Psychopath Night…

I’m not sure if excited is the right word but I had been looking forward to ‘Psychopath Night’ on Channel4 since I had first seen it advertised. Being a criminology and psychological student and also someone who is interested in mental health I thought this would be right up my street. I wholeheartedly agree with bringing mental health and issues alike into more accessible formats, such as a number of decent documentaries, as to me it all helps in raising awareness and getting more people involved whilst improving the understanding for others. A recent four part series which executed this perfectly was Channel4’s ‘Bedlam’ and, being another Channel4 documentary, I had pretty high expectations for ‘Psychopath Night’….how wrong I was.

Within the first five minutes of this hour and a half long programme I was immediately put off by comments such as ‘is there one living in your street?!’ and ‘find out if you work with a psychopath.’ To me it is comments such as these which aid in the continuing negative connotations attached to words such as psychopath. It was also slightly surreal and for some reason, which I still can’t quite get my head around, they had two of the experts on the subject sitting drinking beer and eating popcorn whilst commenting on the top 10 films containing psychopaths?!?! Many areas seemed rather disjointed and although some helpful arguments were made, along with an interview with a convicted American serial killer, the ‘useful’ parts of the programme were few and far between and could have been fitted nicely together in a 30 minute programme. For me one of the few positive aspects of the documentary was towards the end and it consisted of an argument with Dr Bob Johnson and his notion that psychopathy can be ‘cured’, with a number of other experts in the field disagreeing with this.

Overall I was very disappointed with how sensationalised the programme was, I thought it has the potential to open up informed, healthy discussions about mental health and psychopathy however I feel it has failed in achieving this. I’m extremely keen to hear from anyone else who watched this programme, particularly anyone with differing views from myself.

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2 thoughts on “Psychopath Night…

  1. I felt exactly the same way, I had been really looking forward to watching it and it made me so disappointed I had to give up half way through. It had a very ‘them and us’ attitude which was disappointing, psychopathy is very much a spectrum issue and most people fall somewhere along the line. It dehumanised psychopaths and reinforced the public’s general need for a criminal to be fundamentally different to everybody else. I hated this whole ‘there’s probably one on your street, there’s probably one in your office’ rubbish, the traits of psychopathy do not determine one to become a serial killer, rapist or any of the other typical negative connotations that go hand in hand with psychopathy. It was such a shame, channel 4 usually does such a good job and it really really failed in this one. What’s even scarier is that it’ll reinforce the less knowledgable’s views on sociopathy, psychopathy and criminals, feeding this need for, as I mentioned before, ‘them’ to be different, that crime or murder could not possibly be committed by a ‘normal’ person.

    1. I’m in agreement with you, reinforced all the negative stereotypes which still remain and it was such a shame. Over this year Channel 4 has done some fantastic documentaries, particularly surrounding mental heath, and I found them compelling and informative. Like you said it acted as something to separate ‘them’ and ‘us’. Such a shame!

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