Batman Unmasked – The Psychology of the Dark Knight
“In Batman we can find the heroism, the fear and the darkness inside us all”
Usually, when the media tries to do anything psychological, they tend to screw it up big time. This is why the History Channel is awesome; this documentary is very well done and makes some very valid points about the neurosis of this timeless American hero.
There is, however, one aspect of this clip that I want to comment on.
Who is the “real batman”? As pointed out in the documentary, Bruce Wayne is seen as 3 separate persona’s: The “playboy millionaire”, Bruce when he is not maintaining a public face, and of course — The Batman. Many love to argue as to which persona is his true identity and which are his “masks”. It is easy to fall for the romantic idea of a crime fighting vigilante forced to “act normal” during the day, all the while fighting to contain the persona within. However, I believe that (other than that black piece of plastic which conceals his identity) Bruce Wayne, The Batman, wears no masks.
Take those with Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) or Dissociative Identity disorder, or whatever the hell they’re calling it these days. MPDs are often characterized as having multiple selves; one may be be a 30 something aristicrat, another may be a young boy and a third still can be an 80 year old grandmother. The mistake that many people make is believing that there is a “right” self among all the personalities. Each personality in someone who suffers from MPD is a piece of that person who has split apart, almost always during trauma, and serves a specific function . Only once put back together do these pieces create the true person.
I am not saying that Batman suffers from MPD, but am merely saying that we need to look at him in the same way. Each of Bruce Wayne’s personalities serves a different purpose toward the same ultimate goal of avenging his parents’ death and dealing with the trauma he experienced as a child. The Batman fights the crime, the millionaire foots the bill and Bruce lives the life that falls in between. Whenever Bruce Wayne ventures out into the world, no matter what persona he must be, he always takes the other two with him.
This does not take away from The Batman, if anything it makes him seem that much stronger.His ability to live virtually three parallel lives, all the while protecting the citizens of Gotham from some of the most disturbed villains ever created, is what makes The Batman such an appealing super hero.
I’d love to hear some of your thoughts and possibly some theories you may have pertaining to Batman’s awesome cast of super villains.