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  1. #1
    Barb Gordon's Avatar
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    The Joker - A Sociopath?

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    I love my Psych class. Why may you ask? Well because it's like the one class I can throw comics/cartoons into and have some real fun while still learning. Case in point, I just got my first psych assignment which is to pick two characters from two different movies/ tv series and discuss whether they are a stalker or a psychopath (sociopath), or do they just have some similar characertistics and in the end put in my personal view of whether they are or aren't. So Batman came to mind because come on, he's just got oodles of freaks to handle! I've already figured out something for the stalker, so my biggest challenge was figuring out who fit the sociopath profile. Since he said it had to be a movie or tv series, I decided to go with the movie Mask of the Phantasm as opposed to just BTAS or TNBA. Any thoughts on whether that might be a bad idea for this project? I can name certain similar psychopath traits that the Joker has, but I'll have to review MOTP to see if it really shows in that movie. Anyhoo, I'm psyched...hehe psych/psyched...for this project. Would love some feedback and views on what you think of sociopaths with concerns to the Joker - or whether there might be someone else in the Batman realm I could use to fit the sociopath or stalker profile.

    ~Barb

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  2. #2
    Frank White's Avatar
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    I'll admit I know zero/nothing about Psychology but wouldn't the Mad Hatter fit a stalker profile?
    If Batman keeps Anti-JLA files does his protégé write Anti-Young Justice recipes in his cookbook?

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    First off, that's a kick-ass assignment. I've incorporated Batman and other pop-culture things in my classes before and they're always fun projects.

    However, I have a question for ya, Barb - what's the difference between a "sociopath" and a "psychopath"? I've heard both terms used to describe the Joker (and other Batman baddies) before. What's the definition of each?

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    it's been few yrs since i last had pysch but there is a difference between a sociopath and a pyschopath

    joker is clearly a pyschopath
    a sociopath is someone who fails to follow the norm, typically by committing crimes, being promiscuous, protesting/rebelling, etc...

    it's not necessarily bad to be a sociopath...it's all relative to the society. Back in the day, I'm sure MLK was called a sociopath for his equality message.

    I'd say that Catwoman is a sociopath, while the likes of Joker, Two-Face, & Scarecrow are pyschopaths.

    Selina is in her right mind. She just decides to play by her own set of rules, going where she pleases, when she pleases, taking what she wants.

    Penguin is a sociopath too, with all his backroom dealings and fencing ops.

    You may even say The Batman is a sociopath.
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  5. #5
    Barb Gordon's Avatar
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    Well my proff. has just grouped the terms sociopath and psychopath together. This is a really good article detailing sociopaths/psychpaths. This is another really good and detailed lecture one.

    The psychopath is a manipulator, who knows exactly what makes us tick and knows how to manipulate and influence our feelings. They have the talent to spot “kind, caring” women.

    If that doesn't sound like Joker in reference to Harley, I don't know what does!

    and Frank, I love you! I complete forgot about Hatter, he'd be GREAT for the stalker part of my paper! I'll have to work more on that later.

    ~Barb

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  6. #6
    TimTwoFace's Avatar
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    See, that's what's confusing me. I could very well be a sociopath myself, because I like to consider myself to be one that follows the norm for the most part, but steers away just enough to be considered "strange".

    The Joker is always going to be considered a psychopath to me. He kills and gets delight out of it; even if there is some type of personal revenge tied in (ie, trying to kill Batman, Gordon, or their underlings), there is always a certain theme involved.

    Hmmm...maybe it's the obsession with quirky and kooky themes that may or may not have violent ends. Sometimes the Joker is out there to deliver pain and anguish to Gotham in general or a victim in particular, or whether he's just out there to make a joke.
    Sometimes it has to do with smiling fish (THE LAUGHING FISH), sometimes it's about using poor saps for personal means (JOKER'S FAVOR), sometimes it's to create utter chaos (BGA #31), sometimes to win an award (MAKE 'EM LAUGH), and so on.

    In fact, a good handful of Gotham's villains can be thrown into this category.

    Is that what you're looking for, Barb?

