HANNIBAL LECTER


(The Silence of the Lambs)

What’s the Matter with Him?
Well, he eats people (Gotta get your protein somehow, man). Hannibal Lecter or “Hannibal the Cannibal” is a notorious serial killer who has spent time both in jail and in an asylum for a personality disorder.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder
This personality disorder is concerned mainly with how the sufferer thinks and perceives situations. While it does not outright explain Hannibal’s murderous tendencies, it can explain his cannibalistic ones – which seem to be the basis for his murder madness anyway. Some symptoms that Hannibal exhibits include:

*Magical thinking that influences behavior
Based on the way he interacts with Clarice, Hannibal seems to think that he can read her thoughts – that he knows more about her life than she reveals. Unfortunately, the innocent Miss Starling does not understand that Hannibal’s manipulation techniques only make it seem as though he is reading her mind. Instead, she is forthcoming with information about herself, and thus the more Hannibal gets, the more his strange beliefs are fed (He’s eating her mind).

*Odd thinking and speech
While having an agreeable discussion with someone, Hannibal might suddenly make the conversation obscene.

*Suspiciousness or paranoid ideation
Hannibal and Dr. Chilton

Especially when referring to Dr. Chilton, Hannibal exposes his paranoia that the doctor is tormenting his patient. While Dr. Chilton doesn’t exactly appear to be a genial fellow (He’s kind of a tool), he is certainly not trying to harm Hannibal outright.

*Constricted affect
Hannibal in His Cell
Hannibal Lecter Leers
Hannibal Looks Up
…That takes care of that.

*Behavior that is odd or peculiar

…Yeah. That one’s obvious too.

*Lack of close friends or confidants
Clarice & Hannibal

The Star-ling of the show is Clarice, who doesn’t glean too much information from Hannibal, but he definitely gets a few big clues about her. Other than that, Hannibal keeps to himself.

He’s Not a Sociopath?
No.
Not all serial killers are sociopaths –  a term for those with Antisocial Personality Disorder. Since Hannibal functioned well in society before he started biting people’s heads off (As a psychiatrist…), he would not fit the criteria that being a sociopath entails. His regard for the law up until he started in with cannibalism (That’ll get ya every time) means his problem is something else.

What About Bill?
Buffalo Bill
We don’t spend much time with Jame Gumb, alias Buffalo Bill (Since we’re not trapped in a hole in his basement), so it is difficult to pinpoint his ailment. One could argue that Bill is experiencing something called Gender Dysphoria. As of the fifth edition of the DSM, this is classified as a mental conundrum. However, Hannibal Lecter does not believe that Bill really would prefer to be a woman.
It is certain that Bill’s treatment of people probably denotes some mental dysfuntion, but his treatment of people does NOT pertain to any questions he may or may not have of his sexual identity.

Is there Hope for Hannibal?
Hannibal in His Mask
No.
He is having a friend for dinner (Gross), so he doesn’t seem to have made much progress. Hannibal’s lack of regard for others and apparent enjoyment at manipulating Clarice, added to his complete distrust of his doctor promise that he will not be improving any time soon.

What Do You Think?
Hannibal Grins

This is a horror classic, so we’d love to hear your thoughts…no matter how scary they may be!

The Silence of the Lambs


1991, Rated R

FBI cadet Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is asked to help interrogate a notorious killer, Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins); Lecter supposedly has information on another killer, Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), who is still at large. Though Lecter proves uncooperative with other agents and doesn’t even like his psychiatrist, Dr. Chilton (Anthony Heald), he quickly builds a report with Clarice.
When Clarice makes headway with Hannibal, Buffalo Bill kidnaps the daughter of a Senator, so the cadet is forced to change tactics.
As Clarice and her boss, Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) draw nearer to catching Buffalo Bill, Hannibal Lecter grows more manipulative and pulls further away from the watchful eyes of the law.
~This film won the 1991 Academy Award for Best Picture

MELVIN UDALL


(As Good as it Gets)

