Name Date Course Professor/Instructor Psychological Disorders analyzed in Watchmen Through out the graphic novel Watchmen written by Alan Moore, Moore tells the story of a particular superhero group referred to as Watchmen whom for the most part possess relatively human characteristics. In a reversed manner, Moore uses these characters to symbolize the different kinds of human beings in the world rather than the typical super beings so often created in traditional comic books (Disinformation).
Like humans, characters in Watchmen all fall short of their own problems, failures, and weaknesses and struggle like every day-to-day people in society.
One of the many afflictions that the heroes face, in particular Rorschach, Ozymandias, and Doctor Manhattan, is their flaw that defines them the most, and that is their personality disorder. In explanation behind these claims of certain disorders, professional research conducted of disorders can be matched by analyzing the characters past, emotions and dialogue from the story.
To begin, the most disturbing character to bring discussion about mental illness is Rorschach.
Rorschach, also known as Walter Kovacs, is without a doubt a character that suffers from not one, but many personality and psychological disorders through out Watchmen. These disorders are pointed out from Walter’s early childhood to well into his adult life. Analyzing Walter’s past from his abusive childhood to his adult life of being a slight sociopath and constantly in fear, ties have been made between Rorschach and the mental disorder Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD) (Perry 2).
In order to understand how Perry analyzed Walter’s character and diagnosed him as a sufferer of paranoia, similarities between what the typical traits of a person with Paranoia Personality Disorder are classified under and how many of those traits matched Walter’s personality must be examined. PPD is often referred to as being a complex phenomenon. Multiple approaches and theories have been made towards paranoia and what brings it about. According to Nathan Carlin’s The Paranoia of Everyday Life, paranoia is often related to personal or self esteem issues, distressing of thoughts, and traumatic experiences (Carlin 681).
These thoughts and experiences can develop as early as childhood. Other traits of Paranoia Personality Disorder have been led to people having difficulty accepting responsibility for themselves, their lives, and even consequences of their behavior. They are also quick to blame others for their misfortune or unhappiness (Meissner 1). These facts are very accurate in proving Walter’s disorder in Watchmen. Physical and verbal abuse demonstrated in Chapter VI of Watchmen by Walter’s own mother and bullies draws a conclusion to the reader that his life very much consisted of painful traumatic experiences.
Painful memories result in sexually explicit nightmares Walter had of his mother and her clients also is a key to uncovering Walter’s disorder as this falls into the distressing of thoughts and more traumatic happenings partly due to his innocence being taken so young (Moore 6:32). Confrontations in his adult life with the murdering of so-called “criminals” in his eyes were a way of Walter paying back at society for their evil doings. An explicit description of this would be the murder and burning of a man he convicts of killing a little girl.
Other examples of PPD can be seen in his fears of society thinking that the world is a very terrible place inspiring him to seek revenge on this “morally blank world” (Moore 6:26). This comes from the consecutive abuse and lack of affection, concern, and protective instinct a mother is suppose to have for her child. Walter however never knew what that sense of protection was and thus views society as an evil and dangerous place. Of these catastrophes, Rorschach’s sympathetic character can be a bit more understood and supports Moore’s idea of the heroes possessing more “human traits” than destructive powers.
Subsequently, the next character that can be associated with an obvious personality disorder is Jon Osterman, also known as Doctor Manhattan. Beginning to understand Jon, it is always important to look into the character’s past. Unlike Rorschach’s abusive tale, Jon came from a clean-cut, educated background before his transformation into Doctor Manhattan. After the transformation however is when Jon can be associated with a specific disorder called Schizoid Personality Disorder that sums up Doctor Manhattan perfectly.
Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD) is a disorder than is characterized by “lack of interest in social relationships, a tendency towards a solitary lifestyle, secretiveness, emotional coldness, and apathy” (Perry 6). Other providing information about this disorder states that SPD can characterize people as “comfortably dull and at the same time sensitive. ” Many are described to have “shut-in personalities” and incapable of common discussion of events (Akhtar 500). Some psychologists struggle to determine if SPD is considered an illness or an actual personality disorder (Panagiotis 46).
