In the 2004 movie Taking Lives, Angelina Jolie stars as an FBI profiler sent to Quebec, Canada to help solve a grisly murder. Shortly after she arrives there’s another murder—and a suspect.
Jolie interviews the suspect. Afterwards, she says to the Canadian investigators, “Psychopaths actually have very different brain patterns. You say words like tree, sofa, house, rape, incest, murder. A normal person’s brain pattern changes; the frontal lobe reacts. Psychopaths have no reaction. They feel the same about rape and murder as they do about eating dinner. They have no emotional reaction.”
Jolie’s character is right. Everything she says has been validated by scientific research.
As the movie continues, we learn that the murders are part of a pattern, and there’s a serial killer on the loose. A psychopathic serial killer.
Movies such as Taking Lives contribute to the public’s perception that psychopaths are depraved serial killers. Although many serial killers are indeed psychopaths, the vast majority of psychopaths never murder anyone. Psychopaths lie, cheat, steal, defraud and abuse—totally without remorse. But they usually don’t kill.
As Dr. Robert Hare, the international expert on psychopaths, says in his book Without Conscience, “Serial killers are extremely rare; there are probably fewer than 100 in North America. In contrast, there may be as many as 2 to 3 million psychopaths in North America.”
But the imagery is powerful. In the 1991 movie, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter, played by Anthony Hopkins, is a brilliant psychiatrist—and a serial killer who practices cannibalism on his victims.
Lecter is housed in a hospital for the criminally insane. “Oh, he is a monster,” says the hospital administrator. “A pure psychopath. So rare to capture one alive.”
And then there’s the classic Alfred Hitchcock film, Psycho. Despite the title of the 1960 film, the disturbed individual who murders Janet Leigh while she showers isn’t even a psychopath.
Due in part to movies like these, you may associate the term “psychopath” with individuals who are deranged, disturbed murderers. Consequently, you may not realize that you have a psychopath in your life—and it’s your spouse, boss or lawyer.
That’s why Lovefraud has chosen to use the term “sociopath” instead of “psychopath.” The goal is to help you get past the serial killer mentality and identify the character disorder as it usually occurs. When you know what you are dealing with, you can protect yourself.