What is the origin of the schizophrenic bad guy character?
July 23, 2004 3:36 AM   Subscribe

This is an admittedly silly question, but I'm curious nonetheless. I'm battling insomnia and the new-generation Transformers cartoon comes on the television. The presumed villain is a schizophrenic character, whose head appears to have three faces side by side, and he switches faces, and the different personalities battle amongst each other.

I've also seen this in some really bad B Skiing movie from the 80's. No clue of the name. But I've seen it other places, too. My question is, does anyone have a clue where this concept originates? Is it some obscure R.D.Laing essay that I've overlooked? Some folklore I am not familiar with?
posted by oog to Grab Bag (14 answers total)
The multiple face people that I know about [thank you X-Files] are the cherubim, from the bible. Rotten.com has this adorable passage on them. They don't have switchable faces per se but four different faces which I've seen interpreted as having differing emotions even though they're supposed to be different animal faces.
posted by jessamyn at 3:56 AM on July 23, 2004

sorry to nit-pick, but schizophrenia is not the same as multiple personality disorder.
posted by evening at 4:53 AM on July 23, 2004

posted by gai at 5:37 AM on July 23, 2004

posted by Eamon at 6:33 AM on July 23, 2004

posted by rushmc at 7:12 AM on July 23, 2004

The Three Faces of Eve (probably doesn't use actual battling faces—I haven't seen it—but the title surely provided some inspiration).
posted by languagehat at 7:16 AM on July 23, 2004

"some really bad B Skiing movie from the 80's" = Ski Patrol
posted by andrewraff at 7:17 AM on July 23, 2004

Ski Patrol (1990)


Hinduism has a long tradition of depicting its gods - particularly Brahma and Shiva - as many-faced (omniscient) and many-handed (omnipotent).

The Shiva Purana describes Shiva as having five faces, and goes on to describe each of the various faces as a particular philosophical entity.

Finding an origin for this belief would be like trying to find an origin to the belief in an afterlife: it is a powerful motif and finds its way, in some form, into many, many religions.
posted by ChasFile at 7:45 AM on July 23, 2004

[See also Transformers: The Movie for his origin in that particular pantheon. "Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!" Great stuff.]
posted by ChasFile at 7:54 AM on July 23, 2004

There was an episode of "teenage mutant ninja turtles" with a baddy-character that did this.
posted by seanyboy at 8:56 AM on July 23, 2004

Remember also Dante's three-faced Lucifer.
posted by nicwolff at 9:46 AM on July 23, 2004

This concept is eternal, it seems. Dante describes Lucifer in The Inferno as a three-headed demon. The Greeks wrote of multi-headed monsters. I don't think anyone has claim to "creating it."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:57 AM on July 23, 2004

Cerberus, Hydra...


More from India: Hanuman meets many-faced king Rawana; Yamantaka; Avalokiteshvara, among others...

The hero, of course, has a thousand faces...

Ezekiel had a vision of angels with six wings and multiple faces...
posted by Shane at 10:38 AM on July 23, 2004

Monty Python
posted by jazon at 11:35 AM on July 23, 2004

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