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Avengers VS X-Men

Psych Ward: Hope Revisited

Her destiny seemingly having passed her by, Hope discusses her pain with a professional.

By Tim Stevens

Hope Summers presents as a young adult woman of average to above average physical fitness. It should be noted that her physical age is difficult to gauge due to various time travel vagaries. Additionally, although in session she appears seems to have a mental and emotional age that matches her appearance thus far, it is not unheard of in similar situations that both of these lag behind the client’s physical development. It is important to check in on this every now and again just to ensure that the therapist’s assumptions are reflective of the reality of the client’s presentation and experience.

This writer has a previous therapeutic relationship with the client that was terminated earlier by agreement of both parties. Steven Rogers, in his capacity as the Avenger known as Captain America, asked the writer to evaluate Summers once more given her involvement in recent events. The client agreed to meet with myself provided confidentiality would be honored. After making clear the exceptions to confidentiality I must work under—suicidality, homicdality—she accepted the terms.

Previously, this writer found Summer to be obviously thoughtful and open while in session. Her range of emotional expression appeared appropriate to her level of maturity and the situations and events being discussed. While she retains many of these qualities, I have observed a stronger sense of guardedness from her as well.

This is particularly noticeable while discussing the recent “arrival” of the cosmic being known as the “Phoenix Force.” Many believed the client to be the “natural” host for the being. She, for the most part, did as well but fluctuated in her feelings of being ready to shoulder that responsibility. Stories about the mutant rights leader Jean Grey losing control of her personality upon bonding with the Force frightened her as did Scott Summers—Grey’s widower and the client’s adoptive grandfather—intense dedication to the idea that it was her destiny. As many would do, especially as adolescents, she experienced ambivalence about this “becoming.” Although there were technological reasons for why she did not ultimately merge with the Phoenix, she has expressed several times she cannot stop feeling as though her lack of clarity and commitment resulted in her being “passed over.” Additionally, she often expresses fear that because she, the intended recipient, did not merge with the being, she has created a far more dangerous world.

Furthering her feelings of guilt personal failure are the struggles that began just before the Phoenix’s arrival and echo on today. Every clash between the X-Men loyal to the so-called Phoenix Five and those X-Men and Avengers who find fault with the Five she “feels” and blames herself for. She accepts tremendous responsibility for their skirmishes, something most adults could not process in a healthy way and certainly adolescents would struggle with even further.

This writer feels the mentor-mentee relationship between Summers and the vigilante known as Spider-Man may prove to be a fantastic resource as time goes forward. Spider-Man appears to have a strong sense of what it means to have a powerful gift and misuse or avoid using it as well as the negative emotions that can spring from such events. The client speaks of him with respect and admiration, something that is also encouraging.

Overall, the focus of therapy at this time is on helping Summers to accept herself as a flawed human being and grow to understand the difference between reasonable expectations and extraordinary ones. This writer does not intend to “cure” her of her feelings of guilt, failure, and longing for what she thought was her destiny but rather wishes to help her put them in the proper context. It is my expectation that the more she can gain insight into how much more was being expected of her than she—or anyone—would be capable of delivering on and how little influence she could truly bring to bear on people like Scott Summers that her emotions will become more reality-based and, thus, easier to process.

Hope Summers’ next appointment is scheduled for July 18 with Doctors Brian Michael Bendis and Adam Kubert. Please review file AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #8 for further details on the client.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens, MA is a Practicum Trainee and a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant. He has experience working with individuals with extensive trauma histories.

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This is a great analysis on the couch. Thanks for the good insight and the little chuckle, as we both believe these characters seem that real to us sometimes.