starwolf_oakley: (Default)
starwolf_oakley ([personal profile] starwolf_oakley) wrote in [community profile] scans_daily2011-11-02 11:56 pm

DC Comics, psychiatrists and mental illness

I've said on this board I don't like it when superhero comics (and other forms of pop culture) make it look like mental illness is some sort of moral failing.

Three actual psychiatrists have taken issue (pun intended) with DC Comics and their description of the mentally ill, especially Batman's rogues gallery. It was originally in the New York Times.

Newsarama covered it as well.

More and four pages from THE KILLING JOKE after the cut.



"You're trying to explain a character's villainy or extreme violence by using a real-life illness, that people in the real world have, that are very common. That's when it's harmful to people in real life."

"The psychiatrists repeated several time that they don't want the beloved villains in comics to be changed, and they are fine with depictions that show bizarre behavior. But they want the references to mental illnesses to be handled more responsibly."

Most comic book villains like murdering people for their own amusement. It is hard to describe the behavior of in "genuine" psychiatry terms.

There was praise for how Geoff Johns wrote Starman, who had schizophrenia, in JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA.

Here are four pages from BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE. While the Joker wanted to prove a point about mental illness to Batman (one bad day will drive the sanest person mad) I don't think Alan Moore was trying to write an examination of mental illness. If Moore ever did examine mental illness in a graphic novel, it would be something. (WATCHMEN touched on mental illness, but it wasn't the theme of the story.)









I recall someone once saying THE KILLING JOKE would have worked better as a Two-Face story. Perhaps.
misterbug: (Default)

[personal profile] misterbug 2011-11-03 04:41 am (UTC)(link)
Technically "From Hell" is about mental illness, but only in the sense that it be counted as a form of prayer.
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[personal profile] kamino_neko 2011-11-03 05:00 am (UTC)(link)
If only mis-identifying and mis-characterizing mental illnesses was the worst the bat-books did in that regard.

No, the worst is the fact that Dr Arkham's genuine desire to actually help his patients become functional (including treating them and referring to them as patients, not prisoners) was, even before he was shown to be psychotic (hallucinating 3 whole patients), and suffering from DID (where the secondary persona was a violent, manipulative psychopath), meant he was as dangerous as anyone in the asylum.
thehefner: (Default)

[personal profile] thehefner 2011-11-03 02:02 pm (UTC)(link)
Speaking as someone who loves the Batman villains (especially the mentally ill ones) even more than the heroes, I just wish there's be some sense of consistency in the way their personalities and illnesses are handled. Sometimes I think the only way to salvage the mess would be to blame the quack doctor as Arkham for using a rotating series of unethical/unorthodox therapies and medications that only end up making the illnesses worse.

That said, I too miss Jeremiah Arkham as he was. The change to Black Mask was just too inexplicable, especially since Tony Daniel and David Hine both seemed to have completely separate ideas about HOW it happened (was Jeremiah a pawn of the Ministry and especially Fright, or was he a pawn of Hugo Strange and himself conspiring with Alyce Sinner? HAHA YOU GET NO ANSWERS BECAUSE EDITORIAL DOESN'T CARE), and it ruined Jeremiah as a character in a way that may never be reversible. Even if he's rehabilitated, writers won't be able to resist the looooooming specter of Black Mask, or some shit.
biod: Cute Galactus (Default)

[personal profile] biod 2011-11-03 06:55 pm (UTC)(link)
Why have a reboot, if not to fix stupid things like this? We might be pleasantly surprised just yet.
thehefner: (Default)

[personal profile] thehefner 2011-11-03 07:01 pm (UTC)(link)
Indeed... if only we didn't see Jeremiah Arkham as Black Mask in the first bloody issue of Snyder and Capullo's Batman, thus meaning that it's all still in canon post-reboot.

But at least the old Ventriloquist and Clock Kings are back. So that's something, I guess.
kamino_neko: Kamino Neko's default icon... (Default)

[personal profile] kamino_neko 2011-11-03 08:38 pm (UTC)(link)
Jeremiah Arkham as Black Mask in the first bloody issue of Snyder and Capullo's Batman

Not so much, actually. We saw a Black Mask. But no mention of who he is when he's not masked (or made up, in this case). And Arkham qua Arkham has show up in Detective, as head of the Asylum. Issues 1 and 2 - issue 1, refusing to hand Joker over to be placed in a real prison, because he is a patient in the Asylum, and issue 2, being berated by Gordon because his security...isn't as secure as it ought have been, and Joker got his face cut off.
thehefner: (Default)

[personal profile] thehefner 2011-11-03 08:41 pm (UTC)(link)
Unless he's an all-new character, he either HAS to be Jeremiah (and the glasses and general frame indicate as much), or else Roman never got his face burned in the DCnU, in which case I have no idea what the hell his origin is supposed to be anymore.

Doesn't Detective take place five years in the past, around the same time frame as JLA?
mrstatham: (Default)

[personal profile] mrstatham 2011-11-03 09:10 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't think anyone's particularly sure where Detective fits. DC have only said Action and JL take place in the past, and I'm fairly certain they've denied that Detective does too.

