A cosplay enthusiast turned a passion for comic books into a mental-health career by applying characters’ fictional psyches to real-life problems.
By time, Andrea Letamendi had been a model doctoral student in medical psychology in the University of Ca, north park, whom kept her mind down while centering on her research on post-traumatic anxiety in Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.
By she scoured DC Comics, reading up on the latest Batman and Batgirl adventures night. She fell so in love with superheroes and villains as a kid, but had not revealed her obsession to her colleagues that are academic. Inside her off-hours, she frequented sci-fi and comic conventions, putting on a costume as figures just like the Darth that is female Vader a costume that includes LED lights, or the Huntress from Batman, created away from fabric and steel.
Her key double life dated back once again to before her days as an undergraduate at Cornell University. For a long time, she discovered to help keep her understanding of the backstories of Mr. Freeze and Clayface a key through the expert globe she wished to enter, omitting her genuine title from her twitter handle, @ArkhamAsylumDoc, that was encouraged because of the fictional psychiatric medical center for criminally insane villains, such as the Joker therefore the Riddler, in Batman’s Gotham City.
LetamendiвЂ™s concerns went beyond thinking that her peers might poke enjoyable. She was raised by immigrant moms and dads from Ecuador, whom instilled inside her a difficult work ethic but additionally taught her that being an cultural minority girl, вЂњpeople are likely to inform you you donвЂ™t belong here. Which means you need certainly to fight for just what you want.вЂќ
Despite her credentials that are excellent high grades, she carried with her traces of imposter syndromeвЂ”the fear that peers would learn she ended up beingnвЂ™t smart or talented sufficient to stay her place. It really is an anxiety that numerous career-driven women that excel within their areas experience, as noted in a famous 1978 study in Psychotherapy Theory, analysis, and Practice, by which findings of 150 very effective ladies discovered which they frequently looked at on their own as frauds and would not вЂњexperience an inside feeling of success.вЂќ
Letamendi thought individuals currently had sufficient reason to concern her; she didnвЂ™t have to fuel whatever underlying doubts by revealing that she had been a superhero aficionado whom decked out in costumes. She didnвЂ™t would like them to believe she ended up being immature or unhinged. вЂњI happened to be worried that individuals wouldn’t normally just maybe perhaps perhaps not simply simply simply take me personally seriously,вЂќ she said, вЂњI thought it could influence my value as being a scientist.вЂќ
To pay on her behalf own insecurities, Letamendi worked much much harder, and kept up appearances as a diligent, unassuming academicвЂ”while secretly moonlighting in cosplay. It absolutely was like she had two split characters. She ended up being careful to not allow them to intersect.
Until 1 day, whenever both globes collided, and she finally eliminated her mask.
Being kid, Letamendi first expanded captivated by Archie comics. Whenever she discovered she might get them mailed to her house, she conserved each of her quarters and dimes and stuffed them into an envelope to fund her membership. The envelope that is bulky right straight back marked вЂњreturn to sender.вЂќ
Letamendi later on became totally hooked on Batman: The Animated Series, which led her to gather the Batman series that is comic. Growing up in CaliforniaвЂ™s Santa Clarita Valley, there clearly was perhaps maybe not really great deal for young ones to complete. The areaвЂ™s very first mall had simply been built. But there is one comic-book store, Brave “” new world “”. She convinced her mother to push her towards the shop so she could see the aisles.
Letamendi (lower left) dressed as Artemis at a comic guide meeting. (Courtesy Andrea Letamendi)
In center college, she had been bullied some for having interests her peers called immature (she’s memories of somebody kicking around her Garfield meal package and calling her names). But by senior high school, she knew she desired to be respected on her behalf knowledge, maybe maybe not her looks or status that is social. She played tennis, wearing goth and punk clothing, and received the g.P.A. that is highest inside her class. Her mom was a rn and her daddy struggled to obtain a medical-supply business. вЂњThe reason we worked so difficult ended up being that we knew I wanted to possess a chair in the dining table,вЂќ Letamendi said. вЂњI wished to have value, and a sound.вЂќ
In the home, her visual novel and book that is comic stacked up, along with her love for sci-fi blossomed. She additionally started tinkering with costumes. In 1997, Star Wars was re-released in theaters. вЂњThatвЂ™s whenever my fandom exploded,вЂќ Letamendi stated. She recalls standing in line in the Hollywood MannвЂ™s Chinese Theater dressed up in a Jedi ensemble, complete with a cape, taking photos along with other individuals decked out as figures when you look at the film. Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, Princess Leia, and three Darth Vader figurines filled her space, alongside Batman, She-Ra, He-Man and G.I. Joe.
It absolutely wasnвЂ™t simply the storylines of sci-fi and comics that hooked her, but questions of why and exactly how each character developed into whom they certainly were. She thought profoundly about peoples behavior, even though she ended up being young, and she discovered she could many effortlessly relate that behavior to figures. exactly What life experiences drove one character to be a villain, and another to become a hero? just exactly How did figures cope with senses of abandonment, alienation, grief, or loss? Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man had been orphans; exactly exactly how did that shape their wants to save yourself other people? These narratives by which she immersed by by herself were about much more than costumes and activities. The fictional psyches fascinated her.
She would not understand it in senior school, but superhero therapy had been appearing as a field that is actual of, with specialists analyzing characters like Captain Marvel, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Wonder girl, the Hulk, Aquaman, Thor, the Flash, additionally the cast of celebrity Trek, often bringing those evaluations into treatment sessions.