Green Goblin - Powers, Abilities, and Weaknesses - Mental Illness and Other Weaknesses

Mental Illness and Other Weaknesses

Norman Osborn has consistently been depicted with several unusual weaknesses related to his psychosis and to his personality. He suffers from manic depression. He has a pronounced narcissistic personality disorder co-morbid with severe anti-social psychopathic traits, and in some depictions, multiple-personality disorder (for some of his early appearances he and the Goblin were separate personalities, his Goblin side disdaining his human weaknesses while his other side was primarily motivated by his concern for Harry, although his anger over his son's failing health as 'Norman' helped to provoke his transformation back into the Goblin, his other side never reappearing after he was believed dead). He is also highly sadistic, showing a complete lack of empathy for the lives of innocent people who stand between him and his objectives. These weaknesses have often been referenced in stories featuring him and exploited by his enemies.

In Thunderbolts, Norman Osborn is shown to be severely manic depressive. This has been referenced several times in a myriad of Spider-Man stories. When he is not under the direction of a psychiatrist and taking medication, he has dangerous mood swings. At the apex of his mania, he is paranoid, delusional, and suffers from visual and auditory hallucinations, including hearing the voice of his Green Goblin persona and seeing its face in the mirror rather than his own. Previously, Osborn's arrogance caused him to refuse to submit to psychiatric treatment unless forced to; he viewed mental illness as an imperfection and therefore would not admit that he is mentally ill. In later conversations with the Sentry, Osborn revealed that he had come to accept his own mental illness.

Superhuman psychologist Leonard Samson says of Osborn: "In clinical terms, the words psychotic and psychopathic are far from synonymous... but in Norman Osborn's case, both apply. I'd characterise him as a bipolar psychotic with concurrent aspects of psychopathic megalomania and malignant narcissism. In layman's terms, a lethal cocktail of intersecting personality disorders that makes him one of the most dangerous human beings on the planet."

There are many examples of Osborn's pronounced superiority complex, to the point that he will rarely, if ever, admit that he has made mistakes, transferring blame for his shortcomings to others or claiming that he was better than he was; even before his accident, he spent more time providing Harry with gifts or outings rather than actually being there for his son or trying to listen to his problems, and nevertheless claims that he was still a good father. Having become the Goblin, he generally views other people as dim-witted pests, lacking in creative vision, unworthy to be graced by his presence. He goes out of his way to remind others of their personal failures and shortcomings and to remind those in close relationships with him, such as his son, that they are incapable of measuring up to his achievements. When he first learned Spider-Man's identity, he claimed that when Spider-Man had defeated him in their previous battles, none of those victories counted because Spider-Man had only beaten his lackeys or been rescued by the intervention of other super powered beings such as the Human Torch, despite the fact that he always departed the battles after Spider-Man's victories rather than trying to defeat his foe himself. He also missed the opportunity to lead the original Sinister Six because he felt that joining the group would mean admitting he needed the help of others to rid himself of Spider-Man. Although he later formed the 'Sinister Twelve' when Spider-Man sent him to prison, he expressed anger at Mac Gargan for acquiring the Venom symbiote rather than using the new Scorpion suit provided for him simply because Gargan was not doing what he wanted despite Venom being more powerful than the Scorpion. When he participated in the mystical ritual known as the Gathering of Five, he appeared convinced that he would automatically receive the gift of power from the ritual – which would bestow upon the participants power, immortality, knowledge, madness and death, respectively – only to receive the gift of madness instead, subsequently requiring an elaborate cocktail of drugs to restore himself to a semblance of sanity. During his time in charge of H.A.M.M.E.R. he was provoked into attacking Asgard by his Goblin side because his ego couldn't allow himself to consider the possibility that the Asgardians wouldn't threaten his power. Later events revealed that Loki at least slightly influenced Osborn's decision to further Loki's own goals. During his attempted takeover of Earth's superhuman security defenses, he was shown reflecting that humans are all barbarians who require the strong like him to control them, dismissing the Avengers as no better than him despite the obvious distinction between Osborn's demands for power and the straightforward respect that the general public have for the Avengers.

It has been shown that since having suppressed the rampaging Green Goblin personality and becoming the more dominant personality, Osborn has proven to be just as (if not more) evil and cruel. Osborn has demonstrated a high degree of sadism. While he was in prison, a guard once asked him for his advice in helping his critically ill wife; Osborn's advice led her to a quicker and more agonizing death. As director of the Avengers, he allowed Bullseye to continue to function as an Avenger, even after Bullseye allowed over thirty innocent bystanders to be killed during a skirmish with a supervillain. As director of H.A.M.M.E.R. he directed his officers to shoot down an airplane full of innocent people just to see whether his enemy, Pepper Potts, was powerful enough to rescue the passengers with her Rescue variant of the Iron Man armor. Because these actions threatened the hero persona he had carefully crafted some in the media began to see him for what he really was, and many of his highly-credible former enemies spoke out against him. His Goblin persona vied for control of his body, as depicted in the January 2010 issue of Dark Avengers, where he is shown writhing on the floor and imploring, apparently to himself, "Why won't this face come off...?", and finally took over when Osborn's Iron Patriot armor was defeated by Captain America and Iron Man at the end of the "Siege" arc.

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