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Psychoactive Powers

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Hiroim: Impossible...
Caiera: He shifted the very plates...
Korg: Of course he did, he's the Hulk.
Caiera: But you said he couldn't.
Korg: I was just making him mad. He seems to work best that way.

Our hero has acquired a new onboard superpower through the power of an origin story or receiving Applied Phlebotinum. However, the effectiveness of the power or device depends on the mental stability and/or confidence of the user — hope you're good with your emotions.

Naturally, tends to be an example of Personality Powers. Not to be confused with Psychic Powers or powers from psychoactives. Compare Heroic Spirit and The Power of Love which may be justified with this trope.


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  • BoBoiBoy:
    • Some of BoBoiBoy's elemental forms were unlocked via emotion; Thunderstorm when enraged, Cyclone when overjoyed, Quake in the need to save his friends, Fire when under pressure and Water when calmness is achieved.
    • Fire/Blaze's power tends to grow even stronger when he's angry. When he's told Adu Du and Probe hurt his friends, he's capable of forming a fireball 10 times his size to throw at them.
    • Even in general, BoBoiBoy's powers grow stronger when he gets angry. Hang Kasa exploits this by making sure BoBoiBoy thought he had died, which led to BoBoiBoy unlocking Elemental Fusion.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Aquarions from Genesis of Aquarion and Aquarion Evol act this way: they require three pilots, each of them possessing a supernatural "Element" power. If any one of the pilots loses the will to fight or is otherwise out of sync emotionally with the others, the Aquarion will fail and split into its component pieces. The Aquarion's power is also directly related to the intensity of the emotions its pilots are feeling: the stronger the emotions, the stronger it becomes. Naturally, it's at its most powerful when love is involved, though interestingly enough, it can use negative emotions like hatred, jealousy, or even despair as power sources without any ill effects.
  • Bleach:
    • Orihime's abilities are restricted by her willpower. Her powers could be very powerful offensively she wields them by willingly rejecting reality if she actually wanted to hurt anyone, but she's an Actual Pacifist, and so generally only uses them for healing or defense.
    • Spirits in general have their usable strength either improved or diminished depending on their mental state. As the main character Ichigo himself demonstrates a couple times, emotionally crippling fear can likewise reduce your power output to a trickle, while an unbroken resolve can push that output to the max.
  • In BNA: Brand New Animal, Beast Men tend to involuntarily morph into their animal forms when they feel angry or passionate.
  • Chaos;Head has the Di-Swords, only functional through... delusions. Thus, in somewhat of a departure from the classics, the user has to be screwed up in order to use the weapons. This, though, is only fitting in a show such as Chaos;Head.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Goku. When the chips are down, he'll take a beating and be on the ground battered and bruised — but The Power of Love is Goku's secret weapon. Remind him his loved ones will suffer if he doesn't get back up, and he'll find hidden reserves of strength and deliver a curb stomp to the bad guys.
    • It's true of his son Gohan even from childhood. As a small boy, his power level is pathetic when he's scared but when he's angry it climbs and keeps climbing, enough to nearly knock a full-blooded Saiyan off his feet. Goku even exploits it during the Cell Saga, knowing that Gohan's at his strongest when he's angry and counting on Cell to make him angry.
  • Dragon Slayer powers work this way in Fairy Tail. Happy actually revs Natsu up into beating a Big Bad by suggesting he should back off and let Gray handle it.
  • FLCL: The N.O. portal connecting Medica Mechanica to Naota's head seems to get wider during times of emotional distress.
  • The Lambda Drivers that power the Humongous Mecha in Full Metal Panic! work like this. The technobabble basically stated that it runs on Applied Phlebotinum that begins generating energy when exposed to brain waves above a certain level, which are reached when the brain is processing especially intense emotion. The bad guys found a way around this, by using a drug to keep their Lambda operators at peak emotion at all times. Has some side effects.
  • Gundam:
    • The I-field barriers used by the SUMOs in ∀ Gundam are said to operate at least partially on the pilot's willpower (which goes a long way to explaining why Harry Ord's is so strong). The Moonlight Butterfly will also only manifest when the pilot has the proper amount of determination to activate it.
    • The Gundam Unicorn's NT-D system only activates when the pilot is under a certain amount of emotional stressnote ... typically anger or fear (common battlefield emotions), but Banagher manages to activate it in episode 4 through determination to help someone. Later on he seems to be able to activate it at will discarding all previous limitations on the system.
