Psychopath or Media Archetype?


Sarah Morgan

Date of Award


Degree Type

Archival Copy

First Advisor

Margaret O'Baid


Psychopathy is an extensively studied subject in academia, and has been creatively explored in the media. There does not seem to be a professional consensus on what constitutes psychopathy, and media portrayals vary in their interpretations. This qualitative research paper analyzes academic constructs related to psychopathy and morality and applies this analysis to an example of possible psychopathy portrayed in television entertainment media. Dexter is the chosen example and its main character Dexter Morgan is subject to in-depth analysis of possible psychopathic traits, but alternative moral explanations behind his behaviors are emphasized. Results are presented in themes and subthemes, pertaining to inner moral conflict, perceptions of identity, and relation to others. These themes also serve to discuss that the portrayal of psychopathy in the media may maintain some parts of psychopathy, yet neglect others.

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