The Arkham Sessions Podcast, 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: Having internalized so many negative messages about her appearance, Calendar Girl hides her face, even from those close to her, due to severe shame, disgust, and distorted beliefs about herself.

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?”

Looking into the mirror and seeing flaws is not uncommon, but what happens when you are preoccupied, fixated, and constantly distressed by your appearance to the point that it leads to self-hatred? What if the amount of time you spend hiding flaws, masking your features, or avoiding social events is so severe that it disrupts your life? This is Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). BDD affects up to 2 percent of the population (that’s 1 in 50 people) and often goes undetected due to the amount of shame and self-hatred one experiences.  For more information, listen to our episode below and please check out the OCD Foundation.

The Arkham Sessions is a podcast dedicated to the psychology of the show, Batman: The Animated Series. Have psychology related questions about Batman? Write to us via twitter @ArkhamSessions or on Facebook.

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