The Arkham Sessions Delve Deeper Into the Animated Batman

An ongoing podcast analyzes the psychology in "Batman: The Animated Series"

Posted May 14, 2014

The Arkham Sessions is an ongoing podcast dedicated to the psychological analysis of characters and stories in Batman: The Animated Series. Every week, Dr. Andrea Letamendi and her co-host Brian Ward discuss a television program that took the best tales from more than half a century of comic book stories, mixed them with elements from Tim Burton's Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), and gave them the added kick of original stories, Harley Quinn, and zeppelins in the night sky. "Nostalgic, humorous, and even a little educational, each episode promises to lend some insight into the heroes, villains, and classic stories of the Dark Knight!" 

Dr. Letamendi is the real-life psychologist who has been advising comic book writer Gail Simone regarding Batgirl's recovery from trauma, and she has also appeared in the Batgirl comic book series as Barbara Gordon's therapist. Andrea Letamendi has treated combat veterans and other individuals experiencing the process of trauma recovery. An expert on both psychology and comics, she has taken part in convention panels covering the psychology of superheroes at various fan conventions like San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon, and New York Comic Con. The documentary Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics features her among its commentators.

Episode descriptions for the first 20 podcasts come directly from Dr. Letamendi's website, You can also follow her on Twitter as @ArkhamAsylumDoc.

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 1: “On Leather Wings”

Welcome, Gothamites! This is the first episode of The Arkham Sessions, a fun and insightful podcast dedicated to the observation and clinical analysis of the characters in BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. The first episode debuts the Dark Knight and his entangled encounter with the villain of the week, Man-Bat! Think you know what makes Man-Bat tick… er, flap? 

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 2: “Christmas with the Joker”

Think the Joker is psychotic? Delusional? Or just unloved? This is the second episode of The Arkham Sessions, a fun and insightful podcast dedicated to the observation and clinical analysis of the characters in BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. In this episode, we explore why the Joker and the Bat may have more in common than you might think! So grab a hot chocolate, put on those new bat-slippers, and listen to our holiday special!

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 3: “Nothing to Fear”

What are phobias? How are they treated? And what is Batman really afraid of?  (OK, that one is fairly obvious, we admit). The Arkham Sessions explores the theme of fear and anxiety through the mischief of another classic Gotham City villain, The Scarecrow, from BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 4: “The Last Laugh”

The Psychotic Clown is back! But, wait– is “psychotic” the right word to describe the Joker? Join us in the 4th episode of The Arkham Sessions as  we delve into another classic episode of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. Oh, and Bruce Wayne takes a LOT of showers in this one.

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 5: “Pretty Poison”

It’s finally time to talk about the ladies of Gotham! Or at least one lady: Poison Ivy. Maybe we’ve fall under her tantalizing spell, but we’re pretty sympathetic of her murderous actions in this episode of The Arkham Sessions, a podcast dedicated to the psychological deconstruction of the classic show, BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. 

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 6: “The Underdwellers”

Imagine that Fagin from Oliver Twist and Captain Hook from Peter Pan had a love child. Now give him an eyepatch and pet killer crocs. You’ve got the Sewer King, a cruel man who kidnaps young runaways in Gotham City and forces them to work for him in cavernous sewers under the city.  We learn that nothing angers Batman more than child maltreatment in this episode of The Arkham Sessions, a podcast dedicated to the psychological analysis of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 7: “P.O.V.”

Did you know that an episode of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES deals with eyewitness testimony, memory, and perception?  How can three members of the Gotham City Police Department remember the exact same event in completely different ways? Check out this episode of The Arkham Sessions, a podcast dedicated to the psychology of Batman!

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 8: “The Forgotten”

Bruce Wayne gets hit over the head by a street thug and develops amnesia in “The Forgotten,” a memorable–see what we did there?– episode of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.  We chat about memory disorders, traumatic brain injury, and ridiculously high-wasted pants in this episode of The Arkham Sessions, a podcast dedicated to the psychology of Batman!

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 9: “Be a Clown”

Gotham’s most dangerous villain is back—this time, with something to prove!  We’ve deconstructed yet another episode of Batman: The Animated Series which features The Joker! This portrayal of the “psychotic clown” shows his callous, destructive side as well as his jovial, charming nature. We can’t deny that we’re just a little bit into that.  In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we talk about the Joker’s most likely mental health condition, discuss the personality trait known as “risk-taking,” and question why clowns freak us the bat out!

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 10: “Two-Face, Part 1”

What can cause a virtuous citizen to transform into a destructive villain? It’s the first time we analyze Two-Face, one of Gotham City’s most interesting baddies! The amazing two-part episode of Batman: The Animated Series portrays one of the most memorable and tragic origin stories in comics to date. On this week’s show, we tackle Part 1 and discuss issues of multiple personalities, bipolar disorder, and hypnotherapy. It’s the ultimate story of good vs. evil, morality vs. corruption, loyalty vs. betrayal!

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 11: “Two-Face, Part 2”

The epic origin of Two-Face continues with Part Two! It’s been six months since we last saw Gotham’s former District Attorney disfigured by a horrible blast.  Now he’s become one of the city’s biggest crime bosses: Two-Face. But is he past the point of no return psychologically? Batman doesn’t think so. And we’re not sure either! 

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 12: “It’s Never Too Late”

Not every episode of Batman: The Animated Series featured killer clowns, giant mutant bats, or fear-inducing psychopathic professors. When the supervillains are on vacay, the mobsters take over Gotham City! Of course, Batman makes it his business by intervening and attempting to bring one mob boss, Arnold Stromwell, back to the straight and narrow life. But first he has to battle the regret and guilt stemming from Stromwell’s childhood trauma. In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we discuss redemption, forgiveness, and restoration of faith.

