What are some shows that depict victims of trauma becoming sociopaths?
June 15, 2015 8:20 PM   Subscribe

Also interested in books, movies, even news articles that have similar themes.

I've been looking for a show to binge watch, and I know there was a discussion about that a couple days ago, which I will plumb for suggestions, so no need to repeat yourselves. But I've realized that quite a few of the consistently high-rated shows (not necessarily here, but elsewhere) depict victims of some early horrible trauma becoming sociopaths just by virtue of their trauma... See: Dexter, Bate's Motel, Hannibal... I am sure there are more, because I have been living under a rock. The pattern only serves to stigmatize PTSD, whereas most who suffer from PTSD, in my experience, are actually more empathetic than most.
I'm interested in where this notion (trauma=psychopath) presents itself in popular media, basically.
posted by mingo_clambake to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Breaking Bad.
I think it's a pretty common trope among anti-heros
posted by nickggully at 8:24 PM on June 15, 2015

The movie "Carrie"?
posted by amtho at 8:29 PM on June 15, 2015

Best answer: Profit. The final scene in the pilot episode just blew my mind. The main character responds to his early childhood trauma by taking down an entire corporation from the inside. Terrifically dark.
posted by mochapickle at 8:31 PM on June 15, 2015 [7 favorites]

Ray Donovan
posted by fuse theorem at 8:51 PM on June 15, 2015

Scorpius in Farscape.
posted by wrabbit at 8:58 PM on June 15, 2015

The novel Horns offers a scientific-ish physical explanation for the villain's sociopathy. Really, though, it's up to the reader to decide whether it was injury, abuse, something in the pig corn, or some combination of the three that shaped Lee Tourneau.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:03 PM on June 15, 2015

Best answer: Seems like a good third to half of the murderers on Criminal Minds are reacting to trauma. There are a few episodes where the show is actually very sympathetic to them. I'm thinking mainly of the episode where Alex O'Loughlin guest stars.
posted by yasaman at 9:34 PM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

Firefly, Episode 3, at 38:45. Mal: "You call him a survivor? He's not. A man comes up against that kind of will, the only way to deal with it, I suspect, is to become it."
posted by sninctown at 9:50 PM on June 15, 2015

Best answer: Many of the "latent criminals" in the anime Psycho-Pass are reacting to trauma. And it's a really good show.
posted by neushoorn at 10:32 PM on June 15, 2015

Aileen Wuornos (Monster) became a killer, but i dunno is she qualifies as a sociopath. it's not like she investment-banked anybody.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:46 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Criminal Minds has a lot of this, I noticed. Every episode, a new criminal to profile and track down, and most of the time the profile includes past or childhood trauma.
posted by WasabiFlux at 10:57 PM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

Sophocles's Ajax ... The scenes from “Ajax” show the title character plotting to murder Greek generals who have disgraced him. Under a trance by the goddess Athena, he ends up slaughtering farm animals he thinks are the officers. Ajax’s concubine is depicted as trying to bring him to his senses; the final scene shows Ajax in agony, committing suicide.
Now officials at the Defense Department are turning to the Greeks to explore the psychic impact of war.

In The Viking Expeditions from Central Sweden (700-1000): The Causes and Effects that the Expeditions and Viking Culture Had on Each Other.,
4.3: Result (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
When surrounding stimuli have triggered a re-experience of the traumatic event, the subject's perception of reality becomes distorted and he or she often enters a dissociative state, potentially placing the subject in greater danger. In two such flashbacks that I have been witness to, the people experiencing the attack became less able to function, not from fear, but from not being in the same reality as others, resulting in increased hazard to those nearby. The problems appeared to be what the descriptions from the Viking period called 'battle fetters'; the person bound by the "battle-fetters" was briefly unable to act because of what was beyond their control, in the case of post traumatic stress disorder, past events.. This, quite temporarily and unintentionally, increases their physical danger by several orders of magnitude. A verse from the Icelandic Harðar Saga describes the effects of the war-fetters.

The 'war-fetters' came upon Hord and he cut himself free once and a second time. The 'war-fetter' came upon him a third time. Then the men managed to hem him in, and surrounded him with a ring of enemies, but he fought his way out of the ring, and slew three men in so doing. (Davidson 1981 : 63-64)

posted by sebastienbailard at 11:45 PM on June 15, 2015

I can't remember if the original trauma is ever spelled out but it's certainly hinted at heavily in The Fall.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:42 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Harvey Dent becoming Two-Face in Batman - I'm specifically thinking of The Dark Knight.
posted by SeedStitch at 5:21 AM on June 16, 2015

Early Magneto.
posted by blue suede stockings at 5:59 AM on June 16, 2015

Lex Luthor in Smallville.
posted by rue72 at 6:37 AM on June 16, 2015

Bron / Broen
posted by ssg at 7:23 AM on June 16, 2015

Best answer: I recently read The Alienist by Caleb Carr, and it very much hinges on this idea. Also Theodore Roosevelt is a character in the novel, so that's fun.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:56 AM on June 16, 2015

This is how the story of the character of the Kingpin is framed in the new Daredevil TV series. It forms one of the major plot arcs of the first season.
posted by jammy at 10:24 AM on June 16, 2015

We Need To Talk About Kevin
posted by fritillary at 11:34 AM on June 16, 2015

Seconding The Alienist!
posted by doctordrey at 12:55 PM on June 16, 2015

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