Psychoanalysis.  2020 Apr;31(2):34-42. 10.18529/psychoanal.2020.31.2.34.

Psychoanalytic Exploration of a Psychopathic Character:A Case of Villanelle in ‘Killing Eve’

  • 1Sky Mental Health Clinic, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Department of Christian Counseling, Torch Trinity Graduate University, Seoul, Korea


Artistic creations such as films or dramas comprise projections of the human psychic world. One can observe those dynamic worlds through the lens of psychoanalysis and can experience by proxy the challenging therapeutic situations therein. Amongst those challenges, there lies the concept of psychopathy. A leading character named ‘Villanelle’ in BBC America drama ‘Killing Eve’ is one example of a female psychopath with a devilish charm. This naughty assassin manifests key characteristics of psychopathy such as callousness, manipulation, lack of remorse and antisocial behavior. From the psychoanalytic perspective, Villanelle’s inability to form affectionate relationships stems chronically from her abused and abandoned history of early relations, apart from genetic factors, and it aggravates the derailment of her social life. Yet, her intriguing aspects exude from her incessant efforts to live a normal life and yearns for the attachment relationship with Eve, her counterpart character. Through the analysis of this character, we also examined the psychology of modern times. Some people may share many aspects with the character Villanelle, such as egocentricity, lack of empathy, inner voidness, etc. These psychopathic traits can be revealed as asocial qualities in typical relationships, even if not an overt psychopath. Therapists should thus understand the psychopathic personality or trait as a continuum, caution against the countertransference of condemnation, and consider the psychopathology of contemporary people.


Psychopath; Antisocial personality; Psychoanalytic theory; Drama
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