    -Tim

    PS - As for other stalker ideas, you can always use the Mad Hatter (already noted), Firefly (though his character is kinda bland), and the Invisible Man from SEE NO EVIL. The latter I think is probably the best portrayal of any stalker-type on BTAS, actually.
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  7. #7
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    Sideshow Bob is a great example of a stalker.
    he'll never stop lurking in the shadows in pursuit of Bart.

    or if you still want to keep the comics motif, go w/ Venom.
    since he's invisible to parker's spidey-sense, brock can come and go as he pleases.

    sometimes he's out for a good brawl and other times he just likes to pop up and give spidey a good scare, then disappear w/o even throwing a punch.

    you could even call the Bat a stalker
    he's a hero so you can call him an "investigator"...but he basically stalks criminals. but they have it coming. ):-)
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    Barb Gordon's Avatar
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    yeah, I'm trying to stick with what I'm most familiar with, which would be BTAS or TNBA. I need to review episodes for notes and such, can't really do that with Spiderman. Invisible Man would work as a stalker, but at the moment Mad Hatter fits more if the interesting traits.

    ~Barb

    leaf on the wind...


  9. #9
    Tom Reed is offline Member
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    In the movie "Deathtrap" it was explained that a sociopath is someone who knows the difference between right and wrong - and doesn't care. He wants what he wants, and will get it however he wants to. He'll stab you to get a pen in your pocket so he can write himself a note.

    The Joker is about the only sociopath in the DC Universe. There are other evil types, like Darkseid, Riddler, Lobo and the like, but they all have things they won't do, and clearly observable goals. Not so Joker.

    In fact, I suspect that the recent "death of the Joker" storyline from the comics was started out of exasperation. If you have someone who's willing to kill everyone on the planet for the sake of a "joke," as Joker has, there is literally nothing you can do with him. He has no nuances; he is a one-note Johnny. I suspect DC was thinking of killing him off and having him replaced by someone a little less apocalyptic.

    And while we're on the subject, although in one comic book Batman saved Joker from being outright killed by Marvel's Punisher, how many other people would want to kill Joker outright,and how often would Batman wish to protect him? Isn't it time for Lex Luthor to try to wreck Joker, just for the sake of peace and quiet?
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  10. #10
    Barb Gordon's Avatar
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    The terms sociopath and psychopath and interchangeable terms, they are both parts of the anti social personality disorder. The basc thing is that they lack a conscience. As one sociopath put it about his murders - it was a habit, just like smoking. That would fit Joker quite well for Mask of the Phantasm.

    ~Barb

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  11. #11
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    Yeah that's right. Sociopath and psychopath are interchangable as far as terms in psychology. A lot of words in psych turned out to mean a tiny something different than what I had been using them for. Anyways, if you get bored with psych after a while Barb, as I did after a few years, try philosophy too. That's another fun school topic you can talk about a lot of our favorite characters with. (fans of Star Trek's "Data" would be happy to hear that I brought him up in a discussion in one of the philosophy classes I had last semester)

    Anyway!! Joker would be my psychopath, and I could name quite a few parts in MOTP where you see his trademarks shine. You know, that whole 'joke' theme to his madness that he has. There are examples of it everywhere if you look. Massive ego, manipulation ability, artistic flair to his cruelness (in the form of 'jokes').

    Mad Hatter was always MY personal stalker. Ahem, that is, ever since seeing the BTAS episode "TRIAL" I thought of him as a stalker. In response to the idea of respecting Alice's wishes, he claims: "I'd have killed her first!!" The only problem with presenting that as an argument would be why he continues to carry out his Mad Tea Party Metaphor life, even after Alice is out of the picture. That may be something you'd want to clarify and comment on, so your Professor doesn't come up with it on his/her own. So, I guess his madness was triggered by a really deep stalker case, then developed into something else.

    How bout for an extra credit project you throw in Harvey Dent for MPD? He's a classic case. Perfect.

    If there's anything I've learned from this as well as similar situations in MY academic life, it's that my comic book characters help teach me about the world in their own ways! So nya to anyone who thinks ill of them.
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  12. #12
    Joker21's Avatar
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    In the movie 'The Pretender' the villain states that the difference between a psychopath and a scoiopath is that a psychopath can't distinguish between right and wrong(i.e. Two-Face); But a sociopath can, he just doesn't care.