    • Before the I-Field and the NT-D, there was the Bio-sensor of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam and Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, which were miniature psycommu systems that were meant to just make the suits easier to control. Instead, they ended up making the machine's stronger through their pilot's anger. For Kamille Bidan, he made the Zeta powerful enough to turn a beam saber into a massive beam whip, then gathered the souls of the dead to fuel a kamikaze attack! For Judau Ashta, he was able to recombine the Double Zeta and super charge its Hi-Mega Cannon to the point where it actually melted the V-fins on the head.
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, the title character's Reality Warper abilities fit here. Of course, Haruhi doesn't know she has them. They specifically depend on her mental instability (i.e, stress, depression, anger), and the rest of the cast spend a great deal of effort preventing these feelings by playing along with her schemes while simultaneously trying to keep her Locked Out of the Loop out of fear of how she'd react to finding out about her powers.
  • In a reversal of the norm, Rino's ability to create Masks of Power in My Girlfriend Without Wasabi is fueled by her feeling miserable, as they come from her being the reincarnation of an ancient demon. Her powers fade away completely at the end of the series due to her being in a happy relationship with Nozomu, which unfortunately caused all three of the masks that she enchanted to act as a surrogate family to fade away (though the epilogue reveals that they reincarnated as her and Nozomu's children).
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Specifically, synchronisation strongly depends on the part of the brain associated with certain emotions, such as those between two lovers, or the love of a parent and child, hence all the Soul Jars and Mommy Issues orchestrated by NERV.
  • That's how the power of a Prétear works. The Pretear has the ability to create Life Energy, but her abilities may fail her if she loses the will to fight... and if she gives in to her dark side, her power can reverse completely, turning her into someone who absorbs life energy instead of generating it.
  • While the powers in Psyren are mostly concentration/instinct-based Psychic Powers, there is emotion-fueled Psy... which are as dangerous and unstable as they are powerful. The key to normal psy is concentration, imagination, and careful control over your energy; emotion-based powers are prone to running rampant and over-stressing their users. The only other known user of the protagonist's psy died slowly from it degrading his health, and alone because his increasing distress made it manifest more often, which in turn distressed him further and made his health degrade even more.
  • In the '90s Sailor Moon anime, Usagi's powers start to fail at the beginning of the second season. It turns out it's because of the pent-up trauma from the final battle in the previous arc. A pep talk from Queen Serenity, a power up and her determination to rescue her friends fix the problem.
  • Soul wavelengths in Soul Eater. Mindset affects both the powerful moves that require a high level of soul resonance between meister and Weapon, and the basic ability of the two to work together.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. The mecha of the series, called Gunmen, are powered by Spiral Energy, which comes from living things. The amount of Spiral Energy one produces is tied directly to their emotional state. Fear and despair lower it, hope and optimism increase it, and Hot Blood raises it exponentially.
  • Azazel Ameri of Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun has Super-Strength that's powered by her confidence. The more she believes in herself and her ability to accomplish a goal, the stronger she gets.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, Kuwabara is undoubtedly the weakest of the heroes, but has proven capable of short bursts of incredible power when properly motivated/inspired.

    Comic Books 
  • As of the Captain Britain and MI13 series, Captain Britain's powers work like this; super strength and durability in proportion to his confidence and emotional stability. His alternate universe teenage counterpart Kid Briton introduced in Avengers Arena has the same powers which he fuels by being The Bully at the Braddock Academy.
  • DIE: Matthew's alter ego, the Grief Knight, transforms emotion into power. Judging by his reaction when he's forced to revisit that identity 20 years later, that doesn’t work out well for him.
  • Empowered: Emp's theory about her suit being shredded easily because her self-confidence and self-esteem are easily shredded is entirely accurate. When she's not thinking about ending up in Damsel in Distress territory, she can make really effective use of the suit. It has recently been confirmed that Emp's powers can be shut down by someone making her think about being tied up.
  • Green Lantern:
    • The Green Lantern Ring — if the user doesn't have a strong will, getting the thing to so much as light up is a herculean task. If the user has a decent will, they'll be able to create constructs, but they won't hold up well in battle when the user is frightened or rattled. If the user doesn't have much of an imagination, it forms very boring and mundane things.
