Psych Ward

Psych Ward: Mister Fantastic

Reed Richards sits down and admits that perhaps everything's not as good as his codename would suggest...

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By Tim Stevens

Doctor Reed Richards is an adult male perhaps better known as Mister Fantastic, one of the world's foremost scientific minds and the leader of the Fantastic Four. Due to his malleable abilities, it is difficult to discern what kind of physical shape he is in. However, one would expect given his lifestyle that he would be in above average health. In addition to leading the Fantastic Four, Richards sits on the boards of many academic and scientific foundations, is the active patent holder on several well-known products, and currently continues to be a leader in scientific discovery and invention.

In session, the client is well-spoken but prone to the use of jargon. He takes questions for clarification with patience, but is either too unaware or too unconcerned to alter his speech patterns to the intelligence level of this writer throughout the sessions. Additionally, the client is often

 
distracted, evident by his either being lost in his own thoughts and not paying attention to others or by what he's saying often going off in unrelated tangents. This typically occurs, according to Richards, when something said or done reminds him of a project he is currently tackling in his lab.

While the client seems amenable to the therapeutic process, he openly admits that it is his wife, Sue Richards (aka the Invisible Woman) who persuaded him to come in and that, left to his own devices he would not have made the same choice. However, "if it is important to Sue, than it is important to [him]."

Over the past few sessions what has become clear is that the client is deeply conflicted about his current life, to a degree that he is not entirely aware of. The past few years have proven to be particularly difficult on he and his family, and Richards has reacted in what seems to be his typical coping style: searching for solutions. He forgoes emotional expressions, including grief, anger, fear, and disappointment, to instead focus entirely on "solving" the problems. While certainly ambitious and respectable, doing this often alienates family members, especially his wife, and fails to take into account that sometimes problems

 
cannot be actively solved, but rather, must be endured and learned from.

What makes the past few years more difficult for the client than typical is that, unlike usual, many of his solutions have created more problems. Decisions like siding with the Registration Act during the media-dubbed Civil War, voting to eject Hulk from the planet Earth, and invading Latveria to establish a democratic government in place of Doctor Doom's monarchy have left he and his family open to criticism, vulnerable to violence, and have often stretched the fabric of their relationships to the breaking point. In response to these "failures," the client has not shrunk from challenges and re-evaluated his choices, but rather reached farther than ever. His current goal, as described by himself, is to "solve everything."

The current focus of therapy is to help the client manage his expectations in a realistic manner. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is being employed to dispute irrational beliefs, such as all problems can be solved

 
and that he, with his intellect, should be the one solving them. Additionally, the client is working on acknowledging and expressing his emotions to himself and to family members as well as taking the time to hear and observe what they might be feeling.

The writer has also recommended that the client seek couples therapy for he and his wife, at least, and possibly family or I/O therapy for the entire Fantastic Four team and its kin.

Dr. Reed Richards' next appointment will be with Doctors Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham on October 28. Please review file FANTASTIC FOUR #572 for further details.

Tim Stevens is a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant and Doctoral Intern at a college counseling center currently pursuing his Psy D. who has had experience working with individuals who have difficulty dealing with emotions.

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