The Arkham Sessions, hosted by Dr. Andrea Letamendi and Brian Ward, is a weekly podcast dedicated to the psychological analysis of Batman: The Animated Series. Nostalgic, humorous, and even a little educational, each episode promises to lend some insight into the heroes, villains, and classic stories of the Dark Knight!
The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 82: “Second Chance”
When his doctors have deemed him psychologically healthy, Harvey Dent is scheduled for reconstructive surgery to correct his “bad side,” the last remnant of his alter-ego, Two-Face. According to his psychotherapist, Dent has made significant therapeutic gains and is able to “make decisions without relying on chance” (his coin). But before the surgeon is able to make the first cut, a group of thugs break into the hospital and drag the sedated patient away. Batman and Robin later learn that it was Two-Face who planned the kidnapping in an attempt to save himself from being completely eradicated. It’s clear that Harvey Dent had no idea about the scheme, despite it coming from his own mind. Was this part of a dissociative state or something much more destructive and pervasive? How can someone double-cross themselves?!
Dissociation is any disruption or discontinuity in the normal integration of consciousness, memory, identity, emotion, perception, or behavior. Many of us experience an occasional state dissociation (such as during traumatic experiences or while under the influence) but trait dissociation is when a part of one’s integral personality is disrupted or fragmented. As we reflect on Two-Face sabotaging his own recovery, we revisit the diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Identity Disorder, a psychiatric condition characterized by the experience of two or more distinct identities that recurrently take control over one’s behavior. For a primer on DID, we recommend checking out our analysis of The Ventriloquist here. In this Two-Face-centric episode, we discuss the controversy of the diagnosis of DID and provide examples from neuroimaging research and case studies to examine the phenomenon of multiple identities. We also express our confusion over Batman’s treatment of Robin in this episode, which gives some clear indicators that their relationship is a bit unbalanced or one-sided. Many more Two-Face puns to go, just listen below!
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