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Hannibal Lecter Analysis

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  • Category: Murder

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This is based from the fictional movies (Hannibal Rising, Red Dragon, Silence of the Lamb and Hannibal) about the life of Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

Dr. Hannibal Lecter was born at Lithuania with his parents and with his younger sister named Mischa. When Dr. Hannibal was six years old, at the time of World War 2, a group of German people running away from the Russian Military had shelled to his family’s property and from this scenario, his parents died with their servants. During the cold season, as time passed by, the German people starts to crave for food especially they are craving for meat, they remembered that there was a child inside their shelter and they decided to killed and cannibalized Mischa. The Young Hannibal witnessed the horrible murder but he managed to escape from a traumatic event where it gives a shape to the rest of Dr. Hannibal’s life. After the traumatic event of his life, he was put in an orphanage and somehow he is muted and silent because of what happened from the past. No sympathized with his situation and he was humiliated from one of the employees, as the employee said to the Young Hannibal, “He’s not mute at night, he screams well enough.”

Where the Young Hannibal was pissed off and attacked the employee using a fork, which it caused bleeding at the right hand of the said employee. As days goes on, frustration came along and it was added from his feelings of longing and missing Mischa. At the age of sixteen, after the incident between the Young Hannibal and one of the employees of the orphanage, after the night where he was transferred on a dirty and ventilated room, he finally decided to leave the orphanage and travels from Lithuania to France where he met and stayed with his Auntie Murasaki. At France, he went to school, as physician, which he is a remarkable student, an intelligent and wise learner. Time goes by but the memories of the past is still stock on his mind, his revenge for Mischa, the aggressiveness, and the eagerness to kill those people who cannibalized his sister. His vengeance had never been erased, and the intimacy for his Auntie doesn’t make any sense to stop him for showing his motives.

Early 70’s, Dr. Hannibal moved to Baltimore when he is twenty years of age and he started to practice his psychiatric career with his own way. For a long while, he transferred from another country where he turns to be a part of an institution for mental health which it provides aids and counseling. Many years later, Dr. Hannibal kill his victims in violence way and, most of his clients are one of those victims. All of them were partly stained and he confessed of eating some parts of his victims.He was captured after his conversation and incident between him and Agent Graham. During his stay at the hospital after being captured, Dr. Hannibal would help the FBI with the two different cases.

First is when Agent Graham came out to give help as he retires after the incident between the two of them, he set an investigation regarding the Tooth Fairy case and he got no choice but to ask help from the lethal mad man, Dr. Hannibal. After five years, an acting director of FBI named Jack Crawford sent an FBI Trainee Clarice Starling to Dr. Hannibal where Starling thought that she was there for class homework, on the other side, she ended up getting him to give help about the Buffalo Bill Case. Dr. Hannibal helped Graham and Starling with the same instances but in a way of giving and using riddles for them figure it out by their own. While the case of Buffalo Bill is still on process, Dr. Hannibal had been transferred to Memphis, few days later, he escaped from the said place.

Dr. Hannibal change his name and identity with the name of Dr. Fell and he live like nothing matters.

At the latter part, Dr. Hannibal targeted men where he considered mean and rude like Pazzi, one of the corrupt cop who is secretly investigating him, he hanged from the balcony of his house and Mason Verger, the only victim who survived by the hands of Dr. Hannibal. Verger planned revenge by killing Dr. Hannibal but it turns into a point where he died on his own plan.

After Verger’s death, the police traced Dr. Hannibal place and, Starling handcuffed herself with his hand. Dr. Hannibal was about to chop Starling’s hand to escape yet she is insolent, so Dr. Hannibal tested her and asked her to revolve himself to the authority and relinquish his case but Sterling refused, and Dr. Hannibal thanked her and he chopped off his own hand and he run away to escape.

The ending of Hannibal was turn into a scene where Dr. Hannibal was on a plane, sitting and relaxing and when the child asked about the food inside his lunchbox, he offered the food to the child sitting next to him and Dr. Hannibal said “As your mother tells you, and my mother certainly told me, it is important, she always used to say, always to try new things. “


Dr. Hannibal’s aggressiveness and violent behavior reflects on what happened from his past, from the event of witnessing the cannibalism of the German people towards his sister. Dr. Hannibal also encountered a manifest content of his dreams, because of what he saw and remembered from his early life. This event eventually pushed him to his serial murders, unconsciously, the unconscious fulfillment of revenge for his sister. His fulfillment is a part of one of Freud’s Structural Model, which it is the id, a selfish part of Dr. Hannibal, for satisfying his own desire.

