Ruddy Adam answering another question on the psycho theme.
“Ruddy, is there a movie we can watch that portrays what a real psychopath is like?” Genny & Sandy, SC
Yes. “Joshua” (known in street parlance as “The Devil’s Child.” This is the only film I’ve ever seen that—at least at times—accurately depicts a psychopath.
The psychopaths that we are studying do not generally kill people, as the one in this film does. Parasitic psychopaths very likely would kill if it meant getting rid of someone who was keeping them from appeasing their lust(s). They would not, however, do it for the sake of doing it. Nor do parasitic psychopaths lust to kill people to watch them die, as serial killers sometimes do.
The bad hombre in this film does definitely have many of the character traits of a parasitic psychopath, though that is not what he is in this movie. All psychopaths have a sadistic nature to some degree, but parasitic psychopaths are usually satisfied to laugh, or merely enjoy, the suffering of others. The ones I’ve known rarely laughed unless they were laughing at the mishaps and misfortunes of others. That in itself shows how mentally deranged they are.
Whoever is behind “Joshua” knows a lot about psychopaths. It doesn’t call anyone a psychopath in the movie, and the dramatized parts in it (you’ve got to know you’re going to have those) is that the psycho is a young boy. You rarely find that, and I mean very, very rarely. Though psychopaths’ brains are deformed from birth, they don’t generally come out until they’re in their teens.
The young boy playing the psycho is also brilliant. You never find brilliant psychopaths; they simply do not exist, except in fictional movies. Psychopaths are not decisive creatures, except when it comes to hunting their prey. Neither are they brave creatures, except when they realize they’ve found prey. They then become brazen—and decisive! Otherwise, they are cowards and indecisive.
Nonetheless, the boy is a near perfect psychopath, in that he doesn’t understand love, he has no conscience, he doesn’t mind at all hurting others (which shows his degree of sadism) to appease his lust for attention (which shows he’s a narcissist), and he mimics what he sees others do (which shows he doesn’t understand normal human actions) to make himself seem as normal as he can possibly seem.
There’s one scene where he’s killed the family dog, and when his dad finds the dog he falls beside it weeping. The boy sees him, you can tell he himself has no feeling and doesn’t understand what’s going on with his dad—but he mimics exactly what his dad was doing by running and falling beside the dog and then acting similarly to his dad. He did not shed tears. Psychopaths don’t cry, as normal humans do. Some do indeed use tears to con and manipulate their prey, but they are learned tears.
Even the child’s genius is tortured, in that he plays the piano well, but only inharmonically. He doesn’t want or need friends. He deals with people only as he can use them. He doesn’t learn as normal people—but he is very observant and mimics. He uses religion to get his way. He looks at others as prey. He is a sadist, though he shows little emotion when carrying out sadistic acts. His whole life is spent trying to get attention, to get his way.
Another perfect sign of psychopathy is that he deceives the analyst his dad calls in to check him out, because the dad knows something is wrong with him. He turned the analyst on the dad by showing symptoms of someone who had been abused.
The second psychopath that got me tried this on my friend and me. The P was having what we thought to be a nervous breakdown, or something of the sort. We pressed the P to get help. The P strongly rejected it.
Finally, the P was in a situation where it had to go to a psychologist, and insisted I and my friend go with it. We did. And during the first interview the P had the psychologist possibly thinking the two of us were plotting against the P!! We both saw it in the analyst’s face at the same time, and quickly straightened it out. Later we laughed about it—little did we know what we were in for!
I don’t know of any other movies that get close to showing what a true psychopath is. Movies commonly conflate psychopaths with psychotics to create their characters.
I don’t think movie-makers do it on purpose—but they may!! I just think they believe that to make a movie about a mad killer/crook/deceiver the character must be crazy, delusional, somewhat detached from reality—and to make them interesting, they must be definite geniuses (at least until right at the end of the movie when they turn into childish dopes). They must read ancient Greek perhaps, quote obscure texts, be stoic as stone, be vengeful, and fanatically driven to carry out their evil deeds. It sells.
As a side note, to point this out again and to answer in part the several questions regarding psychotics and psychopaths, I have not put much effort into studying psychosis. So I can only give a general definition: Psychotics are from one degree or the other detached from reality and are often delusional and paranoid. They are not devious and manipulating as psychopaths are.