1 thought on “Applying Real Life Mental Health Standards to Fictional Characters is a Bad Idea

  1. While I agree with this, sometimes this is compounded, at least in the realm of comic books, by writers themselves inviting this stuff with some of their stories.

    To cite your example with Cyclops, recent stories started painting him as a bad guy or antihero for years, to the point where he was once imprisoned, and rattling off pseudo mental health stuff. There was a recent issue of SCARLET WITCH where Wanda flat out calls her twin brother Pietro “a sociopath.”

    Ages ago this stuff didn’t come up so often with comic book superheroes, but that was back when comics’ primary audiences were kids (or young teenagers). Now it’s adults, and one attempt for comics to “take everything seriously” is to have some of the writers themselves become armchair shrinks.

    I may as well mention that I kind of hate how mainstream comic books are still stuck in the “asylum” model for mental health, which even the real world abandoned by the 1980’s. Arkham Asylum (TM) is a popular brand for Batman so that never goes away, even though it’s become a prison with little “therapy” because the villains have to keep escaping. Marvel’s not much better and pushed Ravencroft Asylum as a knockoff not long ago. Aside for Doc Samson, Ashley Kafka or DC’s Chase Meridian (dusted off and adapted from “BATMAN FOREVER” some 25 years later), there are really few therapist characters in comics who aren’t villains. It’s often a joke how many super-criminals in Gotham City have PhD’s. Nick Spencer did a baby step in the right direction during his ASM run by having Foggy Nelson organize a focus group for the civilian friends and lovers of superheroes, but I think there’s more room to grow. So many superheroes rely on their (usually female) lovers to be their de facto therapists and that’s an unhealthy example that too many dudes emulate. But I digress.

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