Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss whether or not Jake Gyllenhaal's character in the movie "Nightcrawler" is a psychopath - click here.
What do you think of when you hear the word “psychopath”?
Most of us think of characters in movies like Heath Ledger’s Joker or Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The word has become an umbrella term for describing those we view as violent, manipulative, and dangerous. However, the work of Theodore Millon and Roger Davis on psychopaths has discerned ten distinct types of psychopaths.
Jake Gylenhall’s unsettling portrayal of Louis Bloom in the hit movie “Nightcrawler” is a brilliant portrayal of the unprincipled psychopath.This psychopath lives to prey on the weak, influence others to execute their will, and do whatever it takes to advance their self-centered agenda. They aren’t afraid to take calculated risks, but they truly believe that consequences only apply to those too stupid to avoid them.
Predator or Prey
Highly narcissistic and lacking any conscience, they stalk the streets as a predator looking for an opportunity. Normal human emotions including empathy are discarded since they are deemed unbecoming of the unprincipled psychopath. Exploitative, arrogant, and immune to the pain of others, the unprincipled psychopath approaches the world as a zero sum game. Winning is always at some else’s expense. He considers himself superior, self-disciplined, and incredibly effective.
Friend or Victim
Interpersonally, the unprincipled psychopath is a disaster. They manipulate situations and motivations to seduce others into their exploitative schemes. Other people are interesting only as long as they are useful or exciting. They are often able to temporarily maintain a charming façade and can even be well liked by certain people. Once they have triumphed, people are discarded ruthlessly, quickly, and even sadistically.
Defeat Thy Neighbor
The unprincipled psychopath enjoys using humiliation as an instrument of revenge. According to Millon, their mantra is, “Do unto others before they do unto you.” They extract every useful resource from the other person, and then they sadistically enjoy watching the confusion and subsequent horror of others when they discover the true agenda. Contemptuously, he enjoys the process of seduction and the subsequent suffering of his prey as they struggle to escape his web of deceit.
"Psychopathy" by Theodore Millon, et. al.
"The Psychopath Test" by Jon Ronson
"The Sociopath Next Door" by Martha Stout