“Mr. Wayne? Dr. Freud Will See You Now.”

The Batman mythos is ripe with psychoanalytical theory.

There is something that rumbles deep inside of Bruce Wayne.  It’s something that drove him to develop a frightful persona.  They call him, The Batman.  Bruce Wayne, CEO of billion dollar company Wayne Enterprises, has a secret.  Bruce Wayne’s mother and father were gunned down during a botched robbery attempt, leaving him an orphan and a ward of the state.  This tragic event drives Bruce Wayne to train himself to become a vigilante with unparalleled detective and fighting skills.  He dons this vigilante persona nightly to exact vengeance on the scourge of Gotham City.  But what if Bruce Wayne took up space on Sigmund Freud’s couch?  What avenues of Bruce’s mind would Freud analyze?

Well no doubt Freud would have noticed several defense mechanisms that were put into place to help Bruce cope with the guilt and negative emotions that come about when the murder of his parents is brought to the forefront.  Freud’s drive reduction theory would fit nicely with Batman.  Freud states that the goal of all behavior is to obtain pleasure and avoid displeasure.  Drive reduction theory brings about the reason that Bruce allowed himself to become Batman.  The goal of Batman’s crime fighting is to avoid the pain and displeasure of his parent’s murder.  Batman immerses himself in dealing pain to criminals in order to avoid his deepest scar.  This is evident in his amazing ability to remain disciplined despite having chaos surround him.  His desire to not feel the pain of his parent’s murder is what drives him to maintain his war on crime.

Freud’s rationalization theory can also be used in the psychoanalysis of Batman.  Batman reduces the anxiety of what he does by concealing the truth of his actions from himself.  He convinces himself that he is the true form of justice so he can continue to be a vigilante.  As the years pass on, Bruce becomes further entrenched in his Batman persona because he is consistently reinforcing his behavior.  Freud’s defense mechanism, known as undoing, is also a key element in the Batman mythos.  Undoing involves rituals that symbolically negate a previous act or thought that causes feelings of guilt.  Bruce’s ritual is suiting up as Batman and fighting crime every night.  This nightly crime fighting is his ritual used to negate the thought of his parent’s murder, which bring about feelings of guilt.

In Batman’s war on crime, we see a dark, fearful figure meting out justice with every resounding crack of bone.  The citizens of Gotham see a man taking matters into his own hands, because the city he loves has been riddled with crime.  The police department of Gotham City sees hope, the living, breathing epitome of justice being.  The people who know of Batman’s secret, the people that know that Bruce Wayne is Batman, see something far more complex than a machine that deals out justice.  They see a child scarred by the events of that dark night in Crime Alley.  He manifests many of Freud’s defense mechanisms in order to effectively defeat his own guilt and fear.  Batman is, in essence, a man unable to cope with his own life’s tragedies in a productive, acceptable, way.

About Steven Brewer

I’m a lifelong comic book fan. Comics pulled me in at an early age, with influences ranging from Chris Claremont’s historic X-Men run, Walt Simonson’s Thor run, Mike Zeck’s run on The Punisher limited series, Jim Lee’s X-Men, the early 90’s X-Men animated series, and the best cartoon ever made, Batman: The Animated Series. As a kid, these comics and cartoons gave me a new world to go to when the real world wasn’t so nice. Because of this, comic books will always have a special place in my heart. I love everything about comics, and still get the same feeling reading them today as I did when I was a kid. My major in college was psychology, so I love to incorporate that into comics.
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One Comment

  1. 1st….
    Intriguing synopsis of the many different personas and defense mechanisms of Batman….

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