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Off My Mind: Superhero Intervention — How Can You Deal with an Insane Hero?

Is it possible to convince a superhero to seek psychological treatment if they don't want it?

What does it take to put on spandex and fight super-powered villains? The mental state of all superheroes can easily be called into question. Some heroes have superpowers that give them an edge over the villains. Regardless, they are dedicated to their jobs. Heroes dress up in their costumes and will risk their lives in order to protect the innocent and to uphold justice in society.

Superheroes rarely get a chance to have a personal life. Everything they do is in order to combat evil. If they're out having lunch and a threat comes about, they will drop everything. Being a dedicated hero isn't a reason to question a person's sanity. They are simple dedicated to their jobs, although some could be considered obsessed with it.

There are some heroes that are in fact mentally challenged. These heroes have bigger issues than what outfit should they wear or what city block should they patrol. In some cases the mental deficiencies were in place before going into the superhero business. For others, something happened to cause the desire to fight evil. It's possible the continued stress of facing impossible odds simply caused them to snap. Depending on the severity of their mental state, some heroes will seek out medical or professional help. Others continue to operate, potentially placing themselves or innocents at risk. If a superhero is found to be insane, how could they be forced to seek assistance if they refuse to acknowledge the problem?

== TEASER ==

Who are some of today's crazy heroes? One of the craziest and most dangerous was Bob Reynolds, the Sentry. The Sentry started out as a simple drug addict. Breaking into The Professor's laboratory, he found a serum while looking for something to get him high. If you think about that, he was either extremely desperate or already a little crazy to drink down an experimental serum that simply stated, "Do Not Touch."

The serum did give him incredible power. It transformed him. It's possible the serum caused his mental problems or simply increased what was already there. Soon the power resulted in the Void. Was the Void a dark entity or simple a twisted evil persona of Bob's?

Some of the other heroes had to know he was mentally unstable. Norman Osborn quickly picked up on this and used it to his advantage. Norman did what he could to keep Sentry under his control. How come Tony Stark or Reed Richards couldn't save Bob before it was too late? He was simply too powerful. Bob did try to go through therapy but that was voluntary. Those heroes that were his friends, should have seen the bigger problem. Sentry was unstable and a threat to the world. Yet they treated him like a hero in the hopes that his heroic persona would stay in control.

Moon Knight has been known to be a little unstable. Marc Spector was a mercenary. He did some terrible things. When he tried doing the right thing, he was killed and then reborn by the Egyptian god Khonshu. Did he really die or was this a traumatic experience that started his mental downfall? Establishing himself as a hero, he used different personas in his fight against evil. He didn't really use his Marc Spector persona but had billionaire Steven Grant and cab driver Jake Lockley. It's no surprise that those, along with being Moon Knight opened the door to having multiple personalities. There was also the period when he was speaking to Khonshu...or at least thought he was.

Moon Knight became a member of the Avengers once again, in particular, Captain America's team of Secret Avengers. Despite this, he has relocated to Los Angeles and is a TV producer, using the Marc Spector identity. He doesn't appear to be using his other identities but is now having conversations with fellow Avengers Captain America, Spider-Man and Wolverine. The problem is, when he talks to them, they're not really there. He's even taken to fighting in their style, almost taking on their identities, depending on the situation. It could be that he moved away from New York in order to avoid the watchful eye of the other heroes.

Is the Punisher sane or is he just really determined to end crime? His entire family was killed before his eyes. Throw in any post-war trauma and he's a powder keg waiting to explode. Losing your loved ones in enough to push anyone over the edge. Would talking to a therapist bring him any inner peace? His thirst for revenge may have been satiated but it goes beyond that. He doesn't want anyone else to suffer what he did. By taking such extreme measures, that could be an indicator of his mental stability. Getting treatment or medication could be what he needs. Getting him started on sessions would be another story.

Then you have someone like the Plutonian from Irredeemable. We're talking a character, similar to Sentry, on Superman's level. This is a man that went over the edge and set out to murder all his former teammates. As the world's greatest hero, trying to stop him was out of the question. He did lose his mind and any attempts to stop him or reason with him resulted in complete obliteration. It took some clever thinking and help from aliens just to get a handle on him. Trying to treat him wouldn't be possible. So he was taken to an intergalactic insane asylum. What are the chances of this actually curing him?

