AURA, the polychromatic superhero
- David Israelian
- October 2, 2016
Aura is the story of Alexis Pope, a fledgling fashion designer based in Brooklyn who lives with bipolar disorder and associated migraines. Her headache harbinger – a rainbow-tinged visual aura – is actually an energy form that transforms her thoughts into physical projections. Alexis can also fly and levitate objects, all with the polychromatic power of her mind!
But despite her powers, Alexis has faced difficulties related to her bipolar disorder – she survived a suicide attempt and has struggled to find the right treatment. As if these challenges weren’t enough, the stigma associated with mental illnesses like bipolar disorder has caused Alexis to feel isolated and marginalized.
With effective treatment, an empowered Alexis reframes the role mental illness plays in her life and embraces her heroic identity, forging ahead as the super hero Aura!
Over half of Americans – 183 million people – will experience a diagnosable mental disorder at some point in their lives, according to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Yet, there are few representations of people with mental illnesses in comic books.
And when mental disorders are depicted in comics, they are overwhelmingly associated with violence and villainy. But the vast majority of people with mental disorders do not commit violent acts; studies show only about four percent of violence in the United States can be attributed to people with mental illnesses.
As a psychiatrist, mental health advocate, and life-long comic book fan, I felt the need to take corrective action, so I teamed up with acclaimed artist Marguerite Sauvage to redefine how people living with mental illnesses are represented in comics.
Aura eschews the shameful, archaic depictions of mental illness that have become ubiquitous tropes in comics. Instead, Aura provides a positive role model, not only for people living with mental illnesses, but for anyone who defies stereotypes and believes they’re more than a label.
- Mental Health