Psych Ward

Psych Ward: The Human Torch

Johnny Storm has returned, but what effects did his death and resurrection have on the hothead of the FF?

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By Tim Stevens

Jonathan Storm, who has stated he prefers his nickname of Johnny, presents as an adult male of above average physical fitness. He has spent most of his adult life as the “Human Torch,” a costumed adventurer and member of the Fantastic Four alongside his sister (Susan Storm), his brother-in-law (Reed Richards), and family friend (Benjamin Grimm). 

Until very recently, Storm was missing in the Negative Zone and assumed dead. It turned out that the client had, in fact, survived the Zone, or rather was killed and resurrected several times. Given the vagaries of time in the Zone, Storm has a difficult time estimating how much time he spent alive versus “dead,” but according to Richards, it is likely that Storm was in the Zone for around two years. This does explain some of the (minor) signs of aging the client exhibits now in comparison to photos taken just before his disappearance.

Storm was urged by his family to attend sessions with this writer although he wished to make it clear he does not feel the need for therapy at this time. The writer assured the client that he did not have to attend any sessions at all as there appeared to be no compelling interest to force therapy on him. Storm accepted this news but insisted that he intended to follow his promise through the battery of assessments as his family requested. 

What the client has described thus far appears to be a situation rife for the development of Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as he was forced to fight others for the entertainment of the masses, was separated from his family, and experienced his own death repeatedly in the most physically traumatic sorts of ways. Even the “resurrection” process in and of itself sounds like torture from the client’s description of it.

However, he does not appear to be exhibiting any of the symptoms of either stress disorder. He describes no flashbacks or hallucinations, no difficult with getting to or staying asleep, no development of anhedonia, and so on. His final physical exam results have not yet been concluded, but initial reports indicate little to none of the changes to the way that brain works when exposed to traumatic situations for long periods of time. Overall, it would appear Storm is remarkably psychologically healthy despite what he endured. 

This is not to say that no changes at all are observable. Given the descriptions of others and the client’s own admittance, his time in the Zone made him more mature. Additionally, he has embraced his role as new leader of a coalition of Negative Zone soldiers with what seems to be calm, clearheaded, and decisive decision making.

While experiences of this nature can often lead to unhealthy, chronic psychological distress, there are always variations between individuals. In other words, it is not impossible to experience what the client has and survive psyche intact. If anything, the client seems almost too adjusted to what has occurred which may be a sign of a sort of emotional deadening or flattening. 

In either case, it is often advisable to air on the side of caution and, if the client is willing, arrange for some sort of short term check-in system to continue to monitor the client’s mood, well-being, and so on. Storm has preliminarily agreed to such an arrangement but has actively expressed doubts in its usefulness or necessity.

Jonathan Storm will complete his evaluation with Doctors Jonathan Hickman and Barry Kitson on January 25. All results will be available in file FANTASTIC FOUR #602. 

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens, MA is a Practicum Trainee at a community mental health facility and a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant who has experience working with individuals who have survived war and war like trauma.

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