So I think it's a no to being in the past, and someone just needs to send Tony Daniel and his editor a memo.
kamino_neko: Kamino Neko's default icon... (Default)

[personal profile] kamino_neko 2011-11-03 09:12 pm (UTC)(link)
No, only Action and JL were announced as set in the past. And their solicits mention that, at least obliquely, even with the latest issues - eg: Superman is Metropolis's 'new saviour', the League are 'the not yet world's greatest heroes'.

Which is a bit of an unsatisfying bit of evidence to be sure, but, Detective's a bit standalone, so it's hard to point to anything actually within the text to demonstrate that. However, Batman being publicly active is a significant part, and in JLA everyone thinks he's just a story, which is incompatible with the idea that the mayor's gunning for him as part of his re-election bid.
mrstatham: (Default)

[personal profile] mrstatham 2011-11-04 11:05 am (UTC)(link)
I think the thing that's gotten people wondering is Daniel's own comments on the matter - I'm fairly certain he's claimed it's a 'past' book, and not only that, there was a segment in the first issue that claims that when Batman captures the Joker, it's the first time he's done it, and it's taken him six years, apparently?

If that's right (can someone clarify that?), that either makes Batman spectacularly inept, or it means Detective is set somewhere around the end of the 'five year period' DC have suggested Batman was operating for before joining the Justice League.
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)

[personal profile] shadowpsykie 2011-11-03 05:03 am (UTC)(link)
just got through reading the watchmen in my graphic novel class.

I had skimmed through it before and liked but this is the first time i actually read it and i LOVED it.... I also loved the Killing Joke. Moore really is a master story teller.... but he can't write women... i have yet to see him write a female character who is not a mere prop for a male character.

the thing is, i think he is CAPABLE of it,. he puts so much damn thought into all of his work. And there was more character development for Sally Jupiter in FOUR SILENT PANELS at the end of the book than every single other female character in the book had.

And Killing Joke is an excellent book, but he fucked over Barbara Gordon. (yeah he realized he messed up, but whats done is done) i think his problem is he gets an idea and be becomes obsessed with it and devotes all his time and energy to it, anything that is not connected to the main story, he considers, but only peripherally. He's still a damned genius... but he has his faults...
red_cyclone: (Default)

[personal profile] red_cyclone 2011-11-03 06:55 am (UTC)(link)
Have you read Promethia? It's my favourite thing he's done, with several amazing, different female characters.
drexer: (Default)

[personal profile] drexer 2011-11-03 10:57 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah this. Promethea really shows of that Moore can write a lot of great characters, be they woman or not, and that the biggest problem is usually that the characters in the sidelines don't get as well developed and thus seem weaker in comparison.

Abigail in Swamp Thing also had a great evolution as a character side-by-side with Swampy which is quite enjoyable.
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)

[personal profile] shadowpsykie 2011-11-03 01:38 pm (UTC)(link)
the biggest problem is usually that the characters in the sidelines don't get as well developed and thus seem weaker in comparison.

that may be it.
randyripoff: (Barry Ween)

[personal profile] randyripoff 2011-11-03 11:24 am (UTC)(link)
IIRC, the decision to cripple Barbara wasn't Moore's.

Additionally, I would argue that if you've only read Watchmen that you should probably sample a lot more of his work. I think he's done an excellent job over the years of writing numerous and varied women with strengths and weaknesses. Heck, it's his ability to write all sorts of people with their strengths and weaknesses that make him a great writer.
wizardru: Hellboy (Default)

[personal profile] wizardru 2011-11-03 01:19 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, he intended to cripple Barbara...within the context of 'Killing Joke' only. It was supposed to be an out-of-continuity story when he wrote it. But it proved so popular that DC decided to make it canon.
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)

[personal profile] shadowpsykie 2011-11-03 01:38 pm (UTC)(link)
he gets props for realizing he messed up
randyripoff: (Butterworm)

[personal profile] randyripoff 2011-11-03 10:02 pm (UTC)(link)
You are correct sir, and I humbly bow to your wisdom in this matter.

And I really do wish it had not become canon. I've long felt that The Killing Joke was one of his weakest efforts.
mrstatham: (Default)

[personal profile] mrstatham 2011-11-04 11:08 am (UTC)(link)
I think Moore agrees with you on that one. He doesn't see what the fuss is about, now there's a fair piece of distance between him and the book, and apparently finds it quite nasty.

I think his work with the Joker is great, personally, but parts of it are lacking. I always pondered what an animated adaptation would be like, though, especially since during the climax, I imagine that Batman bursting through the mirror would fit great to the 'dun dun dunnn dunnnnnnn!!' swell of music employed so well in B:TAS.
icon_uk: (Default)

[personal profile] icon_uk 2011-11-03 11:55 am (UTC)(link)
Mina Harker in "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"?
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)

[personal profile] shadowpsykie 2011-11-03 01:37 pm (UTC)(link)
forgot about Mina....
wizardru: Hellboy (Default)

[personal profile] wizardru 2011-11-03 01:22 pm (UTC)(link)
He does have his faults, but writing good female characters isn't one that I'd ascribe to him. As others point out: Promethea, Mina Harker and Abigail are all solid characters who are far from props. I suppose you could make a case that Dahlua might be a prop for Tom Strong, but I don't think you could make that case for his daughter Tesla.
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)

[personal profile] shadowpsykie 2011-11-03 01:37 pm (UTC)(link)
hmmmm i i didnt' know he did promethea, and forgot about abagail... i miigjt have to pick these up...
mrstatham: (Default)

[personal profile] mrstatham 2011-11-03 04:52 pm (UTC)(link)
I'd arguably say Evey in V for Vendetta is hardly designed as a prop for V himself. Her journey in the book is important, moreso than V's, because it's about her development and what she becomes - V, on the other hand, is certainly the lead, but there's no development or growth with him. He's fully formed, holds all the cards, and has a beginning and and end in-story. Evey takes up where he left off, but where she goes is maybe more important than what V accomplishes.

