Have you ever wondered about the Batman villains and their psychological illnesses? Well, I do. So, let’s dive into the mind of Arkham.
How Dr. Amadeus Arkham Started
Here is the Amadeus Arkham secret mental file!
Amadeus Arkham is not the most popular character in the Batmanverse belonging to DC Comics. However, it doesn’t mean he isn’t a pillar of the world of Gotham. After all, an entire video game franchise came after the name of his Asylum.
Today we know Arkham Asylum to the semi-permanent home of Gotham‘s villains such as Joker, Mr. Freeze, Scarecrow, Two-Face, Riddler, Penguin, and more. But Amadeus Arkham wanted a place for his mother, which he sadly never did.
The founder of Arkham Asylum went through many changes ever since his creation. It was the creation of Grant Morrison and Dave McKean in 1974. The character grew from being a two-dimensional “supporting” character as the owner and creator of Arkham Asylum to a fully fleshed-out fictional person in the video game of the same name, Arkham.
How Arkham Became Arkham
Dr. Amadeus Arkham named the hospital after his mother, the Elizabeth Arkham Hospital. No one ever knew what type of hospital it was when it came out in October 1974 in #258. The hospital’s creator was Dennis O’Neil. The hospital’s location was vague in the upstate rural parts of Gotham.
In Batman Unauthorized: Vigilantes, Jokers, and Heroes in Gotham City, one can find a compilation of analysis done by Dennis O’Neil. The iconic name of Arkham Asylum is a tribute to Howard Phillips Lovecraft‘s horror fiction, Arkham Sanitarium.
It is right to say that Arkham Asylum takes from the brooding and darkness characteristic of the Sanitarium and makes it its own. It encompasses what Gotham to perfection. Let’s face it, what would Gotham be without Arkham Asylum?
The Origin Of Amadeus Arkham
To understand a character better, it is preferable to dig into their origins or past. Amadeus Arkham does have an origin story despite it being short and sweet. It is still long enough to tell us about his psychological response to outside, uncontrollable factors.
We now know that Elizabeth Arkham Asylum For The Criminally Insane is Amadeus’ creation. He dedicated the building that will become iconic and legendary after his mother.
Sadly, Amadeus witnessed his dear mother losing the battle to dementia, and before it ravaged her entirely, he agreed to help her pass on through euthanasia.
Not everybody agrees on the assisted suicide subject. I am not here to give my perspective on the matter, but I can say that Dr. Arkham took a decision that can haunt him for the rest of his life. Despite showing itself to be the right decision for him and his mother. That alone could suffice to create a lifetime of trauma.
Long Story Short For Amadeus
We could end it short with Amadeus personally taking care of his patient, Martin “Mad Dog” Hawkins. The man killed his wife and daughter and received admission to the criminally insane Asylum.
However, following the electro-shock administered to the patient as a treatment that revealed itself to be fatal, Dr. Arkham suffered PTSD. He lost grip on reality and his sanity. More frightening, he ended up a patient in own institution he created.
A Character Worth Revisiting
Cyrus Pinkney, a visionary architect, saw the potential in the young Amadeus Arkham. His intelligence was relatively high, and so was his kindness. But over the years, Arkham changed, like all of us would.
Those aware and knowledgeable of the Batmanverse know of the “Devil’s Slide” inside Arkham Asylum. Dr. Arkham was the inventor of the staircase that led to the underbelly of the Asylum. The core of Arkham Asylum earned the name “Gallows.”
The reason for the construction of the particular area was Amadeus’ intention to monitor the actions of the patients. At least that’s what people thought. The reality was much worst. The Gallows created a mad scientist who wanted to torture and experiment mentally unsound.
Another of Amadeus’ creations was a drug that had each patient who was unlucky enough to drink it fall into a hibernation state. The drug could simulate death for a duration of time.
The Descent Into Madness
During the construction of Arkham Asylum, Amadeus’ first patient—Martin “Mad Dog” Hawkins—escaped Metropolis State Penitentiary and broke into the psychiatrist’s house. He murdered Amadeus’ family in the living quarters of the building.
When Amadeus came back home, he found his wife and daughter lifeless. When examined, his daughter has declared a rape victim before decapitation. Moreover, the words “Mad Dog” were carved into her chest.
Arkham Asylum opened the following November, and as we know, Mad Dog became Amadeus’ first patient. After six months of torture, he stopped the treatment declaring Mad Dog untreatable.
The event of the murderer’s death was accidental, or so was the ruling, but it turned out to be his descent into madness.
Symptoms and characteristics of schizophrenia are delusions, hallucinations, incoherent speech, chaotic behaviour. We can also add the “negative” symptoms.
Those symptoms often change from person to person since we’re all individuals and unique. Patterns and gravity of those symptoms vary and can reveal to be quite subtle.
The delusions found in schizophrenic patients often involve illogical ideas and fantasies. Persecution is the most common of those delusions. It’s usually in the shape of a belief that someone or “they” are out to get you.
