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What mental illness did Tony Stark have?

Psychological Assessment of Tony Stark — Iron Man

Anthony Edward Tony Stark, also known as the famous “Iron Man.” This Super hero is also a great intelligent man that at 15 entered The Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study engineering and obtain a master’s degrees in engineering and physics. Thanks to his knowledge, he was able to design and fabricate a suite of a dominance armor. The suit was made to save his life after a catastrophic incident he faced. After Stark was attacked by enemy forces and severely injured, he discovers that the shrapnel fragment lodged in his chest cannot be removed without killing him, and he is forced to wear the armor’s chest plate beneath his clothes since the armor was like a regulatory for his heart. His father was a well-known and opulent industrialist and also the forefront of the Stark’s Industries. After both of his parents were killed in a car accident, he became heir to his father’s company. Stark uses his tremendous fortune inherited to design his armor and to develop weapons for shield. Tony Stark is both men and machine, what science fiction writers call a cyborg. A superhero cannot simply rely on brute force which in Iron man’s case with his suit of powered armor, but rather, as Stark has shown, a strategic mind is absolutely necessary. Intelligence is essential as a superhero quality because it provides superheroes with an adaptable offensive and defensive weapon. A true superhero displays a strong moral code and follows a strict ethical belief. Stark is also ambitious, and hardworking and this is due his past and everything he has been through stating from his parents incident and ending with his injured heart problem.

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Iron Man’s personality traits can be connected to The Freudian Theory of Personality. This theory confirmed that personality is created through disagreements among three fundamental structures of the human mind: the id, ego, and superego. His most undergo and important idea was that the human personality has more than one. Each person expresses in different situations. With the Freudian lens Anthony Stark can be analyzed as an agreeable, intelligent and generous character but brutal with lack of forgiveness. This “structural theory” of personality grants great importance on how conflicts forms part of the mind shape behavior and personality. These conflicts are mostly unconscious and develops during childhood

Tony Stark faced a lot of physical trauma which represents his Id personality; The Id is the primary and impulsive part of the mind that carry hidden memories and among that sexual and aggressive drives. As an example In Iron Man I Tony was injured and kidnapped in a warzone, but he also demonstrates Superego qualities through his movies which is his most dominant characteristic. The superego forms a person’s conscience with, prohibitions, and inhibitions. Its positive aspirations of being better and ideals of helping others represent one’s idealized self-image. This characteristic can be connected to Iron Man which is the one that relates to him the most. This can be analyzed when in Iron man 3 in middle of a battle he experienced a panic attack but that did not stop him. Those Unexplained Panic Attacks are the result of traumatic events he had been through at a young age as an example the death of this parents or the kidnap he experienced. This can gives presence of symptoms, such as unexplained physical pain, Shortness of breath, or tremors. As stated on the text during the event when Harley makes an association “Tony begins to notice his own shortness of breath, which immediately spirals him into a full panic attack: hyperventilation, hot flushes, confusion, and fear of what is to come. He recovers by running away from the problem essentially, escaping the situation and avoiding further conversation about his anxiety”. (Letamendi). In other words, for Iron man his major concern is to help others which is the main characteristic of a superhero. In his case he puts everything before himself and even before his health, which is the superego quality that makes him the memorable character he is. Iron man forgets all his preoccupations and needs in order to do what’s correct without thinking on self-consequences. In the other hand not as dominant as the super-ego there’s his ego which keeps him maintaining his calm but helps him play dual roles at the same time. To talk about Tony Stark’s helpfulness, it is really effortless to observe this feature because he is a superhero which in most of the cases are supposed to save the world from villains and destruction.

