Superherologist, Dr. Travis Langley, author of Batman and Psychology, and one of the organizers for CAC, was moderating the panel, the goal of which was to provide useful information to the public about how comics can be used in treating patients, as well as in educating students. Panelists included the Geek Therapist himself, Josué Cardona, of Geek Therapy, Dr. Patrick O'Connor of Comicspedia, Dr. Frank Gaskill of Southeast Psych, Dr. Dave Verhaagen of Shrinkblog, as well as graduate students Elizabeth Smith and Laura Vecchiolla.
What made the panel especially powerful was the passion behind each of the speakers as they described their areas of interest and how they were able to incorporate comics, movies, and games into their lives. Josué Cardona discussed how much Superheroes empower and affect readers and how they can be useful in therapy. On his award winning podcast, Cardona interviews psychologists, comic fans, cosplayers, and other geeks in order to find out how their personal, as well as professional lives are affected by the geek culture. Cardona mentioned a touching example on one of his podcasts, where Richard, a comic book geek and a suicide survivor, reported that comic books saved his life and his psychologist's willingness to bring comic books into the treatment was what made the difference in his recovery.
Speaking of identity, Elizabeth Smith mentioned that thanks to geek culture, she was able to find hers. She stated that since her father was in the military and was away much of the time, she used to imagine him as a superhero, saving the world. Heavily influenced by geek culture, Smith described how much she struggled in developing her identity. She identified that in her culture of origin (Korean), a person is first identified by the family name and then by the individual name, which can make it difficult to form a sense of individual identity. In addition, her parents encouraged her brother to read comic books and sci-fi, while Smith was given "pink, girly toys." Over time, as she became more interested in comics than dolls, Smith found her own identity and as a psychologist in training, is now able to combine her passions for geek culture and the world of psychology.
Dr. Gaskill is involved in a lot of education and outreach about Aspberger's and is often heard quoting "Aspies are awesome." In addition, Dr. Gaskill wrote a webcomic about a little boy with Aspberger's syndrome, by the name of Max Gamer, who likes computers and dinosaurs, and who was initially bullied for being different but then ended up saving his sister. Max Gamer can be found on maxgameronline.com
It was truly an honor for me to attend this panel, along with other CAC panels and the rest of SDCC. Geeking out is what comic con is all about. I would love to hear about your experiences at comic con. What panels were your favorite, how did you get to geek out this year?
May the geek be with you :)