The Joker

Brandon Gallo PSY 202 Extra Credit Paper “Dark Knight” was a smash hit for it’s fame, explosions, and chase scenes, but what really had me on the edge of my seat was perhaps the most riveting villain I had ever seen. The Joker. The Joker is a mob-backed terrorist with suicidal tendencies and According to the DSM, the joker would be given the diagnoses of Antisocial personality disorder. He is not reasonable, he’s not afraid of anything, and the last thing he cares about in the world is himself.

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As Alfred explained to Bruce, “Some men just want to watch the world burn Individuals with an Antisocial Personality Disorder show a lack of concern toward the expectations and rules of society and usually frequently become involved in at least minor violations of the rules of society and the rights of others. A popular term for this type of individual is “sociopath”. Although the diagnosis is limited to those persons over eighteen years of age, it usually involves a history of antisocial behavior before the age of fifteen.

The individual often displays a pattern of lying, truancy, delinquency, substance abuse, running away from home and may have difficulty with the law. As an adult, the person often commits acts that are against the law and/or fails to live up to the requirements of a job, financial responsibility, or parenting responsibilities. They tend to have difficulty sustaining a long term marital relationship and frequently are involved in alcohol and drug abuse. To be diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder the person must have three or more symptoms of the following (John M. Groho) . The signs and symptoms include: (dsm-iv-rt)

Lack of concern regarding society’s rules and expectations. Repeated violations of the rights of others. Unlawful behavior. Lack of regard for the truth In parents, neglect or abuse of children. Lack of a steady job. Frequent job changes through quitting and/or being fired Tendencies toward physical aggression and extreme irritability. From what I have seen the joker shows six out of the seven symptoms. The Joker is a pathological liar, with reactive attachment issues, scars he credits to either childhood abuse or self-mutilation (he contradicts himself in the movie) and presents with suicidal ideation.

Being a sociopath, he presents with a surgically precise id. He can masterfully calculate how he can steal the most money, kill the most people, and as he explains to the bed-ridden Harvey Dent, how he can “introduce chaos”. He is able to temporarily delay fulfilling the desire to kill in order to cause more anxiety in others and achieve an almost orgasmic thrill in seeing innocent people kill each other. As Batman’s motorcycle comes screaming towards him, the Joker actually walks towards him muttering things like “hit me!! ” and “Do it!

I want you to do it! ”. Clearly self-preservation is one biological need the Joker lacks. But why? We may gain some insight by looking at the absence of his superego. Through out the movie he openly mocks society as phony and hypocritical. Sure, they’re all civilized when things go “according to plan”, says the Joker, but as soon as things go wrong, everyone panics and shows who they really are. Rules are false values and principles and therefore have no hold on the Joker. Twice in the movie the Joker explains how he got his scars.

In one account he growls that his father was an abusive drunk that asked his son “why so serious? ” and proceeded to cut the Joker’s face. He said that he hated his father. It seems as though from an early age the Joker let his id control his personality and with a broken ego he experiences a certain detachment from reality. As Alfred explained to a confused Bruce Wayne, “some men just like to watch the world burn”. After some reflection, I submit that the Joker is out to prove a point. Throughout the movie he has an avid contempt for social structure and norms as was mentioned above.

After Batman leaves the Joker in an interrogation room with a police officer, the Joker enrages the guard by saying that when you push people to the brink and they face death, then you see who they really are. At that point, according to the Joker, they drop their phony facade and behave like the chaotic, selfish animals that we all are. I submit that his motivation is to conduct social experiments to prove himself correct- that at the core people are controlled by their own selfish needs (while he is only controlled by his own delusion of pretentiousness). He has two men fight to the death with one sharp stick between them.

He gives two boatloads of people the detonator to bombs on the other ship. He tells Batman that if he [Batman] wants to catch him [the Joker], that he’s going to have to break his One Rule that was brought up at the end of the first movie—to not kill. The Joker’s constant twitching and licking of his lips as possible evidence of an oral fixation and would want to ask the Joker about his relationship with his mother. If we go ahead and believe that the Joker really did have and hate his abusive alcoholic father, then we would explore the conflict between the Joker and his father and as a result, the underdevelopment of a superego.