What’s the Matter with Him?
Melvin’s problem (Other than his name) is a type of anxiety disorder called Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Most people recognize OCD when they see someone going out of their way to make sure certain things are clean. While there are other indicators for OCD, that is certainly one of the telltale markers for it. Like its name suggests, people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder harbor obsessions and/or compulsions. Since we never get inside Melvin’s head (There’s no room up there), we are left to analyze his behaviors…

*Compulsions: Repetitive behaviors that Melvin feels driven to perform, according to rules that must be followed rigidly
Between the way he packs for a trip to the methodical way he enters his home, Melvin definitely suffers from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
What is interesting to note about Melvin is that he also avoids stepping on sidewalk cracks. While this has nothing to do with cleanliness, there is a childhood superstition that relates to breaking your mom’s back if you step on a crack in the sidewalk. Melvin’s mother is probably no longer alive (Because he’s like a hundred), but for whatever reason, this notion that he cannot step on any cracks still affects the way he walks on the ‘walk.

Obsessions
With people that suffer from OCD, obsessions are usually the driving motivation for their compulsions. They may have a strange belief – such as that they will break their mom’s back – if they forget to perform their compulsions, so many of them will start over if there is a break in their routine. Some people with this disorder even believe that they have to do things a certain number of times, and will start over if they lose count. Needless to say, that can be pretty exhausting (For everyone involved).
Melvin Knows How to Pack
In the case of Melvin Udall, his relationship with his father could relate to his mental illness; he doesn’t tell us a lot about his dad (Because he keeps interrupting Simon to try and talk about it), but he reveals a few qualities about his father that made Melvin’s childhood stressful. A person who slaps someone’s hands when they make a mistake playing the piano probably has a penchant for following the rules (Or hates the sound of pianos), and therefore Melvin’s upbringing could have played a role in his obsessions, and later, compulsions.

Is there Hope for Melvin?
Melvin & Verdell
Yes!
In the form of a no-nonsense waitress, Melvin meets his match. When she starts to point out the oddity of his behaviors, Melvin decides to visit his former psychiatrist. It is when Melvin takes medication for the disorder that he starts to see a marked improvement in his life: He forgets to perform pieces of his compulsive routine, and he even becomes a little bit nicer to his neighbor (And his dog).

What Do You Think?
Melvin Asleep

Share your thoughts with us!

As Good as it Gets


1997, Rated PG-13

Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) suffers from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. He eats at the same restaurant every day, and is assisted by the same waitress, Carol (Helen Hunt) each time. When Carol does not show up for work one day, Melvin resorts to desperate means to make sure he will not have to be waited on by anyone else.
Meanwhile, Melvin’s neighbor, Simon (Greg Kinnear) gets attacked by burglars. Simon too resorts to desperate means when he asks the grumpy Melvin to watch his dog while he is in the hospital.
As Melvin is forced to deviate from his daily routines, he finds himself becoming closer with everyone in his life – much to the surprise of everyone.

 

NINA SAYERS


(Black Swan)

What’s the Matter with Her?
Nina suffers from a type of Schizophrenia. She loses touch with reality, experiencing hallucinations that she is having sex with a beautiful colleague (Awesome) to ones that convince her she is turning into a swan (…Less Awesome).

Paranoid Schizophrenia
A subtype of schizophrenia, a paranoid designation means that Nina believes people are out to do her harm, and that she sees and hears things that are not real.

*Preoccupation with delusions
When Nina believes that her new friend Lily is trying to take her place as the Swan Queen, she panics; Thomas appointing Lily as Nina’s alternate only exacerbates Nina’s turmoil.

Even though Lily tries several times to befriend Nina, Nina accuses Lily of manipulating her way into the spotlight, when the only person in Nina’s life actually trying to sabotage her moment is Nina’s clingy mother.

