EDITORIAL: Does Every Comic Book Hero Suffer From Multiple Personality Syndrome?

The case of having more than one personality is common and well known today. The fact to become something else and how another side of your own else can often lead to darker effects. But is this case often present in the medium of comic books and why do we not notice it as much? Hit the jump for more!

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By PsychoManiacJacky - 3/7/2014


A common fact that most heroes share is their own identity. Whether or not they have something to hide or choose to. As with Batman he is not only Batman in spirit but there is a man under the costume, Bruce Wayne. As Bruce Wayne tries to function life as a normal human being, Batman functions life as a vigilante and a crime fighter. What's only in common is that they are the same person. Heroes having secret identities dates back to the early days of comic books themselves. The concept of such as in example, "Your own neighbor next door could be a superhero". Most of these heroes are just normal human beings and while some of them are not. For this subject alone as the title of the syndrome relates to a more human side, I am focusing on the more human characters we know. Yes, Batman is a common case of this issue and one of the more popular. Actor Christian Bale even stated the character does have the slight deficiencies as mentioned. To become something you would not normally become, these are things that can take a toll on the mind itself. It's a factor of mentality and a matter of state in being.



Bruce Banner aka The Hulk is an outright example in this case also. When Bruce Banner becomes angry, he turns into a green monster known as The Hulk. The Hulk is commonly known as Banner's other personality. Bruce Banner and The Hulk's own origins commonly derive from the classic story, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde which is commonly associated with the mental condition of split personality. How clever can it be to use the basis of a common mental condition and turn it into a wideselling comic book character? This is what most human heroes are in an essence. They suffer and they constantly get hurt. Each one of them in a span faces a tragedy which untimely makes them unstable for a brief period. The factor of being unstable and uncontrollable all links back to a certain mental condition.



Spider-Man is another enemy in these grounds within the conditions stated. Not just the fact of his own identity (referring to the Peter Parker Spider-Man) but also the way he tries to balance life. He sometimes just wants to be normal but can't as he feels the need to constantly help people. In his own mind no one else can and only he can help them. Whenever he hears danger he immediately is surged to suit up as Spider-Man, a sense within his mind kicks in. The side known as Spider-Man takes over. Peter Parker tries to constantly fight it by being talkative within the suit and using witty humor, he communicates in a way he normally wouldn't. The two personalities are now at war with each other, but one manages to prevail. The Spider-Man personality issue was further more outlined more clear with the introduction of Venom which when bonded with Peter Parker brought out his own darker side. Again another comic book making a clear statement of Multiple Personality Syndrome. Also if you didn't want to take it from the hero point of view look at many villains also crowded with the same element such as Two-Face.

Why do writers feel the need to use such a syndrome as a basis when it comes to most comic book heroes? Well for one point, it's an interesting subject. It's a subject that can be explored in many ways without even having to state the obvious. Some would call it vaguely crude to touch upon the subject matter as it is a real life issue, but as many if properly treated in translation it would work to an extent. There are many more examples towards this subject but what are your own thoughts and opinions on this topic? Thank you for reading and as always leave a comment below.
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14 Comments
DEVLIN712 - 3/7/2014, 12:23 AM
You know Jacky, these articles are starting to verge close to the sane line. You need another Teletubbies v Superman article
dethpillow - 3/7/2014, 1:37 AM
great article, Jacky!!! i like this one a lot.
& i got a lot to say about it, but don't want to clutter things up right now. cuz i would have too much to say for someone that is posting one of the first ones. plus, most of what i have to say is rambling right now, and this deserves a clearer head from me. :0)

but yeah, right on, this is really an interesting thing to bring up.
dethpillow - 3/7/2014, 1:44 AM
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BenjiWest - 3/7/2014, 3:02 AM
I think Spiderman allows Peter to express a part of his personality that he's kept hidden and dormant for fear being ostracized by his peers. With the mask of Spiderman that fear is gone, Spiderman gives Peter confidence.

With Hulk I always did feel like Hulk and Bruce were separate personalities. Don't know anymore as Bruce has recently been able to control it.

