Is Holden Ford a Psychopath? Analyzing Mindhunter


Is Holden Ford a Psychopath? Analyzing Mindhunter

Is Holden Ford a functioning psychopath? Is he on the Autism Spectrum? Is he suffering from vicarious trauma?

In the two-plus years since Mindhunter‘s first season was released, theories have emerged that Holden Ford’s behavior was reminiscent of exactly the type of psychopath that he tries to pin down in his studies.

In today’s Psych Cinema, therapist Jonathan Hetterly breaks down the traditional aspects of psychopathy, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and vicarious trauma, and how Ford either meets or does not need the criteria.

Comment below or tweet us to let us know your thoughts!

Watch “Is Holden Ford a Psychopath? Analyzing Mindhunter” here:

Subscribe to the Shrink Tank YouTube Channel! 

Psych Cinema is our video series where licensed professional counselor Jonathan Hetterly explores the psychology behind the films that he watches and loves.

To hear Jonathan Hetterly discuss the psychology behind other films he watches and loves, visit our YouTube channel.

Click here for more content by Jonathan Hetterly, LPC. 


  1. Thanks for this interesting analysis – and useful reminder that selecting just a few traits is not enough to diagnose someone.

    I am not a mental health professional but based on my limited knowledge, I don’t feel that Holden is a psychopath or has autism. I don’t think he lacks empathy at all, but rather that he does not express it much. This difficulty expressing (and perhaps processing) emotions might be linked to the trauma issue you talked about?


    In fact, I get the feeling that Holden is hypersensitive. For example, at the boss’s retirement party, the panic attack he had upon receiving negative feedback seemed to show that he is very affected not just by what people think of him, but also by what effect he has on people; in this case, the effect he had on others was so disastrous, and so out-of-sync with what he expected, that he completely fell apart.

    He can also be quite stubborn and have trouble hearing otherwise when convinced that he is right. He also has trouble with “social” accommodations with what’s right or not – that’s what I saw when he was faced with the school principal’s wife: he did not feel like he had done anything really wrong (given the weirdness of the school situation), and did not show any clear-cut, unconditional empathy for the wife, but I got the vibe that he was perplexed and had complicated feelings about the situation. He challenges authority and tradition when he thinks it makes no sense, is inefficient, or just stupid.

    And when his girlfriend breaks up with him, it looked like he was efficiently rationalizing – maybe a way of dealing with the situation while keeping the feelings at a safe distance.

    He’s great at reading people when stakes are high in one-on-one situations, to the point that he can make very different criminals admit the truth, tell their entire story, or confess a crime – but he’s pretty bad at small talk or at functioning in groups and in normal social situations.

    Actually, I think he fits the description of a highly “gifted” individual (I mean a person whose IQ is well over 130).

    I would love to know what you think.
    Thanks again for your work!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here