The Arkham Sessions Podcast, Episode #117: “The Demon Within”

The classic DC Comics antihero known as Etrigran is a demon prince of Hell who can “bind” himself to another person.  With the powers of super-strength, super-speed, telepathy, and energy blasts in the form of hellfire, Etrigan is essentially a super-weapon to anyone who summons him as their demon “pet.” Thankfully, Etrigan usually finds himself allied to the forces of good. Like people on Batman’s side. So what happens when Etrigan is bonded to a person with destructive, harmful tendencies? True, Etrigan is cursed to unequivocally obey the person he’s bonded to, and thus cannot refuse orders. Even if those orders are not right. Which bothered us. So in this show we discuss the concept of Intelligent Disobedience: doing what’s right when what you’re told to do is wrong.  It’s our decision to refuse an order because we believe it might be unfair, unjust, or cause harm. Sometimes it takes a lot of guts to stand up to an authority figure, or a person with power, or even an institution, but there are times we need to exercise this judgment.

To further examine the social concepts of obedience and compliance, we revisit Milgram’s shock study and Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment, both groundbreaking events that taught us about the human tendency to do harm given the right social parameters (like administering electric shocks to a stranger because a man in a white lab coat instructs us to).  We discuss recent, controversial questions raised about the Prison Experiment after some surprising disclosures and confessions by some of the participants. Finally, we give helpful steps in how to speak up if you believe you’re confronted with an ethical or moral dilemma.

The Arkham Sessions is a podcast dedicated to the psychology of Batman, with a focus on the 90’s show, Batman: The Animated Series. Have psychology related questions about Batman? Write to us via twitter @ArkhamSessions or on Facebook.

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