Also, there's Toybox and numerous other characters in Top Ten; It's a team book, so they're not leads, but I found most of the female characters in there to be quite well-written.
mrstatham: (Default)

[personal profile] mrstatham 2011-11-03 04:58 pm (UTC)(link)
Also, let's be fair. That DC realised they could cash-cow Killing Joke (especially once it got Tim Burton's endorsement when he was making Batman '89 and cited TKJ as one of his favourite stories (nevermind he also admitted he didn't really read much else)) and decided to keep it as canon is hardly Moore's fault.

Yes, he crippled Barbara, but you can't pin the twenty+ years of being in a chair as Oracle on him; Blame DC. Anyone who reads TKJ can clearly tell it DOESN'T fit as an in-continuity story. The final pages all reek of it being the final night that Batman and Joker will ever do this dance - And then the police find Batman laughing with the Joker. How does that fit in canon? I know there's an issue where Barbara challenges Batman over the matter, but it doesn't work. If Gordon knew that the man he trusted was laughing it up with the man who just crippled his daughter, he'd have him flung in Arkham.

It doesn't work. And whilst I enjoy aspects of TKJ, I don't think Moore is to blame for the long-lasting repercussions of the story.
biod: Cute Galactus (Default)

[personal profile] biod 2011-11-03 07:00 pm (UTC)(link)
It was panel was ambiguous in that panel whether Batman has his hand on the Joker's shoulder or if he was choking him. If the latter, then I'm sure Gordon wouldn't mind the laughter as much.
And I've written a very small piece about the Joker in which his sense of humor is more appreciated than anyone wants to admit. Anyone want to read that?

[personal profile] kksimone 2011-11-04 02:33 am (UTC)(link)
Even before the end it doesn't fit in continuity--Bruce's got a framed copy of Bob Kane's Batman Family Photo. Half the people/imps/dogs in that picture didn't exist and had never existed. I mean, when TKJ came out. I think all of them now exist again, but of course Kathy Kane was still murdered (So, did the Kathy Kane murder case being reopened storyline ever go anywhere?)
biod: Cute Galactus (Default)

[personal profile] biod 2011-11-03 06:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Mina Harker has more balls than any of the other Gentlemen.
thespis: (Default)

[personal profile] thespis 2011-11-07 01:18 am (UTC)(link)
Seconding Promethea! It's one of my favourites of Alan Moore's work, and the artwork (by JH Williams III, who's now doing Batwoman) is nothing short of amazing. There are also some kick-ass female characters in Top Ten (one of my other favourites).

I agree with [personal profile] drexer, I think it's less a case of Moore not being able to write women, it's more that Watchmen and The Killing Joke are both lacking in female leads. But if you've only read those, I can definitely see how you could come away with that impression.
oroburos69: (Default)

[personal profile] oroburos69 2011-11-03 06:27 am (UTC)(link)
I don't like the implication that mental illnesses can't be helped, and that every single time a villain "gets better" they relapse within a couple of issues. Or they were faking it all along. I know it's villain recycling 101, but couldn't at least one mentally ill villain respond well to medication or therapy and go on to live a relatively normal life? In a mental hospital, of course. No need to get too unrealistic.

Of course, competent use of medication and therapy would actually have to occur at some point for that to happen.
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)

[personal profile] lilacsigil 2011-11-03 07:34 am (UTC)(link)
I actually didn't mind the way they did this with Norman Osborn in Dark Avengers (if you overlook the stupid premise that they would put him in charge, of course). He had medication and therapy and got considerably better in the sense of not trying to destroy Spider-Man/not dressing up as the Green Goblin and blowing things up, while still being basically evil and controlling in a very sane and socially acceptable way. He wasn't faking it, he was never "good", but he was in control and competent.

In the end he stopped going to therapy because he was too busy with his other plans, overdid it and relapsed, but I found that pretty realistic and appropriate, too.
icon_uk: (Default)

[personal profile] icon_uk 2011-11-03 02:09 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm afraid that I found the "stupid premise" there to be so staggeringly stupid that it essentially derailed anything that came about as a result of it.
whitesycamore: (Default)

[personal profile] whitesycamore 2011-11-03 06:09 pm (UTC)(link)
while still being basically evil and controlling in a very sane and socially acceptable way. He wasn't faking it, he was never "good", but he was in control and competent.

Sounds interesting. I hate how comics conflate mental illness with 'evil,' and sanity with being 'good.'

I've met quite a few people who are, not to mince my words, fucking nuts (at some points of their life; most people with severe mental illness have episodes of relative health).

