The Arkham Sessions
THE ARKHAM SESSIONS, by Dr. Andrea Letamendi and Brian Ward, is a weekly podcast dedicated to the observation and clinical analysis of the characters in BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.
info_outline Episode 124 "Judgment Day" 11/23/2018
Episode 124 "Judgment Day" It's our final official episode covering Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures! The Judge is on a spree to serve his own version of justice throughout Gotham City, targeting some of the most infamous and dangerous rogues and a corrupt Gotham City council member asserts that this harsh approach is more effective than sending each criminal to the "revolving door of Arkham." Batman's shrewd detective work leads to a surprising discovery: Two-Face IS The Judge! In our discussion, we explore possible explanations for Two-Face's third persona -- is it best captured with a diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personalities)? Or better explained as bizarre personality shifts following a traumatic brain injury? Another possible explanation is Harvey Dent's willful self-destruction. As this is the last episode produced as part of the animated collection, we address how the themes of rogue lawfulness and subversion of community moral standards fit in with Batman lore. Also, announcements about our next chapter are made!
info_outline Episode 123 "Beware the Creeper" 10/06/2018
Episode 123 "Beware the Creeper" What happens when a charismatic investigative journalist is exposed to both the Joker's laughing toxin AND the very chemicals that transformed the dastardly mobster into the Joker? The Creeper! We've got some serious topics ahead in this one; including sexual assault and mania. So tune in to hear what we have to say about the Creeper.
info_outline Episode 122 "Chemistry" 09/21/2018
Episode 122 "Chemistry" Bruce Wayne finally finds the perfect romantic partner to drive him out of the crime-fighting game for good! In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, one member of the duo's opinion of Bruce Wayne changes dramatically, while both acknowledge the tragedy that is the betrayal Bruce feels when he discovers that his wife is actually one of Poison Ivy's pod creations, entangled in a plot to kill Bruce (as well as several other prominent Gotham business men and women) and take his money.
info_outline Episode 121 "Mad Love" 09/08/2018
Episode 121 "Mad Love" It's the episode many have been waiting for! "Mad Love" introduces us to the origin of Harley Quinn, formerly known as Harleen Quinzel. And Drea has a TON to say about this tale, so buckle up and settle in for this extra-long, extra-special eagerly anticipated episode of The Arkham Sessions!
info_outline Episode 120 "Girls' Night Out" 08/24/2018
Episode 120 "Girls' Night Out" "Girls' Night Out" is an unapologetic celebration of the feminine superhero. In this episode, we explore important perspectives on gender differences in cooperation and fighting, including concepts from evolutionary psychology and feminist psychology.
info_outline Episode 119 "Legends of the Dark Knight" 08/12/2018
Episode 119 "Legends of the Dark Knight" This is a strikingly divergent episode, portraying three distinct, stylized representations of Batman: the Golden Age, Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, and, of course, Batman: The Animated Series. This smart episode can be seen as a celebration of the Batman mythology, legacy, and core aspects of character. In our discussion, we explore the concept of Parasocial Relationships and the feelings of true "distress" when our favorite characters die or favorite show comes to an end.
info_outline Episode 118 "SDCC 2018: The Psychology of Robin, Batman's First Sidekick" 07/27/2018
Episode 118 "SDCC 2018: The Psychology of Robin, Batman's First Sidekick" Were you unable to attend San Diego Comic-Con last week? No problem! We have you covered. This week, we present our 2018 Comic-Con panel: The Psychology of Robin, Batman's First Sidekick; featuring our very special guest, Mr. Loren Lester, the voice of Dick Grayson!
info_outline Episode 117 "The Demon Within" 07/13/2018
Episode 117 "The Demon Within" We're BACK! In this episode Drea and Brian revisit Dr. Philip Zimbardo and the controversial Stanford Prison Experiment to discuss the demon, Etrigan, and his lack of "intelligent disobedience." Plus, you can find out what we're up to at San Diego Comic-Con next week! Tune in now!
info_outline Episode 115 "Old Wounds" 02/10/2018
Episode 115 "Old Wounds" We take a break from the Arkham video games and return to The New Batman Adventures for one of our all-time favorite episodes, "Old Wounds." This is the story of the rift between Bruce and Dick that we've all wanted to see! Are Brian's feelings about Bruce vindicated? Or is Bruce still "doing the best he can with what he's got," as Drea's always said. We have A LOT of fun in this episode of The Arkham Sessions!