Great article Jacky. Good read.
Doopie - 3/7/2014, 4:45 AM
it's an interesting concept and there are a ton of examples. doesn't moonkinght have like 3 different personalities. then there's deadpool who's just plain nuts.

best example i think i've seen on screen is the green goblin in spidey 1. the scene where norman is talking to himself in the mirror is really well done and ties into a lot of psychological theories.

whether it's multiple/split personalities or something else, i think most characters in comics have a touch of the crazy about them. Watchmen probably explored this best.
Pasto - 3/7/2014, 5:12 AM
I don't have multiple personality syndrome. I'm Batman, day and night. Get your facts straight.
MsDarkPhoenix - 3/7/2014, 5:41 AM
That's something I've been thinking about actually. Very good article!! Also, I agree with BenjiWest about Spidey and Hulk.
MrCBM56 - 3/7/2014, 8:48 AM
Nice article! Thumbs up.
H3LLBLAZER - 3/7/2014, 9:08 AM
Other outright examples of this are Etrigan The Demon, SHAZAM, Martian Manhunter, Clayface, Inque, Mystique and Ghost Rider.
H3LLBLAZER - 3/7/2014, 9:15 AM
I forgot one more. Christopher Chance, from The Human Target Vertigo comic book.
WYLEEJAY - 3/7/2014, 12:35 PM
Nice article! Another thing I find interesting about Spiderman......is his Spider sense. It actually controls his reflexes. That means his body reacts faster than his brain does. So while Spiderman is dodging bullets and kicking ass, Peter Parkers mind is free to verbally taunt his opponents. Its also how Parker reacts to stressful situations. Its an amazing creation that there Spider Sense.
MightyZeus - 3/7/2014, 5:44 PM
Good article Jacky. I'm glad someone has brought psychology surrounding comic book characters to our attention. To answer your question, not every comic book character has multiple personality syndrome but it is still a common trait among older comic book characters. Just look at Moon Knight or The Green Goblin for example. Moon Knight has supposedly several personalities(i think) which is extreme. Is it tiring to see and read that these characters have multiple personality syndrome, no not at all as long as each character still has a momentum behind it.
BlackWindThaAstonishing - 3/12/2014, 10:04 PM
First of all it's called Dissociative Identity Disorder not multiple personality syndrome. Second most characters don't actually have the disorder, they are leading double lives which is different. The act of putting on a mask doesn't actually change who they are, it just gives the anonymity which frees them up to act in ways they normally could or would not.

They also wear masks and behave a little differently in order to keep the two aspects of their lives separate because of what could happen if people (i.e. their enemies, or the police) knew who they were. If they do behave differently,it's more likely that one or the other "personality" is just an intentional deception. Clark Kent acts clumsy and mild mannered because he doesn't want people to associate him with Superman. Same with Batman and Bruce Wayne. Peter Parker doesn't actually behave that differently. He's still witty as Peter Parker, it's just that his wit is directed towards a different purpose, and it's not played up as much.

In most cases it's more like how normal people behave differently in different social contexts like how you are a different person when you're at work, than at home alone, than with your friends, than with your parents. Also some of it, as i previously described is just acting. Dissociative Identity Disorder is a bit more extreme. The person, usually a child at the time, experiences a trauma so great that they can't deal with it so they divorce themselves from reality and create an "alter" that can handle whatever happened so they can pretend it didn't happen to them. The two "personalities" are separate so that what happens to one doesn't affect the other. Sometimes the personalities are aware of each other and can communicate, but they still feel themselves to be truly separate people I would argue that this isn't the case for most heroes. The difference is that someone like Spider-Man can make a conscious decision not to be Spider-Man whenever he wants and his actions in costume are still perceived as his own not those of someone else. Whereas Say Bruce Banner cannot just choose not to be the Hulk, and he does not usually have any real control of the Hulk's actions and may not take ownership of those actions.
BlackWindThaAstonishing - 3/12/2014, 10:07 PM
That said, the article is interesting and thought provoking. good work.

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