Many of those people were also fundamentally good, kind, likeable individuals, and that shone through even in moments of florid psychosis.
oroburos69: (Default)

[personal profile] oroburos69 2011-11-03 11:36 pm (UTC)(link)
That's an astonishingly terrible idea on their part (putting him in charge). And incredibly unrealistic on the part of the writers
oroburos69: (Default)

[personal profile] oroburos69 2011-11-03 11:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Sorry, posted too soon!
It's incredibly unrealistic because in the United States, if you plead that you are mentally incompetent to stand trial due to insanity (yes, even temporary insanity), you go to a mental hospital where chances are you'll never be let out. If you get sentenced to 20 years in prison, at the end of that twenty years the prison has to let you out. Being confined to a mental hospital has no definite end date other than your death. You get out when the psychologists think you're stable enough that you won't hurt anyone, and that almost never happens for normal patients. It would never, ever happen with a comic book villain.
lilacsigil: Ororo/Storm face close-up (Storm)

[personal profile] lilacsigil 2011-11-04 12:02 am (UTC)(link)
I'm in Australia, and here there is some chance that you will be let out (after a long time!) of a secure mental health facility, but it's still ridiculous what they did with Osborn. I think I'm one of the few people who can get past it because I read it in trades and didn't see the bit where Osborn goes on TV and basically says "I was mentally ill, so not responsible, but I'm better now!" I was presuming as I read it that he'd tricked his way into being in charge. Then I went back and found out what had happened and...no. Even if Osborn had somehow bribed and threatened his way out of a facility, there is no way the government is going to put someone with a documented history of mental health issues in charge - the discrimination against people with mental illness, let alone violent mental illness, is far too great.
mrstatham: (Default)

[personal profile] mrstatham 2011-11-04 11:11 am (UTC)(link)
It was ridiculous, really, even without the mental illness thing attached to Osborn. Shoot a skrull in the face and you get appointed to the top position of national/world security? It's like suggesting 'if you shoot Hitler in the face, we'll make YOU President of the United States' to any infantry men back in WWII.
lilacsigil: Beast, Marvel Comics (beast)

[personal profile] lilacsigil 2011-11-04 11:34 am (UTC)(link)
It was ridiculous, but fortunately I'd missed that bit at the time, so I could enjoy the rest of the story arc without it being undermined by the stupid origin!
glprime: (Default)

[personal profile] glprime 2011-11-03 08:41 pm (UTC)(link)
They did this well with The Ventriloquist in the The New Batman Adventures episode "Double Talk," where Arnold battled his own demons, his alter's former minions and even the Batman himself, all fighting to push and pull him where they wanted his headspace, versus what he was feeling and dealing with.

I forget if there was a heavy implication of medication, but there were signs of therapy. Arnold Wesker more than anyone else (even Two-Face) has had the best chance of any the Gotham criminals of being successfully treated and released back into the general public.
oroburos69: (Default)

[personal profile] oroburos69 2011-11-03 11:52 pm (UTC)(link)
NGL, I sort of hate the representation of insanity as a literal, physical manifestation inside your head with sense-making symbols. But yay! Writers acknowledged that therapy exists and is often effective!

And arguably, given that Wesker has killed multiple people and blamed it on his puppet, he might be successfully treated, but he'd never be released from Arkham. Pretty much no one ever gets out of the hospital after being determined to be unfit to stand trial by reason of insanity (in real life. DC has different rules).
big_daddy_d: (Default)

[personal profile] big_daddy_d 2011-11-03 07:14 am (UTC)(link)
As someone battling a mental illness of their own, this intrigues me. Also would like to be pointed towards said Starman focused stories in JSA.
junipepper: (jumplines)

[personal profile] junipepper 2011-11-03 01:04 pm (UTC)(link)
It's the Starman (formerly Starboy) from the Legion of Superheros -- I think that's what they were referring to. He appeared in the earlier books of the last run of JSA. I think you'd want to start here:

http://www.amazon.com/Justice-Society-America-Vol-Next/dp/1401215858/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320324820&sr=1-1.

Starman comes into play somewhere around The Lightning Saga and all through Thy Kingdom Come Vol. 1, 2, and 3.

I really liked this JSA run; it's definitely worth a look.
eyz: (Default)

[personal profile] eyz 2011-11-03 08:22 am (UTC)(link)
Well, I'm not sure Batman villains should be taken as a good example (read: portrayals) for mental illness :P

[personal profile] runespoor 2011-11-03 11:21 am (UTC)(link)
That's like saying racist portrayals aren't good examples of problematic portrayals.

Batvillains are presented as having mental illnesses. For most of them, it's actually shown as the reason why they're villains in the first place. That's the very definition of problematic portrayal of mental illness.

Which is a shame, as Bruce is shown to be struggling with psychological issues himself.
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)

[personal profile] shadowpsykie 2011-11-03 01:41 pm (UTC)(link)
"Scary bat-god that lives in Bruce Wayne's head" idea, the biggest psychological issue.

yeah.... that was one of my problems with Dark Knight Returns...
icon_uk: (Default)

[personal profile] icon_uk 2011-11-03 02:11 pm (UTC)(link)
Wouldn't the scale of survivor guilt that he still lives with be considered to be a psychological issue? (Morrison appears to be trying to remove it, but frankly I don't hold out much hope of that sticking).