info_outline Episode 114 "The Arkham Video Games, Pt. 1" 02/02/2018
Episode 114 "The Arkham Video Games, Pt. 1" You asked for it! In the first of our two-part fourth anniversary celebration, we explore Batman: Arkham Origins and Batman: Arkham Asylum; including some of the games' clinical treatments and therapeutic approaches, and we break down the palpable, intense relationship between Batman and the Joker. We also offer our own reactions to the portrayals of mental health in this video game popular video game franchise. Though highly entertaining, beautifully designed and rich with psychological representations, the Arkham video game series remains a problematic cornerstone in our pop culture because of its disservice to the mental health field. Find out why.
info_outline Episode 113 "Animal Act" 12/08/2017
Episode 113 "Animal Act" This episode stands out as memorable, not because of the Mad Hatter's plan to use circus animals for burglary, but due to Dick Grayson's remarkable resilience as he encounters the place of his parents' death, the Haley Circus. His ability to manage traumatic memories, to face intense sorrow, and most of all, to identify a sense of purpose as a helper to the community within the very context of his personal loss are all aspects of his recovery that allow us incredible insight. Of course, Dick's functioning is juxtaposed with Batman's psychological health and we find them in very different places. Overall, topics discussed include triggers, resilience factors and trauma recovery.
info_outline Episode 112 "Cult of the Cat" 11/10/2017
Episode 112 "Cult of the Cat" This week, we take on cults; specifically, cat cults led by Thomas Blake (aka Catman, in other incarnations of the DC Universe). And, clearly, we can't have cats without Catwoman! Will Selina finally win over Batman in her final appearance? And did her transformation into a cat-woman hybrid in "Tiger, Tiger" change her more than we'll ever know? Is Batman heading his own cult? These questions and more in this week's episode!
info_outline Episode 111 "Critters" 10/20/2017
Episode 111 "Critters" When Farmer Brown's career of genetically enhancing animals crashes and burns at an agriculture fair, Batman has to defend Gotham City from those aforementioned genetically enhanced animals. We talk a little about steroid use, but ultimately, how we just wish this episode were...well...better. We also take a deeper look at a very serious scene from last week's episode, "Mean Seasons."
info_outline Episode 110 "Mean Seasons" 10/13/2017
Episode 110 "Mean Seasons" We dedicate this episode to World Mental Health Day and continue to support this cause by illuminating the experiences of persons with mental health illnesses and struggles through the art and narrative of Batman. In this episode, we explore the nature of self-hatred, shame, and identity. In "Mean Seasons," we're introduced to Calendar Girl, a mysteriously masked villainess who targets high-profile entrepreneurs in Gotham City. As her story unfolds, we learn that she feels burnt by previous employers and agents who refused to renew her modeling contract, and in revenge, she specifically threatens the lives of those powerful people who perpetuate the notion that women must be youthful, beautiful and physically perfect to remain relevant. Her narrative is more than skin-deep. In his parallel story, Batman encounters a new source of anxiety: Aging. As he tracks down Calendar Girl, his own feelings about usefulness and social value begin to haunt him: "What will happen if Batman retires?"
info_outline Episode 109 "Batman And Harley Quinn" 09/23/2017
Episode 109 "Batman And Harley Quinn" In celebration of her 25th anniversary, Harley Quinn fittingly takes over the annual "Batman Day" this year. Here at The Arkham Sessions, we did what we do best: Analyze the most relevant animated Batman stories. This time, we watched the new DC Animated film, BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN. Though the story itself is straightforward and the character build-out flimsy, we were able to extract some of the most pertinent issues related to mental health and psychology. For instance, in defense of her sanity, Harley asserts that she is a "sociopath," not a "psychopath." What does she mean by this? Is she correct? And does Batman buy it? And were female characters, prominent throughout the movie, given fair portrayals in the story? We also diligently searched for the heart of the movie and, with the help of one of our friends and loyal listeners--Lauren Ritchie (@penguingonemad)--, we discussed why Harley Quinn is uniquely special to us as a character in comics: Her genuine, authentic expression of herself, her willingness to accept her own flaws, and her determination to remain free of constraints and limitations. Happy Harley Day!
