You know this guy? Most likely not. Let me give you a hint. It's me. Find anything suspicious? Not a thing? Really?
Well let me tell you something...
...I've got a mental illness. Well actually three of them. Recurring depressions, PTSD and some form of "personality disorder with emotionally unstable episodes".
Let's be honest here for a second. Had you guessed it from that picture?
Then let's just imagine I told you the latter information first. I'm pretty sure, here are some of the guys you might have imagined me as:
What do those guys have in common? They are all "psychopaths", "nutcases", "insane people" or painted as one of the many things in between.
So yeah...I'm one of those guys, too. A fellow Dtoider, on one level with Vaas.
...you see, that is EXACTLY, why I welcome the Asylum Jam. Don't worry, this is not going to be one of those "Tropes against [insert stuff here] in videogames"-post; just a piece of my mind, where things are going wrong regarding mental-illnesses, where it's done right and why I can actually understand the current depiction.
What? The Joker is no Psychopath? You high?
No, not at all. Fact is, guys like the Joker are often branded as psychopaths or sociopaths without acknowledging what that actually is.
A psychopath CAN be sociopathic, but a sociopath can NEVER be a psychopath at the same time. Yep, there's a difference and yep, that difference actually matters.
A sociopath is someone who doesn't want to be a part of the society and therefore actively tries to counteract its morals, styles, younameit. It gets problematic, when those tendencies are going bonkers.
A psychopath is even more so someone who doesn't fit into society...but not so much because he doesn't want to, but more because he is unable to. This can have a lot of causes but mainly someone is called "psychopathic" when he is "given wrong information" so that he not only sees society to be wrong, but really, deeply believes it because he was told so.
It's needless to say this normally doesn't occur to you, unless you suffer some serious trauma or brain-washing procedures.
So let's remember: the sociopath does something because he believes it to be wrong, yet he is FULLY AWARE, that his behavior or actions are "illegal". The psychopath on the other hand doesn't even remotely think of legal issues, because he isn't necessarily even able to (or told so).
With this info, some of video-games' mad men or "asylum-setups" somehow lose a lot.
Take the critically acclaimed "Batman: Arkham Asylum" for instance. I absolutely LOVE this game, bought it on three separate consoles and finished it about twice as often.
However, if we take our definitions of sociopathic and psychpathic behavior and apply it here, it's becoming rather surreal that nearly no one of those criminals would actually be in there.
In a mental asylum: No.
While it's undeniable that guys like the aforementioned Joker or Killer Croc have some serious issues, the question of WHY they commited their crimes would land both of them in normal jail. Especially the Joker with his "for the lulz"-attitude as well as his demagogic skills would never even be allowed to have remote contact with asylum inmates.
The only criminals in Arkham Asylum who I'd deem fitting for the "psychopath"-label are Harley Quinn and maybe, but just MAYBE, Bane.
Harley Quinn was once a psychiatrist (though everyone who played Arkham Asylum should be familiar with this) until she fell for the Joker.
Getting into a completely submissive state of mental dependency certainly qualifies as psychopathic behavior.
Bane is a wee bit harder to characterize but given his origin story, I'm inclined to label him a psychopath. I mean: being incarcerated at age four for a crime your father commited and basically having no one to talk to but a teddy bear is not really the best way to teach a child right from wrong. That's why I'd give him the benefit of doubt.
The rest of the group, however, are fully aware of what they are doing, thus fully responsible for what they do.
Now why is this so important?
To understand that a mental illness doesn't make you a madman. Nor does it make you cringe on the spot and yell "THE FLOOR IS LAVA" whenever you hear a toaster at 4:37 a.m.
Yes, there ARE cases like this and it is definitely no joke. But we all know we are safe and sound from those lunatics because they rest safely locked away from us in places like these:
Let me give you a look into an actual home for patients like this:
Actually, I'm going to update this article with some photos of my own because Google only produced those horror-images, which kind of proves my point.
But it HAS to have a reason, right?
Yes, I do think it does and I kind of understand it. As the doctor in "L.A. Noire" said: the mind is the final frontier. It's something we can't really grasp because it's on the inside and everyone is different. In addition, everybody reacts different to varying stimuli so making be-all-end-all statements is nearly impossible.
Add to that the fact that mental-illnesses cover the whole front. From a slight stutter to pedophiliac-world-domination-fantasies: if you can think of it, there's a possibility it exists.
And come to think of it: a "lunatic" IS more captivating than your everyday person.
Normal is boring.
Normal is predictable.
But worst of all: normal is relatable. Just imagine: the guy who murdered Jason Brody's brother and sold one of his friends to a mixture of a rapist, drunk and archaeologist could be YOU.
Good to know that he is just a mad man. Not like you no. Heavens no, you would never do it, but do everything to stop him because it is just SO unrelatable. It gives you an enemy who is neither an alien, a zombie or a nazi but nevertheless unpredictable and at least thus far detached from reality to just shoehorn in every crazy stunt, murder or torture because LUNACY.
That's (I think) the reason, why it's mostly villains who have some kind of mental disorders.
I really question why that is, because
...the best example of mental-illness being displayed correctly is actually in a hero.
The guy who not only found the bodies of his wife and baby daughter, but got pulled into conspiracies only to be hunted down by every side......TWICE.
I don't know about you but in my opinion this would get to everyone and anyone who ever suffered from a depression (the clinical one...not being sad once in a while) will tell you, that it's not easy getting ANYTHING done in that case.
It's a state that needs to be adressed. Our friend Max, however, isn't really one to consult people. Not that this comes as a huge surprise given his recent experiences with people. He tried to change stuff but was unable to escape his dysfunctional behaviors...which is also something everyone with a history of depression will be able to confirm.
I wasn't a too big fan of Max Payne 3 but that was mostly because of some gameplay choices I didn't like.
The actual portrayal of Max and his behavioral patterns in light of his experiences is really good and relatable for someone like me.
Yes, he doesn't really achieve much. Because he can't. Because he is trapped inside a shell that's unbreakable for him.
He isn't someone who uses his illness as an excuse for his little power fantasies.
He doesn't justify torture, rape or genocide by a rough childhood.
He is a person like you and me. A familyman who suffered through horrible circumstances which left him scarred for life. And not just him...every sane person would be shattered by this.