[personal profile] runespoor 2011-11-03 03:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Agreed. I think PTSD counts.
schmevil: (Default)

[personal profile] schmevil 2011-11-04 03:58 am (UTC)(link)
Yes, definitely. PTSD is a serious business mental issue.
eyz: (Default)

[personal profile] eyz 2011-11-03 02:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Nah, that's not what I meant.

More that, "some" Bat-villains are as good portrayals of mental ilness as Looney Tunes characters.
That's what I wanted to imply :P
glprime: (Default)

[personal profile] glprime 2011-11-03 08:43 pm (UTC)(link)
True, but the NY Times article was making the article that, like the Looney Tunes, any media portrayals being spread to a mass audience give impressions to people that have a lasting effect. People's perceptions of reality will be influenced by even the most outlandish stuff, simply because it's in their memory reference banks.
eyz: (Default)

[personal profile] eyz 2011-11-04 08:56 am (UTC)(link)
True;
"Like some actors can snap from one day to another and truly become as dangerous as Clayface, which is only as possible for Mob and Company's CEO like the Great White Shark. But while some people lose their mind and play dangerous games they're unprepared for like the silly Killer Moth or the Condiment King, other can be quite unpredictable like the Terrible Trio. Ohters develop unhealthy habits like torture - Black Mask, or being one-time hero/one time villains occupation - Catwoman or strange choice of name/iD/clothing - KGBeast.."

'Just messing with ya :P

I always thought only some, and those amongst the more popular Bat-villains were truly crazies like the Joker, Harvey, Scarecrow... the rest, just colorful super-villains that the Flash's own Rogue could take any day.
eyz: (Default)

[personal profile] eyz 2011-11-03 08:24 am (UTC)(link)
-Tsk- And they still plan to shovel the JSA OUT of the DCU?
(and no, putting them back on "Earth 2" doesn't count/won't work the same because you'll also take their connection to the main DCU and their lagacies like the Starmans or Alan/Hal/John/Guy/Kyle or Jay/Barry/Wally/Bart...))
blue_bolt: Fat Watcher (Default)

There have been some good examples actually

[personal profile] blue_bolt 2011-11-03 04:08 pm (UTC)(link)
I know that overall DC (and Marvel) don't portray mental illness that well but there have been some examples I've actually liked.

1. Will Magnus is bipolar, he takes meds to prevent him from going up and down but some of his most impressive (and utterly lethal) ideas are the result of manic episodes - he made a "Plutonium Man" when he stopped taking medication.

2. Niles Caulder is a cross between anti-social personality disorder and schizoid personality disorder. He meets all the criteria for being a Schizoid but only some of the criteria for anti-social personality disorder: he does care about the Doom Patrol he just doesn't seem to have any issue completely violating them mentally and physically, so he has low-empathy but not non-existent empathy. I think his causing their original "accidents" as well as remaking Rita 2.0 from gelatinous ooze counts as ASPD.

3. Cupid from Green Arrow displays what could be considered an example of a delusional disorder - that Green Arrow loves her and they are meant to be together. Stalkers who suffer from such a delusion are not persuaded by evidence or facts that they are wrong (much like creationists).


4. Ra's al Ghul has a messiah complex. He's convinced that he - and Batman - are the only people capable of creating a better world. Eventually he seems to place more faith in Talia and Nyssa but essentially he believes that he is not only one of the few capable of acting as the messiah, but that he is actively doing so in his pursuit of environmental protection. Sadly misanthropy is not a recognized mental disorder, though he certainly is a misanthrope supreme (see: tv tropes).
glprime: (Default)

Re: There have been some good examples actually

[personal profile] glprime 2011-11-03 08:58 pm (UTC)(link)
I'd say al Ghul is less mental disorder than personality disorder (re: the misanthropy) resulting from his long life of terrible experiences seriously bending his ethics and morals. It's hard to give the guy a sanity or personality test against a "normative" or neurotypical standard, given he skews any test with his origin well outside the conventional age/cultural experience range.

It's hard to call Vandal Savage strictly homicidal in the clinical sense when his first few dozen lifetimes were in a "kill or be killed" society. Skews the guy's priorities up something fierce compared to our modern standards.

The one I always found confusing was where Harley Quinn falls. She's clearly delusional in the earlier period where she was Mistuh Jay's second, but more recently, she continues in her manic ways outside of her original (repressed?) Dr. Harleen Quinzell personality. Where's her core? Is there an "original" Harley or is it all whatever the environment lets her be?
mrstatham: (Default)

[personal profile] mrstatham 2011-11-03 05:06 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't think TKJ works as an example of an examination of mental illness in comics, somehow; Joker is always specified to have some sort of undetermined illness, usually - Be it the one Morrison ascribes to him or whatever, and the entire point of the story in is that Joker isn't right. Joker's in the wrong; he fails to drive Gordon mad, and Batman isn't the same as him, I believe, despite the implications of the final page.

If the joke Joker makes at the end is an analogy, Batman's the guy who made it across - He was able to fight through his pain, and whilst it's still there, he focuses it into something positive, making sure it never happens to anyone again. Joker is afraid of accepting help, afraid that people will let him down or leave him, and is scared that if he accepts that help, it'll fall apart. And so he remains smothered in the pain of what happened that day, to the point he probably doesn't remember what even happened anymore - or simply lies about it to make himself feel better (the 'multiple choice' line), and he takes it out on those around him.

