Ferris Bueller is a Sociopath

"Empathy, in my opinion, is not good."

“Empathy, in my opinion, is not good.”

Okay, so technically he can’t really be a sociopath because you can’t diagnose that in a teenager since the part of the brain that regulates conscience isn’t fully developed yet.  But he is definitely a sociopath in training and would probably be diagnosed with Conduct Disorder (especially if Principal Rooney had his way).  His parents and the rest of society certainly enabled his antisocial behavior.  According to the professionals, sociopaths have at least three of the below attributes:

1. failure to conform to social norms (check)

2. deceitfulness, manipulativeness (check, mate)

3. impulsivity, failure to plan ahead (impulsivity, check, but Ferris put quite a bit of planning into his day off; though he didn’t plan how he would support his teenage cheerleader bride)

4. irritability, aggressiveness (yes, on the one or two times he almost didn’t get his way)

5. reckless disregard for the safety of self or others (check, especially Cameron’s Dad’s classic car)

6. consistent irresponsibility (check…I’d say, “NINE TIMES” is consistent)

Ferris is also a pathological liar.  Abe Frohman; faking a fever; he even had his girlfriend fake a death in the family.

The most convincing trait, though, is the “glib and superficial charm” that sociopaths possess that allows them to seduce other people, literally and figuratively.  Everyone was in love with Ferris.  But Ferris seemed to love no one but himself.  His best friend and girlfriend are both mere accomplices, accessories and admirers.

His sister, Jeannie, was the only one who saw through him (aside from Rooney).  Jeannie Bueller is to Ferris as Doakes is to Dexter.  Immune to their charms and resentful of what they get away with.

It would take another sociopath in the form of a drugged-out Charlie Sheen (redundant?) to distract Jeannie from her bitterness.

You’re probably thinking, “Ferris Bueller didn’t kill anyone”.  But contrary to popular belief, not all sociopaths are violent criminals.  Many are characterized by their tendency to use people as a means to an end without guilt or remorse.  Many sociopaths are in finance or politics.

I used to think I was just being a paranoid player-hater like Jeannie Bueller, but when I saw the Bio channel’s special on the making of the film, the director himself said that the original cut was much darker, the protagonist a much less benign character.  They changed it to make it more fun and teen-friendly.

So there you have it.  I was right all along.  Anyone agree with me?  Anyone?  Anyone?

About shabanamalone

I am a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern currently practicing in Southern California. My other passion is film. I believe movies and television are like funhouse mirrors reflecting reality. Art imitating life. View all posts by shabanamalone

26 responses to “Ferris Bueller is a Sociopath

  • Allison James

    You could change Ferris to “most guys in LA”. Love it!

  • Gezabelle

    I love this analysis – I will never watch this movie the same again.

  • Gezabelle

    Reblogged this on crankyandtaxing and commented:
    This doesn’t have much to do with taxes or anything I normally write about – however I found this blog post I wanted to share. It’s humorous and yet really thought provoking. I thought I would pass it along. – Enjoy!

  • shelby

    After getting accidentally involved with a sociopath, I have learned to look out for them. Twenty minutes ago I was watching FBDO and immediately ran upstairs to Google “Ferris bueller is a sociopath”. I agree. Definitely.

    • shabanamalone

      Right?? Thank you. Nice to know Google will take you to my site. I feel like no one reads it! There’s this book called ‘The Sociopath Next Door’ that talks about non-homicidal sociopaths. Great read!

    • cameron

      That’s hilarious. Same here. Seen it a million times before. But Something about the way he talks to the screen made it click for me. Very creepy

  • Gizmo

    I saw FBDO in the theater when it first came out. I was the only person in the room not laughing. I was so disturbed that I had to go to an all-night diner immediately and eat TWO pieces of pie. I’m the only person I know who ever saw sociopathy in this character. His sociopathy has never bothered me as much as the fact that he has always been so beloved.

