Have you ever wonder about the psychological state of Batman’s villains? I do. So, let’s dive in and learn more!
The Beginning Of Harvey Dent
Here it goes for the Harvey Dent secret mental file! In the #66 of the Detective Comics titles, Harvey “Apollo” Kent appeared first. It was only sometime later that his name changed to Dent. This was to avoid confusion with Superman’s alter ego, Clark Kent.
In the 40s, Harvey made only a few appearances and fewer in the 50s. The goal was to make Batman a more joyful superhero along with his villain gallery, and Harvey Dent dropped out. However, in the 70s, Dennis O’Neil decided it was time for Two-Face to make a comeback and made sure he would become a villain worthy of Batman’s rogue gallery.
The official inspiration for Harvey Dent was The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by the great Louis Stevenson. These were Bob Kane‘s words as he watched the 1931 movie based on the novel. As for the look itself, the inspiration came from The Black Bat with acid splattered on his face.
Let’s Go Back To Another Beginning
Harvey Dent has a complex history. After the confirmation that Harvey became an archenemy of the Bat in 1986, Frank Miller decided to rewrite his history. He wanted to create a tragic story to have people sympathize with Dent’s character.
Frank Miller decided that Dent was an abused child raised by a drunkard with violent tendencies. However, Harvey grew up to become Batman‘s earliest helpers. But when he turned to a life of crime, his ties to Batman and Commissioner James Gordon made him a powerful foe, which reinforced his place as a worthy opponent.
The Pre-Crisis Era Of Harvey Dent
We know of Harvey Dent because he was a district attorney with good looks and a good heart. His excellent reputation was all over Gotham, and people loved him. However, during the trial of a head mobster, acid splashed on Dent’s face disfiguring him. It changed Harvey Dent forever.
The Pre-Crisis had him recover after plastic surgery and going through rehabilitation. But, it wasn’t without consequences. Before his recovery, Harvey did go on a crime spree with his lucky coin deciding if he would do good or bad.
What is interesting to know is that Writer Les Daniels talked about Two-Face in a twisted way.
“Harvey Dent is the most deadly serious of Batman’s foes. Two-Face seemed to disturb even his creators, who cured him through plastic surgery at the end of his third appearance in 1943.”Writer Les Daniels
The Post-Crisis Harvey Dent Story
We are going back to the abusive early life of Harvey. This was when life got darker for young Harvey. His father was not only mentally ill but also a violent alcoholic. As a result, Harvey suffered beatings on a regular basis. How his father would decide if he would brutalize his son was by the flip of a coin.
Despite his paternal violence and brutal presence, Harvey Dent rose against all odds and became the best district attorney Gotham City ever had at the age of 26 years old. He even became the youngest DA in Gotham City’s history.
Commissioner Gordon often thought Dent was Batman. However, Gordon was capable of realizing that Dent lacked the monetary resources to be the Bat. At the time, Dent even joined Batman and Gordon to dismantle organized crime in Gotham City.
But, the inevitable happened to turn Dent into Two-Face when the Mob Boss, Carmine Falcone, got his hands on the District Attorney’s assistant Vernon Fields to make sure lieutenant Sal Maroni would have sulphuric acid in hands.
The lieutenant did accept since he was under trial by Harvey Dent at the time. But, unfortunately, the acid came in contact with half of Dent’s face when Maroni was under cross-examination.
Dent’s left side of his face suffered chemical burns. What lead Dent to Arkham Asylum was his rationality gone and relying on his father’s coin to decide everything for him when he escaped the hospital.
The Bipolar Disorder In Dent’s Mind
Manic Depression is another way of saying Bipolar Disorder. It is a mental illness, and with it, it brings highs and lows in any type of mood. It changes your sleep, energy, rationality, and comportment.
There are times when the person suffering from bipolar disorder can feel overly happy and have tons of energy, while the extreme opposite can also occur. There are moments where they live in between those extremes and can manifest what we would consider ‘normal.’ They are victim to the two’ poles,’ if you will, the two ends of a spectrum, and it is pretty hard to control.
Where the manic comes in when a victim of bipolar disorder is in an extreme episode. Extreme emotions can be cacophonic in their minds. They can create irritability and impulsivity in reckless executive thinking.
Half of the people diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the instance of mania have delusions. They believe makeup statements or thoughts, and it’s next to impossible to convince them otherwise. They can even be victims of hallucinations, and again, it is not guaranteed that they can be back to reality.
How Does It Apply To Harvey Dent?
Harvey suffers from bipolar disorder following the trauma he suffered at the hand of his father. His father relied on his lucky coin, a gamble if he would brutalize his son or not daily.
