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A Superman complex is an unhealthy sense of responsibility, or the belief that everyone else lacks the capacity to successfully perform one or more tasks. Such a person may feel a constant need to "save" others and, in the process, takes on more work on their own.
The expression seems to have been first been used by Dr. Fredric Wertham in his 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent and his testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. His original conceptualization was less about the current allusion to savior complex but was focused more on people's tendency to derive pleasure from a situation where one beats another while they remain as spectators free from physical harm. He claimed that children reading Superman comic books were exposed to "Phantasies of sadistic joy in seeing other people punished over and over again while you yourself remain immune.” In his discourse of the Superman complex, Wertham also blamed comic books for other social issues such as juvenile delinquency, homosexuality, and Communism.
- Paterson, Kathy (2005). 55 Teaching Dilemmas: Ten Powerful Solutions to Almost Any Classroom Challenge. Ontario: Pembroke Publishers Limited. p. 24. ISBN 1551381915.
- Yeffeth, Glenn (2005). The Man from Krypton: A Closer Look at Superman. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books, Inc. p. 17. ISBN 1932100776.
- Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code ©1998 University Press of Mississippi
- Lee, Stan; Mair, George (2002). Excelsior!: The Amazing Life of Stan Lee. New York: Fireside. p. 90. ISBN 0743228006.
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