Category Archives: Clinical psychology

Solving for the trauma of superheroes

Have you ever wondered about the experience–i.e., the phenomenology–of superheroes like Marvel’s Daredevil (Matt Murdock), or DC’s Batman (Bruce Wayne) and Green Arrow (Oliver Queen)? Each of theirs is a story on how heroes plagued with trauma cope via their personal mission. A “sub-phenomenology” of trauma is possible when repressed traumatic content passes into the subconscious, or sub-awareness.

Once such content passes into the subconscious, it can be treated. But before being treated, the peculiar kind of trauma should be identified. Is it grief caused by loss: as is the case for Matt, Bruce, and Oliver?

It occurred to me while outlining this post that art immersion could serve as relief therapy. Assuming trauma has not been prevented, and once sufficient insight has been gained on its nature, it should be cured. Once cured, we could move toward establishing the right prevention parameters!

Are psychological diagnoses meaningless?

Part of the issue is the power psychiatry wields as a profession, relative to psychology.

“Evidence-based” usually translates to privileging biochemistry over psychology (the latter of which is “soft”, and therefore “less empirical”).

People have equated the brain with mind more and more, over time. Pushing that further, if neural dynamics determine psychological states (such as moods) outright–but, not vice versa–it becomes logical to target biological factors to uproot behavioral problems.

It is telling that psychological diagnoses are outlined in a manual published by the American Psychiatric (not Psychological) Association. Much of modern psychology grew out of psychiatry–see Freud and Jung, but also other theorists around their time like Karen Horney, who was an M.D.–so part of this is attributable to psychology’s heritage.

As the field develops its identity more, perhaps we’ll see psychologists push for greater control over the field’s diagnosis-establishing processes.