In the second narration of the origins of his scars, the Joker tells Rachel that he once had a wife that was cut up by mobsters and that in an effort to make her feel better, he carves his own face and was devastated when she leaves him. If we believe this version of the story, then his anger from his father (who in this case was not the one who cut up his face, but perhaps still an abusive drunk) is compounded when he is rejected by his wife. Perhaps this was a cathartic experience that releases previously repressed hatred and it comes spilling out as he seeks revenge on mankind. With the death of Ledger, we’ll never know.

Currently, there is no widely accepted effective method of treating sociopathic personality types. They tend to be very manipulative during treatment and tend to lie and cover up personal faults in themselves and have little insight into their behavior patterns. They tend to exhibit short-term enthusiasm for treatment, particularly after an incident which has brought them into contact with society or the law, however, once this anxiety is relieved and reduced, they frequently drop out of treatment and fall back into the same sociopathic patterns that brought them into treatment initially.

In most cases, the prognosis remains unfavorable throughout the individual’s life-span (John M. Groho) . An Antisocial Personality Disorder is not just a medical term for criminality. It describes a long term pervasive personality disorder that is very resistant to treatment. Suicide, alcoholism, vagrancy, social isolation are common among these individuals, but there is a remarkable lack of anxiety or depression for situations in which these emotions are usually expected. In spite of their run-ins with the law, they usually present a very charming and normal facade.

Dynamically, these individuals remain fixed in earlier levels of development. Usually there is parental rejections and/or indifference and needs for satisfaction and security are not met. As a result, psychoanalytic theory holds that the ego which controls impulses between conscience and impulses is underdeveloped. Behavior is usually id directed due to this lack of ego strength, a result is a need for immediate gratification. An immature superego allows the individual to pursue gratification regardless of the means and without experiencing any of the feelings of guilt.

Functioning has been implicated as an important doctrine in determining whether an individual develops this disorder. Usually the following circumstances are predisposed factors: (John M. Groho) Absence of parental discipline. Extreme poverty. Removal from the home. Growing up without parental figures of both sexes. Erratic, inconsistent discipline. Being “rescued” each time the person is in trouble and never having to suffer the consequences of his own behavior. Maternal deprivation and lack of an appropriate “attachment”. This problem is much more prevalent in males than females.

If present in females, it usually occurs at the onset of puberty. In males the onset is usually earlier on in childhood. Behaviors can diminish somewhat after the age of thirty when the individual seems to “mellow out” and learns more effective ways of staying within the system. Clients tend to be very manipulative and lack motivation for change. They very rarely seek therapy voluntarily and they are usually forced into therapy through some involvement with the law or other aspects of their life. History also reveals significant impairment in social, marital, and occupational functioning.

Therapists relate that these clients tend to lack emotional attachment to others. They tend to be personable, charming, and engaging and are usually above average in intelligence. This demeanor, however, is often a pretense intended to deceive others and facilitate the exploitation of others. Emotional reactions tend to be extreme and these individuals tend to lack concern for other people’s feelings, be preoccupied with their own interests, and tend to have grandiose expressions of their own importance. Insight and judgment are usually poor as is their responsiveness to therapy.

Therapy should focus on helping the individual develop a trusting relationship with other significant people in their lives; children, spouses, etc. The client also needs to learn healthy ways to deal with anxiety and learn to postpone or defer gratification of impulses as a positive step toward developing a more mature and socially more positive way of interacting with others. Focus should also be on promoting development of alternate constructive methods of interacting with others rather than manipulation for self gain.

Progress should be measured in terms of self control and use of appropriately assertive rather than aggressive behaviors to gain desired responses. Anxiety and frustration also need to be recognized and diminished and the client also needs to focus on appropriate means of management of these two emotions which tend to cause the greatest conflict with authority and others. Response to therapy is usually very poor, tends to be long term. However, most of these clients do discontinue therapy prematurely and only remain if forced or coerced which further complicates treatment (John M. Groho).

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