The Joker

Topics: Antisocial personality disorder, Abnormal psychology, Psychopathy Pages: 6 (1367 words) Published: February 26, 2015


The Dark Knight: The Joker’s Psychological Analysis
Mackenzie Sirmans
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

The Dark Knight: The Joker’s Psychological Analysis
Throughout comic book history, the Joker, Batman’s arch-nemesis, has been characterized as one of the most infamous and fascinating characters. The most recent personification of the Joker in The Dark Knight shows a grittier, darker side, one that depicts him as a terrifying individual with no political agenda other than to create chaos for his own personal amusement. Batman is certainly in this film, but it’s the Joker who is really the star. He conveys a multitude of psychopathic qualities as a mass murderer, an anarchist, and a dangerous criminal that has no respect for authority, and appears to have no rules, morals, guilt, or empathy for the troubles of others. He laughs at his own terrifying actions through the eerie painted grin that barely covers the disfiguring scars on either side of his mouth. There is definitely something wrong with him, but what is that something? Throughout this analysis, I will be uncovering what exactly is wrong with the Joker, and if this diagnosis is well represented throughout The Dark Knight.

From observing the film, the Joker’s most likely diagnoses would be antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), often referred to as psychopathy, sociopath, or dyssocial personality disorder. ASPD is a chronic and serious condition that is on Axis II of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-V) as a Cluster B personality disorder (APA, 2012). The diagnostic criteria for antisocial personality disorder are as follows: “A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three (or more) of the following: (1) failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behavior, as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are ground for arrest, (2) deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, conning other for personal profit of pleasure, (3) impulsivity or failure to plan ahead, (4) irritability or aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults, (5) reckless disregard for the safety of self or others, (6) consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations, (7) lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another” (p.659). In order to be diagnosed with ASPD, the individual’s behavior must meet at least three of the seven criteria listed above. The Joker fits more than just three of these criteria, but the three that he most associates with are his failure to conform to social norms, lack of remorse for his actions, and deceitfulness for personal profit or pleasure. Throughout The Dark Knight, the Joker is portrayed visually as a type of disheveled clown, with green hair, painted on make-up, colorful outfits, and a painted on red grin. This portrayal alone shows his deviance from social norms. Along with his appearance, his behavior correlates back to the DSM-V criteria for antisocial personality disorder. For example, the Joker has been constantly arrested due to callous crimes showing his failure to conform to lawful behaviors. He is seen lying, using aliases, and conning other for personal pleasure when he dressed up as another clown while robbing the bank. He manipulated the whole crew into killing the others and ends up taking the money for himself. His constant assaulting, torturing, and mass murdering shows his irritable and aggressive behavior. He recklessly disregards the safety of himself and others. For example, he tells Batman multiple times to kill him and laughs hysterically when falling from the top of a skyscraper. He also uses innocent people as targets for police officers, blows up a hospital, and...
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