Tony Stark, during his advantaged, but complex childhood and questionable adult life decisions, presented a mixture of emotions and personalities traits due to his life experiences and all of his psychological stages mentioned. Stark was the victim of the loss of his parents and is also an individual with potential personality disorders, but that does not stop him from being one of the most famous superheroes at time. Without any doubt no one would play a better role for a great intelligent billionaire with those life problems and stages he went through. The importance of the world and the memory they will keep of him and everything he did is what Stark dreams of but fears intimate relationships due to the stage of “intimacy vs. isolation”. He suffers from. He can still play the role of the earth’s incomparable Avengers, and living his difficulty lifestyle going through many psychological stages while also maintaining the attention of the world.

Iron Man during his movies and series shows his different characteristic and stages. Even though he is a superhero meant to save the world he also has traumas and personal problems that makes him the person he is. Super-ego once again mention is Stark’s most influenced stage. He will be memorable just as he dreamed of not only because of his superhero qualities is mostly because of his passion on helping other. Stark shows from the beginning of his movies to the end on the avenger’s movie when he sacrifices himself to self the world his super-ego qualities.

At an early age, when Stark was still a kid, he suffered from “Autonomy versus Shame and doubt”. This stage was developed by the famous psychologist Joan Erikson, it happens when develop the anxiety of having self-control. At this age kids start to show independence and control over their actions. Iron Man shows this stage when he first battles with a close friend, demonstrating he has the control and the ability to do whatever he proposed. Erikson also came up with the stage of “Intimacy versus Isolation” which is when more intimacy and isolation is beginning to be needed. It is mentioned on text that “Stark enters into a superficial relationships which do not give the same satisfaction that a genuine relationship would”. (Goodfrined) Meaning individuals that goes through this stage like Stark did, fail to commit into a relationship since they are in much did of isolation and time from themselves do to a past experience.

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As an adult, Stark is currently in the stage called “Generativity versus Stagnation.” This means that he wants his name to be a mark on the world and he wants to accomplish it by caring for others as well as doing things that make the world a better place to live without crimes or offenses between or toward humanity. As stated on the previous text used “To successfully pass through this stage, one must develop a sense of generativity, or a concern for guiding the next generation, either by parenting or by working with groups of young people”. (Letamendi). In other words he would do anything that is in his hands, referring to his super-ego, to do what is correct and be memorable the day he is not present. Stark can see this as a reason of living since he did not had a children of his own, until the last avengers movie. A lack of innovations is a feeling questioning one’s purpose in life which is what he tries to avoid by being the super-hero he is.

Tony Stark also experiences PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. This is a disorder in which a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. He has undergone a trauma unlike any previous crisis and although he faced death heroically, the experience left emotional impacts. With an early age Stark experience both of his parents death and that left him with a for life trauma where he might feel anxiety or even panic attacks. It is also mention that another reason why iron man suffers from PTSD is because of a battle that appeared in Iron Man 3 he had against the villain Loki and an army planning to destroy earth as stated on the text by the writer Robert Downey Jr. “He can’t sleep at night, has night terrors when can sleep, and anxiety attacks caused by trigger phrases”. (Downey) This symptoms Stark suffers from as the result of his past and what he confronts as a superhero on his daily life.

In conclusion being a superhero does not mean having the most desire life, health or lifestyle. As Freud theory says every human goes through stages and through the three personality traits which are: Id, Ego and Super-ego. Everyone does not have them as equally strong some people might have the most of one than from the other ones, just like Tony Shark with his super ego and his anxiety of helping the world without giving any type of importance to his health or having the anxiety of making a family. Everyone learns from experiences just as this famous superhero called Iron man who after being a superhero without any self-preoccupation ended up with a beautiful family and giving up his life once again demonstrating his super-ego to save the world in the last movie called The Avengers: Endgame. There Stark refuses to get back in battle when his companions asked for him help. He was avoiding due to his ego side of maintaining calm for the best of the family he made and how good he was after all he went through, but his super-ego side as always was stronger and decided to go save the world. Stark ended up being killed and remembered by everyone by the memorable action he committed. It was the whole population or him.

