Hassert Authors Chapter in Book on Philosophy and Hannibal Lecter


D. HassertHannibal Lecter, the villain created by author Thomas Harris and immortalized in movies by Anthony Hopkins, is many things. Cannibal connoisseur and creative serial killer often get the most attention, but Lecter is also a philosopher. The new book “Hannibal Lecter and Philosophy: The Heart of the Matter,” delves more deeply into Lecter’s philosophical ways, and includes a chapter by Dr. Derrick L. Hassert, professor of psychology, chair, area head, social and behavioural sciences.

In his chapter “The Psychiatrist as Sociopathic God,” Hassert explores how Lecter addresses the “Big Questions,” which concern the nature of God, humanity, and evil. As Lecter asks FBI agent in training Clarice Starling in the film version of “The Silence of the Lambs:” “Of each particular thing ask, What is it in itself? What is its nature? What does he do, this man you seek?”

Looking at the Lecter books and films, Hassert urges readers to understand how Lecter’s desire for friendship represents an essential part of human existence. He suggests readers consider the choices they make, the behaviours they exhibit and the nature they reveal to themselves and the world. He reminds readers that, unlike Lecter, “Also, plying people with mind-altering drugs may get you into trouble…”

Hassert first learned about the plans for the book from Dr. Aron Reppmann, professor of philosophy and department chair. Knowing Hassert’s interest in pop culture, Reppmann forwarded an email that called for abstracts from the book’s editor, Joseph Westfall, in 2014. Westfall accepted Hassert’s abstract and provided helpful feedback throughout the writing process, Hassert said. While most of the authors are philosophers, Hassert brings his background in psychology, behavioral therapy, and neuroscience to his chapter.

And with favorable reviews on Amazon.com and in “Fangoria” magazine, “I’m happy to be included in a book that people might buy,” Hassert said with a laugh.