The Psychology of Superheroes: An Unauthorized Exploration (Psychology of Popular Culture)
Robin S. Rosenberg
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In The Psychology of Superheroes, almost two dozen psychologists get into the heads of today’s most popular and intriguing superheroes. Why do superheroes choose to be superheroes? Where does Spider-Man’s altruism come from, and what does it mean? Why is there so much prejudice against the X-Men, and how could they have responded to it, other than the way they did? Why are super-villains so aggressive? The Psychology of Superheroes answers these questions, exploring the inner workings our heroes usually only share with their therapists.
official. Through the remaining adventures, the team is loyal, brave, and always concerned about the League itself—they 30 value their membership and take pride in being a part of the greatest superhero group of all time. The group is a constant success. But the question arises in all groups: will the members feel lost in the crowd? Social psychology has an answer to this as well, in the theory called optimal distinctiveness. NOT ALL GROUPS ARE CREATED EQUAL Psychology suggests that there are
extreme: he seems to enjoy primarily mental torture as part of reaping vengeance. The Crow generally starts by reciting nursery rhymes, poems, prayers, or jokes, often ending with a warning of approaching death as he waits for his victims to attack. For example, he decapitated one of Tom Tom’s associates with a sword, and when Tom Tom saw the lifeless body, said, “Bed time! Lights out!!” and then cut the lights. Between Tom Tom’s wild pistol shots in the dark, the Crow recited “Now I lay me down
unordered avalanche of stimulation (Tammet 1). But, would a person endowed with these super levels of perception and super levels of attention also have to have an equally enhanced level of intelligence? For if they are not super smart, how do they wield these enhanced powers that they possess? When superpowers are just magnified extensions of normal human capacities, the super-being will still basically experience an enhanced human form of reality—in essence an ultra-reality. Consequently, such
as Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Lance Hunt (Captain Amazing—in Mystery Men), who can afford to have flamboyant public personae. But what if we were these superheroes? For how long would we remain the champion of the downtrodden? To such an individual, how would normal people appear? One possible answer is given by Bill in Kill Bill 2. In respect of Superman he says “Clark Kent is how Super-man views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He’s weak. . . . He’s unsure of himself. . . .
subsequent writers of Wonder Woman have endured—a struggle between U.S. gender stereotypes and the origin of Wonder Woman, which runs counter to these stereotypes; a kind of “gender stereotype balancing act.” As a psychologist, Marston would likely appreciate a revaluation of Wonder Woman with current psychological theories. Marston used many then-current theories of the 1920s and ’30s to develop the storylines for Wonder Woman and advance his social philosophy. Future writers took the ideas