Challenge accepted! The actor who played Joker,
Joaquin Phoenix, said, “I didn’t want a psychiatrist to be able to identify the type of person
he was.” Leaving now for the theater to watch the opening showing. I’ll be right back. I’m Dr. Karthik Ramanan. I’m a licensed naturopathic
physician specializing in integrative mental health and lifestyle medicine. On this channel
you’ll find the Dr. K Show where I help ambitious individuals end self-criticism with tools
and strategies and fire motivational speeches to create optimal everyday mental health.
If you need to silence that negative self talk and get out of your own way, I encourage
you to subscribe button right now. OK, Joker. Look, I don’t usually review movies,
so I’m going to try to keep this as spoiler free as possible. I won’t explicitly say what
happens in the plot. Let’s go. I just got back from watching the film. Now,
as a physician, we don’t diagnose people without actually sitting down and having a visit with
them, going over labs, etc. Given that, I can’t make a true diagnosis based on a movie.
That said, Joaquin, you win. Arthur and Joker are very hard to nail down. I had this notebook
with me and I was scribbling delusions, inappropriate laughter, lack of remorse, etc. But really,
as he goes through this transformation from Arthur to Joker, there are so many layers
to his experience of this world that it’s very hard to nail down specific diagnoses.
So, good job Joaquin. You were extraordinary. You win. So, is Arthur, Joker just… crazy? I thought
Joaquin did a fabulous job exploring the transformation of Arthur to Joker. Originally in DC comics,
the Joker was more of a punny type of character. Then we had the Jack Nicholson Joker that
was more sinister and violent. I felt Joaquin’s exploration of the character led more to that
style of Joker, with the original colors and all. Whereas, Heath Ledger’s version was more
later stage, truly an intensely psychotic version. The story line in this movie wasn’t anything
groundbreaking or new. But what was groundbreaking to me was the way Arthur’s transformation
was shown, not told, through the soundtrack, his dancing, and the various types of laughs
that the actor developed for different situations and phases of the movie. Arthur/Joker was
really a character in flux, from moment to moment, and it was really incredible to watch.
And through that soundtrack, dancing, and laughter you’re able to see other characters
like Bruce Wayne’s father through a different lens. What also struck me was the way Joaquin
acted out Arthur’s suppression of emotions. It was uncomfortable, tightly wound, and painful.
I hope he wins awards for his performance, because it was truly extraordinary in every
way. We see how Arthur is just an ordinary guy
with some behavioral traits that were largely a function of the environment he was raised
in. His backstory is rooted in a reality that we can relate to. And through it all, Arthur
genuinely believed it was his role in the world to bring joy and laughter to those around
him. He wasn’t born violent. He just wants love and adulation, from his parents, from
others. He just wants a hug. But what does he get? He’s bullied, beaten, and ignored.
He says, “Nobody ever saw me. Nobody ever listened to me. I didn’t know if I even existed.”
He intensely lacked two critical factors that we all need: connection and purpose. As the world around him started crumbling
from an already weak foundation from a painful childhood upbringing, he descends into violence.
And as he becomes Joker, he starts to notice he’s being heard. He starts to matter. He
makes eye contact with others wearing the clown mask as you probably saw in the trailer,
that connection. He develops connection and purpose through violence, which brings out
the less suppressed, more free flowing version of himself. I don’t believe Joker is the person
Arthur strived to be, but Joker is the person who filled those two voids of connection and
purpose. If you’re enjoying this so far, smash that
Like button. By the way, this is spoiler free, but if you want me to go in depth with spoilers,
leave me a comment below saying “I want the spoiler version!” I think the film did a remarkable job showing
some of the shortfalls of mental health in society. Obviously, this is a fictional character
in a fictional city at a time in the past. But there are times when Arthur feels he’s
not heard, despite his efforts to get treatment. He’s unable to get medication he needs. His
clinicians don’t seem to empathize with him. That all sounds like the unfortunate reality
that a lot of people experience. The film also showed the lack of empathy in
society that we see in the world around us. Human beings are a social species. We need
our tribes and we need purpose within our tribes. Lack of empathy leads to lack of connection.
Lack of connection makes it very difficult to have purpose. And without purpose, some
people resort to horrific acts to feel like they matter. To get noticed. To have a sad
sense of purpose. What if a neighbor genuinely asked Arthur how he was doing? What if someone
genuinely tried mentoring him in comedy? Would his trajectory of life been changed? What can we learn from Arthur? Well for one,
I don’t believe anyone is born inherently violent. They become that way when they commit
their first act of violence later in life. I think it’s easy to blame others having beliefs
that we don’t agree with, but if there’s anything that being a physician has taught me, it’s
that there’s always a reason if you’re willing to listen to someone’s story. Arthur shows
how suppressing emotions and not adequately processing past trauma can lead to terrible
outcomes. I think we can learn that we do need to empathize with others, listen to them,
acknowledge them. Does that mean we can exonerate Joker for committing acts of violence because
of his tragic upbringing? No, absolutely not. We can be empathetic and hold others accountable
for their actions. Some people take their painful pasts and take it out on others, perpetuating
the problem, like Joker does. Others take their painful pasts, reprocess it, and use
their experiences in the service of others. What if Joker had been in an environment where
he could turn his pain into good? Oh right, I forgot to say whether I recommend
this movie or not. It’s awesome. Go see it. Joaquin Phoenix was extraordinary. If there’s anything we can learn from Arthur,
it’s to reach out and connect with our friends, neighbors, families, strangers. We ARE in
a society that lacks empathy. And we can be empathetic and hold each other accountable
for our actions. Not taking action when we see something troublesome counts as an action
too. We are too quick to avoid meaningful conversations but rather talk about the weather
or complain about our favorite sports team. We struggle to even ask our neighbor in the
elevator “How are you?”, when that might have changed their entire day. We avoid difficult
conversations with family members, day after day, until those suppressed emotions boil
over irreparably and ruin relationships. We don’t stop to think about the cumulative effect
of these acts of lack of empathy, these acts of disconnection. Remember what Arthur didn’t get, that turned
him into Joker? Connection and Purpose. Everyone needs to feel connection with their fellow
human beings. Everyone needs to feel purpose. It’s not just something people get from a
therapy session or a doctor’s visit. We all can give it in our everyday lives. My challenge
to you is to be even more empathetic. I challenge you to reach out to someone and tell them
what they mean to you. Let them know they matter. The smallest act can make someone’s
day, and the collection of those genuine acts of connection can transform a culture. You
have the power within you, to be that change. I believe in your greatness.


