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The Joker Personality Type & The Shadow

What personality type is The Joker? using the myers briggs type indicator, the big five traits and the concept of the shadow from Jungian psychology. Plus other motivations and societal causes.

Joker Personality Type & Psychology

(Warning Spoilers) The new Joker movie provides much back story to the creation of the super villain, Batman’s most known enemy that is The Joker. The Joker’s, real name Arthur, starts the story off by being a carer for his sick mother, at the same time working as a comedian/clown. His mission and motivation in life is to entertain people, to be validated and to feel like he is a good person.

Persona and the Shadow

He was told by his mother to always show a smile to the outside world, this forms his persona. It’s actually a common persona that many people adopt in real life. He has a great need to be liked, it validates his very being. We get to see a darker side to Arthur early in the movie, which shows itself from time to time, mostly in an uncontrollable laugh.

Arthur neglects his true self for his clown persona, seeking approval, wanting to be liked and to feel like a good person. The more Arthur suppresses or represses his negative aspects (The Shadow), the darkside of his personality only grows stronger the more it’s repressed.

Eventually his unconscious darkside is fully let out when he is attacked and beaten up by three yuppies on a train. Arthur kills two of the men in the initial attack with a gun he was given, and then tracking down the other man to murder him. Arthur realizes he is not the kind harmless soul that he thought he was, the innocent clown was just a mask. After discovering the disturbing truth about his past, and his mothers part in that, he even kills her.

Arthur the innocent entertainer, (the persona) and the killer which is the Joker (the shadow) is a classic case of Carl Jung’s theory of what happens when the dark aspects of the psyche are not integrated. The dark side becomes darker, and runs the risk of taking over completely, and becoming uncontrollable. The psychopath that is the Joker is the complete manifestation and the takeover of the shadow.

Everyone carries a shadow. Jung Quote

When the death of the three yuppies is reported on the media, the oppressed population actually side with the killer (Arthur), seeing the killer as a hero. This triggers a collective shadow in the poorer population, thinking they have been unfairly treated, they have a hatred for the wealthy, and they want revenge.

The Joker Became A Judge

Arthur also realized that the majority of people do not make good judgments of others. Most people will negatively judge anyone who differs from the majority. Anyone who is different is often the victim of attack, alienation and even sometimes killed, this has been a common occurrence throughout history.

While Arthur was the one being judged, the Joker became the one doing the Judging, and punished those he believed deserved to be punished.

Personality Type – Myers Briggs

The Jokers original need to be liked and to be an entertainer would suggest he is extroverted. Due to his uniqueness and unconventional ways, I would also go with intuitive perceiver on the MBTI. He shows strong analytical thinking and a vulnerability to emotion, suggesting emotion is an inferior function. Great emotional pain can motivate people to do dark things. So that would make him an ENTP on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.

Big Five Personality Traits    

High in extroversion, based on his outward focus and very strong desire to be liked. High in openness, he is unique, creative and intelligent. Moderate to low in conscientiousness, being high in conscientiousness would make him more of a traditional thinker and conservative. Arthur seems highly agreeable, however the Joker is low in agreeableness, so this is a tricky one. Arthur/The Joker struggles with excessive negative emotion, making him very high in aspects of neuroticism. See Big Five Personality Traits.

The character of the Joker seems like an unbalanced psychopathic mix of positive and negative emotion. The Joker is largely the result of the abuse he suffered as a child, which became repressed, he only became conscious of this abuse later in the movie. It seems he was made into a psychopath due to this abuse, this only becomes apparent after his first kill.

It also suggests that inequality, bullying and intolerance combined with a shallow and nihilistic society contributed to the creation of the Joker.

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