    • And now there's a whole spectrum of colors that require feeling or inspiring a specific emotion (rage, greed, fear, will, hope, compassion, love) in order to work. Though the compassion rings tend to get around this little caveat by forcing their wearers to feel nothing but compassion.
  • The Incredible Hulk is rooted in this, as Bruce Banner only transforms into the Hulk when angry, and the angrier Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets. This does depend on the writer; sometimes the Hulk's transformations are portrayed as the result of adrenaline, both in the form of anger and excitement or fear, other times it is portrayed as a pure survival mechanism, activating to save Banner's life regardless of emotional state. But the anger fueling strength connection is generally maintained.
  • Gladiator, a.k.a. Kallark, of the Marvel Universe, is like this; his power is based on his confidence. This spirals both ways; being the most powerful mortal in the universe when he's on top of his game, he's ever-more-confident when things are going his way- but when something finally does go wrong for him, the shock can make his power collapse quick. A good example of this is when he lost a fight with Cannonball of the X-Men, who's nowhere near Gladiator's level...but knows how Gladiator's powers work. He was able to goad Gladiator into punching him at full strength, and creatively used his own powers to redirect the force of the attack and give the illusion of a complete No-Sell. The shock of this weakened Gladiator to the point that Cannonball could knock him out.
  • In New Warriors, the superhero Speedball, after becoming Penance, found that his new powers only worked when he was in pain. Cue the iron maiden styled combat suit. Except, Warren Ellis realized that people who cut themselves process pain abnormally; the adrenaline rush of self-mutilation triggers an endorphin reaction, in effect making them high. Thus, his powers have the same trigger as always; he can't use them unless he's happy. As the Fun Personified character he had been before Civil War, it makes some sense that this had previously not been noticed. Doc Samson points this out, and in the process helps him start overcoming his depression.
  • She-Hulk (Jen Walters, that is) can usually use her powers at will, but she has been stuck before in her Hulk form due to subconscious unwillingness to change back, and in her human form when she was too scared to become She-Hulk again. If you make her angry enough, she can also turn into a Savage She-Hulk that is very reminiscent of her cousin's form.
  • Spider-Man had infrequent bouts with psychosomatic power loss, usually when he was thinking of quitting anyway or under significant amounts of stress. Remembering Uncle Ben or Aunt May was usually the trick to restoring his powers.
  • Superman once lost his powers for a year, then got them back when he cheered up and enjoyed his life.
  • The X-Men have a few examples among their ranks:
    • Much like Gladiator above, Exodus has power levels that are based in large part on his confidence, along with his certainty in the righteousness of his cause at any given time. This is why his power levels fluctuate so wildly, swinging from being able to thrash an entire team of X-Men plus an entire team of Avengers during the Bloodties story to suffering more than one embarrassing defeat during Messiah Complex (which saw him forge a very reluctant alliance with noted Stalker with a Test Tube Mr. Sinister). He'd probably surpass his mentor Magneto if he ever overcame this limitation.
    • Gambit's powers include an interesting take on this — in addition to his much more well known kinetic card charging, he also has a low-level Charm Person ability. The catch is that this ability is dependent on his own emotional state and self-perception, so if he is feeling particularly depressed and self-loathing (as he was when his role in the infamous Mutant Massacre was exposed) those around him pick up on it and are influenced to feel the same way. This was what caused his own teammates to abandon him to die in the Arctic wastelands.
    • Low-level mutant villain Mesmero has Mind Manipulation powers that apparently work like this. When he is at his most confident he is capable of Mass Hypnosis, but when he doubts himself his powers are much less effective, and in extreme cases he can lose them altogether. After trying and failing to keep his mother from dying, Mesmero found himself completely depowered and it took months (and patient coaching from another villain) before he regained the ability to influence minds again in any appreciable way.
    • Just like Gambit above, the mutant terrorist and Acolyte of Magneto Spoor has low-level Charm Person abilities that affect those around him. But unlike the usually cool and confident Gambit, Spoor is a hot mess of emotional issues and self-loathing, leading to just about everyone that comes into contact with him despising him on sight. But since Spoor is also a Death Seeker, this suits him just fine.
    • Storm is incurably claustrophobic due to having been buried alive for days with only the corpses of her parents for company when she was a small child. She has control over it most of the time, but when underground or trapped in a situation where she cannot breathe, her need to be free manifests in her powers, which grow stronger and more destructive.