*Frequent auditory hallucinations
A little more difficult to discern are Nina’s auditory hallucinations. She hears girls laughing at her when they probably are not, such as after she first begins her performance. Nina’s hallucinations grow more sinister as she gets closer to her debut. From seeing her own face on passersby to believing she is turning into a swan, Nina’s stress levels raise and so does the number and intensity of her hallucinations.

Delusions vs. Hallucinations
Nina with Red Eyes
Since Nina suffers from both, it seems appropriate to highlight the difference between hallucinations and delusions.
Delusions are false beliefs or perceptions that don’t relate to someone’s culture or religion. Nina believes that Lily is trying to steal her role; there is no valuable evidence to support that this is true, but as Nina has the lead role, her belief is not hard to justify. What makes Nina’s delusion seem plausible is her own anxiety (And her mom).
Hallucinations are assaults on the five senses; someone might hear, see, smell, taste or feel things that are not real.
In a nutshell (Help, I’m in a nutshell!), delusions are bizarre ways a person thinks; hallucinations are when someone seems to experience something that is not really happening.

Incest
Nina and Her Mother
On the surface, this topic might not appear to have anything to do with this movie…but it does.
Nina’s mother’s behavior is a little inappropriate to only be classified as “overbearing.” She sabotages Nina’s performances; she calls 28 year-old Nina her “sweet girl;” she interrogates Nina about her sex life, and reacts angrily when Nina confesses to sexual encounters that are normal for someone her age (And are none of her mom’s business).
The implication of course is that Nina has been molested by her mother for awhile, and that the black swan part of her personality might in fact be out of reach because it requires Nina to face what her mother has done to her. This makes it very hard for Nina to get in touch with normal sexual feelings, even when her director tries to force them out of her.
Nina and Thomas
Studies have shown that victims of sexual abuse are more likely to develop severe psychiatric disorders than non-victims, so Nina’s situation makes more sense if we consider the possibility that her mother has been controlling Nina with abuse for a long time.

A Perfect Problem

Nina’s perfectionist attitude toward her dancing is fairly common with many anxiety disorders. Her sense of control over her technique is probably Nina’s of way of coping with what happens between her and her mother.
When someone is thrown into difficult circumstances like Nina, a way to compensate for a lack of control felt in an aspect of their life might be to control another aspect. Dancers are typically taught to have a sharp sense of discipline over their bodies, so it makes sense that someone with Nina’s perception of discipline would gravitate toward this profession.
Unfortunately, being perfect is impossible when you are human, so when people put a constant pressure on themselves for such control, there are often dire consequences. In Nina’s case, losing a little control has a snowball effect on her life – she loses a little control, and then she loses all of it.

What Do You Think?
Nina Many Times
Black swan or white, share your thoughts with us!

Black Swan


2010, Rated R

Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) gets cast to play the coveted role of Swan Queen in an upcoming ballet. While she stresses about her technique, her boss (Vincent Cassel) stresses about whether Nina will be able to lose control, and play both the Black and White Swans with equal conviction.
At home, Nina’s mother (Barbara Hershey) struggles with her daughter’s success, and becomes distraught when Nina befriends another dancer, Lily (Mila Kunis).
Desperate to be as perfect as her predecessor (Winona Ryder), Nina pours all of her efforts into losing herself the way that a perfect Black Swan should, but the task might cost Nina more than she has to offer.

PATRICK BATEMAN


(American Psycho)

What’s the Matter with Him?
Where to begin…?
Patrick Bateman is not as easy to analyze as he might seem (Which he would probably love to hear). What appears to be Antisocial Personality Disorder – a sociopath – is a little more complex, and a lot more confusing.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder
In the same realm as Antisocial Personality Disorder, Patrick’s symptoms are as follows:

*Sense of self-importance
Patrick seems to believe that the fact that he has a lot of cash makes him an extremely important man.  In fact, money is a facet of Patrick’s being that makes him “better” than most other people.