Of course there have been other characters that have lost their grip on reality from time to time. Hank Pym, John Walker, Scarlet Witch, Deadpool, Polaris and others have all visited Crazy Town before. While someone like Moon Knight can use his bit of crazy for good (he has been kicking butt in LA with his new...fighting style), others like Sentry and Scarlet Witch are perfect examples of how dangerous insanity can be when combined with superpowers. You can't slap a straight jacket on someone capable of rewriting reality in order to try to get them treatment. Doc Samson used to work with heroes and any problems they might have. That isn't really an option anymore and wouldn't be enough.

If Batman were involved, you know he would have protocols on dealing with everyone (although even Batman's sanity or obsession could be called into question). Would this be a solution to prevent a superpowered psychotic episode?

If a powerful hero loses their mind, there needs to be a way to apprehend them and get them sedated. The proper treatment will be needed in order to avoid any dangers to innocent lives. A well qualified psychiatrist (or team of them) needs to be on hand in case a situation arises. Superheroes can't be forced to go to support groups but any heroes that are loners should be watched over. Hopefully superheroes have someone to talk to at the end of their shifts. This is also why having a civilian identity is important. They can't be on duty all the time. They need to be able to unwind and take care of themselves instead of trying to save the world every minute of the day.

77 Comments
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Edited by avidwriter

I always find these articles odd. How you write about fictional characters like they truly exist  and by that have to follow laws that exist in our reality as well.

Posted by xanthiss

How do you deal with a insane hero? With a SANE VILLAIN of course. Problem solved!

Posted by cody1984

Simple you call the Boys to deal with unstable super retards.

Posted by Eyz

Good ol' crazy Moon Knight! XD
Insane heroes are my favorite! Does that mean I'm kinda crazy too??

Posted by RainEffect

Moon Knight is the epitome of awesome insanity. Deadpool just tries too hard to be weird, whereas Marc Spector is consistently odd in his unique sort of way.
 
Hey, I'll admit, I talk to myself a fair bit. But talking to three separate personalities? Now that's crazy cool.

Posted by Or35ti

It makes good and interesting storytelling. I'm really surprised Batman hasn't gone insane by now after spending time with so many crazies so often. He had a bit of a nervous breakdown in Infinite Crisis which I think was needed to show that he isn't some inexhaustible crime-fighting machine.

Posted by Outside_85

Well the Legion of Superheroes usually put Starman/boy on medication, but 1000 years of R&D might have yielded new ways of treatment.

Online
Posted by LordRequiem

Surely Legion is a bit unhinged as well to say the least. With all his personalities he's a complete nut! I'd think anyone who consistently goes out of their way to help as many people as they can all the time could be argued as obsessive if not a little mentally strange. In this world, everyone is selfish, me included. So all these heroes seem a little weird in the head if you ask me, the villains who want only for themselves are more comparable to real people. That's what I think anyway. To solve the problem, do what they did to Hulk, fire 'em off into space, problem sovled.

Posted by kajitatsu

Deadpool is too insane but I guess all you can do is let them choose to be a hero or a villain?

Posted by Nosfistis

I have been a longtime Deadpool fan. Sometimes a little crazy/odd combo isn't all that bad, adds flavor. Sometimes, like in Scarlet Witch's case or Sentry's, things can get out of hand pretty quick. Way I see it, these people shouldn't really be out there doing hero work. But when you have the power of 1000 suns and can level cities in seconds, who is to deny you? Or cure you of psychosis? Unless you have something to deal with it, send him away "Planet Hulk" style.

Edited by Osiris1428

I get upset about articles like this because simply put, a lot of characters who are considered insane are not. I defer to the DSM IV:   
1) It is not defined in the DSM-IV-TR. 2) It is defined as behavior that is agreed upon by professionals to be psychotic.
3) It is defined as behavior that is rare, maladaptive,injurious to the self or others, and culturally unacceptable.
4) Different definitions of insanity are given, each keyed to a specific psychopathological disorder.
   
Calling someone "crazy" is just an easy way out. Deadpool: from what I've read, he is just very talkative. He can kill people with no remorse, that just signs of Ant-Social disorder. It is a personality disorder, but I wouldn't call him "insane." Most of these "insane" heroes or villains aren't "insane", but more specifically fall under a personality disorder. And it's usually one of these two: Anti-Personality Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder.  
In court, after all the people he has killed, he should never be able to get off on a plea of "insanity', because any lawyer worth his salt would be able to prove in a court of law that the people he has murdered and maimed- he did the ish on purpose. He knew exactly what the hell he did.  
 
"The DSM-IV-TR deals with very *specific* forms of  mental illness. These days, "insanity" is not exactly a politically correct term and is more of an old-fashioned term, from back when there was little to be known about mental illnesses and neurological dysfunctions.

