The Most and Least Realistic Movie Psychopaths

A good crime drama or action film has a psychopathic villain -someone who is truly evil and doesn't let anyone get in his way. But are they really psychopaths? The Hollywood understanding of the word is a bit different from the way psychologists see it. Forensic psychiatrist Samuel Leistedt has met many psychopaths in real life, and now he's studied them in "reel" life, too.

Leistedt and his colleague Paul Linkowski spent three years watching 400 movies looking for realistic portrayals of psychopaths. Leistedt says he personally watched all 400, some several times. That means he not only watched Psycho, but sat through Pootie Tang in the name of science.

He first weeded out clearly unrealistic characters, such as those with magic powers or who were invincible or not human (such as ghosts). That whittled it down to 126 films from 1915 to 2010, showing 105 male and 21 female potential psychopaths. A team of about 10 forensic psychiatrists and movie critics watched and weighed in on diagnoses.

So what movie characters are really psychopaths in the scientific view? Well, Hannibal Lecter did not make the cut. Read about other villains at ScienceNews. -via mental_floss


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