    • Many teen mutants over the history of the series have first manifested their powers in a moment of extreme emotion.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Both Monster X and Ghidorah's bio-electrical powers are fuelled by emotions, particularly negative ones like hatred or anger. So is Rodan's ability to influence volcanic eruptions, according to Abraxas: Empty Fullness.
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Izuku's less spidery powers work this way. His phasing ability only works when he feels enough of the flight-or-fight response to activate it, which he can do at will by latching onto the terror he felt while running at the Prowler. He later learns that his Venom Strike is activated by his feelings of resentment and desire to lash out at others for years of mistreatment.
  • In Child of the Storm, Harry's powers tend to be along the lines of this: especially the Super-Strength, which only kicks in when he's afraid/angry, because of the adrenalin rush. His Psychic Powers are, at first, also along these lines, and still tend to flare dangerously if he's knocked for an emotional loop. This can be downright dangerous for him and whoever is around him.
  • In Eleutherophobia, Tom sometimes starts to morph by accident when he's feeling particularly angry. He spent so long as a helpless Meat Puppet that he tends to forget he can do things just by thinking about them.
  • In Quirk: Incubus, Izuku's quirk gives him a boost in power that he can stockpile, but only through activities that he considers in any way sexual. This can range from flirting to kissing, lewd touching and the act itself. Ruki has been teaching him to psyche himself into stockpiling power through mundane activities, something he puts into practice by making the act of the Sludge villain trying to Meat Puppet him seem sexual so that he has enough strength to force the Sludge villain out.
  • Chapter 5 of Savior of Demons reveals that Frieza, and all Arcosians, have a very mild venom that only activates when they're terrified, which becomes a plot point because it paralyzes Goku's right hand... meaning that he can't use Shunkan Idou until it's treated.
  • After getting Ohm's Eisen Dial in This Bites!, Nami finds that unless she actively wills them not to, the clouds she creates respond to and act upon her more unconscious desires — like throttling Cross for being an idiot.
  • In Visiontale, monsters and humans must focus on a color of magic's defining aspect, like patience or bravery, to cast it. Fear inhibits monsters' magic, and their magic is strongest when experiencing strong, non-frightening emotions, like happiness, anger, or passion. In-universe, determination is logic-defying because it is driven by desire, not a specific emotion.
  • Paul has at least one of these in With Strings Attached and carried over to The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World. In the first book, he manifested an energy zap from his fingernails when he was "out of [his] mind with fury" over the slaughter of wolves by the Hunter. But in Keys, when he tries to zap things again, he just can't do it because he can't work himself up to that level of fury again. He may also be holding back because he's afraid of the energy getting away from him and triggering one of his explosions.
  • The Self-Insert Orange Lantern's power in With This Ring is dependent on much Avarice he feels: meaning it gets more powerful the more he wants something or how it can benefit him. If it doesn't benefit him or he only wants to help, the ring won't work. If he doesn't want it or outright hates it, he risks the ring destroying it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: America Chavez can open portals to other universes, but can only activate her powers involuntarily and only when she's afraid. The first time she used her powers, she accidentally sent her moms and herself to separate universes (after being startled by a wasp). By the end of the movie, she learns how to get past her fear and gains full control of her powers.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves: Simon, as a fundamental element of being a sorcerer. Since his magic is a part of him, it's directly tied to his emotions and self-image, which is his greatest weakness and his greatest strength — he's literally as good at magic as he believes himself to be. If he thinks he's an Inept Mage, he's an Inept Mage, but if and when he breaks past his self-esteem issues, the results are spectacular.
  • In In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, the Big Bad Gallean goes mad with power and gains abilities not normally available to the magi. During his magical duel with Merick, this is the only thing that allows him to surprise and defeat the more experienced magus.
  • The male lead in My Demon Lover only transformed into his formidable demonic aspect when he was horny enough.
  • In Shredder Orpheus, it's implied that Orpheus's Lyre-Axe Guitar's performance is tied to his confidence and determination to save Eurydice, as after he fails to save her the first time, it goes on the fritz and shorts out completely when the Furies move to kill him.
