By | October 13, 2014 19 Comments

‘Gone Girl’ and a missed opportunity

I went to see Gone Girl this weekend, spurred by reports from several Lovefraud readers that the film reminded them of the psychopaths in their lives.

In my opinion, the story was a realistic portrayal of psychopathic behavior until it descended into psychopathic cliché.

Here’s the official synopsis on

GONE GIRL — directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn — unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

I’m sure the marketers said Gone Girl “unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage” to make the movie appeal to a wide audience. Because if they said the film “reveals the treachery of marriage to a psychopath,” people might be afraid to watch it.

Forgive me if I’m a bit vague in how I write about Gone Girl, but I don’t want to fill this post with spoilers for all of you who haven’t seen the movie yet.

From a purely entertainment perspective, the movie is good. It moved along quickly, held my interest, told a compelling story until the action just went way over the top.

I really liked the way the characters were portrayed. The attitude of the psychopath was absolutely on the money, and the reactions of the people around the psychopath were realistic.

This psychopath charmed, was temporarily satisfied, then plotted and schemed. The movie did a good job of illustrating the motivations and behavior of a highly disordered individual.

Gone Girl could have been a cautionary tale about the human predators who live among us. But then, about 80% of the way through the movie, there’s a plot twist that is just too messy, and I mean that literally. A real psychopath, especially one so smart and calculating, would have accomplished the objective without it looking like a horror movie.

At that point, the plausibility and realism were lost.

Even casual moviegoers start questioning the storyline. Why did they do this? Why didn’t they do that?

The vibe in the movie theater as Gone Girl came to an end was that it was typical Hollywood fare dramatic, shocking fiction. I doubt anyone believed that such a story could really happen.

Which is too bad, because much of what the movie portrayed could really happen to someone unlucky enough to tangle with a highly disordered psychopath.

The charm, manipulation, deceit, sense of entitlement, calculated plotting and chameleon-like ability to change personas that are depicted in Gone Girl are absolutely realistic. If the story were toned down just a little bit, you could send your families and friends to the movie so they could learn what you’ve been dealing with.


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After seeing Gone Girl twice, I offer the following review, particularly for those not too familiar with narcissists and psychopaths and the ways in which they create such huge destruction:

Gone Girl Review: How Wrong Was It?

Warning: Multiple SPOILERS. Based on the film, not the book.

The woman sitting behind me, on conclusion of the movie Gone Girl, said it well: “That was wrong on so many levels!”
As the movie ended, many sat stunned for a bit before leaving. I would bet I was one of the only ones in the crowded movie theater who had lived 25 years with a likely narcissistic psychopath, and who did not find the machinations of the wife, Amy, bizarre. Instead it was all too familiar, and more than a little triggering. I am reminded of many years ago, when I went to watch Burning Bed and a woman ran out of the theater gasping in tears, probably triggered, when it opened with a violent rape scene. I made myself sit through Gone Girl without melting down or running out of the theater. And it got intense.
In addition to being married to a probable strongly and malignantly narcissistic psychopath, I have worked with or done business with several. I have made it my business to learn the type.
And so I have some comments about the parts of Gone Girl that were so right — or so wrong ”“ unrealistic and may lead to misconceptions. Having said that, most of it was spot on, written and acted with direction that shows great understanding of the personality type and what they will do. Hopefully, Gone Girl will do for narcissistic personality disorder and psychopaths what Fatal Attraction did for the acting out form of borderline personality disorder.
What was right on? Narcissists and psychopaths don’t stop. They have multiple victims, victimized in similar ways. Sometimes over time they escalate as they gain experience and seek greater thrills. They leave a wake of destruction behind them. Narcissists and psychopaths often “hook” their victims so that they feel they cannot leave. This hook is often marriage or pregnancy after intense dream-come-true seduction.
In this movie, the husband who was victimized was also at his wife’s financial mercy as everything they had was in her name, including his business, and they had a pre-nuptial agreement that left him with little or nothing if he left. This is a form of financial abuse, as she tightened that noose and made it work against him. Secretly running up credit card debt is another way they financially abuse. Taking or taking control of money, or running up debt, secretively, is a common tactic they use.
They like attention and media focus. They like tricking and winning, especially if they can fool people. This is called duping delight. And sometimes, they are impulsively violent without warning, especially if they have been insulted, have much to gain, or someone is inconveniently in the way. They relish revenge. They love power over others.
So what was wrong? Here are my corrections:
Unrealistic parts? Psychopaths maintain their cool underneath whatever else they do, and do not become unbalanced as the wife, Amy, did. Perhaps the author intended her to imitate someone coming unhinged. That is something psychopaths do. They convincingly imitate other forms of mental illness when that is useful to them, as Robert Hare, psychopath researcher, found. Rarely, for brief periods, narcissists with severe NPD can become psychotic.
A strong narcissist or psychopath would not give almost a million dollars away. “Too bad for those that used to have it”, is their attitude, “it’s mine now”. Perhaps if Amy felt she would get the money back, she might, if it kept it away from her husband. Or perhaps she was in thrall to her own parents, who may have had personality issues of their own, as narcissism and psychopathy are often multi-generational. And a narcissist or psychopath would not go back to a normal husband, and leave a wealthy fish on the hook.
Lastly, Amy was played as very impassive, probably to show lack of empathy. But in real life, narcissists and psychopaths may be quiet, but are very charming and charismatic — more the center of the room, life of the party, the person people gravitate to and follow. Casual observers, and even people close to them, do not know what is going on behind their facade.
There may be debate about how realistic the very ending was. I won’t weigh in so as not to give it away, but I can see it either way, given the charisma, intense personal magnetism, and machinations of narcissistic psychopaths ”“ and the tales of woe and hypnotic attraction from real-life victims.
I hope this, combined with the NFL domestic violence situation, will bring more attention to issues of abuse, psychological dysfunction including personality disorders, victims’ needs, difficulty in figuring out who is the abuser and who is the victim, and law enforcement and legal handling of cases, not to mention media attention and portrayals; and show that both genders can be victims.
Gone Girl can be food for thought and increased understanding.

