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[Random Cool] Forensic Psychiatrist Shares the Most Realistic Film Psychopaths!

Science News writes about one of the coolest studies this decade: a look into the most realistic psychopaths in film!

This paper hails from forensic psychiatrist Samuel Leistedt, who has interviewed and diagnosed real psychopaths, people who he describes as feeling no empathy for others. Explains the site: “They’re cold-blooded,” he says. “They don’t know what an emotion is.

Says Science News, “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.

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.

They did this to develop tools for teaching psychiatry students, and ended up tracing a social history of how psychopaths have been viewed and understood since the early 20th century. Learning to diagnose a psychopath is not easy, he says. Not only are definitions and traits of psychopathy disputed, but students get limited chances to interview psychopaths.

Psychiatrists and neuroscientists have identified behavioral characteristics of psychopaths and parts of the brain that appear to function differently than in the average person. But much remains unknown; experts still disagree about whether and when there’s a genetic basis for psychopathy. Hollywood images of psychopaths have shifted over time as this understanding has changed, and as real-life cases came to light from serial killer Ed Gein to Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer.

Overall, portrayals have gotten more realistic over time, Leistedt and Linkowski report in the January Journal of Forensic Sciences. Instead of giggling killers with facial tics, at least a few of today’s portrayals have more depth, giving a “compelling glimpse into the complex human psyche,” they write.”

Click the above link for a few of the best and worst portrayals from Leistedt and Linkowski’s paper.

Here’s a tease:



  • WolfQueen

    I would love to read this article. I have a degree in criminology and LOVE forensic psychiatry. Unfortunately, I’m not paying money to read the article. Would be nice if it was free to access 🙁

    • RMWaters

      If you click on the link that says ‘Science news’ you will get the article. Seems it’s the ‘this paper’ one that prompts for the money!

      • WolfQueen

        Good to know! Thanks 🙂

        • WolfQueen

          That link doesn’t link to the actual article, just a short paraphrasing of some of it. I want to read the actual article. LOL. Not even written by the same people.

  • theboogeymancharnel

    I am a diagnosed sociopath and I know a diagnosed psychopath. Really pathetic all the articles out there that villainize us. We are not emotionless killers. We are just wired differently. Hell, the psychopath I know is a married woman with a daughter and she is a great mother.

  • HorrorFancy

    I love that GIF; like a child with their rattle.

  • MachineGunGandhi

    Is there anyway you could just post the listed cinema serial killers?
    The article is all blurry and asking me for monies.
    I’m genuinely interested… just not interested enough to pay 😛

    • PresidentObama

      Dude, just click the very first words in this article “Science News” in red and you can read the whole thing : )

      • WolfQueen

        That link doesn’t link to the actual article, just a short paraphrasing of some of it. Not even written by the same people.

  • Melontrolley

    There is an alarming lack of research and treatment for this disorder so I really hope that this research doesn’t add to the already existing stigma and confusion surrounding this personality disorder. IMO it’s perfectly alright for films to exaggerate the clinical symptoms for drama’s sake, it’s just that most viewers have problems separating the ‘fun’ fiction from factual reality.

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