Psychobabble and the Real Perps

In the Wall Street Journal, Dalrymple finds in Hitchcock’s “Psycho” a modern, romantic notion of psychopathy:

Quite apart from the sensationalism of its plot, and the brilliance of its realization, “Psycho” had a pleasing message for people who were anxious to escape what they thought were the suffocating bourgeois constraints of the times. Bates’ mother clearly was a person who valued respectability, in a purse-lipped and narrow kind of way; and her loving son was brought up to be mannerly and soft-spoken.
A syllogism, false in logic but of powerful psychological effect, was thereby insinuated into the minds of the susceptible: If respectability results in psychopathy, then lack of respectability will result in goodness. Freeing the inner psychopath—that is to say, the natural, impulsive person without the accretions of convention to detain him—will paradoxically make for better, as well as more authentic, conduct.

3 thoughts on “Psychobabble and the Real Perps

  1. Stanley H. Nemeth

    “Freeing the inner psychopath – that is to say, the natural, impulsive person without the accretions of convention to detain him” has moved into unexpected areas in our time. For one, it strikes me as a mercilessly accurate description of widespread modern practices in child raising. One need only observe the little beasts running wild in stores and restaurants these days who suffer not a single word of reproof from their presumably “caring” parents. O tempora! O mores!

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