  1. Question of the Day: Want me to go more in-depth with spoilers? Let me know!

  2. Yes, I want the spoiler version too! Going to see the movie tomorrow. Can't wait! So awesome that you made a video like this doc!

  3. Great review Dr. K! We need to be aware that our actions and lack of action have unintentional impacts on others. Intentional acts of humanity/kindness can have far greater impact then you might ever know. Your one moment of caring has the potential to save a life.

  4. Love the reflection especially the trauma piece.

  5. Great video. Pumped to watch the movie! 💯

  6. Great video. Good job reworking it into a positive. Yes, we can all do our part.

  7. Outstanding job Doc. You did better than the trailer did in convincing me to see this movie. Now I'm interested. Nice.

  8. Where is the nearest theatre here… I have to watch this.

  9. Dr. K You make mental health so fun to learn about and yes I would like spoiler reviews myself

  10. So the take away I got is to say "how are you" to more people in elevators and we may avoid a world full of Jokers. j/k Great video. Thanks for sharing. 👊

  11. Interesting review, not a movie I will see, but like the analysis.

  12. I have always loved the Joker. I actually hand sewed a purple trenchcoat the night before the Heath Ledger film so I could dress up in costume to the premier.

  13. Great stuff Dr. K! Way to hop on that trend!!!

  14. Great video Dr. Karthik Ramanan! I am very happy to hear that you tough same way about the movie. 🙂 Joaquin was brilliant indeed. He should finally get Oscar!!

  15. I'm glad you liked it. I felt nothing. It was so slow. For me, Heath Ledger was and will always be the best Joker.

    It's good that you can bring real world application and analysis.

    Would I recommend this movie? 4 thumbs down. Not really, maybe 5 😜

  16. You stepped cautiously into a pool of venom and pulled out a bucketfull of diamonds!! Awesome review!!

  17. Great vid

  18. I sadly won't be seeing the movie until it's on Blu-Ray, but I love the video!

  19. Great Job Karthik 👏👌

  20. How do you think the movie affects people who feel excluded and are dealing with violent thoughts? Would it give them more violent ideas or would it comfort them in a way?

    This is the first video of yours that I watched, I found it to be very interesting.

  21. This is such an interesting video. Great job!! We totally agree with what you said about the cumulative effects of lack of empathy and connection.

  22. Spoiler version please!! Amazing video. Thanks

  23. AWESOME and much needed insight! Also. WE WANT THE SPOILER VERSION.

    Such an excellent and well video too! A great example for us IC-ers. 🙌🏽

  24. Would love a spoiler version

  25. I want spoiler review, your analysis is informative.

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