So I was thrilled to see that over the Thanksgiving weekend, a string of Bond movies were playing on some obscure channel. I recorded four of them.
Also over the weekend, I worked on a new novel, one that delves into issues of psychopathy and sociopathy. No wonder that the question popped into my mind halfway through CASINO ROYALE: is James Bond a psychopath?
Shall we see?
Just to define a parameter or two, and slide in the usual disclaimers: I am not a psychiatrist. My analysis is for fun. I don't know any psychopaths or sociopaths. At least, I don't think I do. I am treating those terms as the same for the purposes of this blog post. My analysis is based on my recollection of the Bond movies, as I've not read the books. I'm also aware that different Bonds come across quite differently - Roger Moore is high on slick charm, Daniel Craig is more of a (sexy) brute, and Sean Connery is... well, the best all-round Bond. There, I said it.
Excellent. So. How does one diagnose a psychopath? The professionals use the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, which is a 20-item inventory of personality traits and recorded behaviors. Each of the items in the checklist is scored on a three-point scale. A value of 0 is assigned if the item does not apply, 1 if it applies somewhat, and 2 if it fully applies.
And just so you know, a score of 30 or above qualifies a person for a diagnosis of psychopathy.
Shall we begin?
- glib and superficial charm
- grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self
- need for stimulation
- pathological lying
- cunning and manipulativeness
- lack of remorse or guilt
- shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness)
- callousness and lack of empathy
On the other hand, check out the final scene from ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, when Bond's wife is killed - he cries (but there is a cop watching, maybe he's faking it so he doesn't get arrested?!). And in CASINO ROYALE, he seems to empathize with a hot accountant when she's distraught over seeing her first killing. Of course, his way of showing empathy in that movie involved sitting in a running shower with her, so maybe it was a callous ploy to bed this very stand-offish woman?
One also has to take into account his patriotism. He does an awful lot, risks an awful lot, "for England." I don't think a true psychopath would give a hoot about his country, he'd care only for himself. Is it an act on Bond's part? Somehow I don't think so.
Here's where I come out: Score: 1.
- parasitic lifestyle
- poor behavioral controls
- sexual promiscuity
- early behavior problems
- lack of realistic long-term goals
- failure to accept responsibility for own actions
- many short-term marital relationships
- juvenile delinquency
- revocation of conditional release
- criminal versatility