The "Geek Deconstructed" program on YouTube looks how real world diagnoses appear to fit fictional characters. As discussed here several times, fictional examples can be a powerful way to examine real psychological processes. In episode 7, therapist Kyle takes a look at Ramsay Bolton (previously known as Ramsay Snow) from George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books and the television series Game of Thrones. "Geek Deconstructed" walks the viewer through the specific symptoms of antisocial personality disorder to show how overwhelming this character meets in the diagnostic criteria (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). (FYI: Criteria is plural for criterion.) Ramsay commits murder, torture, rape, and more, sometimes for instrumental gain but usually for the sheer joy of it all, even hunting women with his dogs for sport.

In chapter 14 of the book Game of Thrones Psychology: The Mind is Dark and Full of Terrors, forensic examiner Colt Blunt takes this further by looking at Ramsay's behavior in terms of the so-called dark triad (Jakobwitz & Egan, 2006; Paulhus & Williams, 2002), a set of personality features that strike us as particularly evil when combined at their most extreme (narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy).

Given that neither antisocial personality disorder nor the dark triad adequately sums up the depths of Ramsay's cruelty, I would argue that we need to throw in Ramsay's extreme sadism in order to characterize him more accurately. Adding sadism to how well he fits the dark triad, we can see that he fits the full dark tetrad (Buckels et al., 2013; Chabrol et al., 2009).



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American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5) (5th ed.). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.

Buckels, E. E., Jones, D. N., & Paulhus, D. L. (2013). Behavior confirmation of everyday sadism. Psychological Science, 20(1), 1–9.

Chabrol, H., Van Leeuwen, N., Rodgers, R., & Sejourne, N. (2009). Contributions of psychopathic, narcissistic, Machiavellian, and sadistic personality traits to juvenile delinquency. Personality and Individual Differences, 47(7), 734–739.

Jakobwitz, S., & Egan, V. (2006). The “dark triad” and normal personality traits. Personality and Individual Differences, 40(2), 331–339.

Paulhus, D. L., & Williams, J. M. (2002). The dark triad of personality: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Journal of Research in Personality, 36(6), 556–63.

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