*Believes that he is “special;” can only be understood by or associate with high-status people
Even in his most desperate hour, Patrick calls a lawyer instead of a psychiatrist. When he takes Paul Allen out for dinner, Patrick makes a show of pretending to recognize Ivana Trump at a nearby table; he tells a private investigator he has a meeting at the Four Seasons (With the guy from The Cosby Show), and does not falter when Detective Kimball implies that Patrick has no idea where the Four Seasons is really located.

*Lacks empathy
Patrick Bateman Screams
Patrick Bateman - Check Out Those Eyebrows
Patrick Bateman - Sullen
…Duh.

*Often envious of others/believes others are envious of him
His tone of condescension is evident through his constant narrative, but Patrick’s train of envy goes so far as to make the display of business cards at his office a tense and competitive affair.

*Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes
Patrick Bateman Checks Himself Out
Again…duh.

Schizophrenia
Patrick’s Bateman’s hallucinations cannot be accounted for by a personality disorder. Patrick imagining horrific things happening, or imagining that they did not happen, can be explained by Schizophrenia, a rare but severe mental illness.

*Hallucinations
Patrick believes that he murders people (And cats) and confesses to doing so. While the confession turns out to have really occurred, the events leading up to it are shrouded in mystery. Upon arrival at the apartment where he supposedly stores multiple corpses, Patrick finds an empty apartment and that the tenant living there is not the one that he believes to occupy the place. Weirder still, the man he thinks he killed is said to actually be alive.

Does Patrick Bateman have Multiple Personalities?
Patrick Bateman Pulls His Face Off
No.
Patrick frequently gets mistaken for other people and  the inhabitants of his small corner of the world don’t pay a lot of attention to each other, but that does not mean he has split personalities. Dissociative Identity Disorder – often called Multiple Personality Disorder, and sometimes incorrectly called Schizophrenia – is characterized by the victim blacking out and assuming other “altars” or personalities. Since Patrick never blacks out and is conscious of pretending to be someone else to con Paul Allen,  he does not have multiple identities (One of him is enough).

Is Patrick Bateman a Sociopath?
Patrick Bateman Smiles

Nope.
Are you shocked?
While his violent tendencies and lack of empathy paint Patrick as the epitome of a sociopath, it all depends on your interpretation of the movie.
The author believes that most of Patrick’s violent behavior, based on the way people react to it and the empty apartment, is imagined. While Patrick’s fantasies are certainly alarming, they do not make him a sociopath. Even the grotesque notebook that Jean discovers would imply that Patrick preoccupies himself with violent thoughts, but he does not act on them in reality. Furthermore, Patrick does not seek out ways to break the law, which is characteristic of a sociopath. The only time he is in violation of the law is when he seems to be hallucinating.
However, if you believe that Patrick’s actions really took place, then he absolutely is a sociopath.
What is important to point out is that Patrick Bateman believes that Patrick Bateman is a sociopath. Perhaps by believing this, he could be considered a sociopath.
It all depends on how you slice it.

Is there Hope for Patrick?
Patrick Bateman Sobbing
Sadly, this American psycho seems beyond repair. While there is a glimpse of prescription medication on Patrick’s bathroom counter just before he kills Paul Allen (Or thinks he kills Paul Allen), it is unclear whether Patrick takes the medication, what the medication is, or if there is even medication in the container in the first place.
This suggests that Patrick has sought help before, which means that Patrick Bateman knows that Patrick Bateman is crazy. Unfortunately, his confession at the end of the film falls on deaf or disbelieving ears, and brings no comfort to Patrick. The support system in his life is virtually non-existent; he speaks of no close family, and has no close friends. The only woman that cares about him has just found a sick catalog of his diabolical doodles, and Patrick seems to be the kind of guy that would sneer at anyone who visits a psychiatrist – which means he will never see one.
Thus, Patrick will probably never get better – not without a commitment to therapy. Lots of therapy.

What Do You Think?
Patrick Bateman Listens to Some Tunes
Even if you just have some strong opinions about Mr. Bateman’s taste in music, we’d love to hear what you think! Share your thoughts with us!