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Diagnosis of Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs)

What Makes Hannibal Lecter So Evil? A Closer Look at the Man Who Haunts the Big Screen.

Hannibal Lecter was born in 1938 in Lithuania. He belonged to a wealthy family. His father was a count. His mother came from aristocratic lineage of Visconti family from Milan. His younger sister was Mischa.

When he was six years old, he witnessed both his parents killed by German deserters. Lecter, his younger sister Mischa and other children were kept by the deserters to be slaughtered for food during the Baltic winter.

Lecter saw Mischa’s murder. Mischa was cannibalized by the German deserters. Lecter managed to escape. But the gruesome murders he witnessed scarred him for life. He lost his faith in God in the process. He believed that justice would not prevail. As a child, Lecter first manifested signs of sociopathic behavior in his sadism towards animals. He appeared to be unremorseful of his evil deeds. Also, he lied habitually.

He was later put in a government-owned orphanage where he lived for ten years. He tried to run away several times. But eh never stayed away for long because he got caught stealing food or clothes from the market. Frustration grew. Added to that was the misery he felt for losing his sister. He missed his terribly. At night, he would be found alone in his room talking to his dead sister.

Dr. Lecter would say later that his sister commanded him to do something everyday and he would carry it out. The employees at the orphanage did not sympathize with young Lecter. The financial strain of running an orphanage denied him the psychiatric care he desperately needed.

When he was 16, he was made to leave the orphanage and lived on the street. He stayed with his Aunt. There, he went to school. He was an extremely intelligent student but could not get along well with other children his age. At 20, his aunt disappeared.

Lecter moved to Baltimore, Maryland in the ‘70s. There he started his own psychiatric practice. He became very popular. He moved to New York where he became a part of a mental institution that provides counseling and aid to patients.

As per police records, Dr. Lecter killed at least nine people before he got captured. The last six were killed in a short period where he indulged in violence. All of his victims were partially disfigured. Dr. Lecter himself confessed to eating parts of his victims.

Lecter targeted men he considered mean and rude. Raspail the inferior flutist, Krendler the vindictive bureaucrat, Pazzi the corrupt cop, the census taker, even Mason Verger, one of his victims who managed to survive Lecter’ hatred —all of them reflected the traits of the deserters who cannibalized his sister.

Mischa’s gruesome murder became Lecter’s motivation for his later revenge and killing spree. Lecter wanted to seek revenge for Mischa and to restore dignity for his beloved sister.

By appearances, Dr. Lecter seemed soft-spoken, mild-mannered and very calm. He was clean-shaven and very warm. When asked about his childhood, he would only recall Mischa fondly, “Oh how I love her so. You know she talks to me every day. How could God abandon her?” About his belief in God, he said, “Why would I believe in a God who does not answer my prayers.” When asked the reason for his killing people, he said, “For I am royalty, a champion not simply without, but especially without God or law.” When asked if he wants to commit suicide, he replied, “Why would I want to kill myself.”


|---------------------------------------------- DSM-IV codes

|Axis I | Paranoid Schizophrenia ------------ 295.3

|Axis II | Schizotypal Personality Disorder-- 301.22

Antisocial Personality Disorder ------------- 301.7

|Axis III | Diagnosis Deferred

|Axis IV | Incarcerated for life

No social network

|Axis V | Global Assessment of Functioning-10

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Dr. Lecter is able to act cognitively and achieved his desired end. He is quite delusional. He sees himself as royalty and even similar to God. He also experiences auditory hallucinations every night as he converses with his dead sister where she asked him to carry out tasks for her.

His delusions and hallucinations stemmed from the gruesome murder of his beloved sister. He does not entertain suicidal thoughts. He is extremely intelligent since he does so well in his studies and later on with his practice. He has a reputation of being a brilliant Doctor of psychiatry.

Dr. Lecter is a loner. He does not find time for social interactions. He was never in a relationship. His aggressive and violent behavior shows utter disrespect for the rights of others. He murdered nine people and does not feel a bit remorseful about his actions. He is capable of inflicting great danger to other people. He disfigures and cannibalizes his victims. One of those, a census taker, he boldly declares that he ate him with "fava beans and a big Amarone". Before turning fifteen, at such a tender age, he already experienced stealing food and clothes.

The global assessment scale of 10 is due to the fact that he has shown signs of being able to inflict severe danger or hurt to others. He relishes the idea of consuming his victims. He is not suicidal though and is able to look after personal hygiene. He is also capable of handling a full time job.

