in the 2003 documentary, The Corporation, about the entity’s resemblance to the psychopath. Companies defined in the documentary as a group of investors with the sole purpose of making money, contained and wrapped in legal protection. Hare explains how companies meet all the criteria of the Psychopathy Checklist.
Patrick Bateman in American Psycho provides the cultural inflection point, the fusion of the psychopathic cannibal with the corporate world: The Corporate Cannibal! Yes, the movie is a parody, but its success is because Bateman is an exaggeration of something true. He may not really cannibalize, but he devours what he wants: sex, the right suit, restaurant, cologne or brandy. Don’t we recognize Patrick? Isn’t he an Instagram influencer?
Working-class origin Jordan Belfort of the Wolf of Wall Street is ambitious like any good American. Unlike the Ivy League, wasps born into wealth, Jordan is a self-made person of the bridge and tunnel crowd. When the swanky Wall Street firm closes and he’s unemployed, he builds his own company. He lies, cheats, betrays and breaks every line in the book and we are thrilled with him, just as fascinated as we were when we snuck into the basement and watched the serial killer. No guilt, no shame. This is how the world is. The rich get richer.