Psych Ward

Psych Ward: Kraven

With a new Hunter waiting in the wings, our resident therapist takes a look back at Kraven’s Last Session

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By Tim Stevens Found this in the archives. It is our last session note on Kravinoff, Sergei prior to the subject's suicide. I hope it helps with this "new Kraven" business. Sergei Kravinoff is a physically fit Eastern European man who will only answer to "Kraven" or "Kraven the Hunter." He appears to be in his mid to late 30s but insists he is actually in his 70s; at this time, his claims on the matter have gone unsubstantiated. The client insists that he is of noble birth and comports himself as such. Despite his unusual clothing choices—the client prefers his attire be made from the pelts of animals he has slain—he presents and speaks with an aristocratic manner. The client is intelligent, quick to anger, and proud, although his pride is easily wounded.

The client is currently in the midst of a major depressive episode caused by what he describes as his "inability to defeat [his] fear." For Kraven, this "fear" appears to arise from his myriad of encounters with the masked vigilante Spider-Man. Before coming to New York City, Kraven was a big-game hunter who, according to urban legend and his own boasting, favored killing his prey with his bare hands. His numerous kills were and remain a tremendous source of pride for him. In spite of, or perhaps because of, these prior "victories," the client has become obsessed with the defeats he has suffered at the hands of Spider-Man. He often refers to the crime fighter as simply "the Spider." Additionally, whenever he discusses "the Spider" the client's comments indicate that he believes the vigilante to possess some sort of mystical abilities. The Spider-Man fixation has grown to the point that the client has also developed a phobia of spiders. Currently, Kraven has two target behaviors to deal with, as identified by the writer and agreed upon by the client. The first of these is, of course, the client's depression. The second target is to develop better interpersonal skills. Kraven has, in past sessions, described a series of insecure attachments in which power has always been the focus of the relationship. He claims to have beaten his half-brother repeatedly over the years, but still "loves him more than anyone else." His intimate relationship with a woman named "Calypso" is marked by manipulation on both sides and what the client will only call "a violation of my honor that I cannot forgive." He also admits to having several children with whom he has had little to no contact.

A secondary target suggested by the writer, that Kraven seek out a 12 step program to deal with use of the drugs that make him stronger, faster, etc, has thus been refused by the client. He is unwilling to discuss the possibility that the drugs might influence his volatile moods, his perceptions, or contribute to his depression. Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned Spider-Man fixation and how deeply it appears to be tied to his depression, Kraven's target behaviors cannot be processed at this time. Instead, the focus of therapy is, in the short term, overcoming the client's fear of spiders and accepting Spider-Man as a human being, not the mystical "Spider." To this end, the writer is employing a mixture of cognitive-behavioral and immersion therapy. Once this is done, it is the opinion of the writer that Kraven's target behaviors can be confronted. At this time, it appears as though the client has experienced a breakthrough in goal #1 (overcoming arachnophobia). While only about half through the immersion therapy process, Kraven reported in session today that he is no longer afraid of spiders or, for that matter, "the Spider." As indicated by this statement, however, Kraven is still struggling with goal #2 (accepting Spider-Man as a human being). Additionally, there were times when Kraven would refer to himself as "the Spider." The client refused to elaborate when his attention was called to this fact and appeared otherwise lucid and oriented to time, place, and person.

The writer is also concerned with the client's presentation in session. After months of being ensnared in a major depressive episode, Kraven appeared almost jubilant. He smiled often and even attempted a joke, something none of the staff has witnessed to date. When asked, he would assert that his mood was "normal" and owed to his recent accomplishments. Similarly problematic was the client's attempts to give staff and this writer gifts. Kraven brought what he identified as his prize rhino horn into session. After graphically describing his week long hunt of the rhino and how he had slain the creature, the client indicated that he wanted the writer to have the horn. The writer resisted at which time the client became angry. A compromise was eventually worked out that the client could leave the horn in the writer's office but it would remain the client's and he would get it back when the therapeutic relationship ended. Staff reported similar incidents involving a polar bear skin rug, a stuffed adult male lion, and a mounted cheetah head. The sudden lift in mood and the giving away of formerly prized possessions is often associated with a plan for suicide in depressed clients. Therefore, it is recommended Kraven be placed under informal suicide watch and be checked in on via phone at least three times a day until his next session. This is the only available option as Kraven refused to voluntarily check himself into the hospital and there is not enough significant evidence to force an involuntary incarceration committal. The client returns next week for his regularly scheduled session. Tim Stevens is a Mental Health Supervisor currently pursuing his Psy D who has experience in dealing with individuals with PTSD and personality disorders. That next session, of course, never occurred, and you can find out why in the SPIDER-MAN: KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT collection or on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. The next chapter in the legacy of Kraven begins on July 9 in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #565.
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