“The man with 1000 faces”, why do manipulators fascinate us so much?

“The man with 1000 faces”, why do manipulators fascinate us so much?

In her documentary released on the big screen, author Sonia Kronlund tries to understand how a man was able to lead several identities and several stories, in several countries simultaneously. An imposture that appears fascinating. Our psychologist explains why.

“He calls himself Ricardo, Alexandre, Daniel or Richard. He is Argentinian, Brazilian or Portuguese. He claims to be a surgeon, engineer, photographer or policeman, without any woman doubting the reality of his activities. Because this liar of high-flying manages to lead four married lives in parallel in several countries and under different imaginary personalities, each more attractive than the last. This is the pitch for the documentary “The Man with 1000 Faces” which, after being a book, is available in cinemas. The best part of all this? This is indeed a true story.

“He fascinated me, terrified me, and amused me too”

The man, whose identity we will never truly know, is what we could call a chameleon, who has effectively seduced different women, via several versions of himself. His imposture was wanted, sought after, and elaborated, to deceive and live several lives in one. A character in a novel who nevertheless crossed the (real) life of his conquests with a bang.

“He fascinated me, terrified me, and amused me too” justifies Sonia Kronlund, author (Des Pieds sur Terre on Europe Culture in particular) at the origin of the film.

Is the high-flying manipulator a sociopath?

But who is this technical serial lover? How can we live in deception all the time? We asked Amélie Boukhobza, clinical psychologist, the question. Did these women deal with a sociopath? Not necessarily, she tells us, but with a complex and perverse profile.

“It's about an individual who adopts various identities to manipulate others, a tactic often associated with antisocial personality traits. The term 'sociopath' is mostly used in popular language. I would say that he is above all a manipulator, probably with traits pervert who seems to have neither remorse, nor guilt, nor even awareness of the effects of his actions on others. We must not omit the gears in which this type of profile can be caught. A new pirouette, a new lie each time to get out of it…”

Good in his body, good in his head!

Why does this type of character fascinate us?

There remains a rather paradoxical point: although we of course fear one day coming across such an unreliable person (who can still ruin a life), reading, seeing or listening to the story of an imposter is often fascinating. . A question of prohibition is undoubtedly at stake:

“The fascination with this personality type depends on the fascination with the manipulation and extreme charisma of these individuals who can seem intriguing, admirable to a certain extent. Especially in societies that value individualism and success. It's like if they did what we are not capable of doing.”

“Moreover, these profiles confront us with the complexity of human nature and the gray areas of the psyche. These are perverse profiles which almost manage to put ourselves in a perverse position of almost morbid curiosity. They are like a mirror of our repressed potentialities, of behaviors as attractive as they are disturbing”, she continues.

Is your curiosity also tickled? The story of this expert manipulator can be seen at the cinema since Wednesday.