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Psychologists Studied Horror Movie Psychopaths And Determined Which Ones Are The Real Deal

Updated September 24, 2018 88.2k views10 items

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  • Cards on the table: Patrick Bateman is an exemplary psychopath. There's excessive narcissism at play, everything is about him and his desires, and everyone else is just window dressing. He kills because he’s used to getting what he wants, and because the thrill of the kill drives him beyond anything else in the world. 

    More so, he leads a double-life, pretending to be a successful, charming businessman, but underneath he's just a base serial killer with a lust for blood. What’s scariest about Patrick Bateman is that he's a cold, dark reflection of America itself.

    Psychopathy Classifications: Primary, Classical/Idiopathic

    • Actor: Christian Bale

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  • Norman Bates, the titular Psycho, isn’t a psychopath at all. He’s certainly psychotic and might even have an Oedipal complex. But even those combined will not get him closer to psychopathy.

    Leistedt and Linkowski both note that he’s deranged and delusional, however he lacks almost all of the necessary traits needed to be labeled as psychopathic. While he does suffer from antisocial personality disorder and dissociative personality disorder, he doesn't have any charm or charisma, nor does he exhibit any sort of narcissism.

    Both of which are crucial traits in determining what makes a psychopath.

    Psychopathy Classifications: Secondary, Pseudopsychopath

    • Actor: Anthony Perkins

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  • Photo: MGM

    Isn’t it interesting that Buffalo Bill, one of our most favorite film crazies, isn’t quite listed as a full-blown psychopath? As other psychologists have noted, Gumb most certainly has antisocial personality disorder, and is a psychotic.

    However, he is a far cry from full-blown psychopathy. Though he certainly shows that he’s without any sort of empathy or remorse, and has a taste for peeling his victims' skin off, he doesn’t have the high levels of narcissism, charisma, and serious lack of impulse control that defines psychopathy. He's sick, but not dead inside.

    Psychopathy Classifications: Secondary, Pseudopsychopath

    • Actor: Ted Levine

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  • Billy Loomis & Stu Macher - Scream

    Photo: Miramax

    It is both telling and interesting that Stu himself says the line, “We prefer the term psychotic,” which is exactly the term that helps differentiate realistic psychopaths from the ones who aren't. Stuart's blurring between reality and movies simply make him psychotic, while Billy is a through-and-through psychopath, making him far more interesting of the two.

    Billy’s eyes are totally cold and uncaring, even towards Stuart, his co-conspirator in the murders. The fact that he's able to hide his psychopathic side from his girlfriend Sidney, amply shows the depth of his true nature. In fact, he's completely driven by his irrational anger towards Sidney's mother, whom he's already killed, but still motivates his murderous intent. And his psychopathy is perfectly evidenced when he stabs Stu too deeply and gives a curt smile about it - he clearly enjoys inflicting pain, even to his only ally. And when he lashes out at Stu and stabs him further? Just more nails on the psychopathic coffin.

    Psychopathy Classifications:

    Billy - Primary, Classical/Idiopathic

    Stu - Secondary, Pseudopsychopath

    • Actor: Skeet Ulrich & Matthew Lillard