For me, the fictional comic-book, cartoon, and movie character Batman and his enemies are not just entertaining fantasy trips for the kid inside all of us, but are practically the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) in comic book form.
I’ve featured the list of personality disorders on the blog before and I thought it might be a fun idea to categorize some of the prominent members of the Batman cast in terms of the personality disorders they exhibit. What follows isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, and readers are free to pitch in their own ideas (you can refer to the previous link on this paragraph or the DSM link above for help).
Let’s start with the lead character: Batman and his day alter-ego: Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne has a notoriety in Gotham of the inability to hold a long relationship–primarily due to his very unique occupation and odd lifestyle. This solitary but double life and its implications suggests that Bruce Wayne has Schizoid Personality tendencies, even Schizotypal tendencies.
Batman’s greatest foe: The Joker, if not outright psychotic, definitely has Antisocial Personality Disorder. Heath Ledger’s recent portrayal of the villain puts emphasizes ‘anarchy’ as his guiding philosophy. In an earlier potrayal, Jack Nicholson brings this out with dramatic flair. The Joker’s instability of behaviour has kept him ahead of Batman’s attempts to predict his patterns.
Catwoman, especially in the Tim Burton movie, is a woman of many moods and traumas. She is a dead ringer for Borderline Personality Disorder. Her alter-ego: Selina Kyle is typical of the impulsivity characterized by borderline personalities, and like Bruce Wayne, is unable to hold stable relationships.
Harvey Dent Two-Face is obviously a candidate for Multiple Personality Disorder or Dissociative Personality Disorder. His preoccupation with coin-flipping is also indicative of Obsessive Compulsive Personality.
The Scarecrow, who is a psychiatrist himself, is a student of fear and phobia techniques. Highly intellectual and generally condescending, he has trademarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Mr. Freeze, who is in a long-time search for a cure for his wife’s malady, is an emotionless machine. Like Batman he exhibits Schizoid Personality tendencies and also Obsessive Compulsive tendencies especially regarding his wife’s treatment.
Mr. Edward Nygma: The Riddler, and his constant insistence on clues, makes him a candidate for both Obsessive Compulsive and Dependent Personality Disorder.
The Penguin constantly compensates for his short stance and horrible appearance with an active sense of panache. He is constantly seeking attention to his small self, exhibiting Histrionic Personality tendencies as well as Narcissistic tendencies.
Poison Ivy’s fanatical obsession with plant life and murderous impulses speak of Paranoid Personality tendencies.
Do you agree with these assessments? Pitch in your differential diagnosis on these and more Batman characters.
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