When you consider the amount of times all of Batman’s villains have been in Arkham Asylum, comic book fans pretty frequently default to summarizing the ne’er-do-wells as needing to be there. In GQ’s new video “Psychiatrist Breaks Down Batman’s Psychotic Arkham Inmates,” Psychiatrist Dr. Eric Bender takes a close look at the behaviour of several Bat-family antagonists with some surprising observsations. Though the likes of Two-Face, Penguin, and Maxie Zeus are discusses, it’s Dr. Bender’s diagnosis of The Joker however is what’s the most surprising, eventually revelaing he doesn’t think The Joker should ever be in Arkham!
“If I were to see the Joker, I would first of all wonder does he belong in Arkham Asylum? He’s an individual that has come across to me as not having any mental illness,” Dr. Bender says in the video. “Yes, something is off with him, as people say, in that he commits the crimes that he does. He kills people. He wants to introduce anarchy…He’s just ready to create chaos. He’s an agent of chaos. All of that makes me think are there any real mental health issues such as depression or anxiety or any psychosis, anything like that? And I don’t see that.”
Bender went on to note that there’s potential for The Joker to have Antisocial personality disorder, which he summarized as “having no regard for laws or rules” and “continual lying.” Sound like anyone Batman might know? He adds that while The Joker does meet the criteria for antisocial personality disorder, he’s also pretty clearly a “psychopath,” though the two don’t go hand in hand every time.
“Given that he’s a psychopath and there’s no significant mental illness related to why he’s committing the crimes he is, he doesn’t belong here at Arkham,” Bender added. “He’s also tried not to get caught. He has done things to clearly avoid capture, which means he knows what he’s doing is wrong…He knows what he’s doing, so not only does he not have a mental illness, he also knows what he’s doing is wrong. He belongs in Blackgate Penitentiary.”
In addition to diagnosing other Batman villains, Dr. Bender went on to clearly reiterate that despite what Batman comics might make you think, “mental illness does not lead to violence.” Dr. Bender continues, “You’re 15 times more than likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a stranger with chronic psychotic illness. Good treatment can be helpful. I’m not saying that good treatment would cure Joker, or Penguin, or Mr. Zsasz, but good treatment is important. It’s important to find and it’s important to offer, and I need to talk to some people around here about getting new psychiatrists at Arkham.”