Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rorschach Psychology Watchmen character

Rorschach is perhaps one of the biggest anti-heroes in Watchmen and other comic-verses. So what exactly is wrong with him? What made Rorschach psychology so screwed up? Is Rorschach really a hero or a villain? What is his personality like in reality? Is Rorschach just short of turning into a bad guy?

I guess we all agree that the main reason behind Rorschach's mental instability or messed up psychology is the way Rorschach handled the little girl's kidnapping case. It's only after his failure to save the girl from the kidnapper that we see Rorschach become the ruthless psychotic anti-hero that he comes across as. This is also evident in the way his psychologist Dr. Malcolm Long's is stunned after listening to the girl's kidnapping case details. Remember that Dr. Malcolm Long is more or so apathetic to Rorschach's personality having made the assumption that Rorschach's vigilante (rather as an anti-hero) efforts are just a misdirection of his subconscious rage originating from his bad upbringing and some crime he happened to notice. But after Roroschach explains the girl's Dr Malcolm Long Watchmen Rorschach Psychology Watchmen characterkidnapping's details to him, its after that we see a significant shift in Dr. Malcolm Long's own psychology. Dr. Long is evidently affected by the horrid details of the girl's kidnapping case.

This actually brings an important question - Is everyone supposed to be similarly affected by the details of the girl's kidnapping case? I'm sure not! The reason, in my view, Dr. Malcolm Long was so substantially affected by that is because he, being a psychologist, is much more empathic. Yes, I do think that to be a truly distinguished psychologist one needs to have above average empathy. And Dr. Malcolm Long being distinguished enough to be treating someone like Rorschach (Kovacs) does have that trait. Further, he is consciously making an effort to understand Rorschach and that adds to the fact that he somehow internalizes the thing that hit Rorschach himself so hard. Anyhow, I'm digressing, back to Rorschach's psychology...

So what is this little girl's kidnapping case anyway? To summarize - While trying to solve a kidnapping case (a little girl's kidnapping), Rorschach Watchmen Little Girl Kidnapping caseRorschach found that the kidnapper had killed the girl in the *most* horrific and inhuman manner (the details of which have been intentionally kept out of this blog) and mentally unstable as Rorschach was to start with, broke down! His anger led Rorschach to try to punish the kidnapper in a rather grotesque way - Rorschach handcuffed the murderer to something in his house and set the house on fire! But the grotesque part of it was that Rorschach also left a hacksaw next to the handcuffed kidnapper as a way to get out of the burning house. Obviously, it was impossible to saw off the handcuffs themselves in time so the whole point was to see if he will saw off his own arm to get free! That's not all though, Rorschach waited for an hour or so outside the house listening to his victim's cries who apparently couldn't find the courage to saw off his own hand and died by the fire.

So, aside from the girl's kidnapping case I guess we all agree that a lot of it stems from Rorschach's childhood and upbringing and his early years with his mother, growing up as an unwanted child too. That said, I think there is a subtle and often unnoticed aspect of the upbringing part as well! Rorschach's personality also reflects the apparent polarity of the perceived (by him) personalities of his mother and father. His mother being a severely abusive and "low" person while his mental image of his father as a true patriot and a gentleman who he never met! Further, Rorschach's tendency to think of president Truman and his own father sharing similar ideals seem to be doing more damage to his (Rorschach's) perception of right and wrong.

The reason that I think that this apparent difference in Rorschach's perception of his parents is a rather huge reason behind his psychosis is evident from Roroschach's view of the world! Rorschach has a very black and white view of the world - Rorschach's sense of "bad" or "wrong" almost includes everything (as is evident from the third panel of the very first page of Watchmen book) but his sense of "good" or "right" lies at the other end of the spectrum (as is evident from his last decision to tell the truth to the world). Observing these facts, it makes sense that his sense of "wrong" comes from the way he learned to perceived the world in his early childhood (primarily his mother's behavior of course) and his sense of "right" comes from his perception of father's personality (and president Truman ofcourse). So, the reality to Rorschach is all rotten and doomed because that's what he has seen in his formative years but his mental image of "good" (that he is trying to do as a superhero) is all sunshine and rainbows! And consequently we notice Rorschach Psychology Watchmen characterRorschach's inclination to view things in a strictly black & white manner. It's like Rorschach has a case of split personality and while dealing with reality his "bad" (mother's) side takes over and while thinking about doing some good his "good" (father's) side takes over. This basic personality characteristic is evident in the way he created his mask - remember that Rorschach's black & white mask existed even before the girl's kidnapping case! He always had this type of psychology and the girl's kidnapping case acted as the final straw that broke the camel's back (turned a more or less good hearted super hero / vigilante Rorschach into a murdered psychotic anti-hero)!

To find why Alan Moore calls Rorschach Watchmen's Batman, click - Is Rorschach Watchmen's Batman? Rorschach vs Batman

To read about how Rorschach shows himself to be a true superhero at the time of his death, click - Rorschach dies as a true superhero

To read a funny article on Rorschach, click - Rorschach Watchmen Character

To learn more about similarities between Jigsaw and Rorschach, click - Comparing Rorschach's psychology with Jigsaw's


  1. Rorscach was definitely the most interesting emotional character in it.

    Characters like Manhatten were more stimulating on the intellectual side in terms of his chronological existence.

    Guys like Comedian/Hangman or whatever are just entertaining, and then Ozymandias has the evil overlord vibe.

  2. Hi Tyciol!

    Thanks for the excellent comments!

    About Comedian - I see him as a sort of a "Joker" (the Batman's villain) gone right. There's a reason he's named comedian - he sees the world and our society and how corrupt it all really is. That is, people in their hearts are inherently selfish and the reason morality etc exist is only because people want to survive. If they had to kill others to survive, then they'll do that. But the irony is that people still think that they're good and society is doing great! For example, its funny that people find reasons to kill each other for things like religion and they think that they're actually helping others! When you think of it like this, the world is just a big joke and Comedian realizes this! He sees the world in its true form and laughs at it, that is why he is called Comedian!

  3. rorschach and comedian are the 2 best characters also don't you agree that ozymandias in the novel seemed really narcisstic i mean at the point he sent the alien to newyork he seems to be very arrogant like when he mocks niteowl 2 and stuff i don't like ozymandias much