Joker (2019) Psychological Analysis: Disorders and Traits

Arthur Fleck in the movie Joker suffers from various mental disorders, such as pseudobulbar affect, narcissism, psychopathy, and schizophrenia.

In this article, I will analyze how each of Arthur’s mental disorders and personality traits are triggered and exacerbated by his traumatic experiences and social isolation.


Joker is a psychological thriller directed by Todd Phillips that explores the origins of the iconic Batman villain, the Joker. The main character, Arthur Fleck, played by Joaquin Phoenix, is a struggling stand-up comedian who descends into madness and chaos as he becomes the Joker.

The purpose of this article is to delve into the psychology of Arthur Fleck and his transformation into the Joker. Through analyzing his mental state, personality traits, and experiences, we can gain a deeper understanding of the character and his actions.

Joker Suffers From Pseudobulbar Affect

Arthur Fleck suffers from pseudobulbar affect, a neurological condition that causes him to laugh uncontrollably at inappropriate moments. This condition affects his social interactions and self-esteem, as people often misunderstand his laughter as mocking or insulting.

Arthur’s laughter is an expression of his inner pain and a coping mechanism for his emotional distress. For example, when he laughs during a comedy show, it is because he sees the irony in his miserable life. When he is attacked by thugs on the subway, his laughter is a defense mechanism to cope with the trauma of the assault.

In this way, his pseudobulbar affect serves as a window into his inner turmoil.

Joker’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Arthur Fleck also exhibits narcissistic personality disorder, which is characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. Arthur’s delusions of becoming a famous comedian and his romantic interest in his neighbor Sophie are fueled by his narcissism.

He wants to be seen as a successful and influential figure, despite his current state of poverty and neglect. His narcissism is a result of his low self-esteem and his desire to escape his miserable reality. For example, when he imagines himself on the Murray Franklin show, he feels a sense of validation and recognition that he lacks in his everyday life.

When he invades Sophie’s apartment, he believes that she is attracted to him and that they have a special connection. His narcissism blinds him to the reality of his situation and the feelings of others, leading him to commit dangerous and destructive actions.

Joker is a Psychopath

Arthur Fleck also exhibits psychopathic traits, including impulsivity, aggression, deceitfulness, and lack of remorse. As he becomes more violent and chaotic, his psychopathy becomes more apparent. His abuse and neglect by society trigger his anger and resentment toward the system that has failed him.

Arthur sees violence as a way to reclaim his power and assert his identity. For example, when he kills his co-worker Randall, he is asserting his dominance over someone who has belittled him. When he shoots Murray Franklin on live TV, he is making a statement against the hypocrisy and superficiality of the media.

Arthur’s psychopathy is a manifestation of his inner turmoil and his desire to assert himself in a world that has rejected him.

Arthur Might Have Schizophrenia

It is not explicitly stated in Joker that Arthur Fleck suffers from schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and behavior, and diminished emotional expression.

However, he does display various symptoms that could be interpreted as signs of schizophrenia, such as his delusions of grandeur, his tendency to talk to himself, and his total imagination of having a relationship with his neighbor.


In conclusion, Arthur Fleck’s mental state and psychology in Joker are complex and controversial. His pseudobulbar affect, narcissism, and psychopathy are all interconnected and exacerbated by his traumatic experiences and social isolation. 

The implications of this analysis are far-reaching, as they shed light on the larger issues of mental health, social inequality, and the role of media in shaping public perception.

Despite Arthur’s mental disorders, some people see him as a symbol of rebellion and anarchism against an oppressive system that perpetuates inequality and injustice. They argue that his violent acts are a justified response to a society that has abandoned him and others like him. On the other hand, some people see him as a dangerous and irresponsible individual who promotes violence and chaos for its own sake. They argue that his mental disorders and traumas do not excuse his criminal behavior and that his actions have harmful consequences for innocent people.

It is important to acknowledge that the Joker is a scary fictional character and should not be glorified or imitated in real life. Instead, we should use our fascination with him as an opportunity to reflect on the complexities and challenges of mental health, social inequality, and morality in our society.

Saurav B.

Saurav is the main content creator at Film Finesse's blog and YouTube. He has six years of experience as a content writer, including writing screenplays for short movies and videos. He has 5 years of experience as a research manager, along with a degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering.

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