info_outline Episode 108 "Over the Edge" LIVE 09/15/2017
Episode 108 "Over the Edge" LIVE Live from Ontario, California's Comic Con Revolution, our friend Livio Ramondelli, joins us to discuss his favorite episode "Over the Edge," which features the nightmarish realization that everything could easily come crashing down for Batman and Gotham City, if he's not able to keep the Bat Family safe. Forgive the bad audio. It was recorded at a convention with folks who weren't entirely sure operating the sound board. This episode is dedicated to our friend and comic legend (not to mention, writer of BTAS episodes), Len Wein, who passed away this week. Len was one of the most kind souls you'd ever have the blessing of meeting and he's dearly missed.
info_outline Episode 107 "The Ultimate Thrill" 09/05/2017
Episode 107 "The Ultimate Thrill" Do you get restless if you stay home for too long? Like going to new places rather than familiar ones? Prefer sports that involve a physical thrill such as surfing, rock climbing, and skiing? You're probably a sensation seeker! In this episode, we discuss the new character Roxy Rocket, a pro stunt person turned thrill-seeking criminal who has fixated on Batman. We discuss her propensity for risk and danger, and explain the neurobiological underpinnings of adrenaline addiction. For example, why would one person interpret a situation as terrifying, while another experiences exhilaration? Can addiction to thrills be psychologically harmful? Does Batman share any of these traits we see in Roxy? Buckle up and join us for an all-new episode!
info_outline Episode 106 "SDCC 2017: The Psychology of Batman: The Animated Series" 08/11/2017
Episode 106 "SDCC 2017: The Psychology of Batman: The Animated Series" Join us at San Diego Comic-Con, as we merely scratch the surface of the psychology of Batman: The Animated Series with two of the people most responsible for its success--Paul Dini and Alan Burnett! Also joining us is our dear friend, DC writer Brenden Fletcher.
info_outline Episode 105 "Torch Song" 07/15/2017
Episode 105 "Torch Song" In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we meet a classic Batman villain for the first (and last) time; we explore the development of stalking behavior through the narrative of Cassidy, a rising pop star; we dive into the "types" of stalkers; and we describe concrete factors that increase the risk of stalking violence. Listen now for the full analysis!
info_outline Episode 104 "Love is a Croc" 06/23/2017
Episode 104 "Love is a Croc" It's a relationship we never thought we'd ever see; a relationship we never even wanted to see: Killer Croc and Baby Doll, two people who feel they're misunderstood by society. Can finding one another help how they feel about themselves? Why do they each revert to versions of themselves that they're so desperate to shed? And could Bruce Wayne have been more helpful in reforming Baby Doll after their last meeting? There's A LOT to take in, as we assess "Love is a Croc!"
info_outline Episode 103 "Growing Pains" 06/16/2017
Episode 103 "Growing Pains" Robin learns a tough lesson when he disobeys Batman and goes on his own to pursue a mysterious case involving a young, lost girl by the name of Annie. In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we explore the notion of "personhood" and identity development. First, how do we define a person? What characteristics must one have in order to be considered a sentient being? Reviewing various definitions of personhood and sentience, we ponder where Annie fits by reviewing the criteria: Is she self-aware? Intelligent? Has the freedom to choose? If she has the moral right of personhood, then should Robin have given her a chance to live apart from Clayface? Listen to the episode below for our full analysis of this unique Batman episode!
info_outline Episode 102 "Joker's Millions" 05/05/2017
Episode 102 "Joker's Millions" The Joker is in some serious need of cash. So when his old rival, King Barlowe, dies and leaves him $250 million, he's absolutely thrilled...and a little confused. Can the Joker retire, now that he's got one big LEGAL score? Will money buy his happiness? Can Harley simply be replaced? Is there a type of person who's more susceptible to con artists than others? What's the Golden Triangle of Happiness? And how did a popular pastime in the late 1800s become a popular psychological evaluation? All of this and more, as we analyze "Joker's Millions!"
info_outline Episode 101 "WonderCon 2017: The Psychology of Animated Series" 04/07/2017
Episode 101 "WonderCon 2017: The Psychology of Animated Series" Join our hosts, Dr. Andrea Letamendi and Brian Ward, as they talk to special guests Henry T. Gilroy (Star Wars Rebels), Eric and Julia Lewald (X-Men: The Animated Series), and David Wise (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) about developing characters and stories for animation--including those characters' psychological make-up. Hear stories about working on Star Trek: The Animated Series, Star Wars: Clone Wars and Rebels, X-Men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and, of course, Batman: The Animated Series. Live from WonderCon 2017, it's The Psychology of Animated Series, presented by The Arkham Sessions.
