I came across this randomly one day when indulging my “nerd” like sensibilities. Mental health is a sensitive topic. This editorial by Michael Lee on Nerdism Editorials is far from sensitive. I am not overly concerned with the subjects of this editorial. You see Mr. Lee is discussing how “crazy” different comic book characters are. He lists what he believes would be an appropriate diagnosis for the likes of Spider-man, Wolverine, and the Hulk and talks about why he has come to such conclusions. I am not worried about what the Hulk thinks of Mr. Lee’s opinions (though perhaps Mr. Lee should be). But how do those with the diagnoses he throws out feel about his descriptions? Below is an excerpt from his description of Peter Parker AKA Spider-man:
“Ahh, I’m depressed because my best friend’s dad wants to kill me. Wahhh!”, “Ahh, I’m depressed because I’m not good enough for my supermodel wife. Wahhh!”, “Ahh, I’m depressed because my boss doesn’t pay me enough to take photographs of myself! Wahhh!” If you really think about it, Peter Parker has the good life, and it’s only his depression that f*cks it up more and more. Nobody wants a crying superhero.
The message being sent here is the idea that if other people believe your life has more value than you do or if your life looks good to other people then a mental health diagnosis like depression is unwarranted. The funny thing about depression is that it does not discriminate. You can be rich, poor, or middle class; you can have a supermodel wife; you can identify as homosexual, heterosexual or be against sexual labels; nerds, jocks, and artists; superheroes and super-villains are all susceptible to depression. I think that depression or at least anxiety can potentially be exacerbated for forcing all these labels on people but that’s a discussion for another time. If you are wealthy, “happily” married, or perhaps a simple wall-crawler who is dealing with depression reading this editorial certainly will not validated your experience.
Of course I must point out the description of Batman, one of two MAJOR American comic book icons known for being the darker side of the Batman/Superman coin. Below is Mr. Lee’s diagnosis of the Dark Knight:
Just some of Batman’s mental illnesses to date include: Post-traumatic stress, depression, egomania, substance dependence, mild Munchhausen-by-proxy, anger management issues, OCD, sublimation of grief and bereavement disorder, coulrophobia, and split personality disorder. Matter of fact, Batman is so connected to his insanity that when you try to make him a gleeful character (1969 Batman) or a gay-esque ladies man (Batman & Robin), nobody respects the character and the re-imagining’s universally panned. Therefore, Batman is with out a doubt the most connected to his insane roots, and is literally bat sh*t crazy.
A few technical errors, there is no “split personality disorder” it is properly and clinically known as Dissociative Identity Disorder or DID. (Please see my post called I’m Really Into DID.) Also I am not sure how “mild” Munchausen by proxy syndrome manifests itself. While we all may appreciate the pun (Batman is Batsh*t crazy) and I certainly took advantage of it for my post how demeaning. Batman is certainly a dark character with a rough past. If he were real there would be a number of issues a competent mental health clinician could address with him. But I think it is worth noting that these issues were probably not laid out when he was created.
Most mental health ‘disorders’ are common issues manifested to a point that they cause difficulty functioning within the confines of our societal expectations. This also explains why mental health disorders are not standard across different communities. Comic book characters, as with many fictional characters, are often exaggerations of human conditions.