Psychosomatic Superpower Outage

Super-powers are frequently linked to one's mental state. When the character has unresolved emotional issues, his or her superpowers can stop working. This is universally true of explicitly Psychoactive Powers, but this also can apply to powers that don't normally seem to have a psychoactive component.

Sometimes, there's really nothing wrong with the character's powers; he's just so out of emotional whack that he just can't bring himself to use them.

A Psychosomatic Superpower Outage is often precipitated by loss of self-confidence, loss of faith in one's cause, unresolved emotional conflict, a Freak Out or extreme fear.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Eren from Attack on Titan often suffers from this: his transformation is triggered by (usually self-inflicted) harm and a strong, planned out focus. If he tries to shift for the sake of shifting or with shaken faith, he'll end up pointlessly injured.
  • In Sailor Moon, Usagi loses the ability to use her Moon Tiara Action spell at one point; it's because she subconsciously doesn't want to be Sailor Moon anymore.
  • When Guyver's Sho Fukamachi sees the damaged Guyver II consume its host, he has a Freak Out and can't bring himself to bioboost.
    • In Episode 8 of the OAV, Guyver won't respond when Sho calls for it after realising that he had killed his father (who had been transformed into an Enzyme II) when the Guyver's autopilot had taken over after Sho himself suffered massive head trauma. Sho's extreme determination to save Mizuki several episodes later is what gets it working again.
  • During Tekkaman Blade, Blade goes into an Unstoppable Rage after exceeding his time limit. When he recovers, he goes into a Freak Out and is so afraid that it will happen again that he can't transform.
  • During Ronin Warriors, Kento can't summon his Armor of Hardrock after Big Bad Talpa tells him (falsely) that the armor is inherently evil.
  • In Fairy Tail, this happens to Mirajane after Elfman tries a full-body Take Over, loses control of himself, and ends up killing their younger sister Lisanna. Mirajane's left unable to use Take Over, because trying to use it reminded her of the incident. Finding out Lisanna is alive gives that power back.
  • In Prétear, The Reveal regarding the Princess of Disaster being a former Pretear shakes Himeno so badly that she can't transform until she manages to recover her resolve with some support from Hayate in the following episode.
  • In Mai-HiME, a shocking event that greatly distresses Natsuki prevents her from using her powers late in the story. In the anime, it's learning that her mother wanted to sell her to the first District, and she is unable to use her powers until she saves Nao from Shizuru, by which point she fully understands what Shizuru means to her. In the manga, she loses her powers after learning from Nagi that Yuuichi kissed Mai, and gets them back while fighting her mother, after an internal monologue about caring for Yuuichi in her own way.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, according to supplementary material Kyouko Sakura used to have the power to create illusionary clones of herself, but lost it when her father went insane and slaughtered her whole family.
  • This is the main conflict of Kiki's Delivery Service; the heroine loses her witch powers and goes through an identity crisis.
  • In Smile Pretty Cure!, Reika lost her powers as Cure Beauty during a fight with Joker because the latter used the former's conflict between quitting being a Cure and disappointing her friends by not studying abroad to drive her into a breakdown and cause her to lose her transformation.

  • Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner loses his powers when his confidence is shattered by Megaddon.
    • Given that the various colored lantern rings are powered by emotion, this can be a pretty common occurrence. A Green Lantern filled with fear and self-doubt, or a Blue Lantern who loses hope, would be left virtually powerless.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Perfection Is Overrated, this happens to Natsuki in similar circumstances as in canon, although she only realizes what has happened when she learns Yukariko has betrayed the others, tries and fails to summon Duran to defend herself and gets pulled into Yukariko's Lotus-Eater Machine as a result.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • During Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker loses his powers because he is unconsciously conflicted about whether or not to continue being Spider-Man. Given the suggestive nature of his powers, the whole thing looks a lot like a man struggling with stress-related impotence. (With the webs being made from a sticky fluid coming out of his body, the parallel is even stronger.) This plot element may have been suggested by a similar plot point in 1964's Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1.

  • This happens to Tonks in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. She loses control of her metamorphmagus powers in her depression over both Sirius' death and her feelings for Lupin. We later learn that this also happened to Merope, when she was under the thumbs of her brother and father, and Dumbledore's sister Ariana after being attacked by a group of Muggle boys.
  • In After The Golden Age, this happens to the superhero Typhoon. She loses the ability to use her powers after accidentally killing a police officer.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar, this sometimes happens with Heralds whose Gifts are less tangible, like Empathy and True Magic—if you try to use it and it doesn't work, you start to disbelieve in your Gift a little. This gives Talia trouble, because she's the first Herald in a long time to have Empathy as her primary Gift, and nobody really knows how to train her properly.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, Kaladin draws his Surgebinding powers from his bond with Sylphrena, a spirit of pure honor. This means that when he starts behaving dishonorably, the bond weakens and his powers fade.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This also happens to the title character of Chuck.
  • John Locke of LOST loses his Island-restored ability to walk after an incident of self-doubt.
  • In The Sentinel this happens to Jim's Sentinel abilities sometimes.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Wild Talents, if you run out of willpower, your powers lose strength and become unreliable.

    Video Games 
  • Somewhat implied in Mass Effect 2. Your party members gain their final powers after you help resolve their emotional baggage. Of course, while some of them have actual powers (Miranda's Slam, Samara's Reave), others apparently have a psychosomatic power outage on their ability to...use variant ammo types.


    Web Original 
  • Hazard from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe is a super-athletic martial artist whose powers and abilities depend on the strength of his willpower. Normally, he's able to shrug off things that would completely disable normal people. If his confidence in himself is ever shaken, all his strengths and skills disappear.

    Western Animation 
  • After Zuko does his Heel-Face Turn in Avatar: The Last Airbender, he loses his firebending powers for a while, since he no longer feels the anger (re: Emotional Drive) that fueled them.
  • The animated series Generator Rex features a hero whose powers flicker on and off depending on his feelings at the time.
  • On Teen Titans, Raven's powers stop working when the monsters in a horror movie they're watching come to life. Except they're actually working perfectly well, just out of her control. She's subconsciously creating the monsters and can't divert her powers to intentional uses until she admits the movie actually scared her.
    • Starfire needs to feel happy to fly, so when she's depressed or emotionally confused, she loses the ability to fly.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Bridle Gossip", Twilight Sparkle wakes up in the morning and uses her magic to brush her hair. But the moment she sees her horn is floppy (apparently cursed but really afflicted by exposure to the "poison joke" plant), she drops her brush, and doesn't use her powers again until she is cured.