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The Arkham Sessions: How Psychologically Similar Are Batman And Robin?

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The Arkham Sessions, hosted by clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Letamendi and Brian Ward, is a weekly podcast dedicated to the psychological analysis of Batman: The Animated Series. Nostalgic, humorous, and even a little educational, each episode promises to lend some insight into the heroes, villains, and classic stories of the Dark Knight.

As a special exclusive for ComicsAlliance visitors, new episodes of The Arkham Sessions will stream on CA several days in advance of their syndication to iTunes.

This week, we discuss the highly acclaimed, Emmy-winning episode of Batman: The Animated Series, "Robin's Reckoning." We cover Part 1, in which we're shown Robin's origin story. We discover who killed Robin's family and how he joined forces with Batman.

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The Arkham Sessions: The Psychology of The Joker & Harley, Electroshock, And Suicide Squadding

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The Arkham Sessions is dedicated to the psychology of Batman, so it seems almost like an ethical duty to cover a movie about Arkham Asylum, Gotham City's mental health facility for the "criminally insane." In the newly released direct-to-video animated film Batman: Assault on Arkham, a highly-skilled group of assassins and outlaws are called together by Amanda Waller to take part in a risky -- possibly life-threatening -- mission to infiltrate Arkham Asylum.

Does it help or hurt that members have a history of incarceration, criminal activity, and psychiatric treatment related to lack of moral sense? Perhaps Waller is brilliant to devise a plan that can only succeed via the knowledge and insight of persons who have been through the system.

In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we gently put aside the VHS and screen a contemporary work from DC Universe Animated. Use the player above to listen to our spoiler-free analysis of Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, King Shark, Black Spider, Killer Frost, KB Beast, and, of course the Joker.

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The Arkham Sessions: The Psychology & Science Of Dreaming In ‘Batman: Perchance To Dream’

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What if you woke up one day and your life was completely different? What if all the things you wished for were suddenly a reality -- you have the job you always wanted, the person you want to be with loves you back, and the people you thought were lost forever are alive again?

One of the most remembered episodes of Batman: The Animated Series is "Perchance to Dream," a powerfully dark story in which Bruce Wayne essentially wakes up to a "perfect" life. His parents, Martha and Thomas Wayne, are alive and well; he is engaged to Selina Kyle; and he is no longer burdened with the job of being the Batman. In fact, Bruce learns that someone else, some other disguised vigilante, is effectively ridding the streets of criminals. No need for him to be Batman anymore. Bruce is initially ecstatic, grateful, almost relieved to learn he can live a normal life. "The nightmare is over," he tells himself.

Only it's not.

We discuss the fascinating neuroscience of dreams and the growing research supporting our ability to control our actions in dreams. Furthermore, by raising the scenario of being "plugged into a dream machine," this episode dares us to contemplate the importance of an existence in which we have free will, motivation, and actual contact with an unfiltered reality. Before The Matrix, The Nexus, and Inception, there was Batman: The Animated Series.

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The Arkham Sessions: The Psychology Of Fanaticism In ‘Batman: Eternal Youth’

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Does Poison Ivy's strong dedication and ideology differ much from the Caped Crusader's mission to rid the city of criminals? (Crusader is his nickname, after all.)

In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we delve deeper into Poison Ivy's psychology with her second appearance in Batman: The Animated Series by exploring her predilection for plants and her fanatic, destructive level of devotion to protect them.

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We Are Groot: ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Celebrates Heroes With Authentic Psychological Deficits

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Leagues and legions of superheroes are usually effective as a direct result of the union of each member's unique abilities, whether they include super-human strength, lightning-speed, telepathy, or other powers that individually define each of them as a deserved hero and collectively create an unstoppable force.

In Guardians of the Galaxy, we're introduced to a band of outlaws, outsiders and outcasts. With the exception of some sweet dance moves and decent marksmanship, we don't immediately get the traditional introduction to the colorful rainbow of superpowers we're accustomed to with superhero teams. There's no amazing, no fantastic, no spectacular. The Guardians themselves refer to themselves as "losers" and the "biggest idiots" in the galaxy. They underperform or fall below normative expectations. In fact, these space misfits offer something rarely seen in superhero films: the Guardians show emotional, neurological, developmental and communication deficits that 1) are not expected to be resolved or cured at the end of the film and 2) do not make them ineffective as heroes.

The following is a conceptualization of each character's below-average functioning across some psychological dimensions and why these deficits do not create significant limits for them.

