Psych Ward

Psych Ward: Alpha

Has the newest hero of the Marvel Universe grown up at all?

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By Tim Stevens

Andrew Maguire, who tends to favor the nickname Andy, is an adolescent male who presents as in average physical fitness. However, given his exposure to so-called “Parker Particles,” Maguire is, in fact, capable of acts of great strength, energy expulsion, flight, and partial invulnerability.

This writer is seeing the client as an ongoing facet of his “treatment,” in cooperation with Horizon Labs and several state, federal, and international agencies. While staff and I have repeatedly objected to the coercive nature of this arrangement, our protests have fallen on deaf ears. At this time, we have, essentially, no choice but to see Maguire unless we wish to see him imprisoned for violating whatever agreement it was that he and his family made with those various agencies to ensure his (relative) freedom.

Maguire, for his part, seems very aware of the sanctions facing him. While he has made it clear he does not feel he needs therapy and does not expect to benefit from it, the client has cooperated, or at least appeared cooperative, throughout his sessions. He has been compliant in attending sessions and has diligently followed through on “homework” like journaling or chain analyses.

This writer would urge, however, that no one confuse compliance and cooperativeness with buy-in on the part of the client. Neither I, nor the staff, have observed a change in his interest in building this therapeutic relationship.

That said, Maguire has, at least a few times, utilized sessions to discuss, in an honest manner, his emotions and how he was feeling about the large transitions he was going through.

Chief amongst these has been the dissolution of his parents’ marriage, a move into a new, less urban, town and school, and “recovering” from his brief time as the teen super hero known as Alpha. With the first two issues, he presents with fairly typical adjustment difficulties: dealing with having two houses, neither of which feel like home yet, lacking easy access to one of his parents depending what day it is on the visitation schedule, finding a healthy group of friends, and learning the rhythms of a new school.

The super hero piece is obviously different, but it does share many features with other “loss of identity” situations one might encounter: an injury ending a student athlete’s career, a valedictorian encountering peers as smart as or even smarter than themselves for the first time, and so on.

More recently, however, the client has become fixated on one situation in particular, which he insists is a hypothetical. In two sessions now, he has raised the idea of hurting or killing someone by accident. His demeanor visibly changes while raising this topic and he becomes more agitated with questions from this writer while the hypothetical is being discussed. While he has repeatedly denied it has anything to do with anything he’s done, this writer cannot help but doubt the sincerity of his statements on the matter. For now, however, all we can do is observe the client, offer nonjudgmental support, and hope he becomes comfortable enough to disclose what event has inspired these concerns in him.

Andrew Maguire just met with Doctors Fialkov and Plati on April 10. Full details are available in file ALPHA: BIG TIME #3. Maguire’s next appointment is scheduled for May 8. Please see ALPHA: BIG TIME #4 on that date for session notes.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens, MA is a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant and Practicum Trainee who currently provides therapy and outreach at a state university.

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