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Psych Ward

Psych Ward: Scourge

Is there any hope of psychological rehabilitation for one of the biggest mistakes of the Weapons Plus program?

By Tim Stevens

Frank Simpson is an adult male who appears to be of above average physical fitness. His health records indicate, however, that very little of his body is actually organic. Although he is human and retains a human mind and many human organs, over the years he has been repeatedly “enhanced.” This began with certain add-ons, like sub-dermal plastic plating around joints and pressure points, incorporated into the living flesh. However, as time has progressed and Simpson has repeatedly experienced gruesome injuries, first as the covert operative known as Nuke and later as member of the H.A.M.M.E.R.-approved Thunderbolts group, his body parts have been increasingly replaced by robotic substitutes. He is instantly recognizable by the American flag tattoo on his face, a marking he insisted be re-drawn even after he underwent extensive plastic surgery.

The client grew up a child of privilege who was manipulated by his nanny into killing his mother. The so-called Weapons Plus program, an apparent successor of the Super Soldier program that produced Captain America, used the opportunity to eliminate Simpson’s remaining relatives and take the client into the program.

There is no record of any efforts on behalf of the program to address the trauma of being complicit in the murder of his mother, the betrayal of the babysitter, or being entirely stripped of family. Instead, there is much indication that the program played upon Simpson’s psychological distress for their own ends, altering his mind via manipulation, torture, and hypnosis in much the same callous way they remade and rebuilt his body.

The rest is a significantly altered state of mind for the client. He frequently experiences vivid flashbacks, horrifying auditory and visual hallucinations, and reports almost no interest in anything but the “mission.” The client struggles when asked questions about his own interests, goals, or how he envisions his future. The only things he seems to show any ability to be assertive about are military protocol and a sort of reactionary “to question is to be traitorous” patriotism.

Interestingly, no doubt because of his belief in hierarchy, he presents as a very agreeable client. He does “homework” without any resistance and answers any and all questions—provided they do not concern classified information—posed by the writer as he has been told by prison officials that this writer is a “commanding officer.” Unfortunately, he so significantly lacks insight or the ability for self-reflection that this compliance has yielded little by way of helpful information or results.

CT and fMRI scans do not reveal any significant physical damage to the brain. That said Simpson’s brain does process information differently than a psychologically healthy human mind, a not entirely unexpected fact given the considerable trauma he has experienced in his lifetime. As a result, he remains very susceptible to manipulation and post-hypnotic suggestions. This appears to be the explanation for why he killed Thunderbolts teammate Cleavon Twain (aka The Headsman), seemingly without provocation.

Further complicating matters is the client’s addiction to a set of pills that he only refers to as “the red,” “the white,” and “the blue.” Conflicting reports on these meds exist indicating that they were either a series of psychological medications designed to keep Simpson in check and mission ready or they were simply placebos that the client believed to produce certain effects. In either case, Simpson has certainly developed a psychological dependence on them and spends much of his day fixated on the idea of getting them again, especially the highly coveted “red.”

While this writer hesitates to ever proclaim anyone beyond help, Simpson certainly seems to beg for that label. Medications would not typically be recommended for someone with such an obvious—even if it is purely psychological—drug addiction, but this writer feels as though it may be the only way, if one exists, to get the client to a baseline where therapy might have some effect.

Frank Simpson has two appointments for secondary evaluations with Doctors Andy Lanning, Dan Abnett, and Renato Arlem on December 7 and January 4. Results of these evaluations will be available in the files marked VILLAINS FOR HIRE #1 and #2.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens, MA is a Practicum Trainee at a community mental health facility and a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant who has worked extensively with people processing trauma and veterans with co-occurring disorders.


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