So.. Yes. I think there's some attempt to address what Joker's issues are, but to put TKJ down as a serious attempt to examine his problems and mental issues - I don't think it works well...

[personal profile] omgwtflolbbqbye 2011-11-03 05:33 pm (UTC)(link)
I strongly agree with your interpretation of TKJ; I think it was more about showing how tragedy played a common role in driving Batman and Joker to become who they are but with polar opposite results.

Kind of tangential, but I think Dwayne McDuffie did a really good job of conveying a similar sentiment in his script for the "JLA: Crisis on Two Earth's Movies" with the confrontation between Batman and Owlman:

Owlman: From what I gather, we are very much alike. Everything about you tells the tale. Your attitude, your costume, your tactics... they all scream of outrage, despair, vengeance. What terrible wrong was done to set you on this path? It doesn't really matter. Nothing matters.

Batman: There is a difference between you and me. We both looked into the abyss, but when it looked back... *you* blinked.
whitesycamore: (Default)

[personal profile] whitesycamore 2011-11-03 06:14 pm (UTC)(link)
...I'd agree with this, actually. It doesn't attempt label the Joker's "illness," or cobble together any half-arsed pseduopsychiatric jargon.

And, at it's essence, it presents Joker's problems as *existential* problems. That's actually a perspective on mental illness that many prominent psychological professionals would agree with.
ext_197528: (Default)

[identity profile] kurenai-tenka.livejournal.com 2011-11-03 05:27 pm (UTC)(link)
The Newsarama link is broken! :(
whitesycamore: (Default)

[personal profile] whitesycamore 2011-11-03 06:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Food for thought, definitely.

A guy that I am really fond of was sectioned under the Mental Health Act a few days ago. I've felt like crying ever since, even though I know he's been this bad before, has recovered, and will recover again.

"As Grant Morrison, a well-known comic author, wrote recently, “The rest of Batman’s rogues’ gallery personified various psychiatric disorders to great effect: Two-Face was schizophrenia.”

Hah. Morrison, do you happen to know the name of the mental illness that compels you to run your mouth about stuff you know nothing about?

glprime: (Default)

[personal profile] glprime 2011-11-03 09:04 pm (UTC)(link)
Right? (sorry for your friend; hopefully he gets to a better place soon)

Morrison and other writers get on about psychology and mental health all the time because they're intellectuals with varied cultural backgrounds, but not a one of them seem to grasp any of it on the level of actual health practitioners. (BKV and Kirkman seem to do well for the most part, but I have a hard time listing too many instances of them doing more than brushes with mental instability; it's not a theme they often run with to the degree of Morrison and others.)

Morrison seems to care more about theory and philosophy than actual clinical standards; if it doesn't help the story, who cares?
glprime: (Default)

Patient Breakdowns of Dr. R. M. Cher...

[personal profile] glprime 2011-11-03 09:50 pm (UTC)(link)
Really, the whole damn concept of Arkham is an outdated conceit. With Blackgate Prison, writers could admit a number of the criminals in Gotham who kept committing violent (and profitable) crimes were not just mentally unstable and incapable of helping themselves. But the gothic symbolism and neat little package of "Arkham breakouts" being such a handy plot device is too much to pass up.
How many Bat villains are actually applicable?

- Bane: Socially stunted and lacking in empathy, but still much more sane than others, hardly any history of delusions. BLACKGATE
- Black Mask (Jeremiah Arkham): Classic dissociative disorder, with family history suggesting genetic propensity, but being later condition was largely fostered by hypnotic suggestion and medication, treatment is a likely possibility. ARKHAM.
- Calender Man: clear compulsion/obsession to his crimes, but a mind very keen and sharp. No reason his psychological bent being removed would prevent him from committing crime. BLACKGATE.
- Clayface: Beyond curing them of their abilities, there's nothing that can be done to treat them, as their mental states are dependent on their unique physiological conditions. Sociopathy/homicidal rage rampant, though how separate that is from their conditions is ambiguous. BLACKGATE or more likely D.E.O./ S.T.A.R. LABS facility.
- Deadshot: Homicidal tendencies, lack of social empathy seems evident, but he has affectionate attitude toward some relationships (friends, daughter). No delusions, compulsions or mania evident. BLACKGATE.
- Firefly: Clear pyromania, but maintained a long career as professional-for-hire arsonist. Treatment for compulsion possible, but criminal tendencies might remain. BLACKGATE prison with counseling sessions, followed by work release with D.E.O.?
- Harley Quinn: Odd pattern of fractured behavior that is hard to mesh with inconsistent patient history. Intense need to please, assimilate paired with rebellious attitude? Possible fear of abandonment? Has shown empathy and moral compass on occasion. Recommend intense therapy sessions to determine root causes. ARKHAM.
- Dr. Hugo Strange: Great intellectual capability, capable of intense logic and rationality, but operates from disturbed mentality. Successful rehabilitation unlikely. BLACKGATE.
- The Joker: Too many issues to list. But still able to note his actions having consequences (to a deliberate and pointed degree, so arguments for "love of chaos over order" does not dissuade culpability in grand schemes). BLACKGATE awaiting execution for thousands of murders.
- Man-Bat: see CLAYFACE.

Hush, Killer Croc, KGBeast, Mr. Freeze, Mr. Zsasz, The Penguin, Poison Ivy, The Scarecrow: BLACKGATE.