  • Will Stronghold of Sky High was in the gawky, awkward stage of adolescence, and had no confidence. He also had no powers, but hadn't made the connection between the two. The fear and shame involved in the idea of disappointing his superhero parents also didn't help. But when Warren put his friends in danger, Will grew confident and his powers suddenly manifested in the middle of the fight.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • In X-Men, in a blink and you'll miss it moment: Storm is knocked down an elevator shaft. She rises out of it flying with her trademark all-white eyes, and delivers her line to the Toad about what happens when a toad gets struck by lightning. This is an obscure reference to the fact that in the comics, Storm is extremely claustrophobic, and the ensuing panic that causes often amplifies her powers beyond normal levels.
    • In X-Men: First Class, Erik's control of his abilities is directly linked to his emotions.
    • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Charles can't control Cerebro until he gets some advice and encouragement from his future self and stabilizes emotionally, after which he's fine.

  • Skeeve in Another Fine Myth must stop drawing upon his parents' or mentor's strengths for his confidence, and find it in himself instead, to finally light a candle with his magic.
  • The title character in Carrie is at her most potent in her powers when under severe emotional distress. Her breakdown in the showers after Alpha Bitch Chris' tampon prank leads her to smash one of the lights in the locker room. She tosses a young boy off of his bicycle when he taunts her, and most famously, it takes her humiliation in front of the entire senior class on prom night for her to unleash the full extent of her powers. Given that the trigger is anger or despair, it does not end well for anyone.
  • Dark Lord of Derkholm: Three of the six main student wizards in Year of the Griffin have a particular quirk to their magic due to psychological issues:
    • Lukin creates a pit of some kind whenever he tries to do anything with magic. Even his magefire appears in a little hole in his desk. This turns out to be symbolic of the emotional gap between his father and the rest of his family, which his father refuses to acknowledge.
    • Olga used to be able to summon winds instead of monsters by talking to air elementals that no one else could see. Her talents got twisted up when she refused to let herself cry and stayed that way for years, but the minute she tears up the elementals are back to comfort her.
    • Claudia's magic always seems to go wrong somehow, which she believes is due to a jinx. it's actually because she has a strong gift for translocation, and she hates travel because she feels like an outcast wherever she goes.
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry's magic is partially based on emotion. On several occasions, he has gotten very angry and used it to amplify his fire magic. On another occasion, he has used a surge of lust induced by a White Court vampire to power a shield spell. He has also stated that sometimes color can become part of the spell, as seen in Proven Guilty when he builds the net to find the phobophages. There's black for vengeance, white for purity, etc. When building the net, he uses blue play-dough because of blue's connotations with defense. Plus, blue is cheaper. It is noted that the actual color isn't important — what helps is the mental associations the individual has with it. Because Harry was taught to use blue for defense, and has had past success that mentally associated blue and defense, it works best in that role for him.
  • One of the stories in the George and Azazel series involves an irritating atheist given a Jet Pack and told that it's powered by his belief in science and logic. The problem is, those who see him flying call it a miracle, and convince him it's one too, making him incapable of using it again.
  • The effectiveness of magic in the Harry Potter series is tied to the emotional state of the user. Young wizarding children usually begin to accidentally cast magic when in emotional distress. Even later in life a wizard is able to subconsciously cast magic when in a heightened emotional state, such as anger. The ability to cast magic also diminishes when the wizard is affected by severe depression. When a wizard is exposed to Dementors, evil spirits who suck away positive emotions, for too long, they can even lose the ability to cast magic.
    • The Patronus Charm, used to protect against the aforementioned Dementors, is tied to positive memories and the emotions associated with them. The stronger the memory, the stronger the spell. If a memory isn't strong enough, the wizard will only summon a silvery cloud. When the wizard uses a sufficiently strong memory, they summon a silvery animal guardian who chases away Dementors with ease.
    • Harry Potter himself started accidentally cast magic as a child when he was severely bullied by his abusive aunt, uncle and nephew. In one instance, his aunt Petunia gave him a ridiculous haircut, as she hated his untidy hair. Fearing the humiliation he would face at the hands of his classmates, Harry subconsciously used magic to make his hair grow back. At age thirteen, Harry accidentally blew up aunt Marge, after she made him angry by badmouthing his parents.
