Like many people this past week I went to the cinema to see the latest James Bond film Skyfall. I’ve seen all of the Bond films over the years and although I wouldn’t class myself as a true fan of the series there have been elements in each that have entertained me. There’s high points in the Bond series and low points, Skyfall itself is actually a great film, if only slightly ruined by its’ butt numbing length.
Something has always bugged me about James Bond though, it’s not his smug attitude or his callous killing sprees; it’s the jokes. The jokes that came mainly around the Roger Moore era of Bonds where he would take a man’s life away in the blink of an eye with no remorse and then make a pun about how he dismissed him. This is not the behaviour of a sane man, this is someone who is clearly disturbed on a mental level.
As such I decided to look into the diagnosis process for a sociopath. I have used the World Health Organisations definition of Dissocial Personality Disorder as it seems to be bad form to call someone a sociopath these days. On a side not I think the World Health Organisation and other bodies need to do press releases on these things as there was an illness I referred to recently where the term I used hasn’t been medical or politically correct for 10 years. Sociopathy is characterized by at least 3 of the following:
1. Callous unconcern for the feelings of others.
The question here is whether this is about the physical or emotional feelings of others. Either way this is a failing of Bond from the get go. Emotionally Bond is a serial womaniser, in Tomorrow Never Dies Bond is told by M to “Pump her for information” in reference to Terri Hatcher’s character. As much as this was clearly a double entendre it’s also a clear instruction from his boss. He’s told to go sleep with a woman and then whilst laying in each other’s arms watching the sun gently rise through a window, inhale from his post coital cigarette and ask “so, what do you know?”. Most people of moral standing would be repulsed at this request, sure they would consider it because hell it’s Terri Hatcher, but after that the angel on their shoulder would slap the stupid out of them and say to go speak with HR.
2. Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules, and obligations.
This is admittedly hard to hold against Bond, his job is to go against the “social norms” and “rules” to get a job done; but then how far outside of normality should he go? He is a human after all, and this human should have the ability to gauge a situation and whether their response is measured or a touch on the extreme side. The Roger Moore era saw massive car chases with the police and the bad guys, he would often send cars flying into shop fronts, offices, other cars and airplanes, at no point does Bond think about the people’s businesses and lives he’s affected by his cavalier “Sod ‘Em” attitude.
3. Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships, though having no difficulty in establishing them.
Yes Bond got married in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and yes that wife died minutes after the wedding at the hands of one of Blofeld’s henchman, but then how much time passed between that and him making the beast with two backs again? How long was it before he forced himself on the secretary of an arch-villain until she gives up restraining, which I fear is the hope of many sexual predators like Bond. The fact he got married so soon after meeting his soon to be late wife is something that fits this diagnosis perfectly. Although it is touching seeing him cradle his wife and tell the police officer “she’s just sleeping” you can’t help but feel Bond probably felt a bit of relief. Having a wife would have really hampered his ability to sleep with the natives of each country he visited. Bond probably saw himself as the modern day Colonial General, except instead of sticking a flag into the ground and claiming he now owned the country, Bond groans and moans his way to flag erection and winning over the locals.
4. Very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence.
In Casino Royale there is a quite exciting chase around an airport, where Bond is trying to stop a man from blowing up an airplane with a petrol tanker. After a gruelling fight inside the cab of the truck Bond saves the day and all is well, except for the would be terrorist who Bond has attached the exsplosives to.
5. Incapacity to experience guilt or to profit from experience, particularly punishment.
6. Markedly prone to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behaviour that has brought the person into conflict with society.
I think this may be Bond’s saving grace, rarely can he see the reasoning behind the big bad’s evil plan, but that being said he has done numerous questionable, and from another perspective, evil things from the orders of M and for the good of the country. He will often sneak into other countries, breaking many treaties and laws to do so, and once there he will assassinate without question those who he was told to do in. The rationalising may not be vocalised but if we are to be believe this to be a real person then surely there must be moments where he questions his intel rather than just walk into Foreignland and blow the grey matter out of some poor diplomat’s skull.
I feel like all 6 of these can be attributed to Bond in one way or another, it only takes 3 for someone to be diagnosed as a sociopath. The problem is that these are the requirements of a secret agent so to some extent we must forgive him, but that being said knowing that MI6 is hiring nut jobs to wander around foreign lands packing heat like the Devil concerns me. I would be a lot more accepting of Bonds traits if it wasn’t for the insipid jokes every time he offs someone and the amount of times he’s abused women.