When most people think of insanity, they think of psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia,  delusional disorder, etc.  Psychosis can also fall under this category. Bottom line is, a professional making a diagnosis would not say that a person is simply "insane" but would aim for a specific disorder listed in the DSM. On the other hand, the judicial system still contains the so-called "insanity plea," and this gives cause for people to still think in terms of insane vs. sane, when there's really just a lot of gray area."
 
Same thing with the joker. Dude is not "insane." He has full control of he's facilities. Fry him!! Give him the freaking chair! He might be more sane that the cops who should be bringing him in.  


Anit-Social Personality Disorder- Antisocial personality disorder is a mental health condition in which a person has a long-term pattern of manipulating, exploiting, or violating the rights of others. This behavior is often criminal. 
Symptoms- A person with antisocial personality disorder may:
  • Be able to act witty and charming

  • Be good at flattery and manipulating other people's emotions

  • Break the law repeatedly (MOST  super heros  do break the law)

  • Disregard the safety of self and others

  • Have problems with substance abuse (looking at you, Sentry)

  • Lie, steal, and fight often (Batman, Wolverine)

  • Not show guilt or remorse (Deadpool, The Joker)

  • Often be angry or arrogant

    Anakin Skywalker in the last prequel is a great example of Boarder Line Personality  Disorder  


    Borderline Personality Disorder-a condition in which people have long-term patterns of unstable or turbulent emotions, such as feelings about themselves and others.

    These inner experiences often cause them to take impulsive actions and have chaotic relationships.

    Sound like anyone you know... 
    Wolverine discovers Scott & Emma

    Wolverine discovers Scott & Emma
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

 For a start you Keep Bendis away from them, Sentry was fine until he got his hands on him and now he's messing around with Moon Knight 

Online
Posted by Aldie_N

Look at Deadpool right now.

Posted by Omega Ray Jay

Lot of loopy capes out there.

Posted by Oghmata
@Osiris1428: Excellent point !
 
But as far as Deadpool is concerned, his problem is not only that he talks with voices in his head or has no remorse, he also has troubles perceiving reality : that's the reason for his Pool-o-Visions and him being sure he is a comic book character. 
 
Insanity is something that cannot really be defined, but we have this quote, usually attributed to Albert Einstein :
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results."
... Like sending the same villains back to jail again and again and expecting them not to escape this time ?
From that perspective, the Punisher is not the one who's insane, the rest of the world is.
Posted by Gylan Thomas
@Oghmata
Is Deadpool crazy to think he's a comic book character? He's right after all.
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
@Gylan Thomas said:
@Oghmata:  Is Deadpool crazy to think he's a comic book character? He's right after all.
Exactly, technically he is the only person that's not insane
Online
Posted by Osiris1428
@Oghmata: Ehhh...no, you are right that the Punisher isn't insane. He does exhibit symptoms of Anti-Social Personality disorder. Dude is a serial killer. There is no if, ands, or buts about it. but the Punisher way should not replace our American judicial system. in his mind, he doesn't think it should either. Officially anyway. He just believes he is the guy there to "help" the system when it fails. 
 
Because of the voices that recently have been shown to be in Deadpool's head, that seems to be some form of schizophrenia. How he somehow functions on the level of mercenary, I have no idea. But I don't know how he has a problem with perceiving reality, the reality is he is a comic book character, and he is aware of that.
Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Gosh this is such a great article, for it touches on something that we do not readily address when we read upon on our favorite superheroes.  I think for my part I would have to say that its almost necessary that such characters have shrinks within the structure of a superhero group or on hand to see that such issues are  dealt with summarily just in case there is that slight possibility that their insanity can put them over the top.  Obviously there are some heroes that society just can't afford to have nuts, Sentry being maybe the biggest example you mentioned here.  The Void being addressed as a dark entity is always a classic example, but you intrigued me greatly with that entity being an extension of Reynolds' dark side. This all makes me think back to an issue of Super Hero Squad in which Doctor Strange had gone insane and through his craziness opened a void to the Dark Dimension to allow Dormammu to enter into our world.  That is a far more dangerous consequence of insanity than perhaps Frank Castle's post traumatic stress disorder or John Walker's episodes.  And don't even get me started on Wanda Maximoff's insanity and what it can create, for we all know what happens when she goes a little wacky.  Great stuff though! :)

Posted by Kairan1979

Let's face it - the psychologist for superheroes often makes the situation worse. And I'm not talking about Moonstone. Let's look at Leonard Samson and his attempts to help Bruce Banner/Hulk. I think it was more harm than good.