This gamble created either a feeling of relief or anguish. Two extremes. Harvey would either be free from his father’s torture or freed from it. The daily trauma caused Harvey to become subjective only to extreme emotions, the opposite of an emotional spectrum. It was either all-in or folding. There were no in-betweens for Harvey Dent.
We see him exercise this method of thinking and emotional reaction every single time he flips a coin. If Harvey gets what he wants, a broad smile flourishes on his face, but if he does not, he respect the gamble and move on without expressing any type of emotion. Everything or nothing is what Harvey demonstrates.
It is logical to think that Harvey Dent must have mania episodes where visual and auditory hallucinations happen. Harvey Dent shows symptoms of mania episodes when tricked with coins or in the presence of the Bat, who appears as an authoritative figure he must sometimes mistake as his father.
The Paranoia Of A Disfigured Man
What often comes with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder is paranoia. It is a phenomenon that causes the feeling of being under threat in some shape or form. It could be memories playing tricks on you or thinking people you know or not are actively acting against you.
In Harvey Dent’s case, with childhood trauma such as his, he lived under intense stress. He constantly lived in extreme anxiety, not knowing if he would come home to a beating or not. It is more likely than not that Harvey Dent had paranoia all of his life.
Clinical paranoia is what Harvey Dent has. He chose to become a lawyer to prove he could make a case for himself. He wanted to beat the unfair situations, mute the lies, and put an end to harm. Three things Clinical Paranoia require offering a diagnosis: unfair, lies, harm.
Harvey Dent doesn’t feel like he has paranoia because, to him, all of it is true. With the Bat coming after him when committing a crime, “It isn’t paranoia if they’re really out to get you” reinforces his clinical paranoia. He cannot separate what is real from what isn’t. To him, he is doing the right thing.
It is most likely than not that Harvey Dent also suffers from paranoid thoughts. If you take his coin away, he shows signs of mental disorders. He cannot live without a binary system of thinking. Everything is extreme, right or left, up or down, always two choices, and taking his means for decision-making leaves him paralyzed.
Paranoid Schizophrenia Meet Harvey Dent
Because Harvey Dent has bipolar disorder and clinical paranoia, it is only logical to lead to Paranoid Schizophrenia, which includes prominent positive symptoms of schizophrenia. This means delusions and hallucinations.
Already mixing fiction and reality, it makes it only harder for Harvey Dent to live a life of rationality. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that has a diagnosis in 1.1 percent of the population. Under the schizophrenic umbrella, paranoid schizophrenia is the most common chronic disorder.
Because Harvey Dent suffered a life of trauma, both mentally and physically, his diagnosis could go back to early or late adolescence. If he went undiagnosed, it is most likely that he exposed symptoms of it in school or in his social life.
Often, symptoms become evident between the age of eighteen to thirty. We know Harvey showed those symptoms before in the courtroom with Carmine Falcone and became Two-Face. The evidence is there from his birth to eighteen, showing signs of anxiety, paranoia, and bipolar disorder in school.
Dichotomous Thinking For Two-Face Of A Coin
Dichotomous thinking is another term for Binary Thinking. This is a shortcut for the brain to comfort the host from complex concepts. The brain simplifies every event to an overly simplified result. A to B, anything in between becomes irrelevant.
In our case, Harvey Dent shows apparent signs of Dichotomous Thinking. For Harvey, there is no way possible to have a middle ground. Trying to explain to Harvey that there are reasons for the population not to settle a life on Mount Everest or in the Mariana Trench, the extreme points of Earth, would be next to impossible.
Harvey considers binary thinking the only way to think. His brain rewired due to years of brutalized trauma caused by a coin is his only shred of sanity left.
My Unprofessional Diagnosis
Because I am no doctor of any kind, here is my less than professional opinion about Mr. Harvey Dent.
Harvey Dent or Two-Face is not a supervillain but a villain because he relies on his professional knowledge of the law and people under his command. He uses a coin, now sadly, a family heirloom from his father, who used it to gamble on Harvey’s brutalization or not.
Mr. Harvey Dent, also known as Two-Face, should be a patient at Arkham Asylum. This man suffered years of trauma at his father’s hand and cannot dissociate his fate or himself from the lucky coin his paternal used on him.
He is highly dangerous and unpredictable from a binary thinking standpoint. He should be under psychological therapy to separate him from extreme emotional reactions. Harvey Dent, in my unprofessional opinion, suffers from various mental distress.
Bipolar Disorder, Clinical Paranoia, Paranoid Schizophrenia, and Dichotomous Thinking. Those are all results of heavy trauma at an early age going untreated and without a diagnosis.
Harvey Dent requires help, not Black Gate. The process must be slow and handled with care. The coin should have attribution of respect from the doctor handling it. It is a symbol of past trauma and healing, again, two extremes.