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The Psychology of Superheroes: An Unauthorized Exploration
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The Psychology of Superheroes: An Unauthorized Exploration

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  250 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Unmasking superhuman abilities and double lives, this analysis showcases nearly two dozen psychologists as their essays explore the minds of pop culture's most intriguing and daring superheroes, including Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, and the X-Men. Exposing the inner thoughts that these reclusive heroes would only dare share with trained professionals, heady experts give ...more
Paperback, 259 pages
Published February 9th 2008 by Smart Pop
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Mar 11, 2011 Aaron rated it really liked it
ran across this book while watching a documentary that focused more specifically on the psychology of Batman. The editor, Robin Rosenberg, was one of the "talking heads" in the special, and I found the idea pretty intriguing. The book is made up of a series of short essays that explored different aspects of the superhero genre in the forms of comics and film/television. The essays touch on topics like the expression/causes of anger (using the Hulk as a case study), the representation of women ...more
Jul 05, 2011 Erika rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
It's hard to rate and review a compilation of essays as some are good and some are not so much. Some of them were interesting, others sounded more like ads for the author's other published books. I was a bit let down by the lack of psychoanalytic essays, as most of them focus on social, behavioral and positive approaches of psychology. And I was also very surprised how most of the articles quoted Wikipedia as their information source... I mean, it's okay if you do it for the Superhero side of ...more
Jul 20, 2012 Alexandra rated it really liked it
This book was very interesting in most aspects. Every chapter brought something new to my attention about specific heroes. However, I felt at times the authors of certain sectrions were digging to deep and over analyzing their actions and decisions of the superheroes. Similar to the English teachers we all had back in high school that overanalyze every line of Fitzgerald and Beowulf. Overall, it was a good book, minus a few chapters that were iffy.
Aug 23, 2012 Ben rated it really liked it
Sometimes, when the evening breeze sends shivers down my spine as I wander empty streets glistening from the rain, I begin to wonder if danger lurks around the next corner. It almost always does, though my path never intersects. In these moments, however, I like to imagine that I'm more courageous, more righteous, more just than the selfish, meek and mild-mannered person I've grown to be.

The truth is that I'm not. Oh, I have my moments, times when I can't help but intercede, but my victories are
Nov 06, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was ok
A selection of essays about superhero psychology that's got a few good insightful essays. Others, however, suffer from the "Oh, you can be in my book if you just tweak your research a little" phenomenon that plagues academic anthologies (I speak as a person who's been published in such an anthology, so I'm guilty of it as well). So one finds essays that are mostly about studies of stress coping mechanisms or gender stereotyping where you have the impression the author watched "Spiderman" once ...more
Apr 13, 2011 Mira rated it it was amazing
Okay, this is NOT a psychology book, strictly speaking. Nor is it a superhero book, strictly speaking. But for those of us who love both of those topics, it's a great, easy and fun read. Some articles are better written than others, some offer more insights than others, but over-all it's a fun book that allows superhero junkies think about things from different perspectives. I especially love the chapter about Anti-Heroes (as these are my favorite protagonists, a la Preacher and The Punisher). ...more
Jim Jewell
Jun 21, 2008 Jim Jewell rated it liked it
The essays are okay, but not as good as I wanted them to be, which has been the case for most of the books in the pop psycholgy/philosophy series. It seems like they take their subject far less seriously than I do, and don't really delve in deep.

This is for those who would call it "quirky," but not for anyone willing to engage in serious scholarship about comics. You'd get deeper discussion hanging out with the nerds in the local comic shop.
Sep 10, 2015 Anthony rated it liked it
Good stuff, but nowhere near the heights of Travis Langley's masterclass of a book, Batman, and Psychology.
Taking into account that this is an anthology, I would still say it was a little bit disjointed.

If you have an interest in superheroes or psychology, there are some amazing essays...just not enough to get four stars.
Daniel Mello
Feb 05, 2013 Daniel Mello rated it it was amazing
I LOVE the psychological analyzation of superheroes overall, and this particular collection of academicians do a thorough job in deconstructing the thought processes behind my favorite heroes' actions! Such perspectives make these characters that much more tangible.
Jan 30, 2010 Ben rated it really liked it
Some good, some less good analyses of superhero behavior or psychological concepts illustrated with superheroes.
Mohammed Alsobaie
Jun 26, 2015 Mohammed Alsobaie rated it really liked it
Not quite what I expected, but entertaining nonetheless. Not for everyone, though.
Dr. Andrew
Jun 02, 2009 Dr. Andrew rated it it was amazing
Overall a great book, especially the chapter analyzing The Punisher.
Morgan Mussell
Mar 14, 2014 Morgan Mussell rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
An interesting read. Read my full review on my blog:
Aug 07, 2016 Naima rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, nonfiction, arc
** I received a copy from NetGalley and BenBella Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the both of them!**

Honestly, it was a fairly boring read. I approached this book assuming that I'd get information on a metatextual level about superheroes and their motives, but what I really got was an infodump on psychology in general. The majority of the essays are so basic that they're on middle school level comprehension, and very barely even touch on their original topic, the superheroes
Jul 31, 2015 Daniel rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This selection of essays focus on superheroes within the pages of popular culture, and attempts to apply Psychological theory to them. Generally, the essays succeed in doing this, but in a few places, the writings have moved more into Sociology, Philosophy, and Literary history. Not that this is a bad thing in itself, but something to be aware of. This said, all the essays do use normal Psychological research structure in the writing, and show the various glossary of research for those ...more
May 15, 2016 Erica rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for a review.

