Introduction: the Hulk side to the banner side because

Introduction: Robert Bruce Banner/The Hulk     

For this fictional character case study, I will
be looking in to, and evaluating, the character Robert Bruce Banner also known
as the Hulk. It’s not every day that a green misunderstand giant goes around
wanting to smash thing when enraged or isolate himself to prevent the chance of
hurting others. Most people do not remember the Hulk movies that came out in
2003 and 2008. Instead the most memorable hulk to people is the one portrayed
in the Avengers movies and Tv shows. The Banner is often shoved to the side as
seen in the Avengers when they prefer the Hulk side to the banner side because
one genius or Tony Stark on the team is good enough. The phrase “Don’t make me
angry… You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” and “Hulk Smash” are the common in
the comics and on-screen depiction. The childhood of Robert Bruce Banner is
often left out of the TV or movie portrayal of him because it is quite dark.

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     I
will be analyzing Robert Bruce Banner or the hulk from the comics mainly
because it shows more details about the different struggles he faced were cut
from his story especially in the newer movies. These newer movies main focus is
not Banner but the hulk form because it is the most useful and it is easy to
hide pain behind a big green childish man.                         

Theory Application 1: Honey’s Psychoanalytic Social Theory

      The psychoanalytic social theory of Karen
Horney suggests that personality is more than just nature, and that it is also
based off of one’s social and cultural connections, especially during
childhood. Horney’s theory suggests that as a child, lack of love and
affection, rejection, physical or sexual abuse, and neglect can all contribute
to the child’s way of understanding the world and spawn neurotic needs. If this
is missing in one’s childhood however, one may develop basic anxiety and basic
hostility towards one’s parents.

       In the comics, Robert Bruce Banner was
the son of Dr. Brian Banner, an atomic scientist, and his wife Rebecca.
Although Rebecca deeply loved Bruce, who returned her affection, Brian hated
the child. Possibly an alcoholic, Brian Banner was driven by an insane jealousy
of Bruce for being an object of Rebecca’s love. According to Horney’s theory, if
caregivers fail to meet the child’s safety and satisfaction needs, the child
develops feelings of basic hostility towards the parents Hostility is rarely
expressed outwardly—instead, it gets repressed and the child may have no
awareness of it. Repressed hostility leads to feelings of insecurity and a
sense of apprehension, which Horney called basic anxiety. Brian Banner finally
murdered Rebecca and was placed in a mental hospital. During this time, Bruce
created an imaginary friend called “Hulk.” He used this coping technique
as he became emotionally detached well into his high school years. Brian was
eventually released and moved in with Bruce, but his insanity and deep-seated
hostility against his son caused him to attack Bruce. Bruce, a highly
withdrawn, intellectual youth, was raised by his aunt, Mrs. Drake, and
internalized his great pain and rage over his childhood sufferings.  

        Eventually, as an adult and a genius in
nuclear physics, Banner went to work at a United States Defense Department
nuclear research facility where he met General Thaddeus E.
“Thunderbolt” Ross, and his daughter Betty. Banner and Betty Ross
eventually fell in love with each other. Banner designed and oversaw
construction of the “gamma bomb” or “G-bomb,” a nuclear
weapon that had a high gamma radiation output. During the test, he observed
that a civilian had breached security and entered the restricted test area,
Banner told his colleague to delay the countdown while he tried to get the
civilian to safety, but the colleague did nothing. Reaching the civilian, a
teenager named Rick Jones, Banner threw him into a protective trench. Before
Banner could get himself to safety, the gamma-bomb detonated, and intense waves
of radiation reached the surface. Banner was irradiated with highly charged,
radioactive particles. Due to an unknown genetic factor in his body, Banner was
not killed by the radiation, which instead caused him to transform frequently
into the vastly powerful, green-skinned named “The Hulk” by the
military present at the test site. Due to Brian Banner’s abuse, the Savage Hulk
split from Bruce’s early childhood experience. He’s the most well-known of the
Hulks, typically referring to himself in the third person. He possesses the IQ
and temperament of a child, and just wants to be left alone following one of
his “temper tantrums.” He represents Bruce’s childhood wish to be
strong enough to protect his mother. Banner’s transformations into the Hulk
were triggered by the release of adrenaline when he became intensely excited,
no matter what time it is. For a short time, Banner managed through radiation
treatments to maintain enough of his own personality when he became the Hulk to
control himself in that form, and he even became a founding member of the
Avengers in this form.

