“The Dark Knight Rises” was sold out when I tried to see it. Admittedly, I haven’t seen the first two Batman movies either, though my 24 year-old client recommended them to me.

She has seen all of them several times and has been an avid fan since she can remember. She discussed Batman’s appeal—that he embodies ideal qualities that she would like to model: Instead of being self-centered and selfish, he is altruistic and philanthropic. Transforming traumatic loss and other tragic events, he sends a message of hope—that one can transcend painful experiences and grow.

My client attends 12-Step Programs where one of the steps includes providing service which can help in the recovery process. Batman provides service by keeping the citizens of Gotham City safe. She identifies with this part of him as well.

Often her parents whom she loves, failed to offer hope or guide her sufficiently. In their absence and faltering, she tuned into her super heroes also including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

How many young people (if not older ones) turn to super heroes in the absence of real ones? When parents and presidents fail, when teachers, priests, and coaches commit unthinkable acts as I’ve blogged about previously in relation to Horace Mann and Sandusky, do Batman and other super heroes provide a message of hope and guidance that young people crave and even need for their development?

Given the free-fall of our country in terms of economics and environment, and the grave deficiencies in leaders who fail to offer unique and constructive strategies for recovery, do super heroes become more appealing especially in the wake of terror and chaos that confronts our world globally?

Moreover, what fuels the kind of obsession the now infamous and criminally insane James Holmes apparently had with Batman?

Your comments and views are welcome.

Gwenn A. Nusbaum, LCSW, BCD, CGP

Got thoughts or opinions on this topic? A helpful anecdote you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.

PARC © 2012. PARC (Park Avenue Relationship Consultants) is a group of highly skilled and experienced New York relationship therapists with private offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Riverdale and Long Island. Each PARC therapist is fully licensed and certified by New York State, and has extensive clinical training and experience working with couples, families and individuals. Privacy and confidentiality are guaranteed. Out-of-network only. For more information, please call PARC at (917) 340-7592 or visit parkavenuerelationshiptherapy.com.