Sweet Baby Jesus! I feel like I have been gone forever. So much to catch up on. post 111. I’ll catch up later. [×]
You can likely look at any person with an intense personality and find some label in the DSM to stick on to them.
The truth is Batman, Two-Face, Harley, etc are all psychologically messed up people. But, if they all know it, acknowledge it and move forward still doing what they do, that’s on them.
At what point do we say “they are mentally ill. So freakin what. They know this and are conscious about it. Having a mental illness does not necessarily allow someone to abdicate responsibility for their actions.
Id argue the Joker is quite literally one of the sanest characters in DC. Is he a sociopath, sure. However, he knows this and still does what he does with gleeful abandon. He’s a highly functioning sociopath. He just doesn’t care. Does that make him “mentally ill” under the rules of “normality” and typical societal values. Sure. Are those typical societal values relevant? I’d argue no. There is nothing inherently wrong with telling typical social values to pound sand. If you are willing to do the time if you do the crime, is that still a true illness? Or is it not GAF. I’d argue the latter.
As we saw in HQ animated series, Harley jumped into the chemicals. She knows and controls her behavior. She is nobody’s victim. She chooses her life and lives it accordingly.
The villain is the hero of their own story. Society may not like it, but if you don’t give a rat’s about what society thinks, that is in many ways just breaking from the strict bonds of the concept of “proper society” foisted upon the public be the Victorian elite is which still impact our society today. Those were BS social “norms” when they showed up in Victorian times and they are still BS today. Of course that is just my opinion and I’m a bit of a sociopath myself and damn proud of it. So maybe I just see things differently.
I’ve been reading the Robin run from 1993 and it definity sheds light as to why he’s my favorite robin, also I agree with what you said about having an easily translatable origin story compared to that of other Robins.
As a person working in the field of psychology for a living I will say…
I can’t disagree with you more. I’ve had schizophrenic clients (plural) who do not respond to medication but are fully aware of their diagnosis. Understanding it doesn’t make it stop.
A somewhat lighter version is alcoholism. How many people are in AA and know intimately about their issues and still struggle with it?
Then you must consider the intelligence of the patient. A person who has auditory hallucinations with bipolar disorder and an IQ of 60 can “understand” their diagnosis and possibly even administer their own meds, but they’re not likely to make any kind of breakthroughs.
As far as the fiction goes…
Assuming these people are a 100 IQ average…
Maybe. Unlikely though.
But rehabilitation was explored by Miller in TDKR. Harvey Dent couldn’t get better even after plastic surgery. He couldn’t believe in a better version of himself anymore. The damage was too traumatic. Too permanent.
It’s the idea of matter over mind. Knowing doesn’t give the patient a unique perspective allowing them to magically heal. Sure, sometimes people will actually lean into the diagnosis and make things worse, but it isn’t a pendulum that goes the other way toward healing. For that you have to have an intellectual understanding of the disorder, professional guidance, possible medication, and most importantly, a desire to change your life.
It isn’t just a diagnosis and a desire to change equals better.
Edit: in fact Harley is the only one in the rouges gallery who I believe has the intelligence and knowledge to know better and make changes.
I know!! It’s so good. I don’t care about the politics of it. DC should get Chuck Dixon back on Tim Drake. Maybe just have him work remotely.
Certainly I understand that this POV doesn’t apply to everyone. (And I say this as someone who is “neurochemically challenged”).
Certainly HQ, the Joker, Harvey Dent, Edward Nigma are all at minimum above average IQs.
There exhibited behaviors, through stories we know of, all show their ability to be highly functioning even given their mental state. Because they are all so highly functioning, isn’t it possible that they simply don’t want to change? I am sure there are cases, especially with highly functioning individuals where this is the case. None of these characters are delusional. They are quite aware and proud of the fact that they are acting how they are acting. They know they are breaking laws. If they are cognizant of that, they should be treated as criminals. If an alcoholic, knowingly and with malice afore thought, robs a liquor store are they knowingly responsible for their actions? Is it ok for them to have done it and be able to use the defense “I have a disease and therefore should be treated differently than a non-alcoholic that robs a liquor store”?
The DSM is subject to changing social ideas and morays of behavior at a given societal point in time. Let us not forget that homosexuality used to be defined as a “mental illness” The same is true of adults engaging in consensual sadomasochistic acts. Were these things actual “mental illness” as the DSM defined them. If they were an “mental illness” as the DSM described, how did these people go from being “ill” to being acceptable forms of behavior. Was there “illness” suddenly cured simply because the DSM took out these items? Or was their behavior never an illness to begin with, but simply “unacceptable social behavior” of their time.
I certainly hold the view that homosexuality and sadomasochism between consenting adults were never “mental illnesses”.
This raises the question of is Tim Drake better at being a caped crusader than Bruce Wayne? If so, shouldn’t he be treated as a hero that is a more positive/better example than Batman and shouldn’t that be acknowledged by DC and DC fandom?
These are good points and are the very reason things change in the DSM every few years. I will say mental health conditions often (but not always) are a cause for certain sexual practices like sadomasochistic behavior. Presently nothing that involves self harm is considered healthy. I suppose that’s something that could change in the future. Not my area of expertise.
To the characters…
I’d say all of the characters you listed would, if real humans, be classified as gifted. Potentially geniuses (Riddler). I’ve seen intellect work for and against people in regard to mental health. A lot depends on wether the illness is genetic in nature (schizophrenia and major depression disorders) vs something that is strictly mental (PTSD and other anxiety disorders).
