By Tim Stevens
Macdonald "Mac" Gargan is an adult male who appears to be average to underweight. It is worth noting that this is a fairly recent development as photos and Gargan's own comments indicate he once had an above average, athletic physique. This is not an unusual response to bonding to the symbiote commonly referred to as "Venom" as previous host Eddie Brock similarly suffered loss of muscle and weight. However, at the time, it was assumed that this was due solely to Brock having developed cancer. Given that it has now occurred twice-and this time much more rapidly-this perspective on matters may need to be revised.
The client presentation varies wildly. At times, he is frightened and sickly. At others, he is arrogant and composed. At others still, he is so overwhelmed by hunger he seems to be unable to focus on anything else.
Referring to previous therapists' notes, it is clear that Gargan has undergone an extensive change in his personality. While always self-interested, greedy, and obsessed with J. Jonah Jameson, the client previously appeared capable of reasoning in most aspects of his life. He was capable of extensive planning and able to display empathy. These days, while his negative traits remain (such as the aforementioned obsession and a nagging need to prove himself), his positive ones have been nearly obliterated. During some moments, he appears aware of the effect that the symbiote has on him and reports fears about what it will do. However, those moments of lucidity are coming fewer and farther apart. His personality is increasingly sublimated by the never ceasing desires of "Venom."
This is not unexpected. As expressed previously by the writer while working with Venom's prior host, Brock, the effects of bonding with it are similar to those of a severe drug addiction. Personalities are altered, physiques undergo great changes and drives not specifically related to the drug (or symbiote, in this case) fall by the wayside. Life becomes about
It is also the opinion of this writer that it may be dangerous to the client's mental state to have him masquerading as Spider-Man as he has been bested by the street vigilante several times and feels inferior to the actual Spider-Man.
Therefore, as with any addict, it is the recommendation of this writer that the client become abstinent from the foreign substance. Gargan and the symbiote must be split. Following this, it is recommended that Gargan undergo a detox program and be removed, at least temporarily, from his duties with the Avengers and anything else that would remind him of his relationship with "Venom." The writer is willing to revisit the idea of the client serving with the Avengers at a later date, obviously under a different name and no longer reliant on the symbiote.
Additionally, Gargan should focus on his poor self-esteem and his continued obsession with Jameson in talk therapy. Until the client can let go of both negative schemas, he will be unable to help himself live a healthy, meaningful life.
Macdonald Gargan is set to return for his next appointment on August 26 with Doctors Brian Reed and Chris Bachalo. Please review the file DARK REIGN: THE SINISTER SPIDER-MAN #3 to fully understand the client.
Tim Stevens is a Mental Health Supervisor currently pursuing his Psy D. who has experience working with individuals with substance abuse and addiction issues.
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