Psychology behind Harry Potter books: Post 1 of 3 (compassion)

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past 20 years, you’ve at least heard of Harry Potter. An amazing book series by author J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter tells a tale of a young wizard, whose parents were killed when he was 1 year old by a dark wizard, called Lord Voldemort. At the age of 11 Harry discovers his true wizard identity, despite his abusive aunt and uncle’s attempts to keep this from him, and is able to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he learns how to use magic, and meets his two best friends, Ron and Hermione. Over the course of the series, Harry and his friends have frequently had to face monsters and beasts, as well as Lord Voldermort’s followers, and Voldemort himself. Ultimately, it is up to Harry Potter, the chosen one, “the boy who lived,” and his friends to protect the world from Lord Voldemort and his army of dark wizards, who call themselves the Death Eaters.

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Next to Normal: a beautiful play about mental illness

For the longest time mental illness was considered a taboo, in many cultures it is something that is not discussed or accepted, leaving the people that are most in need of support and compassion to be alone and ashamed of their condition. Traditionally the media, including news, films, plays, and books have portrayed people with mental illness as villains, adding to the already existing stigma. And at a time when we are just starting to understand where some mental disorders come from and how we might be able to treat or attenuate them, a production like “Next to Normal” serves as a wonderful tool for giving us the insight into one of the most misunderstood diagnoses – Bipolar Disorder.


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Aura – the superhero with mental illness and migraines

In the past mental illness was largely misrepresented in the media, especially in the movies and comic book industry, where the villains were usually ones with mental illness. We know that someone with a history of mental (or physical illness) can be a superhero too and I’m glad that more films, TV shows, and comic books are now starting to demonstrate this point. In Iron Man 3, Tony Stark appears to have symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and while he is struggling, he is able to do what’s necessary to protect others. Similarly, in Gail Simone’s version of Batgirl, Barbara Gordon struggles with PTSD and her paraplegia due to the fact that Joker brutally shot her in The Killing Joke. And now there is a new hero with mental illness, Aura.

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“Madness” at the Movies this Month

By: Harpreet Malla, M.A.

Typically when I see that mental health is featured in film, I have mixed reactions. On one hand, the more mental illness and its existence is talked about or addressed, the better. Stigma, or the negative perceptions and misconceptions we have, are primarily broken down by contact with the thing about which we know so little. On the other hand, when portrayals of the mentally ill are poorly done, they can feed into our existing stereotypes and imbue people with fear or disgust rather than compassion. I can think of many films in which an actress has had a near-melodramatic meltdown in an Oscar bid amid characters that are portrayed unidimensionally as either the antagonists who “elicit” the mental illness or are the supportive, silent sufferer types. This month, however, I was delighted to see not one but two excellent films featuring characters dealing with mental illnesses.

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Fall’s most exciting geeky trailers all in one place

Fall is nearly here and you know what that means: our favorite TV shows are back once again, accompanied with some pumpkin goodness. Here are some of the most exciting trailers for the upcoming series this season has to offer and when to expect them:

Gotham premiers on September 22 on Fox, exploring the origin stories of Gotham’s most notorious heroes and villains

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Psychology behind The Iron Druid Chronicles

I had the honor of interviewing Kevin Hearne, the New York Times best-selling author of The Iron Druid Chronicles, exactly 1 year ago and yet I did not have the courage to post this until now. Since then, his new book came out, he’s had many more exciting news and events to report but I simply couldn’t post this. I couldn’t figure out why until very recently when I started doing some soul searching and digging into the study of vulnerability. Suddenly it all made sense, it clicked like a seatbelt, creating a lightbulb eureka-like sensation in my brain.

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Psychology of bullying

I’ve been invited to submit a blog post of psychology of bullying to the amazing Legion of Leia blog.

Recently there has been an increase in cyber bullying. Why do people engage in bullying others? In order to fully understand bullying behavior, we must first understand its opposite, compassion. Click here to read the article analyzing the psychology and the science behind both compassion and bullying.


All about the F-Word: FEMINISM vs. online bullying

Jenna Busch

Jenna Busch

Today we will be discussing one of the most important F-Words – Feminism. Just to be clear, this word simply refers to general equality (i.e., economic, social, political), as well as overall respect for women’s rights. Largely misunderstood, this term historically resulted in occasionally ludicrous posts, where people outright reject feminism based on the mistaken notion that it refers to more traditional sex roles or that it requires a certain political affiliation, profession, job title, social status, or physical appearance. In addition, people who support feminism, such as a TV-host and writer, Jenna Busch, have been bullied and occasionally even threatened. This post further explores this problem, discusses its psychological implications, and offers some advice to those targeted by online bullying. Read More

Psychology Behind Doctor Who: Deep Breath

I’ve never fallen in love with The Doctor as quickly as I did with Peter Capaldi. There were so many psychological themes in the first episode of Season 8, Deep Breath, that I felt instantly connected to him and found him extremely relatable. Below is my review of the episode from a psychological standpoint. WARNING: CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS, CLICK TO READ MORE IF YOU DARE

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