The Tragic Story of Dr. Harleen Quinzel


A cautionary tale of cautionary tales


You might know her better as Harley Quinn. Though there have been tons of movies made about her as of late, very seldom do the writers tell her story. This is surprising to me, because she without a doubt, has one of the most tragic stories in the whole Batman Universe.


Harleen, a student in her first year of psych residency, came to Arkham Asylum with all of the promise in the world. She left in shackles, having fallen in love with a psychopath. This psychopath was none other than the Joker himself.

She’s a cautionary tale I always imagined using with my future students. “This is why you need to have strict professional boundaries,” I will say.

Of course, the Joker was no ordinary psychiatric inmate. Very few people could ever withstand a good mind-fucking from him. Even the most seasoned of clinicians would need backup. Harleen, however, was ambitious.


She was also extmrely compassionate and empathetic. There was a brokenness in him that she felt for. In truth, the Joker was broken.


However, the Joker could sense [what he viewed] as her weakness from the start. He knew that it wouldn’t take far too long. Three weeks, maximum, and she would be his. By owning her mind, he would own her life. With it, he could do whatever he pleased. In this case, he needed her to break him out of this jail he despised.


During their sessions, she didn’t see the warning signs. She felt she had it all under control. In her clinical notes- she wrote:


Patient shows most of the traits of antisocial personality disorder. Be careful to disclose any meaningful information.


However, she forgot to hide all of the things she wasn't saying. He could tell, from her body language, that her heart would break for him, whenever he told a bullshit sob story. He knew that she would want to heal him, if he just acted pathetic enough. So, he cried and carried on about his father- the abuse he endured.


"No one's ever understood me like you do," he said, with a somber grin.

It worked. She felt sorry for him. In her empathy, he knocked her off guard. He kept pushing the envelope, until all of the letters of her mind fell at his feet. Not long after, he was entirely in her head.


Bleeding hearts die the hardest, after all. Especially when you’re playing cards.


He convinced her to set him free. However, he had no intention of taking her with him. Despite this, she followed him. Soon after, and from that moment on, she was both a source of curous amusment for him, as well as a nuisance, when she wasnt doing his bidding.


Any pop culture attempts to romanticize her life are very misguided. Being the Joker's puppet isn't sexy, or hot, or anything to be desired. The sort of hell she lived in was even worse than hell itself, and like hell, it seemed to have no ending.


The moral of the story: boundaries are really important, especially around particuarly evil creeps.