      For a surprisingly long time Banner
managed to conceal the fact that he was the Hulk, but his secret inevitably
became public knowledge. For years Banner wandered the world as a hunted
fugitive, cursed by his recurring transformations into the bestial Hulk. scientist
Leonard “Doc” Samson captured the Hulk and succeeded through unknown
means in separating Banner’s psyche and atomic structure from the larger atomic
structure of the Hulk. Hence Banner and the Hulk were now two separate beings.
The Hulk, escaped, and no longer having Banner’s buried personality to restrain
him in the least, became a greater menace than ever before. Banner became
leader of a new government task force to capture the Hulk, called the new
Hulkbusters. Banner also finally married Betty Ross, believing himself free of
the curse of turning into the Hulk.

Realizing
there was only one way to reign in the Hulk, Banner agreed to merge with the
monster. But the stress of the re-integration fractured Banner’s subconscious,
creating the street-smart gray Hulk. Through hypnosis, Samson created the green
but intelligent “Professor” Hulk — believed at the time to be the
integration of Banner’s separate personalities, but since revealed as a new
persona the psychiatrist crafted to help keep the monster’s destructive powers
in check.

       According to Horney’s 10 necrotic needs,
the one most observed in the Hulk is “Ambition and personal achievement” as he
must defeat others to prove superiority. This can also be categories as moving
away from people. This is because Banner build a world away from others and
don’t let others inside and is very private, self-sufficient, and independent.
In addition to that banner find associating with other people to be burdensome
because if he loses control the Hulk may come out and might hurt other. Banner came
to realize that the real self doesn’t measure up to the idealized self,
resulting in self-hatred.  

Theory Application: Erikson’s Post-Freudian
Theory

          Erikson believed that the ego is a
positive force which creates a self-identity, or a sense of “I,” which becomes
increasingly stronger and better organized as we grow older. In addition, this
identity becomes the center of one’s personality; aids in adapting to various
conflicts and keeps us from losing our individuality to the pressures of
society. Due to Banners dark childhood there became a split identity as a way
of adapting to the various conflicts. Banners body ego or a way of seeing his
physical self was different from others due to these identities. As stated
previously Banner had to deal with the three dominant Hulk personalities which
were the green Hulk, the gray “Joe Fixit” Hulk and the
“Professor” Hulk. These common three personalities essentially had to
time-share their existence, in return for stabilizing his fractured psyche and
providing him with release from his disease. Even Banners ego ideal was distorted
due to his past along with when he got turned into the Hulk. The image he had
of himself in comparison with the ideal was different. He was dissatisfied with
both his physical being as well as with his entire personal identity. He often
refers to himself as a monster.

        According to Erikson, during each
stage, personality development is characterized by an identity crisis, where the
individual is especially susceptible to a particular modification in identity.
Each is an opportunity for either adaptive or maladaptive adjustment. During
the Infancy (Ages 0-1) stage Banner lack hope which emerges from trust/mistrust
conflict because of how his father treat him and his mother too little hope
develops which I believe to be the core pathology of withdrawal that emerged.
In the Early Childhood (Ages 2-3) stage children experience lots of doubt and
shame as many of their attempts at mastery are unsuccessful at first. Banner’s
mother showed much affection towards Banner, who returned her love, but this
only served to fuel his father’s rage. During the Play Age (Ages 3-5) stage
children become increasingly curious and imaginative. To me this seem to be the
point where the different personalities start to develop. At the School Age
(6-12) stage children normally develop a sense of industry after learning to do
things well; inadequacies result in feelings of inferiority. This was another
turning point in Banners life where he was fully aware of how weak he was and
could not protect himself or his mother.

