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Psychiatrists Declare No Country For Old Men Character As Most Realistic Portrayal Of A Psychopath

Psychiatrists Declare No Country For Old Men Character As Most Realistic Portrayal Of A Psychopath

The finding came after researchers studied portrayals in more than 400 films

A team of psychiatrists who studied hundreds of films have determined a character from No Country For Old Men to offer the most realistic portrayal of a psychopath.

Released in 2007, the crime-thriller tells the story of hunter Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) who is pursued by killer Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) after discovering $2 million when he stumbles on the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong.

Chigurh pursues Moss to his home, various motels and across the border to Mexico, as well as placing threats on his wife, played by Kelly Macdonald.

Chigurh had no issue killing people in No Country For Old Men.

Chigurh was one of numerous psychopaths studied by Belgian psychiatry professor Samuel Leistedt as he recruited a team to help him watch 400 films over the course of three years. The films spanned from 1915 to 2010 and resulted in a list of 126 psychopathic characters. 

The majority of the psychopaths depicted in the films were male, though the researchers also identified 21 female characters based on the realism and clinical accuracy of their portrayals.

When comparing older and newer films, the researchers found an increased understanding of clinical psychopathy over time has allowed portrayals of fictional psychopaths to become more realistic, with Chigurh determined to be the most accurate portrayal in the films studied.

Researchers found portrayals have become more accurate over time.

The character is found to approach murder with an uncanny sense of normalcy, seemingly having no trouble using his bolt gun against his victims.

"He seems to be effectively invulnerable and resistant to any form of emotion or humanity," the researchers explained.

In comparison, characters like Tommy Udo in the 1947 film The Kiss of Death and Cody Jarrett in the 1949 film White Heat offered up less accurate portrayals.

The researchers explained: "They were often caricatured as sadistic, unpredictable, sexually depraved, and emotionally unstable with a compulsion to engage in random violence, murders, and destruction, usually presenting with a series of bizarre mannerisms, such as giggling, laughing, or facial tics, often creating famous and unreal characters."

Hannibal Lecter didn't make the cut for the study.
Orion Pictures

Film fans might be surprised to know characters often depicted as typical psychopaths in film, including Patrick Bateman in American Psycho and Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs didn't make the cut, with Leistedt and his team claiming their traits didn't fit their study.

They wrote: "In our specific topic of interest, it appears that psychopathy in the cinema, despite a real clinical evolution, remains fictional. Most of the psychopathic villains in popular fiction resemble international and universal boogeyman, almost as 'villain archetypes'."

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Featured Image Credit: Paramount

Topics: Mental Health, Film and TV, Science