Treatment Modalities of Hannibal Lecter

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies (CBTs)

The CBTs uses insight both verbal and intellectual to produce an emotional result on the patient. CBTs believe that the verbal cues, sentences often repeated serve as inner dialogues that would lead to healing if used in a positive sense. For instance, continuously saying “I am lovable” could later on produce positive results to the person’s self-esteem as it reinforces the person’s belief in oneself.

The therapist's role is to interpret the data the patient discovers (psychoanalysis) by enabling the patient to relate past experience and open up to the therapist. Another role the therapist has to play in order to effectively handle personality disorder in Hannibal Lecter is to actively strive to make the patient feel emotionally safe. To put the patient in an environment that is beneficial in creating positive changes in the patient.

Dynamic Psychotherapy

Or Psychodynamic Therapy, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

At the start of the therapy the therapist get into a "pact" with the analysand (patient or client). The pact must require the patient to continue exploring his problems regardless of the length of time it takes not to mention expenses. This would make the therapeutic environment conducive to the patient’s progress because he/she is aware that the analyst would be there for him or her no matter how it long it takes.


Andi on February 07, 2015:

These are all great, but you gotta love Tim Curry/Pennywise taking a load off after a hard day of dgngriag children into the sewers to murder them, and of course Michael Myers drinking a Dr. Pepper and Johnny Depp/Ichabod Crane with a super soaker.

Rhoda on August 09, 2013:

Also I forgot to mention that ASBD and Paranoid Schizophrenia are not illnesses which you would treat with CBT.

Rhoda on August 09, 2013:

I don't believe this is accurate. You didn't mention the possibility of PTSD at all. Witnessing his sisters murder and then finding out that he actually ate her could/would have caused PTSD. I agree with Amy that CBT would be a waste of time unless you could find another Lector to do the therapy for him, someone with the same mind, aka himself.

Also I disagree with ASBD because Lector has shown remorse for another, Clarice. He protects her, not for himself but out of the love he has for her, for who she is.

mr gum on February 11, 2013:

he is royalty by blood .

Jessie on October 29, 2012:

There is a large difference between sociopathy/psychopathy and schizophrenia. Lecter's lack of remorse, anti-social behavior, and insatiable anger mark him as a textbook sociopath, not as delusional. Lecter displays the symptoms of a serious personallity disorder, not a medicatable mental health issue as you are suggesting.

Amy on April 19, 2012:

I'm actually studying Hannibal for my dissertation in university. Although you make good points as some have mentioned there are also ones that are flawed, especially I believe your supposed treatment of him. You could not treat him with cognitive-behavioral therapy at all. He is far too complex for that and far to intelligent, his ability to anaylse others to such a great extent in a way makes him immune to others doing it to him, no one would be able to treat him or break through, the only person I believe could do that at all would be himself. Could you imagine him a room with someone trying to attempt that kind of treatment on him? Can you imagine it even slightly working?

Alexis on February 28, 2012:

This is completely retarded, don't ever go into the psychology field.

MISH on November 27, 2011:

yeah Lecter definitely does not have Schizophrenia just had to say that

Brianna on October 25, 2011:

I would like to point one thing out.

Rasbail wasn't killed by Lecter. In fact, he was just an average, run of the mill depressent. It was Jame Gumb, the Buffalo Bill murderer, that killed Rasbail in his first attempt at his supposed 'metamorphasis' into something other than the average guy.

Jesse on September 13, 2011:

Well thought out!

Jose on April 21, 2011:

Utter rubbish. The idea of him having schizophrenia is absurd. I hope to God you're not in the mental health field. He would be given Dialectical behavior therapy. Nice try. Go to a real school instead of an internet college you disgraceful goof!

Jeana C on April 21, 2011:

Is this a synopsis of the movie, or of the book series?

joe hackit on February 15, 2011:

thank you I neaded this it helped me with my paper.

tony48183 on December 22, 2010:

one part is wrong Treatment.. CBTs “I am lovable” and to think one may pathologize DR Lecter is absurd first he is A psychiatrist A brilliant one at that No social network? he has a vast amount of professional contacts and socially has dinner parties;)he is well asserted . he states That if one does what god does he will become liike god he has Discontent to his faith but is not quite blasphemies he has to much interest in the subject of good he dose not think he is god he just dose not understand him .

Zachary on October 04, 2010:

Thank you for this information. I have been studying him, along with other cannibals, for awhiel now. This information has majorly helped me in my Psychology class in college.

bitch on May 28, 2010:

nice work homie

Ms. Thomasa lambert on April 27, 2010:

Thank you for this information it helps me so much with my class in Interview Techniques. (college student)

Jimbabwe from London on February 13, 2010:

Very well done!

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