DSM-5 Personality Disorder

         Bruce Banner’s struggle with his super
powers may be more relatable to the real world than we might think at first
glance. Could Banner’s abnormal behavior and dual personality be a metaphor for
Dissociative Identity Disorder? Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly
known as Multiple Personality Disorder, is an extreme condition in which
several separate and distinct identities exist within a single person. An
individual with DID may experience anywhere between two to more than 100
fragmented personalities, only one of which being the “host” personality, or
the one that identifies with the person’s original birth name and identity. In
terms of the Incredible Hulk, Bruce Banner, the timid scientist who transforms
into the Hulk, is the host personality. The cause of DID is not completely
clear, but it has been correlated with trauma, particularly trauma during
childhood. This is in line with the story of Banner’s childhood, as he grew up
with an abusive, alcoholic father who took his anger out on Bruce and
eventually murdered Bruce’s mother. The DSM-5 describes DID through five points
of criteria.

         The first criterion of diagnoses for
DID is that two or more personalities must be present within the individual,
each having its own unique way of relating to and thinking about the world and
its self. There are two distinct identities within the character of Bruce
Banner—Banner and the Hulk. Many superheroes have alter egos and secret
identities but the Hulk takes this concept to a unique level. Hulk is not
Banner’s alter ego in quite the same way, nor is Banner the Hulk’s secret
identity. Rather, the two thinks of themselves as separate individuals. In the
2012 film “The Avengers,” Bruce Banner made the separateness clear
from Hulk and the scientist, as Banner consistently refers to his counter
personality as “the other guy.” Similarly, in the comics, Hulk has spoken of
Banner as “that puny weakling in the picture.” These two personalities think of
themselves as separate and individual, they behave as exact opposites. Bruce
Banner is socially withdrawn, extremely intelligent and mild-mannered, whereas
Hulk is aggressively angry, destructive and his IQ does not match that of
Banner’s.

        Secondly, gaps in memory recall, or
amnesia, must occur. Traumatic events and personal information may sometimes be
impossible to recall, and the host personality is unaware of the actions and
behaviors the other identities engage in when they “take over.” After Hulk’s
first appearance in “The Avengers,” Bruce Banner finds himself coming
back to consciousness in a random hangar that the Hulk crash landed in. He
doesn’t remember anything that happened while the Hulk was in control, and
Banner even has to ask the guard if he hurt anybody while he was big and green.
Banner experiences amnesia when the Hulk personality is the dominant one. This
is the same throughout most of the comics.

         A third criterion for diagnosis is
that the disorder causes the individual distress and disrupts the normal
functioning of their lives. Bruce Banner shows almost constant concern about
turning into “the other guy” and finds himself so anxious about the Hulk that
he tends to have difficulty forming relationships. Banner lives a secluded life
because of his fear of triggering the brute personality and losing himself to
the Hulk. His fragmented personality causes Banner so much despair that he even
shows suicidal tendencies, as in “The Avengers,” Banner confides to
his team that he once tried to kill himself, but that the Hulk wouldn’t let him
succeed in doing so. Since Hulk is so destructive, dangerous and out of
Banner’s control, the fear of triggering the split personality is a deep source
of concern and disruption in Banner’s life. Based on the DSM-5’s fourth
criterion for DID falls in line with his distress. That is, the condition must
not be a cultural norm. Turning into a big, scary, green monster and destroying
everything and everyone in sight isn’t very normal. It’s socially unacceptable
in a big way. If it was normal, it’s likely Banner wouldn’t be so fearful and
nervous. But no matter how you slice it, there’s no getting around the fact
that killing people and destroying cities just doesn’t fly.

        The fifth and final criterion makes the
clarity of Banner’s diagnosis a little fuzzy: symptoms of the illness cannot be
the result of physiological effects of a substance or another medical
condition. Banner’s not on drugs and he isn’t blacking out because of alcohol
abuse, so we can safely say his dual personality is not a result of such
things. But he “adopted” the Hulk because of overexposure to gamma radiation.
It is clear, however, that Banner’s fragmented personality is not purely
psychological. Everything changes when Hulk shows up to the party and Banner’s
body morphs into something entirely different.