    • Merope Gaunt, who is mentioned in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Her magical abilities were greatly weakened because of her father and brother constantly abusing her, making her (and them) believe she was no good at magic, which made her father think she was a Squib, which made him abuse her more. When they were packed off to Azkaban, her magical ability flourished, but sank to its lowest point when she was abandoned by her husband, Tom. By the time she was about to give birth, she couldn't even muster up enough magic to save her own life, and died less than an hour after giving birth to her son, Tom "Lord Voldemort" Riddle Jr., who would later kill his father and his father's parents over Merope's abandonment.
    • The trauma of being attacked by a broup of Muggle boys leaves Ariana Dumbledore scarred for life and prone to extreme mood swings; as a result, her magic becomes highly unstable, with extreme bursts that end up accidentally killing her mother.
  • In Known Space, this is how Gil "The Arm" Hamilton got his power and nickname. He had lost his right arm in an accident, but one day when he absentmindedly tried to catch a dropped object with the missing arm, he manifested an "imaginary" psychic arm that works via telekinesis. One story notes that psychic abilities work only because the user believes in them. It should be mentioned that while Gil's arm can handle hazardous materials and reach through solid objects or live video feeds, it is otherwise limited to the same range as his flesh-and-blood arm (arm's reach), and only strong enough to lift a pound or two in Earth's gravity. People have asked Gil why he doesn't try hypnotherapy to correct these shortcomings; he points out that feeling like he has an arm ten feet long might interfere with his Willing Suspension of Disbelief and make his arm go away entirely.
  • Nynaeve in The Wheel of Time can only use her magic when she's angry. She gets better. This is a common trait among those born with the ability to channel. "Wilders" (channelers with no formal training) often have a mental block that prevents them from channeling unless they are experiencing a particular emotion (for Nynaeve it's anger, and another wilder is mentioned who wasn't able to channel unless she was in the presence of someone she had a crush on). The block is a defense mechanism to prevent the wilder from losing control of their power and either hurting themselves or others, or even burning out their ability to channel entirely. It's possible for a wilder to overcome their block and gain the ability to channel at will.
  • Wild Cards: The school of thought is that Aces are internally confident and end up being beautiful and powerful, while Jokers have some sort of internal self-hatred that manifests outwardly. This also reflects in their powers, because some Jokers have powers that would make them Aces if they weren't so hideously deformed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In season 1, episode 9 of Bitten, Elena's body tries to change out of sheer panic, only for her to Determinator revert through sheer willpower.
  • Anissa Pierce of Black Lightning can only manifest her Super-Strength by taking deep breaths to calm herself down.
  • Charmed:
    • The witches have powers triggered by their emotions: Prue's telekinesis is triggered by anger, while Piper's molecular manipulation power activates when she panics. Interestingly enough, the emotional trigger remains the same regardless of who has the power. When Prue and Phoebe temporarily switched powers, Prue had premonitions randomly (just like Phoebe), whereas Prue had to tick Phoebe off to get her telekinesis working.
    • When a demon causes the Sisters to become distraught and lose confidence in themselves, their powers are weakened to the point that their Book of Shadows, whose magic is linked to their own, loses its protection from Evil and can be stolen by said demon.
    • Beyond the witches: whitelighters' Healing Hands are triggered by love, whereas darklighters' death touch are triggered by hate.
  • Chuck's Intersect 2.0 flashes only when he is calm enough.
  • In Season 4 of The Flash, Elongated Man develops the ability to shapeshift into other people. How he feels about the person and the mission determine how long and how well he can hold the form.
  • In Haven, a person's Trouble first activates when they get stressed or upset.
  • On I Am Not Okay With This, Sydney's telekinetic powers are far more powerful when she's angry or stressed out. Under normal conditions, she can't do much more than break open a lock, but when she's losing it, she can knock over several trees in a shockwave blast or blow open a man's head. When she and Stanley are testing out her powers in the bowling alley, she has trouble manifesting them at all; Stan has to resort to insulting her and (especially) her family in order to get her to start throwing bowling balls at him. Notably, she also lacks much control over her powers; when she notices that she's starting to lose it, she has to figure out a way to either calm down or get the hell out of there. It's also implied that her father, a former Marine, had similar powers, and that him losing his cool in the heat of battle set off an Angst Nuke that killed both his entire squad and the enemy force, with him later killing himself out of fear of what would happen if he lost control again. As she puts it:
    Sydney: The less of a fuck I give, the less likely I am to break shit.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • The ghostly powers of Takeru in Kamen Rider Ghost are tied to his emotions. If he feels no resolve, he can't manifest himself to the living. If he does muster sufficient resolve, he is able to do extraordinary things, such as beating PhysicalGods. His final form is even based on and powered by positive emotions he experiences.
