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.
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...)