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 13: “I’ve Got Batman in My Basement”

Haven’t you always dreamed of becoming Batman? Well, that dream sort of comes true for young Sherman, a bright and ambitious resident of Gotham who takes over Batman’s duties and battles one of the baddest villains– The Penguin! In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we discuss the common problem of bullying, growing up geek, and the long-term psychological impact of targeted harassment. Plus: more silly voice impressions! Cuz, why not?!

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 14: “Heart of Ice”

Mr. Freeze is perhaps one of the most fascinating villains in the Batman Universe. He is detached, inexpressive, and like his name implies, cold. And yet, Mr. Freeze is inexplicably lifelike and relatable. “Heart of Ice” is arguably one of the most influential stories from Batman: The Animated Series because of this well-written origin story. After of the sudden, devastating loss of his wife, Nora, scientist Victor Fries transforms into Mr. Freeze, a vengeful killer, willing to harm anyone who steps in his way. But there is more to this tragic story. Under the subzero suit is a person burdened with unrelenting pain and sorrow. In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we discuss the difficulty of dealing with loss and letting go, and explain how being “frozen with grief” is a very real thing.

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 15: “The Cat and the Claw, Part 1″

Selina Kyle AKA Catwoman makes her debut appearance in this adventure-filled episode of Batman: The Animated Series. And when she comes face-to-face (or cowl-to-cowl) with Batman, an intense relationship blossoms. You’d think that two people with alter egos are purr-fectly compatible, but there’s D-R-A-M-A. Bruce Wayne is into Selina, Selina is into Batman, and Batman is into…justice.  How frustrating! In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we talk about attraction, identities, and how wearing masks can bring out different personalities. One thing’s for certain–when it comes to multiple identities, Catwoman’s flexible while Batman’s rigid. Wait…well, you’ll just have to listen for yourself.

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 16: “The Cat and the Claw, Part 2″

Does Bruce Wayne finally profess his love to Selina Kyle? Does Batman turn Catwoman in to the Gotham City Police? Does Isis get spayed? You’ll find the answers to two of these burning questions in this week’s The Arkham Sessions, a podcast dedicated to the psychology of Batman: The Animated Series. In this episode, we delve deeper into Bruce Wayne’s struggle with his alter identity as Batman, and how he deals with emotional vulnerability, his desire for romantic connections, and the ultimate rejection.

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 17: “See No Evil″

A father with a criminal history and a restraining order against him returns to Gotham City after serving jail time. He begins sneaking into his daughter’s room at night and devises a plan to kidnap her without his ex-wife knowing. His strategy? An invisibility suit. Of course, Batman will do everything he can to protect the young girl. In this psychologically-rich episode of The Arkham Sessions, we discuss the mental health of children of incarcerated parents, explain how anonymity can facilitate antisocial behavior, and assert that Batman would make a great daddy.

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 18: “Beware the Gray Ghost″

Who is the Gray Ghost? In Batman: The Animated Series, he’s the crime-fighting fictional hero from an old T.V. show Bruce Wayne watched as a child with his father.  Fittingly, in BTAS, the Gray Ghost is voiced by Adam West, the actor who played Batman in the classic 60′s television show. In a very realistic take on hero worship, the episode shows us how even Batman can be an avid fan of a fictional character, down to his collection of costumes, memorabilia, and Gray Ghost toys. But there’s more to his fanboy adoration of this T.V. idol– we discuss how the Gray Ghost represents justice and hope, and how he helped instill Bruce’s moral beliefs (sound familiar?). Most of all, the Gray Ghost allows Bruce to honor the memory of his deceased father.

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 19: “Prophecy of Doom″

Batman’s no fool. He’s a man of science. He uses reason and logic. So when he discovers that the this creepy fortune-teller dude, “Nostromos,” is gaining notoriety by successfully predicting disasters in Gotham City, he is naturally suspicious. Turns out, Nostromos is fooling wealthy, influential citizens of Gotham into believing he has the supernatural power of forecasting peril, and–not unlike current-day internet scammers– he’s convinced them they must unload their millions into his bank account in order to stay financially secure. In order to end this scam artist’s exploitation and manipulation of innocents, Bruce Wayne becomes a Nostromos “believer.”  In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we talk about the psychology of persuasion, the principles that con artists use to deceive and defraud us, and the research that shows just who is susceptible to this kind of victimization. 

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 20: “Feat of Clay″

Many of us know this story. We start with an attractive, successful actor who finds a “supplement” that helps his career. The “miracle pharmaceutical,” however, happens to have a permanent, insidious side effect. Despite the negative consequences of the substance, our friend just can’t quit. Horrifically, he turns into the monstrous villain CLAYFACE who tries to destroy the Batman! In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we discuss the issues of substance abuse disorders, vulnerability to addiction, and how traumatic experiences can lead people to “self-medicate.” 

You can also see Drea discuss Clayface in this bonus feature from the documentary Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics:

Related posts:

* The Arkham Sessions: Batman, Man-Bat, and that Killer Clown

A Dark and Stormy Knight: Why Batman?

A Clinical Perspective on Panic and PTSD in Iron Man 3

Superheroine Recovery: An Interview With Batgirl's Therapist

Comics Arts Conference Brings Psychology to Comic-Con 2013

Cortex Crusaders Put Comic-Con on the Convention Couch

Necessary Evil Documentary: Exploring Super-Villainy

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