He is also fixated at the oral stage of Freud’s Psychosexual Stages of Development, where he basically uses his mouth as a source of pleasure as he cannibalized his victims. Dr. Hannibal still had conscience and his super ego is still imparted from his aggressive and violent behavior, It’s the part where he about to cut off the hands of Clarice yet he decided to chopped off his own hand for him to escaped. Though, Dr. Hannibal is still living unconsciously with his experienced when he was child, and from the perception of Sigmund Freud, childhood experience will explain who heis and what he is.


Dr. Hannibal is a first born child, Adler emphasized that first born child are attached to an extreme attention from their parents. A rebellious child, neurotic, perverts and criminals, this perception is quite true because of Dr. Hannibal’s behavior and serial murder cases. He also saw his self as great man and more likely similar to God. God is one of the archetypes described by Carl Jung where this are primordial images from the collective unconscious, Jung described these images in terms of a potential to respond to the world in a certain way(Burger, 2011).Dr. Hannibal also shows his shadow which it contains the unconscious part of him and this is the dark side of his personality, which Jung said that this is an evil side of humankind. Dr. Hannibal Lecter is striving for striving for the things he knew, living with his perception of him being a God who kills and making a judgment for others. And lastly, along his life, he wants to be a hero for his sister. A revenge yet a heroic did for Mischa.


Dr. Hannibal’s central traits are being aggressive, violent and intelligent. Although the number of central traits varies from person to person, Allport proposed that occasionally a single trait will dominate a personality (Burger, 2011). From the explanation of Allport, Dr. Hannibal’s cardinal trait is the aggressiveness toward his victims and his highly extreme trait is based from those German people who killed and cannibalized his sister. Based from his personality and trait, using the Big Five Factor of Cattell, Dr. Hannibal is placed at the Neuroticism dimension, which people placed along continuum according to their emotional stability and personal adjustment (Burger, 2011). Dr. Hannibal is a Psychopath and Verbal Intelligent person which we can say that this trait makes him really famous and inevitable. A psychopath is someone who has serious mental problems and who may act in a violent way without feeling sorry for what they have done.(Collins, 2009)


Based from the movie Hannibal Rising, Dr. Hannibal parents show some fear and anxiety due to the chaotic environment from World War 2 when he was a child. There was a genetic tendency which he may inherit the behavior of his parents from that specific situation, from childhood to his adulthood. Maybe there is an aggressive tendency through the life of his parents. From the part where his Auntie Murasaki was being insulted and harassed by a butcher, he reacted aggressively towards the butcher.

He is being choleric, it is a person who gets angry very easily. This is one of the temperaments, and this are mostly inherited and these are characters correlated with the experiences to form a trait of an adult personality. He is also an ambivert person who he can be an extrovert or introvert. Relating his emotions at the hemisphere of the brain, where based from the research of some psychologist, the left hemisphere of the brain is related to the movement toward the source of the emotion which anger is highly related to the left hemisphere (Harmon-Jones, Lueck, Fearn, & Harmony Jones, 2006; Hewig, Hagemann, Seifert, Naumann, &Bartussek, 2004; Wacker, Chavanon, Leue, &Stemmler, 2008).


Dr. Hannibal experienced multiple serial murders which show traces from existential anxiety where it means that there is no meaning for one’s life. In the part where he solved and helped the FBI and gave a lot of ideas regarding the different cases which it is a part of his phenomenology, it deals with his thought and experiences. Dr. Hannibal is a fully functioning person because he trusted his feelings and intuition towards the different situation of his life. According to Carl Rogers, a fully functioning people can express his emotions, either it is positive or negative. Killing and cannibalizing people are a key of fulfillment and happiness for Dr. Hannibal and this is a choice where he lives with the consequences and taking a risk out of it. He also experienced a disclosure reciprocity, which this is one of the social rules is known as disclosure reciprocity and according to this rule, people involved in a get-acquainted conversation reveal information about themselves at roughly the same level of intimacy: “I reveal personal information to you as long as you continue to match that level of intimacy with personal information about yourself” (Burger, 2011.

