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There is no way that James Bond could shoot a gun, not to mention stir a cocktail. The spy's hand tremors, resulting from excessive alcohol consumption, would prevent him from performing even simple activities. In short, you would never want to put the fate of the world in the hands of a man who consumed over four times the recommended amount of alcohol.
If you took 007 to bed with you, you would be similarly disappointed, as Ian Fleming's character is at high risk for sexual dysfunction, along with a long assortment of alcohol-related diseases that will eventually kill him at the age of 56.
A medical analysis of James Bond, based on a study of his drinking habits from all 14 Bond novels, was recently published in the British journal BMJ.
The authors of the study challenge the notion that James Bond is to be seen as a strong role model, "someone admired for his performance under pressure and his ability to be master of all situations he encounters."
Drinking is his undoing. Indeed, for someone with such an impeccable etiquette, he makes the most elementary mistake when it comes to ordering a martini: shaken, not stirred.
A separate analysis of the fictional spy was conveyed to Big Think by Kevin Dutton, author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success. Dutton, a psychologist, doesn't exactly view Bond as a role model either. And yet, Dutton finds something else in Bond's psyche that he argues, counterintuitively, is of great social value.
Bond is "absolutely one of the classic examples of a functional psychopath," Dutton says. He possesses characteristics that can be used to "benefit society rather than detract from society."
It is Bond's lack of conscience and remorse that society ought to value the most, as we need people like that to do our dirty work. For instance, a member of the special forces can't dwell on killing a person, Dutton points out. If you do, Dutton says, "then the next bullet could be going through your head."
So it is Bond's emotional detachment that suits him so well as a spy. And that is why we would want to put his psychopathic personality, if not his shaky hand, on the line to save us all.
Transcript: I've been running a survey over these past couple of months actually. And I've been giving out a special psychometrically validated questionnaire, which tests the presence of psychopathic traits within members of the general population. I've been giving it out to friends of mine who are film critics actually. And I've been asking them to rate various iconic figures in film for where they fall on various characteristics.
And if we take say the iconic spy figure, James Bond, the British secret service agent, 007 himself, you find that James Bond is probably one of the most nailed down, functional, psychopaths that there is. I mean, James Bond is ruthless, he's fearless, he's extremely focused, he's mentally tough. He's, of course, absolutely without conscience and remorse. He's one of the biggest philanders that's ever worked for the British secret service. Although, I couldn't say that hand on heart officially. But I do know some of them.
But James Bond is absolutely one of the classic examples of a functional psychopath. Those characteristics are being used to benefit society rather than detract from society. I've interviewed a lot of Special Forces soldiers and in Special Forces you can't afford to dwell on the fact that you've pulled the trigger and killed someone. If you do, then the next bullet could be going through your head. So you have to be very emotionally detached in kind of professions like that.
I think it was writer George Orwell once wrote that good men sleep soundly in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. And I think this is exactly why we need figures such as James Bond who with a bit of poetic license do exist in real life. And why we need certain Special Forces troops as well.
Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton