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CSPP at Comic-Con: Superhero Psychology

Alliant International University
Published 08/22/2016
3 minutes read
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CSPP Adjunct Professor Janina Scarlet’s origin story begins under the plume of radioactive fallout created by Chernobyl. The radioactivity gave the young Scarlet a number of health issues that become worse in adverse weather.

After moving to the United States, she became acquainted with the X-men and felt a particular connection with Storm, who’s fate was also tied to the weather. Storm is a mutant character in X-men who has the ability to control the weather, a power she eventually embraced in order to do good. It was through her connection with Storm that Scarlet’s interest in the healing power of superheroes and pop culture was born.

Scarlet is the founder of Superhero Therapy and teaches her students how to use pop culture to treat their patients. She has done a lot of work with Marines at Camp Pendleton who suffer from PTSD. One of her most impactful stories begins with a brave Marine feeling like a failure. “I was talking to a Marine who said that he felt like he was trying to be Superman and had failed. I asked him if Superman had any weaknesses or vulnerabilities. When he answered ‘Yes—Kryptonite,’ I asked him if that made Superman any less of a superhero and then he smiled and answered ‘no’ and his demeanor completely changed,” Scarlet said.

In addition to her clinical work, Scarlet is an author and community advocate for mental health care. This year she presented on seven panels at Comic-Con, including her very own Superhero Therapy panel which she organized, and on which she included her CSPP pupil Asher Johnson who uses Superhero Therapy in his work with prison populations.

The Seven Panels Include:

  • The Geek Shall Inherit: A Look at the Evolution of Geek Culture
  • SuperheroIRL: How Pop Culture Media Brings Justice and Healing
  • Mental Health, Pop Culture, and Empowerment
  • Psychology of Cult TV
  • Superhero Therapy: Using Comics and Superheroes in Therapy and Treatment
  • Captain America vs. Iron Man: Freedom, Security Psychology
  • The Most Dangerous Women at Comic Con – To Bechdel or not to Bechdel

Check out Scarlet’s interview live from comic-con and her three Comic-Con week media appearances on superhero therapy, fandom, and Comic-Con psychology:

Live from Comic-Con:



San Diego Union Tribune:





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