  • Letamendi, Andrea. “’Iron Man 3′: Does Tony Stark Have PTSD? (Guest Column).” The Hollywood Reporter, 27 Apr. 2019,
  • “Portrayal of PTSD: Tony Stark in Iron Man 3.” Time To Change, 11 Oct. 2013,
  • “Iron Man’s Psychoanalysis.” Iron Man’s Psychoanalysis,

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This Theory About Iron Man’s PTSD Will Change How You View the Whole ‘Avengers’ Series

In the first Avengers movie, Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, has to save humanity by traveling through a wormhole and suicide-bombing an alien armada. Somehow, he falls back to Earth and, defying all odds, is physically fine.

But his mental health takes the brunt of the abuse. He develops post-traumatic stress disorder — and other characters don’t seem to notice. It may be a superhero movie, but untreated PTSD is a very real, human problem.

Polygon writer Ben Kuchera has an amazing theory about how Stark’s post-traumatic stress influences the rest of the Marvel universe.

According to Kuchera, plot points throughout the following films revolve around Stark’s desperate attempts to save someone or everyone, which often backfire. An automated suit almost kills his partner, Pepper Potts, and in trying to protect the planet, Stark paves the way for Ultron — the titular antagonist in Avengers: Age of Ultron — all of which dig Stark deeper into desperation.

By Captain America: Civil War, Stark is anxious, sleepless and self-destructive. And not for nothing, he tries to seek help — as shown in the Iron Man 3 post-credits:

It doesn’t matter that Stark is a superhero dealing with superhero problems. Like Batman, he’s just a regular rich guy in a suit, someone who experiences human reactions. In fact, Stark would be one of the estimated 7.8% of Americans who experiences PTSD at some point in his life. What’s scary is there are cases like Stark’s that go untreated.

Stark would be one of the estimated 7.8% of Americans who experiences PTSD at some point in his life.

After the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there were roughly 2.8 million veterans. It’s estimated that 11% of them — between 308,000 and 460,000 — have some sort of PTSD. The vast majority go untreated; in 2013, only 12,632 cases were diagnosed.

PTSD cases among veterans are small compared to the number of cases that occur among civilians. Research shows the number of civilians who experience PTSD is 13 times higher than the number of military people who are affected by it.

Undiagnosed PTSD doesn’t just stay in a holding pattern of panic attacks and depression: It festers, turning into substance abuse, severe depression, loneliness and rage issues. It alienates friends, family and partners. In Iron Man, Potts eventually leaves Stark as a result of it.

When PTSD occurs in the U.S. veteran population, it makes the news. When it happens to Iron Man — beacon of unflappable masculinity, sultan of smug, giver of no fucks — it’s treated with eye rolls and dismissal. His name is Iron Man, not Sensitive Man. And that’s what unravels him in the end — until, late in the franchise, his fellow Avengers acknowledge Stark shouldn’t go it alone.

Even if you’re a super-rich playboy with a room full of weaponized suits worth $8.46 billion, there is no cure, over-the-counter or otherwise, for PTSD. There’s treatment, like cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive processing therapy and prolonged exposure therapy. There are anti-depressants, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. But without a cure in sight, some people with PTSD drop out of therapy early or don’t seek treatment at all.

In the Marvel universe, Stark’s mental health is the shaky cornerstone from which calamity is built. It’s what keeps the franchise moving in perilous and disastrous ways.

But for real people dealing with mental disorders every day, PTSD is the furthest thing from entertainment.

How Tony Stark became Marvel’s most authentic, relatable hero

Iron Man’s arc has continuously evolved over his decade-long stint in the MCU.

“I am Iron Man.” Four words that changed the superhero film genre for good. With 2008’s Iron Man, director Jon Favreau and Marvel Studios gave audiences something they’d rarely seen before on the big screen: a superhero who doesn’t hide their identity. For decades, the superhero was a caped silhouette, standing tall, god-like. But in recent years the Marvel Cinematic Universe has offered characters that both complement and complicate that image.

