By Tim Stevens
Eddie Brock presents as an emaciated adult male. His physical traits and pallor are consistent with his diagnosis of terminal cancer. The client speaks in hushed, labored tones and conveys, through body language, the physical and psychological discomfort he is constantly experienced. In conversation, he vacillates between thoughtful compliance, near crippling shame, and shocking moments of violent disagreement. Any discussion of the costumed vigilante Spider-Man, the serial killer Cletus Kasady, aka Carnage, or Brock's own past violent crimes, in particular, is almost guaranteed to elicit the latter two behaviors.
Currently, Brock is under supervision at our hospital due to his rapidly progressing cancer and has been ordered to undergo biweekly therapy sessions due to recent homicidal and suicidal actions and ongoing suicidal and homicidal ideation often paired with visual and auditory hallucinations of what the client refers to as "the symbiote."
Due to the unusual nature of Brock's criminal career as the super criminal known as Venom, diagnosing any disorders he may suffer from is particularly difficult. He identifies many of his behaviors as being the fault of the symbiote, an alien creature that apparently "bonded" to Brock some time ago and enabled him to perform his criminal and vigilante activities over the years. However, probing of Brock's emotions reveals that the crimes the symbiote committed did reflect Brock's own feelings. For instance, the symbiote was repeatedly involved in attacks on Spider-Man, someone Brock acknowledges that he does indeed hate. This is the case for several other incidents; with almost every violent crime the symbiote perpetrated, one is able to link it with a negative emotion Brock was experiencing.
Therefore, it is the approach of the writer to treat the client's relationship with this alien entity as similar to that of an addict and his substance of choice. The activities committed while under the influence may be rejected by the addict (or, in this case, Brock) as the fault of the substance, not themselves because they are "good people" or something similar. And it may well be true that under normal circumstances they would not have behaved in such a way. However, responsibility for
their actions still lies with them as their thoughts, feelings, and ideas did provide the basis for the event, regardless of other factors. The client, overall, expresses understanding of this concept, but often objects that it is "different" for him.
Part of the client's inability to accept responsibility is, in the opinion of the writer, tied into Brock's deep religious faith. He identifies himself as a Catholic and admits that his past actions have caused him deep guilt because of how they are looked upon by the doctrine of his religion. To relieve the guilt caused by this cognitive dissonance, Brock makes the symbiote responsible, thus, at least temporarily, freeing him from his shame.
There is significant evidence to suggest, however, that Brock had certain mental illness risk factors in his life prior to becoming Venom. Raised by a father who withheld affection of any kind, the client was driven to garner that absent positive attention through excelling in all areas of his life. His failure to achieve that connection with his father would color his interactions with others, forever leaving him to seek out attention and adoration from those around him. This would, of course, lead to Brock's public disgrace and the collapse of his journalistic career; the primary events that the client presents as his reason for bonding with the alien.
Also present in the pre-Venom Brock was a propensity for suicidality; his recent history of suicide, marked by at least three attempts over the past several months,
echoes thoughts of suicide that followed the dissolution of his career. Had he not encountered the symbiote that day that he did, it is more than likely he would have attempted suicide then or shortly after.
As such, it is the recommendation of the writer that Brock remain under one-to-one eyesight supervision and sharps restrictions. This should include any non-plastic silverware. While his room has already been swept once, it is recommended that staff continue to check for sharps every couple of days to ensure that the client has not snuck any contraband into his room. It should be noted that the client has contracted to not make any suicide attempts for the next month.
In order to deal with Brock's denial, the writer is currently attempting to persuade him to attend an Addicts Anonymous meeting. While Brock's "relationship" with the symbiote does not exactly match the addiction cycle, there is enough similarity that such meetings, especially given its faith in a higher power, would prove both helpful and appealing to Brock.
Finally, the writer is recommending that the client continue his medication regime to combat his depression, homicidal and suicidal ideations, and hallucinations.
Brock has an appointment scheduled with specialists Dan Slott and John Romita Jr. for August 20. The appointment can be found in the log book under AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #568: "New Ways to Die".
Tim Stevens is a Mental Health Supervisor currently pursuing his Psy D who has experience in dealing with individuals who suffer from co-occurring disorders (addiction and mental illness).
For more on the case history of Eddie Brock, visit Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!