Exploring The Link Between Superpowers And Dissociative Identity Disorder With Typhoid Mary

Mental health issues can strike in anyone, with the problems happening for a variety of reasons. Someone might suffer from anxiety because of child abuse, while another person may suffer from depression because their parents had it. Comic characters can be a poignant reflection of mental health, with Typhoid Mary being one of the strongest examples. Suffering from dissociative identity disorder, Mary Walker has three different personalities. The cause of her mental health problems are attributed to Daredevil, which makes her a compelling villain for The Man Without Fear.

Multiple personalities battling for control

As a mutant, Mary faced persecution from a young age and it led to her working in a brothel. One night, Daredevil tracked a criminal down to the brothel. Chaos followed and in the confusion, Daredevil lashed out, knocking Mary out of a window. In that moment, her Typhoid Mary personality was born out of vowing never to be hurt by a man again.

Mary’s personalities are all different from each other. The normal personality is a quiet pacifist, while Typhoid is lustful and adventurous. The third personality, Bloody Mary, is a brutal sadist. Mary turned to a life of crime, becoming an assassin for hire. Kingpin sent her after Daredevil, with the Typhoid personality being dominant. Conversely, Mary Walker started a romance with Matt Murdock. Their relationship ended in tragedy.

Mary has repeatedly struggled to contain her personalities. At one point, she was placed in a mental institution, but each personality hired a mercenary. Mary hired Deadpool to kill her, Typhoid hired him to break her out and Bloody Mary hired The Vamp to bust her out so she could go on a killing spree. Deadpool helped Typhoid escape, leading to them going on several adventures together. Deadpool tried to reform her but that didn’t go well.

Most recently, Typhoid joined the Sisterhood Of Mutants in order to take on the X-Men. Although she was defeated by Psylocke, Mary managed to escape.

Mental illness as a superpower

A fascinating part of Mary’s mental illness is how each personality has manifested its own set of powers. Mary Walker has no powers, while Typhoid Mary has psionic abilities. She possesses telekinesis and often uses it to hurl sharp objects at her opponents. Bloody Mary has greater control over the psionic powers, having the ability to hypnotise people and read minds. Bloody Mary is also a dangerous pyrokinetic, setting objects on fire.

Each personality has its own heart rates and voice patterns, to the point that even Daredevil’s senses can’t tell the difference. Mary has used this to her advantage, hiding from Matt when he’s been within earshot.

Although Bloody Mary could be considered the most powerful personality, Typhoid is usually dominant. Typhoid has a love for danger and slaughter, but she’s not as unpredictable as Bloody Mary. Her cunning is likely why she has been able to take control.

From a mental health perspective, dissociative personality disorder is one of the most debilitating illnesses. Mary’s condition is framed in a destructive light, yet the implication that Matt Murdock caused it raises some interesting points.

Daredevil’s presence may have exacerbated a fragile psyche, or it could be what one of Mary’s personalities made up on the spot. Deciding what really happened creates a debate of whether superheroes do more harm than good.

In the conversation about mental health and comics, Typhoid Mary is a character that’s worth knowing about. She’s a physical manifestation of DID and reading about her could help people to learn about the condition.

Author: thecomicvault

Short story writer, comic geek and cosplayer hailing from Manchester, England. Find my pop culture ramblings on The Comic Vault.

4 thoughts on “Exploring The Link Between Superpowers And Dissociative Identity Disorder With Typhoid Mary”

  1. As a collective of six minds in one body, we disagree.

    Typhoid Mary is just another bad set of stereotypes in the media. Her “Main personality” is a pacifist, and the other two are ready and willing to kill other people. She has a lack of control over what her alters do. She is a “dangerous mentally ill person” which satisfies another common cliche about mentally ill people.

    This is nothing new, there is a long and lurid history of these tropes; to the point where the tropes are cliches.

    See this article for more info.
    https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jan/12/cinema-dissociative-personality-disorder-split-james-mcavoy

    If you want to know more about Multiplicity and systems (a body paired with many minds), then the link below is for you.
    https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/vdxgw9/when-multiple-personalities-are-not-a-disorder-400

    If you want to know even more, from actual first hand experiences of systems. Here is a massive list of websites and blogs of Plurals.
    http://areweplural.com/

    Like

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