    • Kamen Rider Build: Several people in this series are infused with Nebula Gas, which grants the user supernatural fighting abilities. The level of power is measured in Hazard Levels. This level can be explicitly raised by heightening the user's emotional state. The power of the Rider System is tied to the user's Hazard Level, meaning it can get stronger over time. This contrasts it to the Transteam System, another line of powered suits mainly used by the antagonists, as their Hazard Level isn't tied to the emotion. Therefore, their power is fixed, meaning they can be overcome by the Kamen Riders. Since, Blood Stalk, one of the antagonists wants the Kamen Riders to improve their Hazard Level for his own plans, he constantly puts them in situations that cause emotional distress, such as endangering their loved ones.
  • In Misfits, Curtis can only use his Mental Time Travel when he feels intense regret.
  • The Umbrella Academy: Viktor Hargreeves is able to manipulate energy through sound vibrations, but his aptitude is directly tied to his emotional state. The angrier he gets, the stronger he gets, and there are points where he unwittingly uses it without meaning to. This is why Sir Reginald Hargreeves had him brainwashed as a child and tried to suppress his powers with drugs, as he feared his son was too dangerous to control. This ends up having the exact opposite effect when Viktor discovers the truth, and a toxic cocktail of Reginald's abuse, Leonard's manipulation, Luther's rejection, and then-undiagnosed gender dysphoria results in him quickly Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and planning to cause The End of the World as We Know It.
  • WandaVision: When Wanda begins to panic, her powers reach out on their own and begin hurting the people who caused her distress, even though she doesn't intend it. In the sitcom reality of the Hex, this results in characters who go off-script getting violently punished while Wanda is confused about why it is happening.

    Video Games 
  • In the inFAMOUS series, a person's personality, emotional state, and morality has a significant effect on the nature and appearance of superpowers. If Cole is good, he looks like a normal person and his electricity powers are brightly colored, precise, and easily controlled. If he’s evil, his skin becomes deathly pale and his powers are dark, messy, and destructive. This applies to all Conduits; the kind but very calm and calculated Lucy Kuo has clean, orderly ice powers, whereas the selfish but very adventurous and passionate Nix has flashy, poorly controlled fire powers. Interestingly, the morality aspect seems to operate from an objective, metaphysical stance rather than a personal one; Bertrand and the Beast believe themselves to be the heroes, but their powers nevertheless manifest in chaotic, Lovecraftian ways you would expect from a Card-Carrying Villain.
  • In League of Legends, this plays a role in how Atreus is able to harness the powers of the Pantheon despite the death of said Aspect. In the short story "In Battle, Broken", Atreus is unable to use his powers in the aftermath of the Ruination (wherein he was possessed by the Black Mist which resurrected the original aspect and forced him to fight off its influence) due to being riddled with self-doubt and losing sight of what he set out to do. This is followed up in the cinematic "The Call", wherein after fighting Leona and being blasted off Mount Targon, he regains his motivation and willpower, and thus regains access to the powers of the Aspect once more.
  • Star Wars Battlefront sees the confidence variation connected with a character's grenades. The character in question, Greedo, overcome his lack of confidence (building on his lackluster track-record in the film) by killing enemy soldiers and damaging their heroes (i.e. Princess Leia, Chewbacca) so that he can go from using his standard issue gas grenade to the biggest explosive in the game, the Thermal Imploder.
  • The central gameplay mechanic of Super Princess Peach is activating one of four "Vibes", which are abilities based on four emotions. In Joy, she gets the ability to float. In Rage, she gets surrounded by fire and gets a Shockwave Stomp. In Gloom, she gets Ocular Gushers that spray Swiss-Army Tears. In Calm, she heals herself.
  • Channeling The Light in Warcraft is entirely dependant on your conviction. If you believe you are doing the right thing, you can channel it; start doubting yourself, and The Light will not answer your call. Notably for something called The (Holy) Light, The Light does not give a damn about your actual alignment; You can be a Well-Intentioned Extremist who is Slowly Slipping Into Evil, and as long as you can convince yourself 'I Did What I Had to Do', you can use The Light to slaughter civilians for all it cares.

