Psych Ward

Psych Ward: Electro

Spider-Man's electrifying foe struggles with the reality that all the power in the world cannot make up for a lack of confidence.

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By Tim Stevens

Maxwell Dillon is an adult male, seemingly of average-to-above-average physical fitness. Best known under the criminal alias Electro, Dillon's body chemistry has been altered to the point that it can absorb and release electrical energy and perform a number of tasks with said energy, including flying and generating a protective electromagnetic bubble. While the client reports that there is no evidence that his powers are causing him internal physical harm, he does present with heavy scarification on his face and hands (and presumably elsewhere) which does seem to have been caused by his electrically-based abilities. The client has declined the writer's suggestion that he see a specialist to examine and diagnosis him, only saying that he "has it covered through another source."

 
The client is currently being sought in connection with several crimes, but has evaded capture, claiming that those that would put him back in jail are "too busy fighting themselves" and that he has friends in power these days that seem to be keeping him safe. He expresses no desire to turn himself in or to reform and due to doctor-patient confidentiality and a lack of future dangerousness reaching the standards set in Tarasoff, the writer can do nothing to aid the authorities in bringing Dillon in.

The client has a history of working with psychologists and psychiatrists, most often in a prison setting. Having reviewed his records, this therapist agrees, in general, with their assessments of Dillon. He is driven to crime by a Narcissistic Personality Disorder brought on, in large part, by the unhealthy relationship he forged with his mother in childhood. Abandoned by his father, her husband, the two looked to each other for solace and strength.

However, the mother, in an attempt to shield Dillon from further harm, often undercut the client's attempts at independence and left him without a clear sense of self. She repeatedly told him he was wonderful while simultaneously urging him away from risks, telling him that he was not intelligent or skilled enough to succeed. This pattern of interaction has been repeated throughout Dillon's life as he simultaneously became

 
feared as a powerful super villain and yet repeatedly experienced humiliation by vigilantes like Spider-Man who often belittle and mock his shortcomings.

He has therefore adapted a defensive or hyper-vigilant narcissism which drives him to prove himself in increasingly outlandish, spectacular, and dangerous ways. He has the ego to attempt these stunts, but is easily psychologically wounded and shamed by the mocking and physical harm these attempts are often met with.

It is the opinion of this writer that therapy will not be beneficial to the client until he can put aside his criminal endeavors for this very reason. As long as he chooses "Electro" over Maxwell Dillon, he will forever be perpetuating this defensive narcissistic cycle that finds him forever "proving" his superiority and ending up feeling increasingly worse about himself, driving him to "prove" it in an even more extensive manner, failing, and so on. The client has rejected this assessment and requested another therapist as a result. The writer has accepted this demand, although he is recommending to the client's future therapist that

 
a psychodynamic approach must be taken to help Dillon better understand how his relationship with his mother still fuels his successes and failures today and how it continues to place him in both physical and emotional danger.

Honoring his request, Maxwell Dillon has been referred to Doctors Fred Van Lente and Barry Kitson on November 11. Their perspective on his case history can be found in WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #3.

Tim Stevens is a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant and Doctoral Intern at a college counseling center currently pursuing his Psy D. who has experience with individuals dealing with personality disorders.

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