It is totally possible that people with mental health disorders can choose a different path. Especially if the intelligence is there. Genetic disorders are a totally different story. We now have the tech to test for these things and have a much better understanding than we once did. So, while I believe Harvey Dent and Edward Nigma are completely capable of rehabilitation and have chosen their paths (to a certain degree) I do believe Joker is legitimately lost. Intelligence aside…he is truly insane and whatever grasp on reality he has is fleeting and even then I wouldn’t call it lucid. Dude is off.
I think that in the real world someone with Tim’s intelligence and overall emotional stability would make him a much better Batman than Bruce. In fact, with his history, Bruce is potentially the least realistically capable for the role out of the entire family aside from Jean Paul Valley, Cassandra Cain, and (maybe) Jason Todd. He’s the only one that ever seems to think “maybe this isn’t for me” and “I should walk away.” It’s an insane lifestyle to entertain. He’s always stuck me as the only logical voice.
That really depends on what the definition of “self harm” or even “harm” is.
A classic example of this is the book “Against Sadomasochism” a series of essays arguing against engaging in consensual sadomasochism. This was published in the very early ‘70’s. However, a number of these same authors published various essays and books in the 80’s that took the exact opposite view. Then there was the Spanner Appeal that eventually went to the British High Court and then the EU High Court. In that case, adult persons engaging in consensual sadomasochism, the “tops” were initially found guilty of assault and the “bottoms” were initially found guilty of aiding and abetting their own assault.
While I will not define myself as having clinical expertise, I was one of many people who worked in that appeal. So I have some decent amount of background on the issue.
Getting back to DC characters:
This is really were we differ. As I said, I think Joker is straight up one of the sanest characters in all of the DCU. His plans and plots are very ground in the realities of who he is going up against, and often using his opponent’s behavior against them. Joker is a case of philosophy. He is a true philosophical anarchist. Or probably and more accurately defined as a libertine. He does what he does simply because he knowingly has the power to do so. Therefore, he must have a firm grip on reality to understand and act on that power relative to the actual society he is a part of.
Sane and aware might be where we’re disagreeing. I don’t think Joker isn’t aware. I also think he has a fairly solid understanding of who he’s dealing with and what he’s doing (sometimes). Though, I also think he’s occupying a world that isn’t entirely shared with those around him. He somehow does this without experiencing hallucinations and delusions. His grasp on reality seems tenuous at best. He doesn’t have a consistent M.O. (like Riddler for instance) beyond wanting to defeat the bat and make everyone in Gotham feel afraid and hopeless. He just wants to leave a great big stamp on the world around him. I think it might be impossible to diagnose Joker, but I don’t think he’s sane either.
To me Oswald is the most sane, totally aware criminal in the bat-verse. Maybe a bit of a complex due to his size…
An agent or philosophy of chaos wouldn’t have a consistent M.O.
Oswald has a Napoleon complex. Quite likely. If I recall correctly, they looked at that specific issue in the “Necessary Evil” doco.
So… been reading a lot of Boy Wonders stories: Dick Rebirth. Red Hood Outlaw\Rebirth. Ian, Year of Blood+ Teen Titans. Tim Yost’s run and then after. Detective Comic’s Clayface Teamup. Plus, other random stories here and there.
What I think os the problem with Tim is that he’s kind of the bad guy.
Not like Damian who is a jerk but secretly a sweetheart w/ insecurities. Not like Jason who is misguided, a screwup trying to be better. He’s the guy who is so good that it’s bad. Not like Dick who is emotional and gullible. He’s a perfectionist who dances w/ the devil for altruism while flirting w/ totalitarianism/fascism. Kinda hard to relate/root towards someone like that.
I agree, but that’s also what makes him so much like post-Knightfall Batman. Therein lies the other problem: we already have Bruce filling the role of the intolerable, self-destructively obsessive fascist. We don’t need a teen version of that.
OK, I will grant that after Identity Crisis, Tim’s personality did skew in the direction of being a broody mini-Batman and that’s annoying. I also even think that Jason probably should have lived and gone on to have the stories that Tim had. But I like Tim precisely because, at least in his heyday, he wasn’t like Batman. Where Batman was obsessive, Tim was levelheaded. He played the Watson who could speak for the audience and provide a more rational lens for Batman’s more extreme behavior.
Damian can’t do that because Damian is a psychopath. Jason could maybe have done that except he was dead and then a psychopath. And Dick can’t do that because he got sick of Batman’s crap and moved to a different city.
I see what you’re saying, buttah, I feel like he’s worse. He’s like… … … Wait. I was about to say angst-y + childish. That’s, basically calling him a teen version of Bats. Dang.
My boy Tim need some help/love. [×]
@BatJamags U right. I miss level headed Tim. [×]
I almost want to create a poll asking which character was ruined more by Identity Crisis: Bruce or Tim. But I suppose Bruce was on his path of paranoia in Tower of Babel and Hush, and Identity Crisis was just the final straw that led to Brother Eye.
I’d even trace it back a little earlier than Tower of Babel. I’d say he was written as more of a pain than usual as far back as No Man’s Land, seemingly to emphasize the severity of the situation, but they just never switched it off afterwards.
I didn’t feel this in Tim’s solo, but picked it up more in team books. Dixon, to me, made him his own person and developed him in a relatable way. What Meltzer did (and subsequent writers) wasn’t my thing. I’m not a fan of Identity Crisis.
Since we’ve been discussing Tim’s history here, I just want to make sure that everyone is aware of the planned readings for World of Bats this month: “A Lonely Place of Dying” and the three Robin miniseries from the early 1990s.
So, since I created this topic way back when…
Things haven’t gotten better for Tim. I think DC might’ve fibbed when they told me he was in good hands. Grumble.