Heroes tend to represent “the best” of humanity, but “the best” tends to be synonymous with flawless. Why can’t Superheroes have faults? Now, don’t get me wrong…they show us what we can do to make the world a better place, and how our darkest times can make us stronger. While superheroes are essentially my entire life, I never understood why they tried to show superheroes as MORE than the humans they are at heart. Every single human has some sort of mental disability, and isn’t it time we learned more about them? Even fictional characters deserve recognition and attention for the things they go through. I did a bit of research, and here are some heroes I found with mental disabilities:
Jessica Jones – PTSD:
For those who aren’t sure about the specifics, allow me to summarize this complex disorder – PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a condition that can cause severe anxiety, night terrors, flashbacks, and even uncontrollable thoughts regarding the event that caused it. Causes can vary, but this usually happens when a person experiences or witnesses a severe trauma.
There’s a stigma behind this disorder that ONLY people in the military suffer from it, but please know that ANYONE can get PTSD. Jessica Jones is a prime example. She has superhuman strength, and was obscenely taken advantage of by a man named Kilgrave. Kilgrave, equipped with the power to get anyone to do LITERALLY what ever he demands, uses Jessica to get his way. Together they made a lethal team, and the things he forced the heroine to do caused severe mental trauma. I continually praise the Netflix-Adaptation for properly representing Jessica Jones’ ordeal.
Iron Man – Severe Anxiety
Now, since we’re being real for a moment, I’m going to be honest with you all. Anxiety is something I have and I deal with it every single day. It’s not a fun disorder to have, but if you’re not overly familiar with it, let me give you a quick definition: Anxiety is a disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.“
Tony Stark, A.K.A. the ever-snarky Iron Man, displays constant traits of a man with severe anxiety, directly down to his compulsive behavior. Following the events of The Avengers, Tony is even seen going into a major panic attack. To put it into words, (From my personal experience) what you feel during an attack can vary, but mostly it’s like…well…it’s like the world around you is moving too fast and you just can’t keep up. It’s terrifying, especially in the moment, but once it’s over you simply feel emotionally drained and detached. Everyone is different though, so your personal experience with this disorder can differ.
J‘onn J’onzz (Martian Manhunter) – PTSD/Pyrophobia
Now, you know the definition of PTSD, (See Jessica Jones and the source provided for more information) but along with this complicated disorder Martian Manhunter suffers from Pyrophobia, or the fear of fires.
J’onn J’onzz (pronounced John Jones) is the last Green Martian, though it’s not by choice. On mars Green martians and White Martians were at war, and White Martians unfortunately came out on top. Reminiscent of Earth’s holocaust, the White Martians sent “Greens” to concentration camps, which ultimately led to the extinction of the Green Martian race. The “Whites” use of fire to exterminate their fellow martians is what causes J’onn to suffer from a severe phobia of fire. Their methods cost him not only his planet and people, but the lives of his wife and daughters as well. It continues to be one of the darkest backstories I’ve learned about.
Deadpool – Depression
Depression, despite being one of the most common forms of mental disorders, is often times one of the most overlooked disorders to date. The stigma that one should simply “get over” their depression is abhorrent, and seeing a superhero (Or Anti-Hero in this case) display it would hopefully mean the eventual end of that very stigma. To put it simply, depression is the feeling of severe despondency and dejection.
While it is constantly argued as to whether Deadpool is a hero or not, one unarguable factor is the severity of Deadpool’s mental health. Wade Wilson could easily have various and multiple disorders, but one that tends to be at the forefront is his depression. One of the greatest common factors of this disorder is a heightened sense of humor – Now, that isn’t to say anyone who cracks a joke is depressed, however most people with this disorder tend to turn to humor to deflect the turmoil they’re feeling within. Deadpool has displayed the traits of depression on many an occasion, and in a rare moment of seriousness, even goes so far as to describe his use of humor like this: “When you’re confronted with a horrible situation, there are only two reactions: Laughter and Tears. And laughter, after all, is nature’s anesthesia. Tears hurt too much.” – Deadpool, X-men Origins, Deadpool.
Arsenal – Addiction (Heroin):
Many people tend to forget that addiction – the fact or condition of being severely dependent on/to a particular substance, thing, or activity – IS in fact considered a mental disorder, and often requires similar actions to tend to it as any other mental disability requires. While addiction comes in many forms, its most common forms are alcoholism and drug abuse.
Arsenal, one of The Green Arrow’s closest allies, (also referred to as Roy Harper and “Speedy.”) is known to suffer heavily from Heroin addiction. The story goes that once the Teen Titans disbanded, Arsenal and his girlfriend broke up, and Green Arrow began neglecting his protege, the young vigilante turned to heroin. (Green Lantern Vol 2, #85-86.) Things eventually look up for the hero, and when he finds the help he needs and deserves, even doubles as a counselor for anti-drug programs.
At the end of the day, Superheroes and Super-Villains are just like us. They go through the same worries, struggles, and inner turmoil that we go through. What makes them SUPER is the fact that they keep fighting. We can all fight back, even in the smallest of ways; waking up each day is a start, and even if that’s as far as you get, there’s always tomorrow, and there are always resources to help. We at The Game Of Nerds love you the way you are, and as our fans, YOU are OUR superheroes. Has a superhero ever helped you come to terms with a disorder you might have? Is there one not on this list that you found yourself relating to? Let us know! As always, thank you so much for reading.