Posted by SpidermanWins

 
give them a super-therapist
Posted by primepower53

I like to view Sentry as Bob Reynolds on crack. =P

Posted by Fantasgasmic
@SpidermanWins said:
 give them a super-therapist
Doc Samson
Posted by SpidermanWins
@Fantasgasmic said:


                    @SpidermanWins said:
 give them a super-therapist
           
Doc Samson


                   

               

lol yes
Edited by leokearon
@Fantasgasmic said:

@SpidermanWins said:

 give them a super-therapist
Doc Samson
Shae the Doc went insane himself and died
Online
Posted by kfhrfdu_89_76k
@leokearon said:
@Fantasgasmic said:

@SpidermanWins said:

 give them a super-therapist
Doc Samson
Shae the Doc went insane himself and died
Awwwww noooo...
Posted by digimod

Your articles are geared more towards roleplaying rather than discussion of comic books and their content.  Just sayin'
Posted by JonesDeini

Mind wipe them then fix them :P

Posted by Mega_spidey01

@JonesDeini sylar is insane he been midwipe shot, stab & he still comes back.

Posted by Sickenly

I LOVE MOON KNIGHT!!! He is the right kind of dark crazy marvel needs, not saying we don't need Deadpool, because if he ever went anywhere, I would probably go check myself in. lol

Posted by CATPANEXE
@cody1984 said:

Simple you call the Boys to deal with unstable super retards.

Posted by Golden Cod
@Kairan1979 said:
Let's face it - the psychologist for superheroes often makes the situation worse. And I'm not talking about Moonstone. Let's look at Leonard Samson and his attempts to help Bruce Banner/Hulk. I think it was more harm than good.
I'd consider that a poor example on the basis that Marvel's editors won't permit a cure to be written for Bruce Banner because that's one of Banner's central motives.   Watching the Hulk cartoon in the 90s got kind of boring because you knew that each time one of Banner's friends attempted to help rid him of the Hulk would end in failure. Otherwise be no more episodes. 
Posted by Golden Cod
@avidwriter said:
I always find these articles odd. How you write about fictional characters like they truly exist  and by that have to follow laws that exist in our reality as well.

But isn't this what fiction is all about?   A live action drama is no different in that we want them to be realistic or at the very least relatable. If the situation is too fantastical and foreign, we have trouble appreciating the story.
Posted by Oghmata
@Gylan Thomas@spiderbat87@Osiris1428

Actually when you're crazy, you're crazy comparatively to an established norm. If everybody had an Anti-Social Personality Disorder, that wouldn't be a disorder but a natural feature of human nature. In Deadpool's case, as a comic book character, he's not supposed to know he is a comic book character ; actually I should have written "he has trouble perceving his reality". The comic book reality is supposed to be a "whole", separated from our reality and having its very own norm (that's why people flying around and shooting lasers with their eyes doesn't seem weird to anyone in comic book reality). For instance, for the typical and "normal" comic book character, their fellow humans' lives have value, and kiling is not meaningless, but for Deadpool it's not that much of a big deal, since to him it's all fictional. 
Let's see it that way : if a guy told you that you and he are comc book characters and spoke to "readers", you would damn sure think he's crazy, and he would end up in a psych ward one day or another. 
Besides, I think you'll agree that a guy who comes to doubt he really is who he thinks he is and regularly has huge hallucinations he playfully calls "Pool-o-Visions" does not have a quite good grasp of reality.
Posted by Superskrull86

A crazy Batman, easy  
An insane Sentry, impossible
Posted by difficlus
@cody1984: the boys are quite crazy themselves...
Posted by difficlus
@Osiris1428 said:
I get upset about articles like this because simply put, a lot of characters who are considered insane are not. I defer to the DSM IV:   
1) It is not defined in the DSM-IV-TR. 2) It is defined as behavior that is agreed upon by professionals to be psychotic.
3) It is defined as behavior that is rare, maladaptive,injurious to the self or others, and culturally unacceptable.
4) Different definitions of insanity are given, each keyed to a specific psychopathological disorder.
   
Calling someone "crazy" is just an easy way out. Deadpool: from what I've read, he is just very talkative. He can kill people with no remorse, that just signs of Ant-Social disorder. It is a personality disorder, but I wouldn't call him "insane." Most of these "insane" heroes or villains aren't "insane", but more specifically fall under a personality disorder. And it's usually one of these two: Anti-Personality Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder.  
In court, after all the people he has killed, he should never be able to get off on a plea of "insanity', because any lawyer worth his salt would be able to prove in a court of law that the people he has murdered and maimed- he did the ish on purpose. He knew exactly what the hell he did.  
 
