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Subtitles: English, Español, German, and Portuguese (2019). What’s up, guys! Welcome to Dystopia. My name is Andres, and today you and I are going to analyse two of our favourite villains – the Joker and Thanos the Mad Titan – to try and figure out which features are shared by psychopaths and sociopaths, as well as how to ultimately tell them apart. Let’s start with the similarities.
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Part of the reason why “psychopath” and “sociopath” are used interchangeably, is the fact they both share characteristics of antisocial personality disorder. People who suffer from this condition, tend to disregard and violate the rights of others around them.
More specifically, psychopaths and sociopaths will share the following symptoms: Number one, they are Egocentric, as they’re solely motivated by their own personal desires. We are all too familiar with movie Thanos’s ultimate goal – to wipe out half the universe to put a stop to overpopulation, avoid resource depletion, and prevent an extinction vortex from killing us all. What some of you may not know, however, is that his motivations in the comics are far less “compassionate”. From a very young age, Thanos was consumed, obsessed, fixated with the idea of impressing the personification of death, to the point where he committed a series of atrocities to prove his love for her, time, and time again. Number two, they are Manipulative. The Clown Prince of Crime has a long history of deceiving others into thinking, acting, or feeling in a way that will ultimately result in his own personal benefit. He manipulated Batman, for example, into capturing him and sending him to prison, just so he could retrieve the mob’s money, and he could get a chance to show the world that everything burns.
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He then twisted Gotham’s paragon of justice into a rage-fuelled, murderous fiend, and made the Batman lose all hope for credibility, in a bid to stop the Joker from winning Gotham’s soul. Perhaps the most nefarious act of manipulation the Joker has ever committed, however, is the endless cycle of abuse he has inflicted upon Harley Quinn. Not only did he create her, shoot her, beat her, chain her, and throw her into a pit of hyenas, he didn’t even notice when she left him for a year, just so she could raise their daughter. Her name is Lucy, she’s four, and she likes tutus and toy cars. She especially likes putting tutus on toy cars, and the idea of a car that’s also a ballerina. Harley reckons that makes perfect sense.
She also reckons she shouldn’t tell the Joker about Lucy. I don’t know about you guys, but I agree. Number three, they are Hostile. Yo, Gambol! Somebody here for you! They say they’ve just killed the Joker. They’ve brought the body. So, dead, that’s five hundred. How about alive, hm? You want to know how I got these scars? My father was a drinker and a fiend. And, one night, he goes off crazier than usual Mommy gets the kitchen knife to defend herself. He doesn’t like that, Not. One. Bit. So, me watching, he takes the knife to her, laughing while he does it. He turns to me, and he says – why so serious? He comes at me with the knife – Why so serious? He sticks the blade in my mouth – Let’s put a smile on that face. And… Why so serious? Now, our operation is small but there’s a lot of potential for aggressive expansion. So, which of you fine gentlemen would like to join our team? Oh, there’s only one spot open right now, so we’re going to have… try outs. Make it fast. Number four, both psychopaths and sociopaths receive a childhood diagnosis, because most symptoms will appear before the age of 15. A conflicted childhood and a series of traumatic events, combined with an estranged relationship with his parents, led Thanos to commit a series of heinous acts from a very young age. We’ll talk a little bit more about these in a minute, but for now, I think it’s sufficient to say that by the time he was twelve, Thanos butchered scores of lizard-like creatures that had previously devoured some of his friends. Following that, while he was a teenager, he began to vivisect all kinds of animals in his personal laboratory, up until the point where this became insufficient, and he decided to kidnap a young couple to cut them up as well. In fact, these were the first people to ever be murdered in Titan since the moon was first settled. Sadly, they wouldn’t be the last… Thanos would see to that. Given these similarities in behaviour, it’s no wonder psychopath and sociopath have formerly been used ambiguously both in neuroscience and criminology. Nowadays, however, exhaustive brain research has granted psychopathy a more specific definition, establishing a much clearer gap between her and her sociopathic step sister. Bearing this in mind, here are the key features that separate a psychopath from a sociopath. Number one, Nature vs. Nurture. Psychopathy stems from biological factors, as psychopaths have abnormalities in their brain, which prevent them from feeling empathy towards someone who’s in pain. Perhaps more worryingly, however, their brains also make them feel pleasure when they witness someone who’s in agony. In Batman: A Death in the Family, the Joker manages to get his hands on Jason Todd, the second Robin. He then proceeds to torture him with a crowbar, leaving him to die in a warehouse rigged with a bomb. Batman arrived too late to the scene, and Jason died from his injuries. The most messed up thing, however, is that it was the fans who voted for the Boy Wonder to die, with 5,271 people voting for him to live, and 5,343 voting for his demise. In retrospective, DC Comics admitted that giving the fans this choice wasn’t their most brilliant idea, but the damage was already done. On the downside, Jason Todd did die and Batman was traumatized by the event. On the upside though, we got one of the most iconic covers in comic book history. So, yay us, I guess? Hm, anyway… sociopathy, on the other hand, is associated with upbringing, such as childhood trauma caused by physical or emotional abuse. Born in the Saturn moon of Titan, Thanos displayed a genetic condition since birth, which made him appear “deformed” to his fellow Titanians. Upon setting her eyes on him, his mother reached for a nearby scalpel and attempted to stab him, screaming that he was a monster, and he had to be put down. This, however, was