By Tim Stevens
When I spoke to your class recently, there was a question asked at the end of the period that revolved around the idea of treating robots, androids, artificial beings and so on. Unfortunately due to other appointments, I was unable to answer the question in much depth. As a means of making up for that, I am forwarding you a portion of a paper I wrote early on in my own studies, revolving around the Avenger called The Vision. Hopefully it will serve to illuminate some of the points I glossed over at the time.
The subject, The Vision, has been identified as synthezoid, a specialized version of an android. As such, he appears able to accept a wider range of programming and, as a result, can also adapt and change in a manner that is more akin to a human being than a machine. He was created by the Avengers enemy Ultron to destroy the team but ultimately cast off this mission.
Initially, the subject was encoded with the memories of Simon Williams, better known as the Avenger Wonder Man, who was believed deceased at the time. It is believed that this choice created both Vision’s capacity for emotion and led to his being able to choose between his creator’s wishes—the elimination of the Avengers—and his own. This hypothesis has been given credence by recent events that resulted in the dismantling of The Vision. The Avengers were able to find and secure the subject’s pieces and he was successfully rebuilt. However, Williams refused to donate his brainwaves to the subject and thus far, Vision has shown no sign of previous capacity for emotions. While it could be argued that it may simply be a matter of time before he experiences feelings again, this period of latency is significantly longer than it took the subject to develop emotions initially.
Regardless of if this is merely temporary or a permanent state, the question remains of what it might mean for the subject’s mental stability. He has exhibited erratic behavior in the past, including being controlled by Ultron to the point that the subject rebuilt the villain a stronger body made of adamantium and attacked the Avengers; he also attempted to seize control of the world’s computers for the purpose of making things “safer.” In the first instance, emotions were what allowed Vision to be pulled back to being “himself” and stopping his attack on his teammates. In the latter, his emotions appear to have fueled and exacerbated his disorganized state. These incidents suggest the importance of Vision’s emotions to his overall state of mind, but do not clearly indicate whether they are largely helpful or dangerous.
Also unclear is how Vision’s relationships have been altered and will continue to be by his current state. Even if he is not directly a danger to the team by his actions, he may prove unable to be a reliable teammate and, certainly, an effective spouse to his wife, The Scarlet Witch. In this way, the subject may prove a negative element in the lives of others. Skills training for the subject, in much the same way one might work with an individual with Antisocial Personality Disorder, may prove effective in at least ensuring his ability to be responsive to the feelings and concerns of others by helping him to understand emotions and situations from an intellectual perspective.
Beyond skills training, this writer is at a loss to create a treatment plan for the subject. In time this may change, but for now, Vision appears to have no inner life or drives and therefore is not a particularly receptive candidate for psychotherapy.
Please refer those students interested in more information about Vision and his history to the periodical AVENGERS ORIGIN: VISION #1, prepared by Doctors Alec Francis Siegel and Kyle Higgins. It will be available for review on November 9.
Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens, MA is a Practicum Trainee at a Community Mental Health Facility and a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant.