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The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 63: “Fire from Olympus”

The Arkham Sessions, hosted by Dr. Andrea Letamendi and Brian Ward, is a weekly podcast dedicated to the psychological analysis of Batman: The Animated Series. 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!

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 63: “Fire from Olympus”

Commissioner Gordon discovers a mysterious, new threat in Gotham City when he visits a hospital patient being treated for wounds related to electrocution. Rejecting the doctor’s theory that the man was struck by lightning, Gordon recruits the Batman to help him unravel the case. Indeed, the informant is linked to a company called Maximilian Shipping, and Batman knows exactly where to go.  He travels up to the top of the Shipping Company’s building to confront the owner, Maxie Zeus. But, it appears that Maxie Zeus is in the midst of a serious delusion: he believes that he is the Greek god, Zeus, a mighty and immortal being who lives on Mount Olympus above the citizens he calls “mere mortals.”

The threat is raised when Maxie reveals his egomaniacal plan to fire his massive electrical cannon at the city below in order to make “mortals tremble.”  But, it’s not just a battle between two costumed egos in this story. Rather, we get a clear portrayal of a full-fledged delusional disorder in Maxie Zeus. We discuss the diagnosis of Delusional Disorder, a rare but very real illness in which a person holds a strongly fixed belief (e.g., they are a god, the government is spying on them, they can communicate through telepathy) despite the evidence around them that does not support their belief. We discuss these types of delusions and the impact the illness could have on the family members, partners, and colleagues around the person suffering. Finally, we consider what the real differences are between Batman and Maxie Zeus–could they actually be more alike based on their fixed values, impervious beliefs, and the “creation” of an identity?

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