This book is a collection of essays regarding the psychology of superheros, villains and comic book worlds (Bizzaro, Arkham Asylum, Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters, etc). Because of the book being a collection by different authors, a lot of the articles seemed to be hit or miss. The good articles are extremely fascinating and well written and the bad ones, while not uninteresting or poorly written are less about comics and more
Mar 14, 2016 GONZA rated it really liked it
It's another interesting book about superheroes this one, both Marvel and DC. The positive psychology that comes from the hidden identity more than the "hero part", the difference between the leadership style of the JLA (democratic) and the X-Men (autocratic). The weight of Kansas in the growing up of Superman and why are we so fascinated from villains and anti-heores. The description of prejudice trough the X-Men and the gender issue in Wonder Woman plus the eventual ability to read minds. But ...more
Christopher Munroe
Dec 30, 2013 Christopher Munroe rated it liked it
...I enjoy the pop culture and philosophy series of essays very much, and it seems a short jump to also enjoying pop culture and psychology as well, which is why I picked this up in the first place.

However, while fictional characters in fictional universes are a good portal into deeper philosophical issues, they apply themselves less to psyche, as the individual psychology of a character can shift back and forth depending on who's writing the character and what aspects of the personality that wr
Dec 28, 2010 Paul rated it it was ok
The psychology parts where interesting, eg though Tate is a snob at least his articles where interesting. Naficy, Daniels, Getzfeld and the Patrick's articles where also good in general, though most suffered with too many movie references and several facualr errors: (these are just from the last article)
- Major fact errors: e.g "animal transformations ( like Wolverine, Spider-Man...)" (p257) Do you even know who these charioteers are?
- Unsupported suppositions: "... Rambo, Lor
Italo  Perazzoli
May 30, 2015 Italo Perazzoli rated it really liked it
This is a collection of essays concerning the psychology of superheroes with a reference to humans.

Personally, I prefer two essays, the first one is dedicated to the personality of superman, written by Robin S. Rosenberg and the concept on how the parents and environment have influenced the personality of superman, for instance the dilemma is the following: if superman was educated in New York City rather that in Kansas city his personality was different?

if superman lived and was educated in NY
Jul 15, 2016 Jeff rated it really liked it
With any book composed of essays by multiple authors, I found some of the articles more interesting than others. However, even the ones that were a bit dryer for my tastes, still seemed well thought out and thorough.

My highlights included: "Positive Psychology of Peter Parker", "The Social Psychology of the Justice League of America", "An Appetite for Destruction: Aggression and the Batman", and "What Would Freud Say? Psychopathy and the Punisher". I found these reads especially enjoyable.

Oct 14, 2016 Brandy rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
It's hard to call this a book as it's really a compilation of essays, each about 15-20 pages long. It's not excessively deep, but for someone who has a beginner's interest in psychology, it's a good introduction to a great many topics exemplified in the lives of various superheroes and supervillains. Some of the essays are pretty dry, but their comments about prejudice, coping with stress, the anger of the Hulk, and their analysis of the punisher were all very good. I particularly thought the ...more
Jillian Learae
Jan 23, 2014 Jillian Learae rated it liked it
This is a collection of essays exploring different psychological realms of the superhero universe. The topics and most of the conclusions are interesting, however, I found of the essays were not very well written. Most of the essays follow and rarely deviate from the five paragraph format that we are taught in the third grade. This annoyed me and made a potentially awesome topic rather boring to get through. Bummer.
Aug 27, 2009 Jenny rated it it was ok
this of course is a compilation of articles from individual researchers and academicians. it is good at what it does, but it is not satisfying to read. it would be awesome to use in a psych class, especially a theory class, as the articles are well written and interesting, but the disjointedness of the differing perspectives analyzing different aspects is distracting. same with the joss whedon and harry potter compilations. i will recommend them for my high school AP Psych teacher.
Holden Attradies
An interesting read, but like most anthologies the individual entries were pretty hit or miss. I think for me the big thing was that I read Marvel stuff and generally dislike the DC heroes and the majority of the articles in here were about DC characters. I read them all and a few of them were even interesting (the one on Wonder Woman particularly, I didn't realize what a horrible character she was for most of her history). An interesting read, but not essential reading by any measure.
Jun 23, 2016 William rated it liked it
Readable, sometimes interesting, but disjointed. The chapters are an odd mix of articles on different topics. The birth order thing was a stretch. Daniels' chapter on Arkham Asylum was hands down the best thing in the book. It's not always clear how much these authors even really know their subject matter, on both the psychology and the superheroes.
Oct 08, 2008 Edmund rated it liked it
Entertaining and illuminating. This would be ideal as supplemental reading in an advanced undergrad psychology course. The various writers, most if not all of whom are academics, clearly had fun applying their expertise to the back stories of "superheroes," surmising what makes them tick, assessing these characters' psychological makeups, and/or diagnosing them.
Peter Owens
Dec 21, 2014 Peter Owens rated it did not like it
If I could give this a half star, I would. Poor writing, mediocre use of research, and in general, I got the sense that most of the contributors did not have a strong connection with the narratives to which they were applying their fields. Nearly unreadable.
Stephanie Wilson
Mar 03, 2016 Stephanie Wilson rated it it was amazing
Un tour de ensayos psicológicos, guiado por héroes, villanos y anti-héroes. Interesante análisis de la mente del ser humano a través de los grandes íconos del pop culture. Muy recomendado.
Liina rated it it was ok
Sep 13, 2012
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Robin Sue Rosenberg is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Stanford, California, and has taught psychology at Lesley University and Harvard University. She is board certified in clinical psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology, and has been certified in clinical hypnosis. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Clinical Psychology, is a member of the Academy for ...more
More about Robin S. Rosenberg...

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