If you, like the world’s greatest detective, can’t help but want to learn more about the topics we talk about on the podcast – check out our Bat Therapy Database below:
Psychiatric Survivors/Consumer/Ex-Patient Movement
Arkham Asylum is not the inpatient treatment of today. Learn about how the United States’ past approach to institutionalized mental health treatment resulted in a consumer-led movement that fought for the rights of mental health treatment consumers. The focus was to remove harmful and/or coercive treatment practices (sadly, an extreme yet realistic example would be the depictions of Dr. Strange at Arkham) and embrace the potential everyone has for recovery and quality of life. Nowadays, the legal system has many less restrictive treatment options to help someone whose mental health symptoms are linked to the committing of a crime, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. (Please note: Having a mental health diagnosis is NOT a strong predictor of committing criminal or violent behavior.)
Bat Therapy episode: S01E01 Welcome to Arkham
Psychotherapy: What does the first session look like?
It is natural to be unsure of what to expect when starting psychotherapy for the first time. Granted, Batman is a very unique character; however, the approach Dr. Brown describes she would take with him would be very similar to what a therapist would do with any newcomer. In the first session, the therapist gathers information about the person seeking treatment. The conversation then evolves into an exploration of what that person hopes to gain from treatment and how the therapist may be able to assist in that person’s goals for well-being and mental health recovery. Psychology Today has a great breakdown of many of the questions people have about getting started with psychotherapy. To learn how to adapt it for the superheroes among us? Well…you will just have to keep listening to our podcast to find that out!
Bat Therapy episodes: S01E02 So Batman, Tell Me What Brought You Here
Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)
An evidence-based psychotherapy treatment that could potentially help to warm Mr. Freeze’s heart so that a fear of death/loss turns into a zest for life. Research shows that ACT can be helpful with a number of diagnoses and experiences. Rather than try to change the unchangeable (certain feelings and experiences do not change no matter how hard we try), ACT helps a person learn how to refocus that energy into activities they value.
Bat Therapy episodes: S01E03 Be Still My Frozen Heart, all of them! (Mindful Nerd Moments)
Psychosis versus Psychopathy
The words ‘psychotic’ and ‘psychopathic’ may sound similar, but they have verydifferent meanings. In our current understanding of mental health and the brain (that is CONSTANTLY evolving!), The Batman’s Riddler may be helpful in examining these distinctions. In an attempt to manage his emotional distress, the Riddler acts callously, using manipulation, hostility, and a willingness to break societal rules to achieve his own ends at the expense of others. This is consistent with Antisocial Personality Disorder; Psychopathy can be viewed as a severe type of this disorder. Interestingly, the Riddler’s interactions with Batman – the Riddler’s odd nature and belief that his actions are a part of a plan coordinated with Batman – suggest he may also have some mild psychotic experiences that would align with Schizotypal Personality Disorder. *PLEASE NOTE: Experiencing psychosis OR psychopathy does NOT mean you will commit violence.*
Bat Therapy episode: S01:E04 The Batman (part 1): A Tale of Two Orphans
Black-and-White Thinking (All-or-Nothing Thinking, Dichotomous / Polarized Thinking)
Sometimes we think in extremes (always, never, best, worst, etc.). This can seem relatively harmless, but just a few, little words can make a big difference in how we or others feel. This is why Cognitive Behavioral Therapy refers to black-and-white thinking as one type of Cognitive Distortion, ways of thinking that are a part of depression, anxiety, and other disorders/struggles. Even Batman’s brain does this in The Batman! He starts the movie saying his violent take toward crime is not working, but he keeps doing it because, in his mind, the only way to stop criminals is by instilling the fear of Batman’s presence in every shadow. If we get stuck seeing life in extremes, we lose sight of how to be flexible and to allow for the wonderful and inevitable imperfections in life. But there is good news for Batman! Catwoman is a character who really embraces the grays in life and in The Batman she is a character that influences Batman to be more flexible in how he can bring about change in Gotham.
Bat Therapy episode: S01:E05 – The Batman (part 2): The Bat & the Cat (& Gordon)
Supporting Someone with Mental Health Symptoms
When we imagine the many ways, Alfred could have reacted when Bruce Wayne shared his vision of becoming a vigilante dressed as a …bat… all those years ago, it is difficult to know what would have been the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ reaction. How do we support someone who is feeling such grief, loss, and anger? How do we help someone who may be struggling mentally or emotionally get the help they need? What “should” that help, or support look like? This website is a great summary of how we can approach these difficult conversations in a caring and understanding way.