The Mad Hatter, Maxie Zeus, The Riddler, Two-Face, The Ventriloquist: ARKHAM.
rdfox: Joker asking Tim Drake, "'Sup?" from Paul Dini's "Slay Ride" (Default)

Re: Patient Breakdowns of Dr. R. M. Cher...

[personal profile] rdfox 2011-11-03 11:33 pm (UTC)(link)
I would argue that Zsasz might well have been sent to Arkham on a successful insanity defense. Remember, Arkham isn't merely a rehabilitation facility, it's also a place for the incarceration of the criminally insane who *can't* be rehabilitated. So Hugo Strange would possibly qualify, and, as I said, Zsasz almost certainly would. It wouldn't be out of place for Johnathan Crane to go to Arkham, as well.

Beyond that, one could argue that Arkham could be better suited to providing the sort of physical environment required for certain patients with special medical needs, such as Mr. Freeze and arguably Ivy (who canonically needs sunlight and CO2 to survive). With the smaller population, it would certainly be *easier* to provide such special facilities there, which would also make such a "prison wing" at Arkham a very attractive option for the incarceration of, say, Killer Croc, who would require specially reinforced accomodations to hold him.

As for Joker... I would expect that one of these days, a cop would just blow his brains out "resisting arrest" and put an end to it all.
glprime: (Default)

Re: Patient Breakdowns of Dr. R. M. Cher...

[personal profile] glprime 2011-11-04 01:33 am (UTC)(link)
Well, I've always thought the two-fold use of Arkham as metahuman/specialty prison and psychiatric treatment facility was just ridiculous.

When somebody like the gamemakers behind Arkham Asylum (or those great folks behind the DK publishing books) actually sit down and have to map out how an institution like that would actually work, you get how extensive and secure it should be. And yet the comics make it laughably small, confined, and prone to easy escapes. As if nobody ever bothered to research how these facilities are actually laid out (hmmm?)

Shutter Island at least shows if you're going to have a setup like Arkham, make sure you can't easily come and go from it (even if Arkham is outside city limits, it's still fairly accessible by the city; whereas Blackgate is out in Gotham Bay).
rdfox: Joker asking Tim Drake, "'Sup?" from Paul Dini's "Slay Ride" (Default)

Re: Patient Breakdowns of Dr. R. M. Cher...

[personal profile] rdfox 2011-11-04 04:15 am (UTC)(link)
Well, in both Arkham Asylum and DCUO, Arkham is actually on an island in Gotham Bay, accessible by boat or by a single causeway. DCUO compresses it some compared to Arkham Asylum, but then, it also compresses Gotham compared to Arkham City, so in scale, it's similar.

I've never liked the depiction of Arkham as easily escaped; I'd rather depict the facility (and other facilities) as extremely difficult to escape, with most attempts--even by the supercriminals--ending in failure, and any time that the escape method is known, new measures are applied to prevent it.
glprime: (Default)

Re: Patient Breakdowns of Dr. R. M. Cher...

[personal profile] glprime 2011-11-04 06:45 am (UTC)(link)
Well, in both Arkham Asylum and DCUO, Arkham is actually on an island in Gotham Bay, accessible by boat or by a single causeway.

That's weird. That's how they described Blackgate Prison.
rdfox: Joker asking Tim Drake, "'Sup?" from Paul Dini's "Slay Ride" (Default)

Re: Patient Breakdowns of Dr. R. M. Cher...

[personal profile] rdfox 2011-11-04 03:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, if there's a number of islands in the bay, it'd be logical enough to have those facilities on two of them, with that sort of access. (Witness Riker's Island in real life NYC...)
whitesycamore: (Default)

Re: Patient Breakdowns of Dr. R. M. Cher...

[personal profile] whitesycamore 2011-11-03 11:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Harley Quinn: Odd pattern of fractured behavior that is hard to mesh with inconsistent patient history. Intense need to please, assimilate paired with rebellious attitude? Possible fear of abandonment? Has shown empathy and moral compass on occasion. Recommend intense therapy sessions to determine root causes. ARKHAM.

The large majority of people in prisons have shown empathy and moral compass on occasion, since sociopaths are still a minority even among criminal populations.

Many people in prison also have mental illnesses of some kind, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're not morally culpable for their crimes. I can't think of any time that Harley has shown signs of illness so severe that she shouldn't be held responsible for her wrongdoings, imo.

glprime: (Default)

Re: Patient Breakdowns of Dr. R. M. Cher...

[personal profile] glprime 2011-11-04 01:37 am (UTC)(link)
Well, that's the problem, isn't it? They portray it as, "these people have mental instability [a common trait amongst repeat offenders], so ship them to Arkham rather than prosecuting them." It's like, are you treating their problems or just holding them here in lieu of trials? Which might be okay if they bothered having reliable security.

Really, the recent, wide-release video games just highlight how implausible the whole setup is and can't continue to be.

But that's the whole point of the article: DC Comics is complicit in producing content that is misleading and misinforming of actual mental disorders, and this being widely spread by popular media is damaging.
icon_uk: (Default)

Re: Patient Breakdowns of Dr. R. M. Cher...

