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!

5 thoughts on “HANNIBAL LECTER

  1. He seems to do cold reading on Clarice, as any self-claiming clairvoyant would do. And as any self-claiming clairvoyant he seems to think he really can read minds. As a psychiatrist he would be the ultimate cold-reader of people. Is he confused about this? He has lost his grip on reality for some reason and believes he can read minds and gains power from eating other people? Many native cultures that practise on cannibalism do so to get the enemy’s lifeforce?

    If you ignore the bad prequel of his young years, he is bit of a mystery. He was somewhat normal man before somethign happened and he started eating people. Coulds it be brain damage or tumor?

    I have to confess that even if trans-whatever is real, any surgery should not be done on children. I read many regret later and want to return back to their original gender.

  2. I must disagree with these diagnoses. Individuals with antisocial personality disorder can function very well in society and can read social cues. Every serial killer has antisocial personality disorder, but not every person with it is a serial killer. He seems to read minds because he can read people and has been trained to gather clues about a person from bits of information, since he was a psychologist. Hannibal lacks empathy and has a flat affect, which are characteristic of someone with antisocial. As for Bill, I don’t think he has a gender identity disorder. Hannibal even states that Bill only thinks he is a transsexual. His behavior stems from childhood abuse and wanting to change himself. I suppose it could still relate to gender identity, in a way, but not as it usually appears. Of course, mental disorders are often difficult to properly diagnose 100% of the time since it is very subjective and dependent of the individual. I study psychology, so I am some-what familiar with these disorders, but by no means am I an expert.

    • I really enjoyed your input, Whitney – especially the comment about Bill’s belief that he is transsexual. I am not an expert either, so I appreciate anyone who wants to start a discussion.

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