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Take Care Of Yourself: ‘Batman’ Mastermind Scott Snyder On The Psychology Of Heroes, Villains And Writers [Interview]

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Writer of ComicsAlliance favorites The Wake and Batman, Scott Snyder is enjoying a kind of imperial phase of his comic book career, where everything he releases is met with commercial popularity as well as critical success. A long form collaboration with artists Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia, Batman has been the unquestionable leader of DC Comics' "New 52" line of superhero titles, routinely appearing in the #1 spot of monthly sales charts and just completing a wild and operatic revision of the Dark Knight's origin story in "Zero Year" -- an arc that CA's resident Batmanologist Chris Sims suspects may go down as one of his favorite Batman stories of all time.

But beneath Batman's twisty plots and memorably big moments lies the true trademark of Snyder's work; a conscious, almost intuitive sense of his characters' psychology and inner lives. It's Snyder's fundamental understanding of his heroes and villains that drives all the occasionally over-the-top action of his series, and of Batman especially.

Dr. Andrea Letamendi is a clinical psychologist and co-host of The Arkham Sessions -- the ComicsAlliance feature focused exclusively on psychology as expressed in Batman: The Animated Series -- and she sat down with Snyder at Comic-Con International in San Diego for a chat about the themes of mental health in not just his work, but in his own life.

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The Arkham Sessions: Paranoia, Dehumanization And The Psychology of Hospitalization In “Batman: Dreams In Darkness”

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If Batman ended up in an Arkham Asylum cell, would he be deemed "normal," or would the Gotham facility known for housing the "criminally insane" keep him under lock and key?

In an episode of Batman: The Animated Series called "Dreams in Darkness," the Dark Knight's worst nightmare may have come true when he finds himself being evaluated by psychiatrist Dr. Bartholomew at Arkham Asylum. The doc asserts that Batman is very "ill" and that the one place where "costumed persons with delusional personalities come to find compassionate help" seems like the best place for him. Fighting the onset of paranoid delusions and vivid hallucinations, Batman struggles to reveal the real cause of his insanity: The Scarecrow.

In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we discuss the experience of being hospitalized for psychiatric reasons, the dangers of labeling people with disorders, and the feelings of dehumanization sometimes perceived by patients in the mental health care system.

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The Arkham Sessions: The Psychology of Stalking In ‘Batman: Mad As A Hatter’

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How far would you go to earn the affection of someone you love? Send them a roomful of gifts? Surprise them at their doorstep? Advance the science of neurotechnology to a whole new level by developing mind-controlling head accessories?

Through the practice of animal experimentation (of course), scientist Jervis Tetch has found a way to manipulate neuronal connections of brains in order to "control another creature's mind." But rather than use this new power to increase his wealth or destroy the Batman like most of Gotham's Rogues would do, Jervis decides to use mind control to manipulate his office assistant, Alice, into falling in love with him. As he heads further and further down the experimental rabbit hole, however, Jervis realizes more drastic measures are required to win Alice’s love.

Home invasion, kidnapping, and mind control take this episode of Batman: The Animated Series to a new level of creepy; writer Paul Dini ingeniously entertains the imagination of young viewers with Alice in Wonderland themes while also suggesting levels of subversion -- possessiveness, coercion, stalking -- that adult viewers find unshakably disturbing.

In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we explore the delusions and dangers of obsessive, unrequited love as only personified by the Mad Hatter.

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The Arkham Sessions: Coping With Trauma In ‘Batman: Appointment In Crime Alley’

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Based on a 1976 Detective Comics story by Dennis O'Neil and Dick Giordano, "Appointment in Crime Alley" is a memorable and heartfelt episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Gritty and sorrowful, the episode is centered around the anniversary of Thomas and Martha Wayne's murder in Park Row 30 years ago, and Bruce Wayne's annual appointment to visit the site of their death. We also learn more about Dr. Leslie Thompkins, the longtime friend and colleague of Thomas Wayne who consoled young Bruce on the night his parents were murdered. We realize Leslie's life was also greatly affected by the tragedy, and the two share a unique bond.

Are Bruce and Leslie enacting a healthy coping method by commemorating the Waynes every year in "Crime Alley", or is this a sign of prolonged grief and their inability to move on? In this episode of the Arkham Sessions, we discuss how some people who experience trauma and negative life events can get "stuck" on bad thoughts which keep them from overcoming the tragedies in their lives.

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The Arkham Sessions: The Psychology of O.C.D. In ‘Batman: The Clock King’

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It's about time! The Arkham Sessions returns to the analysis of every episode of Batman: The Animated Series with a classic favorite, "The Clock King." The title villain is a seemingly harmless, time-obsessed efficiency expert who learns the unfortunate lesson that one small change in his schedule can turn him into a vengeful killer. Of course, Batman won't let him get away with demolishing trains, overriding the city's traffic controls, and strapping Gotham's mayor to the top of the clock tower. With some insight from the episode's writer, the show delves into the traits and states of people who are obsessive-compulsive. The psychologically satisfying episode has us asking if rigidity and extreme order can actually cause more harm than good.

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