His loneliness is traced along his teenage life, eventually at the part where he was transferred at the orphanage when he was sixteen years old. From time to time we have all felt the pain of loneliness. Each of us has suffered through a period when there was one to talk to, when everyone else appeared to be with someone while we were alone, when all our relationships seemed superficial (Cutrona, 1982). He is also encountering an Emotional Expressiveness which it refers to his outward display of emotions and tend to be particularly expressive of their feelings (Friedman & Miller-Herringer, 1991).


Dr. Hannibal learned and adopted the behavior of the German people who killed and cannibalized his sister Mischa, his attitude of being rude and aggressive was adopted from the orphanage where he grew up. From this event, Dr. Hannibal experienced a classical conditioning through the series of his murders, the cheek of his victims act as the unconditioned stimulus where his aggressive reaction and the determination to kill the victim acts as the unconditioned response, this is a sample classic demonstration of conditioning for Dr. Hannibal. People aren’t likely to alter their behavior until they make a clear decision to expend the necessary effort. Bandura draws a distinction between outcome expectations and efficacy expectations. An outcome expectation is the extent to which people believe their actions will lead a certain outcome.

An efficacy expectation is the extent to which they believe they can bring about the particular outcome. Simply put, it is the difference between believing that something can happen and believing that you can make it happen (Bandura, 1977b, 1997). Dr. Hannibal’s aggressive behavior depends on the Four-Step Model of Bandura, where said that people must go through each of four steps before exposure to aggression leads them to act aggressively. They must attend to the aggressive action (The killing and cannibalizing Dr. Hannibal’s Sister), remember the information (The way of dreaming the traumatic event of Dr. Hannibal), enact what they have seen (Dr. Hannibal’s serial murders), and expect that the rewards will be forthcoming. Fortunately, most of the time circumstances prevent people from moving through the entire process. Unfortunately, sometimes they do(Burger, 2011; Bandura, 1986)


From the personal construct of George Kelly, a rough idea of personality for Dr. Hannibal, he is unfriendly, intelligent and aggressive. Personal Construct is a bipolar cognitive structure through which people process information (Burger, 2011). Based from the General Aggression Model, it begins with social encounter with a potential for triggering aggression. This might be an insult, a threat, a shove, or any action.(Anderson & Bushman, 2002a). Dr. Hannibal experienced and witnessed an aggressive act from the German people, as he became frustrated and he had a highly accessible hostile thought from that specific event. Some visual aggressive cues, such as blood or fist and also include any smells, sound and sights that cognitively links as the hostile thoughts (Burger, 2011). Dr. Hannibal’s emotional memories help him to recall the traumatic event of his childhood. Regarding to his memories of his past, it gives him a more often a symptoms of depression , the cognitive perspective argues that these thoughts can also cause people to become depressed(Clark, Beck, & Alford, 1999).

Andersen, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2002a).Human aggression.Annual Review Of Psychology, 53, 27-51. Bandura, A. (1977b). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191-215. Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundation of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Burger, Jerry M. (2011). Personality: An Introduction

Clark, D. A., Beck, A. T., & Alford, B. A. (1999). Scientific foundation of cognitive theory and therapy for depression. New York: Wiley. Collins, Harper(2009). Collins Cobuild Advanced Dictionary of English. Cutrona, C.E. (1982). Transition to college: Loneliness and the process of social adjustment. In L. A. Peplau& D. Perlman (Eds.), Loneliness (pp. 291-309). New York: Wiley. Friedmen, H.S., Prince, L. M., Riggio, E., &DiMatteo, M. R. (1980). Understanding and assessing nonverbal expressiveness: The Affective Communication Test. Journal Of Personality and Social Psychology, 39,333-351. Harmon-Jones, E., Lueck, L., Fearn, M, & Harmon-Jones, C. (2006). The effect of personal relevance and approach-related action expectation on relative left frontal cortical activity. Psychological Science, 17, 434-44

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