Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Psychological Profiles in Film

In his book, People of the Lie, M. Scott Peck describes something like a personality disorder he observed in certain clients (or clients' family members) in practice as a psychotherapist. He identifies such people as being given over to evil, noting that their condition resembles a severe variation of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Although otherwise apparently normal, these persons were apparently whole-heartedly selfish in all their decision-making, unconflicted and unashamed about lying constantly in order to advance their own purposes.

The classic movie Bringing Up Baby is about just such an individual. The horrible, horrible female protagonist just lies and lies, without giving it a second thought, not caring at all how her deception is creating confusion and frustration and causing damage all over the place. I found it so distressing, I couldn't stand to watch any more after the first twenty minutes or so. God, I don't know what I'll do if (when?) I have to deal with someone like that as a pastor. Anyway, if you want to know what M. Scott Peck calls "an evil person," just watch that movie.

Now, much more fun ... last night we watched another classic film, Kind Hearts and Coronets. It's one of the best films we've ever seen--and we'd never heard of it before! Crazy. It's a very British dark comedy about a young man's plan to kill off eight relatives (all played brilliantly by Alec Guiness) in order to inherit a dukedom. It was so funny, even after the movie ended, I was still laughing and laughing. They really don't write comedies like that anymore. Today's "smart" comedy is actually pretty dumb by comparison.

And if you want to see how Enneagram Type Three ("The Achiever") becomes a homicidal sociopath, it's a stunning, spot on portrayal.

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