Gotham City’s Mental Health Situation

I just finished reading Batman: The Black Mirror. If you’re a DC Comics guy, I suggest you pick it up. It delves deeply into the concept of family and the inherent evil that comes from Gotham City. Also, it introduced me to a truly scary man in James Gordon Jr.

Batman_-_The_Black_MirrorSpoilers for Batman: The Black Mirror begin after the jump.

James Gordon Jr. is the son of Commissioner Jim Gordon from his first marriage. He’s a psychopath. Literally. After several incidents in his youth, including the murder of Barbara’s friend Bess Keller, James eventually checks himself into an unidentified mental hospital. But being a genius, he changes the medical components to increase psychopathic tenancies instead of decrease them. Then he uses the new compound in an attempt to poison nutritional formula, trying to create future psychopaths in newborn babies.

James_Gordon_Jr.James Gordon Jr.’s character is a lot like many of the other characters in the Batman universe. He’s a psychopath devoid of feelings. The medication he was given to help with his tendencies was not used because he did not want to be helped. He wanted to be a psychopath.

However, to understand James Gordon Jr., you first need to understand the mental health situation in Gotham City. In truth, most of the members of Batman’s Rogue Gallery avoid help with their conditions at all cost. They enjoy being psychopaths. They relish it.

Yes, Edward Nigma did turn his narcissistic tendencies into a successful private investigator career for a time, but for every Nigma there is a Joker. The Joker is the king of unfeeling psychopaths, and he doesn’t want to be helped. He wants to kill and cause panic until he dies. It’s why, in The Black Mirror, Harvey Bullock debates killing the Joker.

In society today, people who present an active danger to others get sent to a mental institution or jail for the rest of their lives if they don’t actively get help. But Gotham City’s mental institution, Arkham Asylum, has more holes than Swiss cheese. There is no way to keep the good people of Gotham (all three of them) safe. The Joker, for example, can come and go as he pleases. GCPD and Batman just can’t keep him locked up. It would be the best idea just to kill the most evil of Gotham’s villains. So why don’t they?

Batman_Family_0004The Bat Family has all gone through traumatic events that put them on the border between sanity and insanity. It’s only through their compassion that they keep from becoming evil. When they forsake their compassion, they become like Jason Todd, a former Robin who went on to become the villain Red Hood.

The good guys of Gotham must keep the Rogue Gallery alive because they are all one slip up away from losing control. In The Killing Joke, the Joker’s move to paralyze and sexually assault Barbara Gordon nearly pushed Commissioner Gordon into insanity. After all of that, Batman still just captured Joker and took him to Arkham. It’s all the good guys have left.

Gotham is evil. The city has absorbed the evilness of Doctor Gotham, an evil warlock buried alive under the city thousands of years ago. As such, it’s truly difficult for anyone to be an upstanding citizen. The city’s good guys aren’t really good, while the city’s bad guys are truly psychopaths. It would be best for all psychopaths to be killed, but doing that would cost everyone involved their humanity. When the whole of Gotham is trying to destroy you, sometimes humanity and compassion is all you have left.

So how did James Gordon Jr., the son of one of Gotham’s staunch protectors and brother to the original Bat Girl, become such a dark and demented psychopath? And why does he forsake any assistance medication can give him in support of his murderous ways? I will dive into this next week.

2 thoughts on “Gotham City’s Mental Health Situation

  1. Loved The Black Mirror, looking forward to more analysis!

    I always felt like part of Batman’s resolve to not kill anyone borders on a compulsion, one of his many strange compulsions following his parents’ murders. He sees death’s very existence as horrifying and to be avoided at all costs. Even in the cases of Gotham’s worst mass murderers, on some level he’s still a scared little kid who just doesn’t want to see anyone die again. (Obviously this varies depending on the series and writer.)

  2. Pingback: In Brightest Day: James Gordon, Jr. | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

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