info_outline Episode 100 "The Lego Batman Movie" 03/23/2017
Episode 100 "The Lego Batman Movie" The show takes a momentary detour to celebrate our 100th episode by deconstructing the latest Batman film, THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (2017). In this episode, we highlight some of the most compelling psychological themes present in the movie, including Batman's isolationism, his emotional dependency on The Joker, and his reluctance to connect with his newly adopted son, Robin (Dick Grayson). Overall, the film offers us so many essential and universal lessons in emotional growth, including what happens when we "protect" ourselves by being alone. The film also normalizes and opens dialogue about the different ways we deal with personal loss and trauma. It's hard to believe it's "just a kid's LEGO movie."
info_outline Episode 99 "Never Fear" 03/17/2017
Episode 99 "Never Fear" In what appears to be a significant transformation, Scarecrow decides to terrorize the city of Gotham by taking fear away. Scarecrow's newest weapon is a toxin that eliminates any biological response related to fear and anxiety. Batman becomes a victim of the toxin and begins to act a bit more...like Batman? With his fear and vulnerability completely wiped from his psychological repertoire, Batman is reckless, impulsive, and lethal. He engages in risky and senseless behavior, putting himself and others in danger. In our analysis of the episode, we address the real importance of anxiety and fear. Our bodies are equipped with a physiological "alarm system" designed to warn us of actual danger and risk. When that system goes awry, our ability to protect ourselves and others is disrupted. Does Batman ultimately learn this essential lesson about the advantages of fear? Does he experience remorse for putting Robin in danger during his altered state? Was there any permanent damage and will we see him become a colder, harder Batman? Listen in for our exploration of these topics as well as our responses to questions all about anxiety symptoms and ways to manage them!
info_outline Episode 98 "The Anxiety Lantern: An Interview with GREEN LANTERN's Sam Humphries" 02/17/2017
Episode 98 "The Anxiety Lantern: An Interview with GREEN LANTERN's Sam Humphries" This episode slightly moves away from our traditional format, because Dr. Andrea Letamendi got a unique opportunity to speak with Green Lantern writer Sam Humphries about his work on the comic; specifically focused on the character of Jessica Cruz, a member of the Green Lantern Corps who copes with severe anxiety. In this conversation, Humphries describes his own experiences with anxiety and the ways in which he's learned to handle panic attacks when they strike. Tune in and take notes, as this conversation acts as the perfect bridge to our next episode, "Never Fear."
info_outline Episode 97 "You Scratch My Back" 02/01/2017
Episode 97 "You Scratch My Back" Over the last few episodes, we've been able to glean a bit of a falling out between Bruce and Dick. This is our first look at 'Nightwing'--or, as Catwoman likes to call him, "Man Wonder." Meanwhile, Batman has to sit back and watch as his former protégé gets sucked in by Cougar-esque charms of Selina Kyle. Can Bruce let go? Can Dick become his own man? Can Catwoman be trusted? All of this and more in "You Scratch My Back!"
info_outline Episode 96 "Double Talk" 01/14/2017
Episode 96 "Double Talk" Arnold Wesker, AKA the villain known as The Ventriloquist, is released from inpatient care after six months of successful rehabilitation. His treatment team at Arkham is confident he'll be fine, as long as his "alternate personality remains suppressed." However, he soon finds himself plagued with trauma reminders, intrusive thoughts, and nightmares about his old pal, Scarface. Is Scarface a product of his own mind, a separate personality, or an actual living figure??? On this episode, we explore the possibilities! Additionally, we discuss the concept of a "trigger," as well as the benefits and misuses of "trigger warnings."
info_outline Episode 95 "Cold Comfort" 12/13/2016
Episode 95 "Cold Comfort" It's the finale we've all been waiting for! Mr. Freeze's final appearance in Batman: The Animated Series / The New Batman Adventures arrives with all of the (dinosaur) bone-chilling glory you'd expect. Now that his beloved Nora has been revived, Victor has failed to visit her and she's moved on, which sends him into a spiral of depression and, possibly, PTSD. That's right; Drea explains how Victor is showing obvious signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and even discusses how she thinks he can be treated. Is it too late for Victor? Find out now!