"The DSM-IV-TR deals with very *specific* forms of  mental illness. These days, "insanity" is not exactly a politically correct term and is more of an old-fashioned term, from back when there was little to be known about mental illnesses and neurological dysfunctions.

When most people think of insanity, they think of psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia,  delusional disorder, etc.  Psychosis can also fall under this category. Bottom line is, a professional making a diagnosis would not say that a person is simply "insane" but would aim for a specific disorder listed in the DSM. On the other hand, the judicial system still contains the so-called "insanity plea," and this gives cause for people to still think in terms of insane vs. sane, when there's really just a lot of gray area."
 
Same thing with the joker. Dude is not "insane." He has full control of he's facilities. Fry him!! Give him the freaking chair! He might be more sane that the cops who should be bringing him in.  

Anit-Social Personality Disorder- Antisocial personality disorder is a mental health condition in which a person has a long-term pattern of manipulating, exploiting, or violating the rights of others. This behavior is often criminal. 
Symptoms- A person with antisocial personality disorder may:
  • Be able to act witty and charming

  • Be good at flattery and manipulating other people's emotions

  • Break the law repeatedly (MOST  super heros  do break the law)

  • Disregard the safety of self and others

  • Have problems with substance abuse (looking at you, Sentry)

  • Lie, steal, and fight often (Batman, Wolverine)

  • Not show guilt or remorse (Deadpool, The Joker)

  • Often be angry or arrogant

    Anakin Skywalker in the last prequel is a great example of Boarder Line Personality  Disorder  


    Borderline Personality Disorder-a condition in which people have long-term patterns of unstable or turbulent emotions, such as feelings about themselves and others.

    These inner experiences often cause them to take impulsive actions and have chaotic relationships.

    Sound like anyone you know... 
    Wolverine discovers Scott & Emma

    Wolverine discovers Scott & Emma
wow nice breakdown doctor Osiris.
Posted by Maki_P

I'm not familiar with Regular-Moon Knight, but I did get to know Ultimate Moon Knight who indeed had Multiple Personalities (including a little girl. Wha?) and found it very interesting. Also Quake from Dynamo 5 come to mind, the guy is good hero... as long as he stays on medication, otherwise he begins to hallucinate and confuse civilians with evil aliens.

Posted by JonesDeini
@cody1984 said:

Simple you call the Boys to deal with unstable super retards.

I need to get caught back up on this book. 
Posted by DoomDoomDoom
@spiderbat87: I was expecting the worst with Bendis but I have to admit I've enjoyed the new MK title change and all.
Edited by Man of Lengend
deadpool's last 3 issues were about this 
Posted by cody1984

@difficlus said:

@cody1984: the boys are quite crazy themselves...

They are bit...different in their methods but they do get the job done. Would you really want the superheroes they keep in line suddenly not being kept in line?

Posted by difficlus
@cody1984: two wrongs don't made a right. 
:P
Posted by buttersdaman000
@cody1984 said:

@difficlus said:

@cody1984: the boys are quite crazy themselves...

They are bit...different in their methods but they do get the job done. Would you really want the superheroes they keep in line suddenly not being kept in line?

whoa whoa whoa is he eating and tearing apart a baby?!
Posted by FadeToBlackBolt

KILL THEM, LIKE IN SIEGE.

 
 
Oh wait, this isn't Germany circa 1943.
Posted by difficlus
@buttersdaman000 said:
@cody1984 said:

@difficlus said:

@cody1984: the boys are quite crazy themselves...

They are bit...different in their methods but they do get the job done. Would you really want the superheroes they keep in line suddenly not being kept in line?

whoa whoa whoa is he eating and tearing apart a baby?!
he is also having sex with a man's head.  
why? because he is insane...everyone in that universe is insane. 
Posted by FadeToBlackBolt
@difficlus said:
@buttersdaman000 said:
@cody1984 said:

@difficlus said:

@cody1984: the boys are quite crazy themselves...

They are bit...different in their methods but they do get the job done. Would you really want the superheroes they keep in line suddenly not being kept in line?

whoa whoa whoa is he eating and tearing apart a baby?!
he is also having sex with a man's head.  why? because he is insane...everyone in that universe is insane. 
What comic is that? I'm expecting the Boys.
Posted by buttersdaman000
@difficlus
Wtf......
What comic is this?
Posted by difficlus
@FadeToBlackBolt@buttersdaman000: The boys
Posted by FadeToBlackBolt
@difficlus: Thanks.  
 
Further supports my theory that Garth Ennis should be punched in the throat. 
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