Superhero Psychology: Shrink Tank Takes on Nashville Wizard World Comic Con


Superhero Psychology: Nashville Wizard World Comic Con

The stories of superheroes are richly filled with psychological content, from grappling with mental illness to inspiration about overcoming trauma. The stories of heroes allow us a construct by which we can examine the human condition and be relatively free from the bias of real life. Our favorite characters give us a mechanism by which we can study humanity and understand ourselves in a relatable way which is divorced from the specifics of a stranger or character study of someone we have never met. Superheroes and comics allow us to explore the human condition through psychology and metaphor.

This week, four of our Shrink Tank contributors hit Nashville for a panel at Wizard World Comic Con to discuss more topics like this on Superhero Psychology

Meet the Panelists

The panelists include Dr. Ryan Kelly, a psychologist and the co-author of the popular Max Gamer graphic novel and one of the founders of the soon-to-launch G33KS LIKE US website. He’s written articles for Shrink Tank about subjects as diverse as Game of Thrones, Deadpool, and Anime. He was a panelist for HeroesCon in Charlotte, NC for the past two years.

He’s joined by Jonathan Hetterly, M.A., the managing editor for Jonathan has written chapters for movies, television, music, and celebrity mental health.

Dr. James Goodlad rounds out the panel. Dr. Goodlad is a licensed psychologist with Southeast Psych Nashville. He’s an expert on Asperger’s, Autism, and ADHD. He’s contributed to Shrink Tank and is an avid fan of video games, music, television, and movies. He also attended college in Nashville and has recently returned to the area.

The panel will be moderated by Dr. Dave Verhaagen, the author of eight books and eight book chapters, including chapters for Game of Thrones Psychology and The Walking Dead Psychology. He is the host of The Shrink Tank Podcast and has written many articles for, including his picks for the best films of the 21st century so far. In the past, he has also served as a panelist at San Diego’s Comic-Con.

The panel will discuss the psychology of superheroes from the perspective of post-traumatic growth and resiliency. Some characters who experience incredible trauma or heartbreaking loss become villains, while others use those experiences for good and become heroes. Drawing from their professional experience as mental health experts and their deep knowledge of superhero stories, the panel will talk about what it really takes to overcome adversity and become a superhero.

At the end of the panel, they will have a Q&A time with the audience. One attendee will receive a free copy of Heroic Inspirations, the new book about superheroes by Michael Critzer. Expect the panel to be fun, funny, and informative.

This year’s Wizard World Comic Con runs from Sept. 8-10 and will feature the legendary Stan Lee and appearances from Val Kilmer, Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols, Dean Cain, Sam Jones, and a reunion of the cast of Firefly. In addition to these special guests, the convention also features dozens of illustrators, writers, artists, designers, and other vendors. Thousands of participants will enjoy the three-day festivities.

The Superhero Psychology happens at 2 pm in Room 202 AB of Music City Center. If you are in Nashville for the convention, please stop by and meet our contributors and hear a great discussion about the psychology of how superheroes are created.


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