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The Faces Of Madness: Gotham's Rogues - Articles Surfing

For many years, The Batman has tackled some truly dangerous criminals in his native city. It is interesting to note that villains that fight The Batman are of a starkly different flavor from the villains that other superheroes face. Unlike the villains of other heroes, such as Superman and Spider-man, The Batman's collection of villains are less known for their superhuman abilities and more for being reflections of a variety of mental health disorders. In this vein, they echo The Batman himself. By his own admission, The Batman has 'issues, lots of issues.' Indeed, aside from a few notable exceptions, they're all fairly regular human beings. Once one gets past the fractured state of mental health, at least. Some of these characters, albeit being fictional, make for excellent studies into both the criminal psyche and how people with mental health disorders might act in some circumstances.

Edward Nigma, 'The Riddler'

At first glance, Edward Nigma might be seen as being perfectly sane, a criminal that is nonetheless in a state of perfect mental health. Indeed, his clever clues and sharp wit have often been seen as signs that he is actually in possession of all of his mental faculties. However, the writers of the comics have slowly lifted that veil and exposed the truth behind the mental health of The Riddler. In one well-known instance, he realized he might have a problem when he could not overcome a sense of anxiety at being unable to leave a clue for The Batman to find. He was shown to have gone through tremendous stress because of his conflicting desire to not be caught and his obsession with leaving clues behind. The fact that he gave in to his stress and anxiety led him to believe he was crazy, hinting at his self-diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder. For a time, he also lived with severe performance anxiety after suffering a crushing physical and psychological defeat at the hands of Poison Ivy.

Harvey Dent, 'Two-Face'

While the portrayal is inaccurate, it is perfectly clear what mental health problem Harvey Dent has. The dissociative identity disorder of the former chief prosecutor of Gotham city has had lasting effects on him. It not only drove him into a life of crime as the criminal boss Two-Face, it has also rendered him psychologically incapable of making a decision without consulting a coin toss. Two-Face's trademark, a two-headed coin with one side scratched, has long been his primary means of making a decision in critical situations. He also exhibits an obsession with duality, with his earlier career focusing on crimes centered around that particular theme. His reliance on the results of his coin toss have been linked to the conflict between his two personalities. In theory, neither side is capable of convincing the other of anything, such that the only acceptable compromise for both is to obey the decisions of fate ' represented by the coin. It is unknown if his consistent 'obedience' to the coin is related to his aforementioned mental health disorder, or if it stems from another problem.

Dr. Jonathan Crane, 'Scarecrow'

Jonathan Crane's mental health problems are almost as difficult to diagnose as those of Edward Nigma's, though they are present. While fully in control of his actions, Crane plays an interesting role in the world of The Batman. Being a former psychologist with extensive knowledge on the subject of fear and how it affects the mind. Despite this, he also exhibits obsessive-compulsive disorder in subtle forms, particularly his sadistic enjoyment at spreading fear and chaos. This, combined with his training in psychology or psychiatry (there is some inconsistency in the comics), has made him a dangerous opponent to tackle. He also exhibited signs of status anxiety when he declined to use his trademark 'fear gas' on his victims, reacting to the taunts from his fellow criminals that he was nothing without it. However, perhaps the most ironic aspect of Crane's mental health is that, despite his moniker's implications, he is shown to consistently fear birds, crows in particular.

Jack Napier, 'The Joker'

If any single Batman villain can be considered the epitome of insanity, it has to be Jack Napier. More commonly known in his personal as the 'Clown Prince of Crime,' Napier has exhibited the widest array of mental health disorders among the entire Batman cast, arguably falling short only of The Batman himself. His predominant personality characteristics are textbook symptoms of antisocial personality disorder. He has also exhibited obsessive-compulsive disorder towards dealing with The Batman, though just why he obsesses over The Batman has varied. For some, it comes down to an obsession with 'making The Bat laugh,' while others have interpreted it as a twisted form of admiration, or even love. In recent times, he has also shown signs of status anxiety, particularly through his constantly planning more nightmarish and twisted schemes and murders to maintain his status as 'Gotham's most feared criminal.' To an extent, some have also attributed his personal vendetta against The Batman as a sign of his status anxiety. In theory, he resents 'Bats' for being the most feared figure in the city, which Napier believes to rightfully belong to him and no one else.

Submitted by:

Jennifer Alinio

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