By Tim Stevens
James "Bucky" Barnes is an adult male whose age is difficult to discern due to repeated periods spent in suspended animation. He claims, however, and S.H.I.E.L.D. files concur, that he was born in the mid 1920's. He is extremely physically fit and a single limb amputee. His amputated arm has been replaced by a cybernetic one that the writer has been told possesses "extensive" capabilities (those specific capabilities are classified) and thus he experiences none of the phantom pains typically associated with amputation.
In session, the client presents as thoughtful, if a bit closed off. He does not trust others easily, as he claims and as is demonstrated by his own behavior. However, it is also clear that the client very much would like to trust again and is at least attempting to build a therapeutic relationship with the writer.
The linchpin of Barnes' psychological distress comes from the period of his life he spent as the "Winter Soldier," a covert operative under the employ of the Soviet government in the wake of World War II. The client claims that he was brainwashed during this time and was unaware of his previous life. This state of being was apparently broken by something called the Cosmic Cube which Steve Rogers (also known as Captain America) used to "awaken" Barnes.
Unfortunately, the client did not lose the memories of the activities he participated in while under the influence of the foreign government. Instead, he remembers it all, a situation that has proven very difficult for him to reconcile. He can recognize the memories as his own, but the Winter Soldier is so far away from what he believes to be his own personality that it often seems like he has the memories of another human being in his head. So, Barnes has found himself both struggling to integrate those memories into his personal perception of himself and to deal with the guilt that those memories carry. While a full
assessment has not been carried out at this time, it is highly likely that the client is experiencing at least some of the symptoms of PTSD and probable that he either will develop the disorder without further counseling or already has.
Also of concern is whether or not prior triggers implanted by the Soviets are still active. The client has related a story to the writer in which a criminal under the employ of the Red Skull named Doctor Faustus used such a trigger to place Barnes in a paralytic, suggestible state. The client was able to overcome it, but not without much struggle. Had he not been aware of the danger posed by Faustus, and thus not been actively resistant, he is not sure what might have happened. As a therapist, the writer recognizes the possible implications of hypnosis, but is unfamiliar with it ever being carried out to this extreme. Thus, in this particular area, the writer is deferring to S.H.I.E.L.D., urging them to "deprogram" Barnes to both set his mind at ease and protect themselves from possible future attempts to turn him.
The writer is currently struggling with Barnes' relationship with Natalia Romanova, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent known as Black Widow. While she seems to be a positive influence on him as both a confidante and an example of one's ability to leave behind their past misdeeds, her role in his former life is disquieting. The positive gains from such a relationship must be weighed against the possible complications, as she represents a constant reminder of who he was and what he did while being the Winter Soldier. At this time, the writer does not feel he has enough insight into the client to properly derive an answer, but nonetheless feels the situation bears very close attention.
In the same way, Barnes' current role as the new Captain America is of interest. While following in his one-time mentor's footsteps and wearing a uniform that symbolizes patriotism would seem, on the surface, to be a great way to reconnect Barnes to his prior "American" life, it also exposes the client to very much the same elements and issues he was involved in as the Winter Soldier. Therefore, while it might reassure him that the Soldier persona was nothing by an implanted personality, it might also re-traumatize him or make him
feel as though violence is central to his identity, regardless of what country or side he might be representing. The writer is very aware of S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Anthony Stark's dedication to this particular approach, but still urges all involved to reconsider, at least until a full psychological evaluation can be performed.
For now, it is recommended that the client continue his weekly therapy sessions and continue to build his therapeutic relationship with the writer. No psychopharmalogical routine is recommended at this time and there is no discernible need for a psychiatric consultation. It is likely that within the next few sessions the client and the writer will agree upon at least two goals, at which time the provisional therapeutic plan will be revised and a more permanent one set in place.
Tim Stevens is a Mental Health Supervisor currently pursuing his Psy D who has experience in dealing with individuals with PTSD.
James Barnes' next appointment is scheduled for December 24 and will be performed by Doctors Ed Brubaker and Luke Ross. Their report can be located under the file name CAPTAIN AMERICA #45.
For more of Bucky as Captain America, visit Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.
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