By Tim Stevens
Doctor Michael Morbius is an adult male. He presents with a chalk white hue to his skin and bat-like features, including pointed ears, a small, flattened nose, and prominent canine teeth. The pallor and unusual facial structure is accounted for by his “condition,” an adverse reaction to an experimental cure he created to treat his own rare blood disorder. Now he lives up to his urban legend moniker, “The Living Vampire,” claiming that he needs to ingest blood to survive and possessing the ability to “turn” others through his bite. The apparent scientific nomenclature for the client’s disorder is “pseudo vampirism.”
Due to this disease, the client will only participate in therapy via Internet video chat. While this writer would prefer to see the client in person and still hopes to someday convince Morbius of the advisability of this choice, for now this is a perfectly acceptable adaptation of the therapeutic session.
Morbius has long been troubled by his condition and it has cost him much, not the least of which was the life of his wife Martine Bancroft. When he was first afflicted, he chose to act the part, lashing out at the world, attacking others, and feeding without discrimination. As time has passed, he has dedicated himself to being as “human” as possible, working for a cure for himself and, often, others suffering from similar disorders. Additionally, he has pledged and largely held himself to the ideal of only feeding off the “guilty” amongst us. The client admits, however, that even this compromise leaves him with significant guilt.
It is this same guilt that seems to have driven him from his “sanctuary” in Horizon Labs. Exposed to an errant drop of blood, Morbius experienced a hunger blackout and nearly harmed others and perhaps would have had the vigilante Spider-Man not interceded. Although Horizon made it clear the client was still welcome to stay, he found himself unable to accept the invitation, regardless of how honest or thought out the offer was. He writes off such extensions of helpfulness as naïve and dangerous and claims he cannot allow himself to agree to them because of the danger he represents.
Because of Morbius’s ongoing reticence to accept the help of the others, even while attempting to find cures for the likes of The Lizard, Curt Connors, and the so-called “Werewolf by Night,” Jack Russell, rumors have abounded. Most popular amongst them is his “need” for blood is actually more of an addiction, akin to heroin or alcohol dependence. The client, so goes this train of thinking, will not allow others to examine him or share his notes because of his shame regarding this compulsion. It is a rumor Morbius vehemently denies and seems authentic in doing so. Regardless, it does this writer no good to consider that reality. If the client does not consider it to be true, then no good work can be done with it. This writer must treat the client where his state of mind is and addiction work is not why Morbius is here.
That said some of the so-called “skills” involved in addiction counseling and relapse prevention have proven useful for the client in helping him overcome instances of bloodlust, like the one at Horizon, and distress tolerance to ride out his hunger wave until he can find a “suitable” target for it. It should be noted here that confidentiality protects this writer from reporting Morbius for any “feeding” he may do, provided he does not submit in session in advance a clear plan and victim. If that should ever occur, this therapist would be required, by the Tarasoff decision, to alert both the intended victim and police.
Beyond skills training, the bulk of the therapeutic relationship is being directed towards helping the client to process his guilt into healthier emotions. While it is understandable his condition causes him distress and anxiety, guilt serves him ill, often driving him away from opportunities for help. To help Morbius overcome his guilt is to bring him closer to finding a way to manage his condition, at the least, and to, perhaps, reaching out to others to find a cure at the most.
Dr. Michael Morbius will see Doctors Dan Slott and Giuseppe Camuncoli on June 28. Please review file AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #688 on that day for a full report.
Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens, MA is a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant and Practicum Trainee at a community mental health center and has worked with wrestling with significant guilt for their actions.