only one of a series of events that culminated in Thanos becoming a mass murderer. When he was twelve years old, Thanos stood out among his classmates due to his appearance, a fact he was reminded of consistently. He thus became a lonely and reserved child, who preferred the company of books and drawings to that of people. His relationship with his parents was also quite distant, with Thanos’s father ignoring him or saying he was very busy, whenever he asked what was wrong with him. His relationship with his mother was even worse, as she was confined to a mental health institution. He’d visit her constantly, trying to connect with her, but she would just sit there, crying in silence. Thanos once confided to her, that he was having recurring dreams of himself as a newborn, while somebody loomed over him and tried to stab him. Sometimes he also dreamt that he was an adult and, this time, he was the one stabbing his attacker. He finally implied these dreams had gotten so bad, he now blatantly refused to fall asleep. As Thanos grew older, he became more popular in school because he was a very bright child. He even made a couple of mates, who played ball with him whenever they had recess. After a bad day in class, however, a girl who seemed particularly interested in him, suggested he should go for a hike to a forbidden cave, to clear his head. Thanos decided to do so, and he brought his mates along with him. Unfortunately, the structure caved in, and his friends were trapped and eaten alive by some giant lizards, which spared Thanos from the same fate because they found him “unappealing”. Shockingly, people in school started to spread rumours that Thanos had killed and eaten the children, and he was subsequently shunned by his peers. The girl who suggested he should go to the cave in the first place, took advantage of his sadness and his anger, telling him the only way forward was to take revenge upon the reptiles. Afterwards, as I mentioned, he started vivisecting animals in gruesome, torturous ways, trying to figure out what was wrong with him by studying their biology. As this answer kept eluding him, he decided to vivisect people, always encouraged by the mysterious girl, his only friend since he made his first kill. This girl turned out to be the manifestation of Death, who Thanos had become infatuated with. Once she realised she had complete control over him, Mistress Death convinced Thanos to embrace his true self. Which he did, by kidnapping his mother and killing her as well, not before confessing, that he was indeed a monster, who she should have killed when she had the chance. In summary, psychopaths are born, sociopaths are made. Number two, Lack of Empathy vs. Lack of Sympathy. As we already mentioned, psychopaths are physiologically incapable of showing empathy, the ability to understand somebody else’s emotions. In Batman: The Killing Joke, the Joker shoots Batgirl Barbara Gordon in the stomach, paralysing her. He then kidnaps her father, Commissioner Gordon, and has his henchmen beat him, and put him in a cage. He then forces him to watch giant photos of Barbara, lying down naked, bloodied, and tormented. Sociopaths, on the other hand, are capable of feeling empathy, but they lack sympathy – in other words, they understand your emotions, they just don’t care. Number three, Moral compass – Absent vs. Twisted. Psychopaths do not have a moral anchor that tells them what is right or wrong, which is why they don’t feel guilt or remorse for the suffering they inflict upon others. Sociopaths do have a moral compass but, as the title suggests, it has been twisted by their environment. As we know, every villain is the hero of their own story, and sociopaths will truly believe they’re doing the right thing – it’s just that their “right” is a little different to that of society as a whole. In terms of remorse, sociopaths do not feel guilty when they hurt somebody they have no attachment to, but they are capable of feeling guilt when they harm somebody with whom they share a deep emotional connection. Which leads us to our next point… Number four, Emotional Attachment vs. Emotional Control. Given that sociopaths are capable of feeling empathy and guilt, they are capable of forming emotional attachments with family, friends, and like-minded people. Psychopaths, on the other hand, are incapable of forming these connections because they lack empathy. Instead, they tend to establish artificial and shallow relationships with people, in order to maintain emotional and physical control over them. Finally, number five, Calculating vs. Impulsive. Psychopaths have an innate capability to blend in with society. When engaging in criminal activity, they are more likely to use precautionary measures to avoid capture and detection. Moreover, they employ aggression in calculated moves, which will take down any barriers to their goals without drawing any attention back to them. Sociopaths, on the other hand, are less capable of playing the role of average citizen. They tend to commit spontaneous acts of criminal behaviour, with little emotional or physical control, and without thinking of the consequences their actions may carry. In “The Infinity Gauntlet” comic book series, Thanos traps Nebula in an excruciating limbo, pushing her to the brink of death, without allowing her to die. He also decided to keep her by his side, not just to gloat, but also because he was confident she was no longer a threat. After utterly embarrassing most of MARVEL’s heroes and supreme beings, Thanos decided to celebrate his triumph by transforming into an astral entity. Unfortunately for him, he failed to consider that he would lose his corporeal form, which gave Nebula the chance to gain control of the gauntlet. Things quickly went downhill for the Titan after that, with Nebula returning her body to full strength, and banishing Thanos into oblivion. Based on this analysis, I personally conclude that the Joker is a psychopath, whereas Thanos is a sociopath. If you disagree with me, feel free to start an argument on the comment section, and if you liked this video, go ahead and check out the Star Wars version featuring Darth Sidious vs. Darth Vader, as well as the Game of Thrones version comparing Cersei Lannister with Ramsay Bolton. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to watch future videos like “Where does morality come from? 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