Iron Man, aka Tony Stark, made his solo comic book outing in 1968’s ‘The Invincible Iron Man’. In contrast to the character depicted in this series, the films show a complex, multi-faceted Stark who is anything but invincible. At a time when mental health is being discussed more openly than ever before, with one in six young people likely to experience anxiety and depression at some point in life, imperfect heroes couldn’t have come at a better time.

In Favreau’s Iron Man, after inheriting Stark Industries from his late father, our hero is brought face to face with the horrifying global impact of his company’s work. When he is kidnapped and forced to build a devastating weapon, he is made to see the realities of how he made his living. It was while being held hostage that he designed his first Iron Man suit as a means of escape.

Stark’s anxiety manifests itself as a need to be in complete control. He laments to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) in Iron Man 3, “You experience things, and then they’re over, and you still can’t explain them.” As an engineer, he breaks practical problems down into smaller ones that he can solve piece by piece. It’s much harder to do that with his mind. Stark can’t process a problem he can’t fix with a few metal pieces or wires, and he runs from this realisation his whole life.

In Iron Man 3, Stark has his first anxiety attack. The film directly follows the events of The Avengers, during which Stark flies into a wormhole in New York City to destroy it with a missile. As he enters the wormhole, J.A.R.V.I.S. suggests that he call Pepper; Stark knows what this means and is fully prepared to say goodbye.

This experience plagues him throughout the subsequent films. He feels completely unprepared, believing that if he faces a threat on that scale again he will let everyone down. Colonel Rhodes (Don Cheadle) informs Stark of a recent bombing but, as he does so, the background noise around Stark begins to build up, triggering flashbacks to the attack on New York. He bolts out of the café and, out of breath, steps into his suit just as his knees buckle under him. Frantically, Stark asks J.A.R.V.I.S, “Check my heart. Is it the brain? Was I poisoned?” When he’s told that he suffered a severe anxiety attack, Stark is in disbelief: “Me?”

Stark’s persistent denial that a person such as himself could deal with any form of mental illness speaks to his desire to fix everything. Instead of sleeping or spending time with Pepper, he devotes himself entirely to building new suits, new weapons, new lines of defence. Back in the café, when Rhodes expresses his concern, Stark retorts, “Einstein slept three hours a year, look what he did.” While those closest to him think he has built 10 or 15 suits in total, in his basement Tony is working on a Mark 42. He’s no longer just anxious – he’s obsessive.

In Age of Ultron, when Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) shows Tony his darkest fears, he sees the Avengers dead before his feet – and it’s his fault. In Captain America: Civil War, when brought face to face with the destruction he and his team always leaves behind, Stark can’t live with the guilt and so he signs the Sokovia Accords, a piece of legislation requiring all superheroes to reveal their secret identities and disclose their powers. Stark constantly fears the day he lets down those he loves, and he deals with it by retreating from them to build them as much protection as he can.

Of course, one rich white man’s battle with mental illness isn’t going to resonate with everyone. But it’s important that Stark is not portrayed as a wholly good individual: he can be selfish, arrogant, an egomaniac. Sometimes, he’s even framed as an antagonist. The villainous Ultron is literally the product of Stark’s ego; blinded by progress he builds a sentient weapon that nearly kills millions and results directly in the drafting of the Sokovia Accords. You could go as far as calling Tony Stark an anti-hero – that is what makes him such a compelling character. No matter how privileged a person is, they can still be affected by anxiety, depression and other forms of mental illness.

Tony Stark is an authentic and complicated hero, someone who can seemingly build anything and is willing to stand up to the world’s greatest evils – often alone – but who is still vulnerable, compulsive and obsessive, and who deals with the same inner demons we all must face. His arc has continuously evolved during the decade-long expansion of the MCU; perhaps now he is finally coming to terms with the fact that he can’t save everyone. This sentiment echoes his own words way back in the Avengers. “If we can’t protect the world, you can be damn well sure we’ll avenge it.”

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