Fear Itself

Psych Ward: Grey Gargoyle

A look at the villain’s life before becoming one of the Worthy

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By Tim Stevens

Paul Duval is an adult male who appears to be of above average physical fitness. As befitting his villainous alter ego, Grey Gargoyle, the client has a grey pallor to his skin. While disconcerting, it does not appear to have any adverse effects on the client. However, it is dangerous for those around him as his touch can turn others to stone. As such, despite this writer’s protests, the client is restrained throughout session. This writer expects this arrangement to impact the forming of the therapeutic relationship but it is unavoidable under current circumstances.

In sessions, the client presents as highly intelligent and highly arrogant. He appears to resent his reputation and takes great pains to stress his skills in chemistry over his physical talents. Along the same lines, he dislikes what he views as his “lower” villain status. This has been exasperated, as of late, by Norman Osborn’s refusal to invite him into the Initiative while Osborn was the head of H.A.M.M.E.R.

The client largely rejects the idea that he needs to change, at least in terms of embracing societal norms. His only stated change goals revolve around acquiring more respect, more power, and more worldly goods. While this is not unusual, initially, with super powered criminals, it is often deployed as a defense mechanism to hide deeper, less “evil” goals. In the case of Duval, however, there does not seem to be deeper drives here.

With this in mind, this writer is very concerned with continuing therapy. Rare is the client that cannot benefit in some way from therapy. However, there is also the question of the benefits and/or costs to society. It is the writer’s opinion that therapy may teach Duval to be a more effective criminal and that Duval will likely feel very pleased by this. This, though, seems to run counter to the reasons that this writer has been given this client.

The question therefore becomes whether or not it is responsible to continue this relationship. This writer is reticent to fully make a decision at this time, but, as must be clear, is leaning towards terminating these sessions. Unless the client begins to more fully commit to therapy and/or identify more appropriate and healthy goals within the next two to three sessions, this writer can see no reason to continue this work.

The one area that the writer has identified for possible growth in a healthy way is Duval’s self concept. It is the writer’s hope that the client’s statements of superiority may in fact be a defense mechanism against feelings of low self-esteem. If this is the case, there is work to be done here. A rise in self-esteem may result in reducing Duval’s need to prove his superiority through acts of crime.

This situation will continue to be evaluated in Paul Duval’s next session is scheduled with Doctors Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca on this Wednesday, May 18. Please refer to file INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #504 on that day for further information on the client. Further evaluation will be conducted by the same doctors on June 8 in the file INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #505.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens, MA is a Practicum Trainee at a Federal Correctional Institute and a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant.

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