The Brain of Dexter Morgan: the Science of Psychopathy in Showtime’s Season 8 of Dexter

Abstract

This article identifies and discusses on the ways in which biological influences to psychopathy are thematically portrayed in the eighth season of Dexter to describe Dexter’s psychopathy, particularly focusing on fatalism and the inevitability of succumbing to one’s “biological self.” This paper, utilizing traditional content analysis, focuses on seven qualitative themes surrounding “biological fatalism” and psychopathy in this final season of Dexter. As lay theories of psychopathy are thought to originate from the media’s conceptualization of the disorder, such thematic portrayals serve to potential affect lay understandings of psychopathy and correspondingly, how the disorder is treated and perceived in the criminal justice process as a modern psychopathy-related “CSI Effect.” The conclusion focuses on the messages that this final season of Dexter sends to the lay public about the biological influences to psychopathy and how this may create implications for the criminal justice system.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Over the course of the season, Dr. Vogel’s son, Daniel, murders innocent members of the public and carves out the amygdala to send a message to his mother. Miami Metro refers to him as the “Brain Surgeon” and we acknowledge, but do not discuss, this subplot of Season 8 as relevant to Dexter’s fatalist story arc.

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Correspondence to Colleen Berryessa.

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Berryessa, C., Goodspeed, T. The Brain of Dexter Morgan: the Science of Psychopathy in Showtime’s Season 8 of Dexter. Am J Crim Just 44, 962–978 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12103-019-9470-1

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Keywords

  • Dexter
  • Psychopathy
  • Neuroscience
  • Criminal justice