Answering the question, Is the Joker a Psychopath?

I noted in a recent piece  that I’d deal with the question, is the Joker a psychopath?

Of course, it matters a lot which portrayal of the Joker we’re talking about.

Sheltering in place has given many people  time to watch various movies. Of the many featuring the Joker, most have probably see Heath Ledger’s The Dark Knight and/or Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker.

To keep things manageable, let’s choose Ledger’s version in The Dark Knight, knowing there’s nothing ever definitive about a fictional character. Moreover, one that’s emerged from countless comic book stories.

And one that’s sure to be further “imagined” by screenwriters catering to an outsized demand for more and more silver screen stories.

Joker a Psychopath?

Joker a Psychopath?







Is the Joker a Psychopath?

I’ve had my turn analyzing Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker character AND describing the psychopathic character in a few prior blogs. For that reason, I’m going to turn to Scott Bonn, an author I’ve quoted before about serial killers. He’s got the chops to do justice to the question, Is the Joker a Psychopath. Moreover, he answered the question well as these excerpts from his Psychology Today article show.

Diagnosing an iconic comic villain.

“In The Dark Knight, the Joker is a loner, glib, unemotional and very violent. These behavioral traits are very consistent with psychopathy.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), released by the APA in 2013, lists psychopathy under the heading of Antisocial Personality Disorders (ASPD). The APA estimates that approximately 1 percent of U.S. adults are psychopaths.

Generally speaking, like the Joker, psychopaths are intelligent, glib, and articulate and they use these attributes to manipulate others into trusting and believing in them.

However, a number of the attitudes and behaviors common to psychopaths are distinctly predatory in nature and they tend to view others as either competitive predators or prey, as Heath Ledger’s Joker certainly did.

When psychopaths view others as prey, their lack of feeling and bonding to others allows them to have unusual clarity in observing the behavior of their intended victims.

As demonstrated by the Joker in The Dark Knight, psychopaths are unencumbered by the anxieties and emotions that normal people experience in interpersonal encounters.

This is because psychopaths are unable to form emotional attachments or feel real empathy with others, although they often have disarming or even charming personalities.

If Joker’s a Psychopath, is he Dangerous?

Psychopathy is the most dangerous of all antisocial personality disorders. When committing crimes, psychopaths carefully plan out every detail in advance and often have contingency plans in place.

Psychopathic criminals tend to be cool, calm, and very meticulous. They make few mistakes and are never undone by their emotions.

At one point in The Dark Knight, the Joker asks, ‘Do I really look like a guy with a plan?’  In fact, the Joker did have a well-developed plan in the film but ironically it was to create societal disruption and chaos for his own amusement.”

Joker a Psychopath?

Joker a Psychopath?


If you still wonder Is the Joker a Psychopath?

Further insights into this manner are available at the nifty Q & A site, Quora. There’s much info on the topic there.

Happy researching!






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