Psychopathy is a condition that is usually associated with serial killers or corrupt politicians, but it is more common than people realise – 3% of the population reportedly have a form of antisocial personality disorder.
While psychopathy is not identical to this personality disorder, there are several overlapping traits including compulsive lying, law-breaking, impulsive and aggressive behaviour, irresponsibility and a lack of empathy and remorse. Psychopaths often have additional traits to this, including superficial charm, narcissism and ruthlessness.
James Bond is one of Britain’s best loved film characters, and has had an important impact on film. He’s traditionally labelled as a hero, but is James Bond actually a psychopath? And if so, can that be considered a good thing? Let’s have a look at each factor in turn.
Compulsive Lying and Superficial Charm
007 has undeniable levels of charm and is very good at seducing hundreds of women, exuding great confidence, but he leads them on and dumps them as quickly as he gets them, and consequently forms very few meaningful relationships. M, Q, Moneypenny and his one-time wife Tracy are some exemptions.
Law-breaking and aggressiveness
Whilst rarely going rogue from MI6, Bond frequently considers himself above the law. If he didn’t have his license to kill, he’d get to know prison walls very well.
Ruthlessness, Impulsivity and a lack of empathy
Bond is also impulsive and spontaneous, being able to nimbly adapt to extreme situations when chasing enemies. He has ruthless levels of focus and is not afraid to kill enemies, sometimes not out of necessity: take the scene when he pushes an enemy’s car off a cliff that posed no real threat to him. He doesn’t dwell over the people he’s killed either deeming, along with M, that “regret is unprofessional”.
Therefore, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Bond is a psychopath. But is that a bad thing? Bond is one of the good guys after all; he doesn’t plot for world domination and doesn’t go around killing good, honest men. He can turn up and down his psychopathy dials when it suits him and the job in the most efficient way. His primary goal is not to step on others and gain power; he kills because it’s his job, and his personality makes him suitable for it. He is an example of a good psychopath.
he kills because it’s his job, and his personality makes him suitable for it
The idea of a “good psychopath” was notably explored by psychologist Kevin Dutton. He suggests that psychopathic traits can be utilised so that they can maximise individual happiness whilst not stepping on other people.
To summarise, James Bond is a key example in the media of psychopathy and provides a useful insight into psychopathic traits. Additionally, he shows that psychopaths are not all evil and that their traits, when used appropriately, can be used to greatly benefit society.