Superhero Syndrome (Spotlight Series #1)

By Preeti Shukla

We all have our favorite superheroes—Batman, Iron Man, Captain America or any other Marvel and DC character. These such superheroes use a traumatic experience that they have gone through in life to do something that benefits others. Superheroes give us faith that one day, all the evil in the world can be resolved, and encourage us to help others in times of distress. But what happens when we adopt this superhero mentality in our daily lives?

One’s tendency to act like a superhero is called “Superhero Syndrome.” Although not officially deemed as a mental illness, the motivation behind one trying to become a superhero lies from a mental illness, more specifically, they feel as if their own lives are out of control and as a result, aim to help improve the lives of those around them. Superhero syndrome is when a member of a team takes responsibility and extra work, and take their failures and mistakes to heart. These people constantly strive for perfection and often find themselves sacrificing their mental and sometimes even physical health. This is not a healthy state to maintain, although it may benefit the lives of others. People who have superhero syndrome often say yes to everything (even things they do not wholeheartedly agree with), not trusting others to get things done, and competing against your own self. Although it is good to regard yourself on such a high pedestal, when these such “superheroes” begin to fall short of their expectations, this can cause them to fall in to depression, as they feel that their self-worth is in terms of how productive they are, how many awards they get, and all their accomplishments. Also, one of the biggest problems people with superhero syndrome face is trying to be everything to everyone. These people often put the needs of others in front of their own selves, and try to take on every role (whether that be a mother, father, or another person of high authority) and expect that they perform all these roles with competence.

All in all, superhero syndrome can cause one to put an immense amount of pressure on themselves to perform up to their abilities, sometimes, even beyond them. Although we are human beings, and as a result, are ambitious, pushing oneself to such an extreme can cause burnout and affect their performance. For others who are surrounded by the individual, they can easily put all their trust and hope upon the “superhero.” In some cases, these people can even take advantage of the person, exacerbating the “superhero.” This can sometimes cause the “superhero” to lash out at the workplace and enter into a deep spiral of self-blame, doubt, and even depression. For now, let’s just leave the superheroes for the movies!

Vivian Lu