|Posted by douggoodman on January 22, 2016 at 1:05 PM|
I have a theory that Batman is Bruce Wayne's alter. The theory goes that Bruce Wayne suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder from his parent's deaths. The alternative personality "Batman" was created to protect Bruce from this traumatic memory. To that end, the alter wages a vigilante war on Gotham's crime problem.
So far I think most of you are with me. I also think some of you might want to say "Duh? So?" So let me go into a little more detail. First, an introduction to DID. I've been doing research on it for my upcoming book, Shark-Toothed Grin, which is in part about DID. This is where I'm getting my information. Please feel free to take with a grain of salt or comment below if your research/experience is different.
Dissociative Identity Disorder is the current model of what most people refer to as multiple personality disorder, or split personalities. Like so many other disorders, there are a lot of shades to DID. But for the purposes of this theory, a person with DID has two or more personalities. There are the normal operating personalities, and there are the alternative personalities created to deal with a traumatic memory. In this case, Bruce Wayne is the normal operating personality, the personality most people associate with. Then there is the Batman, the Dark Knight, who is Bruce Wayne's alter. The two personalities work together to help Bruce Wayne deal with the tragic loss of his parents. Batman helps cope with memories. He sweeps in and takes over and fixes things for Bruce Wayne. The two alters are cognizant of each other's existence.
A lot about how the character works can be explained using DID. Batman is studious and angry. Bruce is calm and cool. If there is a problem, the Batman alter takes over, even if Bruce Wayne has not changed his wardrobe. The alter is there and in charge and uses his vast knowledge and superior will to fix the problem and solve the crime. Once the problem has been resolved, Batman goes away and Bruce Wayne comes back.
My research about DID mentions co-morbidity as a symptom. This means that DID is usually not the only disorder going on. There are usually other disorders such as schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, etc. that are also existent in the person suffering from DID. This makes DID difficult to diagnose. But for the purposes of this theory, it also may explain some of the villains he approaches. Many of his villains can be interpreted as pyschological disorders from mania (Joker) to obsessive personalities such as the Mad Hatter. One of the most stereotypical portrayals of DID is Harvey Dent/Two-Face. I find it interesting that Harvey Dent is usually portrayed as a one-time best friend to Bruce Wayne. Is it possible that Bruce Wayne is projecting his own psychological disorders onto the villains he faces? He is obsessive and manic. Perhaps what we see as an outrageous villain is merely Bruce Wayne trying to deal with mental health issues born of his family's tragedy.
Think about it. What if the villains are no more than Bruce Wayne hallucinating or hearing voices? These are Schneiderian sypmtoms, which will appear in people suffering from DID.
Now let me spin this out further: What if all the villains are his alters? Have you ever noticed that Batman does not kill people (intentionally)? He may leave them for dead, but he always tries to bring these villains to justice. He can't kill them because they are him. It would be like tearing off your own arm. If you follow the DID theory further, you may interpret the villains not as just people he is projecting his own psychoses on, but actual alternative personalities. In that way, there is Penguin, and a Joker, and yes, even a Catwoman inside his mind. Bringing them to justice may be his way of trying to integrate these alternative personalities into his world. Justice is treatment. Alters can be evil, they be violent, they can even change gender. So how much of the Rogues Gallery is all in Batman's head?
When they are brought to justice, they are taken to Arkham Asylum. The more I am thinking about it, the more I'm thinking there is only one person in Arkham Asylum, and his name is Bruce Wayne. Have you ever looked at images of Arkham Asylum? Big, gothic building with lots of rooms, right? In the Batman universe, there is another large, gothic building with lots of rooms. It is called Wayne Manor. Is there a chance that Wayne Manor and Arkham Asylum are the same place?
I don't know that DID explains every detail about Bruce Wayne's world. But it would be very ineresting (and I would love to write) a version of Batman that is about a man who created an alter to deal with the tragic loss of his parents, but for whom more alters were created, and now he is trying to pull them all together to come to terms with his psychological disorder. What do you think?