Bat Therapy episode: S01:E06 – A Penny(worth) for Your Thoughts
Most people these days know a bit about how trauma can lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental health conditions. Not as many people have heard of Post-Traumatic Growth. Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson both suffered through great tragedies and choose to put their lives on the line to fight for Gotham, but their mental health and well-being looks very different. Bruce Wayne often struggles to connect with others and be someone beyond vengeance personified. On the other hand, Dick Grayson embodies Post-Traumatic Growth – his openness allows him to grow from his traumatic experiences in a way that actually strengthens his bonds with others and helps him to appreciate life beyond the cowl.
Bat Therapy episode: S01:E07 – Welcome to Gotham: Population Declining
Myth of the 5 Stages of Grief
Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote On Death and Dying in the 1960s. It is a wonderful exploration of a medical professional as she attempts to understand what it is like for people as they go through the dying process. At some point, this work became over-generalized and over-simplified, where in the United States we often assume that someone should go through 5 specific stages of grief when a loved one dies. If we go with this belief, Wanda Maximoff’s back-and-forth between anger, denial, and acceptance in WandaVision and Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness could be incredibly confusing. However, the intent was never for us to assume that there are clear, linear stages to any grief or grieving process. Grief is an incredibly personal process that also varies by culture, religion, and other factors (for Wanda, it included the complicated interweaving of chaos magic).
Bat Therapy episode: S01:E08 – Strange Therapy
Trauma is an event involving actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence. In The Killing Joke, the Joker tries to prove that everyone is “one bad day” away from becoming their own version of the Joker. To prove his point, the Joker puts multiple people through terrible traumas. However, what he does not realize is there are a variety of ways the body may respond to trauma based on genetics and life experiences. Despite the Joker attempting to infect others with the chaos from his own “one bad day”, Commissioner Gordon is able to take a different path. And Batman? Well, his path ends a little less clear in this story – you’ll have to listen to the podcast to hear our thoughts.
Bat Therapy episode: S01:E09 – A Killing Joke: No Punchlines
In most depictions, Batman “does not kill”. However, in most cases there seem to be a number of bodies that pile up on the sidelines, despite Batman being considered a hero rather than a villain. Our moral beliefs about killing and violence vary based on many cultural and situational factors. This resource explores what experts have termed Moral Injury, a phenomenon that can occur for military service members, healthcare workers, and others (perhaps superheroes?) when the actions taken in a traumatic situation are seen as acceptable at that specific time but come into conflict with the moral beliefs that person has in their everyday life – such as returning to civilian life after war/combat, triaging patients during a health crisis, or retiring the superhero cape.
Bat Therapy episode: S01:E10 – Party Like It’s 1989 Batman
Which came first, the nickname or the violent tendencies? That is the question with Waylon Jones’ persona of Killer Croc. The mind is a powerful thing. Sometimes, we believe something is true to such an extent that it becomes true! If you assume that a 9-foot-tall man with a skin condition is a monster, then you are likely going to treat that man as if he is a monster even when he has done nothing to deserve it. That man will then feel like a monster and may react to you in a monstrous way out of hurt and/or fear. Now, does this mean Waylon is not responsible for his actions of violence and murder? Of course not. But one has to wonder if his story may have played out in a more heroic way if his appearance was more like Clark Kent’s or Aquaman.
Bat Therapy episode: S01:E11 – Killer Croc – Manmade
Dignity of Risk
“Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” Thomas Wayne’s quote in Batman Begins is one of Dr. Brown’s favorites. It is such a wonderful example of the importance of allowing everyone, no matter their abilities and disabilities, the opportunity to fail. (Use of the term ‘disabled’ is the current preferred language, as can be seen with the #SayTheWord movement, but please note that language preferences are always subject to change and should be adjusted based on the personal preference of the person with the disability.) There are still many disabled people within the United States who must fight for their right to attempt things many of us are allowed to repeatedly fail at – work, children, marriage, school, certain medical treatments, etc. As attorney Chris Lyons mentions in this link, our systems must allow each person the opportunity to take the leap, risk the fall, so that we can all achieve dignity, respect, and accomplishment and become our own superhero. Bat Therapy episode: Batman (Therapy) Begins!
Bat Therapy episode: S01:E12 – Batman (Therapy) Begins!