[personal profile] icon_uk 2011-11-04 12:45 am (UTC)(link)
Up until the early 1970's Joker always went to prison, not a mental institution (Except for one time when he faked madness for a reason).

Poison Ivy actively chooses plants over humans, whose lives she sees as completely expendable and unimportant, she self identifies as a plant (with some degree of accuracy too), would a prison be the place for her?
glprime: (Default)

Re: Patient Breakdowns of Dr. R. M. Cher...

[personal profile] glprime 2011-11-04 01:23 am (UTC)(link)
I would argue Ivy can't really be "treated" to not have such issues of misanthropy, given she was fiercely anti-social even before her transformation by Woodrue (depending on the media version you're looking at). You can make her physiologically different, but she'd still be a destructive, homicidal eco-terrorist.
rdfox: Joker asking Tim Drake, "'Sup?" from Paul Dini's "Slay Ride" (Default)

Re: Patient Breakdowns of Dr. R. M. Cher...

[personal profile] rdfox 2011-11-04 04:31 am (UTC)(link)
The big question, of course, in the US legal system, boils down to whether the judge rules them competent to stand trial, and if the jury finds them guilty, guilty but mentally ill, or not guilty due to mental disease or defect. If the judge rules them incompetent, they go to a psychiatric facility "until such time as they are capable of assisting in their own defense." If ruled guilty but mentally ill, they go to a psych facility until rehabilitated, then to prison for the remainder of their sentence. If not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, they go to a psych facility "until they are deemed fit to re-enter society." So honestly, it's not really the doctors' decision as to who goes to Arkham--as shown in "Arkham Asylum: Living Hell" by Dan Slott, where Warren White is able to pull off a successful insanity defense to avoid prison, figuring he'll then make a miraculous recovery in Arkham and get out in short order. (You can guess how well THAT goes.)

I do note that the implication Dini made in Arkham Asylum is that the vast majority of the inmates in the Asylum at the time are actually Blackgate prisoners, temporarily incarcerated in Arkham because it's the only secure facility that they can be moved to for a while following a bad fire at Blackgate. Honestly, the only inmates I saw who had specialized facilities for them were Mr. Freeze, Ivy, Killer Croc, and Clayface; there were also cells that were clearly the regular cells of Calendar Man and Two-Face (Riddler's cell doesn't look *that* personalized, beyond what might have been done in a few days after the temporary transfer). So beyond those who were clearly criminally insane (Zsasz, Two-Face, Calendar Man, Black Mask, and Ventriloquist), there were a few specialty cases, and a relatively small number of "lunatics" still housed in the facility; several of the buildings appear to have been temporarily reopened specifically for the Blackgate prisoners...
glprime: (Default)

Re: Patient Breakdowns of Dr. R. M. Cher...

[personal profile] glprime 2011-11-04 06:48 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, the case of The Great White Shark was interesting in its depiction of a DCU courtroom, but other than Manhunter, good luck getting a consistent (let alone real world accurate) depiction of legal proceedings.

I'd say you're right on the money for the Arkham Asylum game (least, that was my impression after playing the opening level demo recently). Dini is somebody I'd trust for creating a reasonable situation for the institution, but it's still hard to square all Bats' specific villains ending up in one place without author fiat/criminal conspiracy like in the game.
rdfox: Joker asking Tim Drake, "'Sup?" from Paul Dini's "Slay Ride" (Default)

Re: Patient Breakdowns of Dr. R. M. Cher...

[personal profile] rdfox 2011-11-04 04:00 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, definitely. Hell, a number of his villains would almost certainly be in FEDERAL facilities rather than the sort of state facilities that Blackgate and Arkham appear to be. (Though Joker does mention that Blackgate is an "old federal facility" in the opening of AA.) Hell, you'd probably have a few at Gitmo or ADX-1 (or, in the DCU, at Belle Reve) on terrorism charges. And Bane would almost certainly be doing his time in a federal facility on the inevitable drug charges related to Venom; whether he'd be doing the rest of his time concurrently is open to debate, but honestly, the narco charges alone would probably have him in the Federal pen for the rest of his life.

By the way, I forgot to mention this, but at least before the reboot, your diagnosis for Riddler was square on the money; he *was* successfully treated and rehabilitated, and had returned to society, at least under Dini's pen, as a private investigator, trading off his notoriety to get jobs. (And Bruce Wayne kept him on retainer... because Batman figured that P.I. was a perfect job for Eddie Nigma, and as long as he was making a living at it, he'd not fall back into his old criminal ways!)
glprime: (Default)

Re: Patient Breakdowns of Dr. R. M. Cher...

[personal profile] glprime 2011-11-04 10:08 pm (UTC)(link)
...And then Tony Daniel decides to just piss all over that. Ugh. Have yet to read a storyline by that guy I liked.

Re: Patient Breakdowns of Dr. R. M. Cher...

[personal profile] lego_joker 2013-02-24 05:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Erm... correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it implied that his "rehabilitation" was solely due to some bigshot lawyer throwing money at Arkham until they agreed to rewrite Riddler from "sociopath" to "eccentric", rather than any genuine competence on Arkham's part?

Go over reformed!Riddler's (admittedly short) career again - I don't think there's a single instance of Eddie displaying empathy for anyone. He's still a sociopathic jerkass who would probably smother a baby off if it would save his life - he just plays by "the rules" now.