Incoherence of Amadeus
Due to delusional schizophrenia, Amadeus Arkham showed symptoms of incoherence in his actions and decisions. His behaviour is confusing when the architect Pinkney reveals him to be kind and highly intelligent. Yet, Amadeus created a drug to mimic death.
Schizophrenic symptoms are often genetics and often reveal themselves by thirty-five. We can now assume that Amadeus had to be younger than thirty-five when his behaviour changed. It could be subtle, like an electro-shock higher than it should be, but Amadeus is aware of it.
“Mad Dog” was out to get him. His mother had dementia, and it was out to get him. He used his place and inheritance to build an asylum for the criminally insane. That, to me, screams schizophrenic behaviour.
The Common Paranoia
Clinical Paranoia can be a severe disorder. A rare mental condition, paranoia has the patient believe others are unfair, lying, or actively trying to harm them. Of course, there is no proof that anyone is ready to hurt the patient in most cases.
Most paranoid individuals believe they are normal because they are sure their thoughts are true.
Imagine the feeling of being under threat. People are watching you every day, every second of it and night too. Imagine people constantly talking behind your back. That is what clinical paranoia is. Moreover, there is never a shred of proof that there is indeed a threat.
The Paranoia Of A Psychiatrist
Amadeus Arkham was a psychiatrist, so most likely aware that his paranoia was illogical. However, it is not far-fetched to believe he thought Mad Dog to be after him.
The paranoia of Dr. Arkham, I believe, found its drive in the home invasion and the savage killing and raping of his daughter and, of course, his wife.
His paranoia concerning Mad Dog made him want to become his doctor and take care of him. It most likely had Dr. Arkham pondering the question of developing the infamous “Devil’s Slide.” Let’s not forget those led to the Gallows where Arkham could always keep an eye on every inmate.
The Gallows were Amadeus’ invention to spy on his patient. The only logical reason he would do such a thing was to watch his back. He always wanted to make sure he knew what was said and done.
One of the symptoms of a personality disorder is controlling behaviour. It can be due to histrionic personality, borderline personality, or narcissistic personality. It is quite hard to confirm a diagnostic unless seen by a licensed professional of psychology or psychiatry.
In many cases, controlling behaviour can be annoying to be around. However, it might be a sign of abusive behaviour.
Sadly, it is a possibility that an abusive partner or co-worker has controlling behaviour issues and must involve the authorities.
Controlling behaviour can also harm the person with the issue. The person can be a masochist or suffer from other disorders that reinforce the desire to control, like OCD—obsessive, compulsive disorder.
Controlling The Doctor
In Amadeus’ case, I am inclined to say he falls under the histrionic personality disorder. He shows dramatic measures when creating the “Devil’s Slide” and the “Gallows.” He also shows his prowess with medical treatment using electro-shocks and reinforcing that “Arkham” will become legendary.
Histrionic personality disorder targets self-esteem, and often, the patient relies on the approval of others. People who have histrionic personality disorder have an overpowering desire to have attention. This means that Amadeus falls into Cluster B of personality disorder.
Amadeus wants a spotlight on him. It doesn’t mean the attention a patient wants is to be on billboards. It could be as subtle as becoming the doctor of the one who killed your family. Amadeus made sure he would personally take care of Mad Dog. He shares the name of his mother for the Asylum.
At all times, Dr. Amadeus Asylum controls his patient and has the attention as the builder of the institution.
The Doctor That Became The Patient
Amadeus’ terror over his patient took a turn for the worst when discovered. Declared insane by the court, he became a patient in his institution. His ego indeed took a devastating blow.
Declaring someone “insane” is wrong and should not be a ruling. There are names for each possible disorder and trauma. Amadeus had the right intention in building an Asylum. However, nobody asked why.
Why create an asylum specifically for the criminally insane? What pushed Amadeus to use his house to build this institution? Why did he make a drug to simulate death? Why the torture? Why is a vital question that nobody asked.
Amadeus became a patient in his institution and died in it. Since the Asylum was shady in its practice, we can only speculate what Amadeus received as a treatment.
My Unprofessional Diagnosis
Because I am no doctor of any kind, here is my less-than-professional opinion about Dr. Amadeus Arkham.
Amadeus is no supervillain since he has no abilities beyond human comprehension. He used his title as entitlement to test and torture patients in secrecy.
As for Arkham’s mental illnesses, you can read them as follow. Dr. Amadeus Arkham suffers from Delusional Schizophrenia, Clinical Paranoia, and Histrionic Personality Disorder. Each of the disorders mentioned reinforces the other making him a danger for others and himself.
My advice would be to keep Dr. Amadeus Arkham’s corpse in Arkham Asylum’s cemetery. This tormented soul needed great help and support. Amadeus lost his mind, not his soul. He is the founder and builder of an iconic and legendary establishment deserving a second chance.