Others argue that in fact individuals presented with difficulties may tend to keep relationships at a distance, choosing to be more self-reliant while they feel discomfort with intimacy and interdependence (Panagiotis 47). The statements listed above in describing SPD exists very much within Doctor Manhattan. After his transformation, his personality became contradictory of what his “human” personality use to be. In explanation of this claim, one can infer and analyze Doctor Manhattan’s certain “gifts” or powers that he acquired after the reconstruction of his body.
Size alteration, enhanced strength, teleportation, matter manipulation, telekinesis and so on are many of the abnormal powers Doctor Manhattan has control over through his humanoid body (Wyldsong). In connection with his superpowers and his ability to manipulate matter on a quantum level, this is what ultimately leaves Doctor Manhattan unable to connect anymore within human beings and alienates himself from the world. An accurate example of this can be seen in Chapter Nine when Laurie is teleported to Mars. Upon her arrival, she is unable to breathe due to the lack of oxygen on the planet.
Unlike Laurie, Doctor Manhattan is able to survive without the simplest of human needs like oxygen. He forgets this about Laurie but quickly realizes the problem and fixes it quoting “Sometimes these things slip my mind” (Moore 9:2-3). Because he is considered to be some sort of God complex, he finds himself a slave of predetermination, in which he understands the sequence of events that will occur as well as his own involvement in them but unable to alter the events in the past or future that he will be a part of (Wyldsong).
An example of this can be interpreted again from segments in Chapter Nine in Watchmen. Doctor Manhattan asks Laurie why his perception of time distresses her. She answers, “Why ask? You already know my answer. ” Doctor Manhattan responds “Everything is preordained, even my responses. ” He then proceeds to ask Laurie about sleeping with Dan Drieldberg, also known as Nite Owl. This shocks Laurie and in response she replies, “You know about me and Dan? ” Again, Doctor Manhattan’s reply “No, but in a few moments you’re going to tell me” (Moore 9:5-6).
His ability to read and know thoughts before they are said gives Doctor Manhattan the advantage and the curse of knowing the events and outcomes of people in time before they know themselves. This chronic deliema plays in SPD and causes Doctor Manhattan to be depersonalized and have feelings of non-humanness (Akhtar 507). To interpret the other claims of his Schizoid Personality Disorder, a good example to look at would be in Chapter Nine of Watchmen: The Darkness of Mere Being. Doctor Manhattan has teleported himself to Mars, a place where he finds comfort in solitude.
Not a single organism lives on Mars except himself. It is not until he teleports Laurie to Mars and explains the meaning behind his solitude, which mostly deals with knowledge of time. In Chapter Nine, he refers to Laurie as his “link, my only concern with the world. When you left me, I left Earth. Now you have replaced me, and that link is shattered. ” (Watchmen 9:8). His loss of willingness to connect and have close relationships not only affected Laurie once he transformed, but with the whole world as well, which is why his home is secluded on Mars.
His last ties to humanity are then broken once the orb has been smashed (Moore 9:24). To summarize, it is all too easy to see that Schizoid Personality Disorder can be seen in Doctor Manhattan in a strange analytical way. Doctor Manhattan more or less differentiates from Rorschach, who’s tragic experiences led to his personality disorder, Doctor Manhattan’s is conceived because of his curse to be in control of everything at all times. The final character that can be analyzed and associated with a specific personality disorder is Ozymandias.
Ozymandias, also known as Adrian Veidt, is considered to be one of the smartest men alive in Watchmen. Although Adrian does not possess any inherent superpowers, his esquisite physic, dashing looks, and incredible intelligence makes him put himself beyond humanity which causes him to lack any empathy towards anyone but himself. These characteristics diagnose Adrian with a disorder known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is often compared as a borderline personality disorder.