  • El Goonish Shive: Grace has telekinesis just strong enough to "arm-wrestle". But when someone makes her explode (figuratively), something may explode (literally).
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Zimmy has some kind of Psychic Power (her exact abilities are rather vague so far). She also has a mental disorder — she describes it like having static in her head. The worse the static gets, the less control she has to prevent her powers from acting up.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: Allison is bonded to the Key of Kings, an artifact that amplifies her Soul Power to literally divine levels. However, she's limited to occasional Achievements in Ignorance, like an Extradimensional Emergency Exit from imminent death, until she trains to focus her will and wield the Key consciously.
    Allison: Come on! I'm being extremely resolute!
    Meti: Tch! You must not ask, you must simply do. You won't get anywhere with that.
  • Mob Psycho 100: Mob's psychic powers and his control over them are directly tied to his mental state, and hitting his emotional peak often results in that power expressing itself in unexpected ways — anger turns him into a violently wrathful Implacable Man; remorse reverses the destruction caused by one of his explosions; gratitude transfers his abilities to others; etc.
  • One-Punch Man: S-class hero Darkshine gained Charles Atlas Superpower in his quest to become as buff and shiny as possible and are highly connected to his confidence. Monster attacks that make him shinier, like high-pressure water, merely slide off his skin as he embraces them, while he loses most of his strength when meeting Gold Sperm who is even buffer and shinier.

    Web Original 
  • In Brennus, some metahumans' powers grow in strength as they approach the mindset they had during their Traumatic Superpower Awakening.
  • Ruby from RWBY has her silver eyes, which rely on her focus and her desire to protect life. It takes her a long time to learn how to use them deliberately, and she can still fail if she's upset, blindsided, or distracted. To make it worse, she had a Traumatic Superpower Awakening and trying to summon them can bring back those memories and shut it down, and volume 6 forwards is a Trauma Conga Line doing its best to break her spirit.
  • Capes in Worm works as in Brennus. Skitter, for example, has her bug control range expand as she feels more trapped.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In the episode "Little Dude", The Ancient Sleeping Magi of Life Giving has life-giving powers that are dependent on his mood. When he thinks of his father, who it's implied never loved him, the objects he animates turn evil, but when he thinks of his mother, who loved him, the objects he animates turn good.
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball, Penny Fitzgerald turns out to be a shapeshifter whose form underneath her peanut shell is based on her self-image. She's rather self-conscious about it, which indirectly leads to her mimicking the way people describe her (or that she thinks they're describing her). William and Ocho's powers are also based on anger.
  • Bending works this way in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Aang has to adjust his mindset when he learns a new element, which becomes a serious problem when the happy-go-lucky hero has to learn to be steadfast and forceful to learn Earthbending. Zuko also loses most of the power behind his Firebending when he joins the good guys and loses the hatred in his heart. Luckily, he finds a secret civilization where he learns that Firebending is about passion, not anger.
  • In one episode of Danny Phantom, Danny temporarily gains the ability to control the weather, but it's based on his emotions instead of consciously controlled. This also applies to his general ghost powers during the beginning when it was more sensitive to his growing emotions.
  • Presto from Dungeons & Dragons has this problem. No confidence in his abilities, so his magic works sporadically, and rarely as intended.
  • Rex's powers from Generator Rex require him to be focused and level headed when using them. If he loses his concentration, for instance if he becomes confused his powers will fail.
  • Steven Universe: While the Crystal Gems are all thousands of years old and have effortless usage of their powers, the titular Steven is handicapped by being half human, and only twelve years old. As such, his powers tend to work erratically. It is only when The Power of Love is invoked that he can call his powers at will with certainty.
    • Steven Universe: The Movie: Steven's gem half is injured, considerably weakening his powers. It's only through accepting himself and affirming his growth as a person that he fully reactivates them.
    • Steven Universe: Future: at 16 Steven has mostly mastered his previous powers, but develops destructive Power Incontinence that worsens along with his mental state.
  • In Teen Titans, Starfire's powers are apparently triggered and/or powered by specific emotions, e.g., joy for flight, rage for Eye Beams etc. Naturally this little factoid first cropped up when she got bodyswapped with Raven, whose powers go haywire without tight emotional control. It comes up again later, when Starfire finds herself unable to fly because she's confused as to the status of her relationship with Robin.

Alternative Title(s): Psychoreactive Powers