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What Would Freud Say?

By Andrew R. Getzfeld, 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

Andrew R.  Getzfeld, Ph.D.

Andrew R. Getzfeld, Ph.D., received his B.A. in psychology from Vassar College, his M.S.S.W. from the University of Wisconsin, and his Ph.D. in school psychology from the University of Tennessee. An associate professor in psychology at New Jersey City University and an adjunct associate professor at New York University, Andrew’s areas of interest include eating disorders and the addictions, abnormal psychology and psychopharmacology. He has written two books: Abnormal Psychology Casebook: A New Perspective (Pearson Prentice-Hall, 2004) and Essentials of Abnormal Psychology (Wiley, 2006). Andrew loves international travel and writing, and grew up with Spider-Man and Superman, often wishing he too could bend steel with his bare hands.

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