Patients with a severe narcissistic personality may present symptoms strikingly similar to those of borderline patients: general impulsivity, severe chaos in relations with significant others, sever breakdown in their capacity for work and emotional intimacy, and Para suicidal and self-mutilating behavior. Patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder show rather extreme fluctuations between severe feelings of inferiority and failure, and corresponding depressive reactions, and are usually isolated socially even if they are part of an intense social network (Kerberg & Yeomans14-15).
In more extreme cases, Malignant Narcissism is the severe form of ego-syntonic aggression, paranoia, and antisocial traits and personality (Kerbeg & Yeomans 15). In some of these claims, Adrian Veidt certainly fits the category of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. He demonstrates a very arrogant and haughty behavior or attitudes. This can be inferred by his picture and interview at the end of Chapter Twelve; After the Masquerade (Moore 12:29-32). He has a very high opinion of himself in which he lacks the regular empathy and emotions that is expected from a hero.
His stance on how he believes the world is going to end by a nuclear war in the next couple years is far more concerning than his fellow coworkers trying to fight off local crime. An example of his narcissistic ways would be his idea of bringing about world peace by killing a couple million people of New York. This act alone in the killing of innocent lives has no impact on Adrian Veidt. His purpose is to annihilate as many humans as possible in order to bring light about preventing a war.
Other examples of his narcissistic behavior include the narration on page eight of Chapter Eleven. One example in particular is his confession to which he idolizes the most, Alexander of Macedonia. Adrian talks how Alexander ruled “with barbarism. He instituted the ancient world’s greatest seat of learning. ” (Moore 11:8). “I wanted to match his accomplishment, bringing an age of illumination to a benighted world. I wanted to have something to say to him, should we meet in the hall of legends. ” (Moore 11:8).
Almost to a point, these phrases spoken by Ozymandias provide the most accurate detail in identifying the narcissistic traits within his personality. He also speaks of how his “intellect sets me apart. Faced with difficult choices, I knew nobody whose advice might prove useful. Nobody living. ” (Moore 11:8). His character relies on no one. Only he himself can save the world and save it properly even if millions of lives are claimed. His extreme self-obsession in his accomplishments and desires to be the most powerful man in the world drive him to want to complete these tasks.
In conclusion to these claims of psychological and personality disorders associated in Watchmen, the real meaning behind these descriptive personalities was for Alan Moore to show how many different types of real people there are in the world and create a world of flawed men and women with struggles, hopes, and dreams, and not just as beautiful people in a cape. The disorders are all too real and can impact anyone and everyone. As it goes, analyzing these disorders shows that even the most perfect hero has their inner demons they fight and will continue to fight.
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Depression, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, And Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Practical Differential Diagnosis. ” Bulletin Of The Menninger Clinic. 77. 1 (2013): 1-22. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection. Web. 6 Apr. 2013. Margerrison, Nick. “Alan Moore Discusses WATCHMEN: The Mindscape Of Alan Moore. ” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 22, Feb. 2009. Web. 6 Apr. 2013. Meissner, W. W. “Paranoid Personality Disorder. ” Armenian Medical Network 07, Apr. 2006. Web. 6 Apr. 2013. Moore, Alan, and Dave Gibbons. Watchmen.
New York: DC Comics, 1987. Print. Parpottas, Panagiotis. “A Critique On The Use Of Standard Psychopathological Classifications In Understanding Human Distress: The Example Of ‘Schizoid Personality Disorder’. ” Counselling Psychology Review 27. 1 (2012): 44-52. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection. Web. 6 Apr. 2013. Perry, David. “Coding In My Sleep. ” BIPS—Free Merchant Solutions and eWallet Service 22, Sep. 2012. Web. 6 Apr. 2013. Wyldsong. “Dr. Manhattan (Character). ” Comic Vine—Comic reviews videos, forums and wiki, 3, Apr. 2012. Web. 6 Apr. 2013.
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