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Psych Ward

Psych Ward: The Human Torch

A look back at the first android in the Marvel Universe!

Dear Sirs,

As was guessed, in reviewing my great grandfather, Thaddeus Ulysses Stevens' papers, I did discover copious papers--letters and journals and the like--that chronicled, amongst other things, his first encounter with the Jim Hammond who was, at the time, simply known as the Human Torch. I have included that letter, addressed to his second wife, below for your review and give permission for it to be included in the archives that you maintain about this momentous time and important historical figure.

The Human Torch by Marko Djurdjevic

Dearest Claudia,

Today, I looked upon man's future. I only wish you could have been here to witness it.

As you recall, I was called away last week without notice for what I was only told was an issue of "vital national interest" and, patriot that I am, I departed post-haste. It seems now that I was selected for my gifts in the area of psychiatry and "talk therapy" as Roosevelt trusts neither of those European dandies Freud or Jung. I was required because the United States, in its wisdom and forethought, had brought the future to us in advance. You see, my dear, we have created a, well I have no other way to say it: we have created a man of metal. An android, Dr. Horton tells us.

The stories of a person on fire raging through Brooklyn that we heard talk of? Not mere fantasy! Can you believe it?

However, this figure, this "Human Torch," is no monster. He is quite nearly human. When not ablaze, he looks very much like us. One rather uncouth chap even assured me that the Torch was "correct" from top to bottom, a matter I have little to no interest in, for certain. Still, fascinating, isn't it?

The Human Torch by Steve Epting

After a demonstration of his abilities--flight, the throwing of fire, the ability to alight portions of himself while keeping others dormant, and so on--each of us gathered intellectuals were given an hour or so to sit with the "android" and ply our craft on him. I went immediately after that dullard Alfred Schutz, so I am certain the Torch was relieved to speak to someone with a bit more pep in his step if you will. (You simply must keep this to yourself my love. Schutz is an insufferable bore, but he is also a friend with easily wounded spirits and I would hate for him to feel badly on account of my jibes, accurate though they may be).

The Human Torch proved a fascinating subject. While capable of an impressive range of emotions, he appeared to have no inner life. Without a childhood, he had not completed any stages of development. He seemed to lack any unconscious drives because he had no experiences to shape such drives. Additionally, he need not fear death nor, despite whatever anatomy he possesses, he has no erotic urge. He is utterly human and yet completely not. I was tempted to report him as though he were an infant, but even infants long for food, for comfort. He intellectually understood these things but had no bodily need to seek out or satiate them. He is both perfect and, though I would never tell Roosevelt this, utterly retched. A man without drives is a man without essence, without, dare I, a man of science, say, soul.

I came away from the experience deeply unnerved. I trust this Torch will be of great aid to us abroad, but I cannot help but feel as though we have become Pandora. We have opened the box and unleashed we know not what.

Yours always,


For the modern life of Jim Hammond, the Human Torch, please see the seminal volume on him, ALL-NEW-INVADERS #1 from Doctors James Robinson and Steven Pugh, available on January 22, 2014.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant and Psychology intern at a small(ish) university in New York City.



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