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Coping with Stress…The Superhero Way

By Stephanie R. DeLuse, Ph.D.


from The Psychology of Superheroes

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This is one essay from the anthology The Psychology of Superheroes

This latest installment in the Psychology of Popular Culture series turns its focus to superheroes. Superheroes have survived and fascinated for more than 70 years in no small part due to their psychological depth.

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.

About the Author

Robin S. Rosenberg is a clinical psychologist and co-author of Psychology in Context and Fundamentals of Psychology (introductory psychology textbooks) and Abnormal Psychology: The Neuropsychosocial Approach (abnormal psychology textbook). She has taught psychology courses at Lesley University and Harvard University and has a private practice in the Boston area. Her first foray into applying psychological theories and research to popular culture figures was for The Psychology of Harry Potter; she is the editor of the Psychology of Superheroes anthology. She can be found at

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About the Author

Stephanie R.  DeLuse, Ph.D.

Dr. Stephanie R. DeLusé, psychologist, researcher, author and teacher, is also Associate Faculty Director of the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) program at Arizona State University. Her graduate training focused on social and personal issues that affect most of us at one time or another—issues around individual/group interactions, family support and divorce, and health and wellness. Her most recent academic efforts have earned her recognition for her teaching, including selection as one of ASU’s Featured Faculty in 2006 and an Outstanding Faculty Award in 2005. In her sparse free time she communes with nature most frequently in the guise of her cat, her trees and her herb garden replete with insect life and lizards.

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