On the Millennium Trilogy

Men Who Hate Women but Hide It Well

Successful Psychopathy in the Millenium Trilogy

By Melissa Burkley, Ph.D., Stephanie N. Mullins-Sweatt, Ph.D.

Although the most memorable character from the Millennium trilogy is a woman, the series is really more about men. Bad men. “Men who hate women,” as the original Swedish title for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo suggests. So what is it about these men that readers find so engrossing? Unlike the majority of bad guys in film and literature, the villains in the Millennium trilogy are not one-dimensional. Many of the male characters are corrupt, sadistic, and psychopathic, and yet they are also highly successful businessmen and prominent politicians. In this way they don’t fit the typical stereotype of a psychopath and that is what makes them so interesting, and also so terrifying. Larsson’s characters force the reader to abandon their preconceived notions about what it means to be a psychopath and, in doing so, provides a glimpse of the evil that hides just below the surface of everyday people. By examining the psychopathic tendencies of the series’ characters, we may better understand why we find these terrifying people so mesmerizing–at least when safely trapped on the pages of a book or the frames of a film.

What Is a Psychopath?

In order to explore whether any of the characters in the Millennium trilogy are actually psychopaths, we first need to analyze exactly what the word means–in common usage, and in psychology. What comes to mind when you hear the word “psychopath”? If you are like most people, you probably think of bloodthirsty maniacs like characters from American Psycho or The  …

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