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Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight Paperback – May 25, 2012
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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"Simply speaking, this is my pick for the best book of 2012. A fantastic look into the inner workings of one of comic book's most compelling, dynamic characters; a masterfully written analysis/love note to the Dark Knight." - Stephen Harvey, FindYourGeek.com
"Langley cleverly combines his two loves, as evinced by the title, to create a work that will draw the most disinterested psychology students in by using the seemingly universally loved Byronic hero of Batman." - Geekscape.net
"Dr. Langley puts this masked vigilante and his admirers on the analyst couch to examine what makes him--and us--tick. A revealing look at Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego." - Barnes & Noble
"If you love Batman you will love this book. If you love psychology you will love this book! Do not worry about getting lost though, as Langley does an excellent job explaining everything he discusses... A book you shouldn't pass up, as once you start reading it you simply will not be able to put it down!" - International House of Geek
"...more entertaining than many of the others which populate the ever-growing field of texts about pop culture and the sciences. Rather than just telling us what we should know or think about Batman, the book supplements our own interest in the hero, and provokes us to think more about what's going on in his head." - StarPulse.com
From the Author
"I'll never get to meet the late Bob Kane or Bill Finger. We can't chat about their creations. I can't watch them greet fans, hear them recount anecdotes from their amazing lives, or thank them for everything they set in motion and all that their legacy has meant - not face-to-face anyway. This book is more than my answer to a question Adam West, the man who played my childhood hero, once asked me. It's my heartfelt 'thank you' to Bob and Bill. Jerry too." - Travis Langley, author of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight, from his acknowledgments.
"...scholarly and insightful... His professional credentials, mixed with his love for the comic books and the character of Batman, create a fascinating, entertaining, and educational read." - Bat-Films executive producer Michael Uslan (Batman, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises), from his foreword to Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight.
"It is a terrific book. It explores the psychological implications of Batman's various incarnations, in print and on screens both large and small, and in the process gives us a pretty thorough biography of Batman, his friends, and his enemies... It serves as a witty and absolutely clear introduction to psychology, especially clinical psychology." - comic book writer and editor Dennis O'Neil (Batman, Detective Comics), from his introduction to Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight.
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Why does Bruce Wayne put on the cowl? Why does he let himself be defined by his parents being gunned down in a filthy ally? Why do we sympathize with this action so much? What sort of mental illnesses or conditions do his rogues suffer from, if any? How would you diagnose the majority of Gotham City's kooky criminals? Could you do so without being disrespectful to real-life conditions and practices?
Travis Langley answers most of these questions in this work.
I was both intrigued by the premise of this book and a bit cautious. Not just because attempting to assign real-life conditions to fictional characters as extreme as the Riddler and Joker has the potential to be disrespectful to the mentally ill but also because I've bought many of these books before and they rarely display the kind of in-depth knowledge of either the subject they're reviewing or the topic they're trying to apply to it. The Philosophy of X book tends to be a waste of money for fans despite the fact I've enjoyed a few of them very much.
Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight is the exception. It's not only extremely respectful to the issue of mental illness in real life, explaining the differences between reality and fiction, but also is written by a man who has a genuine wealth of knowledge about the Batman character in all of his incarnations.
Doctor Langley analyzes Batman characters from the TV show to the movies to the animated series and even references modern-day comic characters like Spoiler as well as the Red Hood. This is a thoroughly well-researched book and if the assigning of genuine psychological conditions to fictional characters written across seventy-five years is a lost cause then it's not for lack of effort.
The book is also fun.
One of the things I like about the book is Doctor Langley tends to treat the superhero world as, itself, not a necessarily insane thing to pursue. Yes, it's peculiar to put on a costume and fight crime but not in the DC universe or even the Batman Begins reality. There, Bruce Wayne has decided to become a ninja because he joined the League of Assassins (however briefly). Instead, we get a formal discussion of how Bruce Wayne decided he would dedicate his life to fighting injustice as well as why he chose to fight outside the law.
We also get an excellent answer to the question, "Is Batman or Bruce Wayne the mask?" Doctor Langley points out it is Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered, not Batman's. As such, Batman is merely the tool he uses to take revenge for the eight-year-old boy in the alleyway. The heart of Bruce Wayne remains very much his childlike self, trying to regain control of his life, even as Batman is the way he lies to himself and says he does.
I like Doctor Langley's handling of the rogues as well. One of the things I do appreciate is the majority of them aren't really criminally insane by the legal definition but merely have extreme personalities as well as theatrical flair. The Joker is an antisocial psychotic terrorist who may suffer hebephrenic schizophrenia (inappropriate emotions and reactions) but he's mostly a monster because he enjoys being so rather than any delusions or innate drive to kill.
The Riddler is obsessive compulsive but his pompousness and grandiosity are as much a performance as lunacy. Catwoman isn't a kleptomaniac because they don't steal for wealth, they steal as compulsion. Even Two-Face uses his coin and false-persona to distance himself from the actions he wants to do versus the ones he'd be driven to. Poor Harley Quinn has the most spot-on diagnosis, being a dependent personality-disorder who, if freed from the Joker, would just find someone else to latch onto like Poison Ivy or Deadshot (or Batman himself).
In conclusion, this is probably the best academic analysis book on superheroes I've read and that's pretty high praise. Pick this up if you're interested in taking a deep and dark look into the mysteries of the Batman universe. About my only complaint regarding the work is the fact it is best if you have a deep knowledge of the various incarnations of the characters.
Dark Knight Rises in 2012. If you are not familiar with academic psychology like Freud, Erikson, etc. then be prepared to learn. The book goes in depth into Batman's origins, his reasons for fighting criminals, and his many of most popular enemies using modern psychology methonds. The majority of the book is excellent and a very good read for even the Bat fans who have only seen the recent movies. The downsides are when the book gets heavy into the psychology referring different theories for the many psych gurus. Overall a read well worth the money even if there are some pretty heavy points.