Villain Therapy: JOKER

From Cinema Therapy.

Get 70% off NordPass at or use code cinematherapy. Plus, you get an additional month for FREE!

Arthur Fleck’s swings between manic episodes and serious depression can teach us a bit about what bipolar disorder looks like in real life.

Licensed therapist Jonathan Decker and filmmaker Alan Seawright take a look at the circumstances that lead Arthur Fleck to become the Joker. When you look at the ways his actions and emotions relate to bipolar disorder, and pair that with some pretty major trauma in his childhood and other circumstances in his life, we’ve got a really interesting character to look at from a psychological standpoint. And absolutely brilliant filmmaking that bring it to life.

NOTE: As we state in the episode, there is NOT a correlation between mental illness and villainy or violence. Arthur Fleck happens to display some of the traits of bipolar disorder and pseudobulbar effect, but it is his choices, combined with his life experiences/circumstances and the mythology of the DC universe that led him to become a villain (the Joker). We also discuss the ways that the film portrays mental illness and the messages that sends.

And of course Alan has hot takes about just how brilliant Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is, just how surprising Todd Phillips’ direction is, and what kind of lenses they used to make Gotham look like a complete turdpile. It’s enlightening?

Watch more Villain Therapy episodes:

Check out another video about a VERY different movie about someone dealing with Bipolar Disorder, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK!

Cinema Therapy is:
Written by: Jonathan Decker, Megan Seawright, and Alan Seawright
Produced by: Alan Seawright, Megan Seawright, and Jonathan Decker
Edited by: Trevor Horton
Director of Photography: Bradley Olsen
English Transcription by: Anna Preis