More analysis of Gone Girl, along with comments, can be found at:
Ms Magazine Blog article Facebook discussion of Gone Girl comments at .


I like the idea of a “Spath Film Festival”. Don’t forget the plethora of Alfred Hitchcock films and TV shows that tended to feature psychopathic individuals and their deeds.

“Rope” and “Shadow of a Doubt” are two of the more creepy portrayals of psychopathy by Hitchcock. “Rope” is interesting for being shot as (virtually) one seamless take with no cuts; this was intended to make the viewer feel as though you’re watching real events unfolding in real time. The film was inspired by an actual shocking murder case from the 1920s.


I can relate so much to Ben Affleck’s character with the exception that I was entirely faithful to my spouse. Ironically, I saw this movie just as his mask came off and he was ready to discard me. Which the movie doesn’t portray. What it does well, is that she needed children to maintain her control of him. That is where I was and still am today. He threatened if I followed through with my protective order, I’d never see my children again! I overcame my fear, thinking it was only intimidation to frighten me. For the last nine months, I get to see them 4 hours a week at most. They are frightened to death, and so am I, but like the lady in the movie, my husband had planned his setup for years in case I got brave!!


WOW, this movie was on the FX channel yesterday. So incredibly scary that we all survived a sociopaths hell. I’m still shaking my head at the horror that my ex & this sociopath character portrayed as the level of cunningness was very similar.

What stood out the most is the coldness of the character (sociopath) in this movie. This was my ex h many times during the marriage towards me, especially when I filled for divorce. The evilness at that point escalated and the manipulation become completely apparent to me yet everyone in the court house were oblivious to his manipulation and utter coldness. Very strange how they just took his word so easily because when I first met him my first impression was he was a “tornado” and second impression meeting him was he was “crazy”. Now I cant even look at a picture of him without seeing pure pure evilness in his eyes & face.

I guess the court just saw that he dressed in a jacket & tie and that was enough control everyone in the court house because when you read his court documents you could read his evil mindset…even my lawyer said he sounded like an “asshole”.

I think the ending of this movie was just a set up for a sequel and that was why they were setting the stage for round two of the sociopaths (really a psychopath) craziness.

Just for curiosity I went to the “Gone Girl Movie” Facebook page, and once again there were many people that posted who could not spot the sociopaths coldness & evilness in this movie. (Spoiler alert) Some even posting that “the cheating partner” was the reason for all the chaos. Clearly they are not educated like all of us in the beginning even though the vicim in this movie makes a point in the bathroom to say that they were married to a “psychopath”.

Beware this movie will most likely trigger you for me it sent chills up my spin…which I think is a good thing that my gut instinct senses have returned & I can see & feel evilness which became numb during my marriage because I was so brain washed & gas lighted by my ex h a sociopath.

Thanks Donna for taking the time to post this post.

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