Psych Ward

Psych Ward: Silver Surfer

Greg Pak assists in examining the Sentinel of the Spaceways



By Tim Stevens

As in times past, this writer is being brought in to offer a second opinion on a client. In this case, the client in question is the cosmic entity known as the Silver Surfer. Recent encounters with the Surfer have apparently fueled concerns on the part of some and therefore a comprehensive psychological workup has been requested.

The first to provide such a report is Doctor Greg Pak. His writings are excerpted below:  

Silver Surfer (2011) #1 cover by Carlo Pagulayan

“The Silver Surfer claims to be an alien humanoid named Norrin Radd who saved his home planet, Zenn-La, from the cosmic entity known as Galactus the Worldeater by volunteering to become Galactus' herald, invested with the virtually unlimited ‘Power Cosmic’ and enjoined to seek out new worlds for Galactus to consume.

The Surfer thus represents an enormous challenge to a mental health practitioner whose work has focused on human subjects. Judged by human standards, the Surfer suffers from delusions of grandeur, major depression disorder, and intermittent schizophrenia and depersonalization disorder. However, if the Surfer's claims regarding his origin and responsibilities are true, he cannot be considered a genuine megalomaniac, since his fantasies of incredible power and responsibility would not be delusional, but terrifyingly real.

The Surfer claims that as Galactus' herald, he has been invested with cosmic awareness, and thus knows that the stability of the universe itself depends upon Galactus' continuing consumption of innocent worlds. This ‘cosmic awareness’ may be an adaptive delusion allowing the Surfer to retain a sense of moral rectitude while assisting his master in his terrible work. Certainly it seems to have contributed to the Surfer's depersonalization disorder, which intermittently removes from the Surfer the ability to experience and/or express normal human emotion.

It could also be that the silvery substance coating the Surfer's body has removed him from a normal relationship with his own flesh-and-blood, further disassociating him from normal human emotional responses fueled by physical circumstances and hormonal reactions.

Any comprehensive treatment regimen for the Surfer must thus begin with penetration or removal of his silver coating and a return to something approaching human physiology. Only then can the Surfer's psyche begin to react on a human level to human experiences and only then can psychoanalysis, cognitive behavioral therapy, or drug therapy have any chance of success.

Silver Surfer (2011) #2 cover by Carlo Pagulayan

The risk with this approach is that if the Surfer's stories are true, the treatment could destroy the patient's mind by forcing it to contend unprotected with the Surfer's inhuman responsibilities and deeds. The end result could be the failure of his mission as Galactus' herald and the destruction of the universe.”

While many of Doctor Pak’s observations ring true, this writer does find fault, overall, with his pessimistic conceptualization of the client and the drastic solution of removing Radd’s outer shell.

Much of the symptoms that Radd presents are often rooted in traumatic life experiences. In the case of Radd, he has been placed, again and again, in the horrific position of seeking out and offering planets filled with life to quell his master’s insatiable hunger. As all indications put to him being a moral creature, this task is, no doubt, devastating to him. Additionally, in order to do this, he was ripped from his planet, his family, his friends, and his life and given abilities so significant they appear to have left him feeling lost, adrift in himself. He is, in many ways, a stranger in his own body.

To propose that he be forcibly separated from that which is as much a part of him as our flesh is to us is simply heaping further trauma upon the client. Pak hypothesizes that such a move might have the unintended consequence of shattering Radd’s mind. This writer would go as far as to almost guarantee it. It is a proposal whose risks far outweigh the potential possibility for benefits.

Instead, this writer would propose an aggressive in-patient group therapy setting. While the sight of the client’s gleaming physique sitting in a circle in some small conference room might seem jarring or even darkly humorous, it is this writer’s contention that it is the client’s best hope of regaining a measure of control over his own mind and, thus, this planet’s—and perhaps universe’s—only real choice.

The Silver Surfer

In the past the client has demonstrated empathy, intelligence, and a deep interest in the people of Earth. Group therapy would tap into these qualities and slowly bring them closer to the forefront. Additionally, by being paired with others with extensive trauma histories, Radd can begin to feel less alien, less isolated, and less alone. While all traumas are unique to their sufferers—and his is more unique than most—he should recognize some of his own feelings and thoughts in others. This can prove both grounding and cathartic to trauma sufferers.

Again, the writer stresses that this, on the surface, is an odd approach to such a powerful being. However, with a lack of options beyond subjecting him to even further trauma, it would appear to be, at the least, a useful approach to attempt.

Doctors Pak and Stephen Segovia will have a follow-up report on the Silver Surfer available for review on February 16 under file name SILVER SURFER #1.

Tim Stevens, MA is a Doctoral Candidate and Practicum Trainee at a Federal Prison. While he has little cosmic experience, he has often worked with individuals with extensive traumas histories and psychotic disorders.



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