    Now, 30-some years later, I see the USA in the grips of sociopathy — in our corporations, in our government — and it’s an ethic we continue to reward with money and votes.

  • Annemarie

    My thoughts exactly. I used to love this movie as a teen but as an adult I am thinking he is a textbook sociopath (despite the age.) Manipulation being the key factor that made me google “Ferris Bueller is a sociopath.” 🙂

  • David Delio

    I believe the character was written intentionally as a sociopath. Why? I can’t answer. However, as an investigator by occupation, I did pick up on this little tidbit: at the restraunt, Ferris chooses to assume the reservation of “Abe Froman,” the sausage king of Chicago; This is probably a reference to Adolfo Leutgert (known as the sausage king of Chicago) who dissolved his victims in vats of boiling potash. You’re welcome.

  • Alex Jackson

    I agree with a lot of this, but the deal breaker for me in regards to this diagnosis is that Ferris is more than capable of being remorseful for his actions and shows fear for the consequences. When the car reversed its way into the ditch, he was genuinely terrified about what happened and jumped at the opportunity to take responsibility for it so Cameron wouldn’t get in trouble with his Dad. I’m convinced that this was spontaneous and not a calculated gambit to retain Cameron’s friendship. (Ferris himself pretty accurately predicted that they would go their separate ways after high school. There isn’t much in it for him to accept the blame for the car).

  • Ben Herman: In My Not So Humble Opinion

    It’s a relief, after to all these years, to find out that there are actually quite a few other people who agree with me about Ferris Bueller.

    • shabanamalone

      I talked to Ben Stein the other day and he did not agree. Alas, I will have to change his mind.

      • Ben Herman: In My Not So Humble Opinion

        I know that the movie was a HUGE hit when it first came out, and originally nearly everyone who saw it LOVED the character of Ferris. But is seems like most people who have re-watched it years later, and younger viewers who have seen it on DVD or TV for the first time, now almost universally come to the conclusion that Bueller is, if not a full-blown sociopath, than at least an extremely selfish jerk who maipulates his friends & family and treats everyone like dirt. Certainly he is exactly the type of person who you would NEVER want to encounter in reality, because you would almost inevitably end up with your life totally wrecked by him, which is exactly what happened to Cameron.

      • cameron

        Lol. U asked another effin sociopath. Haha

  • shabanamalone

    Right, exactly. Very astute. Teens can’t technically be diagnosed as sociopaths, but he would likely be diagnosed with Conduct Disorder or Oppositional Defiant Disorder, which are precursors to Sociopathy. Rooney was right all along. It’s ironic that Charlie Sheen is the benign one of the two. Also ironic that Matthew Broderick later played a somewhat sociopathic teacher (fantasizing about students, cheating on his wife, sabotaging a young girl’s dream).

  • hazelina76

    I have watched this film an awful lot of times, it’s one of my favourite evers. Later in my life, I’ve become interested in sociopaths and psychopaths and only after watching it again tonight did it occur to me what Ferris could be labelled as. I randomly searched Google and your post came up. Great article, thanks.

  • 10 Teen Movies That Are Totally Fucked Up – Silent Motorist Media

    […] of questionable messages to the impressionable youth of America, from the rampant narcissism and sociopathy of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to the self-aggrandizing of Hollywood’s Less Than Zero film […]

  • EP

    I just watched this movie last night, and as I was watching the scene where Ferris berates his “best friend” Cameron for being too sick to drive, the idea of Ferris the Sociopath began to form in my head. This idea continues to develop throughout the entire film. On a whim, I googled “Ferris Buehler is a sociopath” and, behold, this post was the first result. What didn’t realize was that the movie was originally written with the protagonist portrayed in a much different light.

    I’m generally opposed to movie classics being remade, but this one is one for which I’d like to see a reboot. I don’t think it will happen, because it’s too much a part of pop culture. I definitely think it will be remade, but probably be watered down and less original than the 80s version. As most remakes are.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: