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Amazing Spider-Man: The Gauntlet

Psych Ward: The Lizard

Is he man? Is he reptile? Or is he...something else?

By Tim Stevens

Doctor Curt Connors is an adult male who appears to be slightly underweight. The client is lost his right arm while serving as an Army surgeon; he does not, however, require any specific accommodations to deal with his disability. Currently, Connors is working as a research scientist and has been an active consultant of the NYPD, collaborating with forensics officer Carlie Cooper on several cases.

The client unfortunately is far better known as the reptile-human hybrid known as The Lizard. Years before, Connors exposed himself to an experimental serum in an attempt to regenerate his arm and was instead transformed into this creature. Since then, he has struggled to control his condition with varying degrees of success and has been ended up in conflict multiple times with the costumed vigilante known as Spider-Man. These encounters typically conclude with Spider-Man deducing a way to

help the client regain control and revert to his purely human form.

Most troubling for the client is that it is unclear to him and other scientists who have worked on the problem what the cause of his transformations are. At times, chemical exposure appears to be the catalyst. At others, it is a combination of emotions and chemicals. Finally, sometimes intense feelings alone induce the transformation. Regardless, both the writer and the client have agreed that emotion regulation will be a cornerstone of the therapy.

This is particularly important as Connors reports that he has once again begun to struggle with the feelings, dreams, and fantasies that typically precede an "attack" or transformation. During these times he is both concerned about losing control, but also very attracted to the idea of doing so. He admits that, at times, he has induced his own transformation, feeling almost as though he had an addiction to it.

Most recently, this also resulted in him injecting his son, Billy, with the Lizard serum. That event is the cause of an incredible amount of shame for the client and he finds it difficult to even discuss it in the room. The writer has been encouraging, validating how hard it must be for him, but also pointing out the importance of purging such feelings, especially given

how they often affect Connors' "other." The client admits that it has colored his relationship with his son, as well, and often leaves him at a loss about how to connect with, communicate to, and to discipline the child as the need arises.

It seems clear to the writer that Connors does suffer from PTSD, stemming not from his combat injuries, but rather his years struggling with his Lizard persona. While he typically has no control over what the Lizard does, as it asserts itself like a second personality, he typically does retain a fairly vivid memory of what happened, leaving him feeling deeply responsible as well as utterly helpless. Therefore, therapy will also be including a heavy cognitive-behavioral piece to help the client confront these feelings and begin to put them behind him while developing strategies on how to minimize their affect on him in the moments where they seem overwhelming.

It should also be noted that suggestions by other clinicians that the Lizard be induced into appearing have been rejected. This writer feels that it would literally be in the equivalent of attempting to do therapy with an angry wild animal and therefore of little to no use to anyone involved. The

additional risk of escape only further reinforces the therapist's decision.

Doctor Curt Connors' next appointment, with Doctors Zeb Wells and Chris Bachalo, is scheduled for May 5. Further details will be available in file AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #630.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant and Practicum Trainee at a college counseling center who has experience working with individuals with PTSD and difficulty regulating their emotions.


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