  13. #13
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    Originally posted by Nightwing

    How bout for an extra credit project you throw in Harvey Dent for MPD? He's a classic case. Perfect.
    [/color]
    Oh! I can be your personal guinea pig for that one! Whadaya say?

    "StOp PeStErInG hEr, TiMbO."

    Oh, shut up, Big Bad Harv...he just gets so excited when company is over...

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    The Mad Hatter would make a good stalker (I don't mean that the way it sounds) nut I always thought of the Scarecrow too. I mean he's a cold calculating genius who has studied the very essence of fear. He knows what makes a man afraid. He studies his victims and prepares his traps to get whatever he wants. But I haven't seen every episode with the Mad Hatter or the Scarecrow for that matter so what do I know?
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    Frank White's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Barb Gordon
    Well my proff. has just grouped the terms sociopath and psychopath together. This is a really good article detailing sociopaths/psychpaths. This is another really good and detailed lecture one.

    The psychopath is a manipulator, who knows exactly what makes us tick and knows how to manipulate and influence our feelings. They have the talent to spot “kind, caring” women.

    If that doesn't sound like Joker in reference to Harley, I don't know what does!

    and Frank, I love you! I complete forgot about Hatter, he'd be GREAT for the stalker part of my paper! I'll have to work more on that later.

    ~Barb
    If Batman keeps Anti-JLA files does his protégé write Anti-Young Justice recipes in his cookbook?

  16. #16
    Barb Gordon's Avatar
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    Hmm, I'm thinking I should just focus on one episode for the Mad Hatter. I mean, he doesn't really pursure Alice after his main ep, correct? Was that Mad As A Hatter? That episode really has some prime stuff in it relating to the different kinds of stalkers. He's actually a cross of two I think. That sad, nerdy kind that dreams from afar but who given a talking to will just back off...and the "psycho one", ie, agressive, wont take no for an answer and would rather kill that person if they can't have them.

    ~Barb

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  17. #17
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    Just out of interest, looking at the terms, and not being into psychology per se, can you be both if you exhibit both traits, on interpreting the Joker, and finding evidence for both characteristics, can you only be one or the other.

    Sorry for sounding dumb, but I've never been totally comfortable with the terms - perhaps it's cos it's late.... surely a manipulator (as the Joker is in Mad Love) would also sit well with his socialpathic tendancies towards Gotham. Surely in someways, the point of the character is that he has no clearly defined perameters, that's what makes him so dangerous and fun to read - his traits and motivations are in constant flux.

    If that was the case, perhaps the Joker would be the hardest of all the cases to analyse for your assignment (if your tutor is a Batgeek that is!)

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  18. #18
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    Yeah Barb, the Mad Hatter doesn't really do much with Alice after his origin in MAD AS A HATTER. However, he does mention her in TRIAL ("I'd've killed her first!"), and they were both reunited in a way in BATMAN & ROBIN ADVENTURES #17. If you have that issue, you oughta check it out.

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  19. #19
    Barb Gordon's Avatar
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    With Joker he mostly has sociopath traits and tendencies, so that's where I'm putting him. I don't have to prove that's what he is or anything, in fact, I can write a whole paper about how he seems like a sociopath, but end with an argument on how I don't think he is, or think he is that and a whole lot more. Not sure whether I should use MOTP for the reference of BTAS/TNBA. As for Mad Hatter, he really does seem to fit two different types of stalkers, especially with the "would have killed her" line, I could really tie that in well. What was that in reference to again? He would kill her before letting her go? That would really fit into the paper well.

    ~Barb

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  20. #20
    Barb Gordon's Avatar
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    I've got all my info set for the Mad Hatter part of my paper, but I'm still tossing ideas around for Joker. I'm going to review MOTP today, but I'm not sure if it's going to have the material I need to say whether or not I think he's a sociopath/psychopath. Then I was wondering if instead I should use an episode or two from BTAS or TNBA. Mad Love came to mind because it shows what a manipulator he is, how he doesn't care if he hurts someone, and how explosive he can be. Any thoughts or suggestions?

    ~Barb

    leaf on the wind...


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