Behind the Earth’s mightiest hero: a clinical case study on Marvel’s Tony Stark

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Character Overview:

Widely recognized for being one of the most prominent superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark, otherwise known as Iron Man, is the creator of a collection of high-power, engineered suits that provides him with superpowers to protect society. Although Tony Stark is the leading member of the Avengers team, as well as the CEO of Stark Industries, this fictional character suffers from various mental health difficulties, chief struggles being post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severe anxiety. As such, specifically evident in the film Iron Man 3, Tony’s presenting problem comprises of recurring panic attacks, insomnia, hypervigilance, and flashbacks, all which have persisted for a year since The Avengers (Feige & Black, 2013). The following material is an adaptation of a clinical assessment assignment in my graduate program. Given that these symptoms suggest debilitating mental distress, this case study will explore detailed biological, psychological, social and cultural factors to analyze this character’s presenting problem, and ensuing goal assessments and treatment suggestions will also be discussed. As this is a conceptualization, this case study will refer to Tony as a prospective client for therapeutic intervention, under the context of a hypothetical clinical assessment.  Continue reading →

Captain America: A Case Study in Veteran Mental Health

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Character Overview: 

Analyzing superhero Captain America, who wakes up 70 years past his time after crash-landing on a war mission, Steve Rogers’ mental health struggles to rediscover his place in society can arguably relate in numerous ways to military veterans across the country today, and their potential experiences returning from service.

Steve Rogers is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s heroic protagonist from Brooklyn during World War II. In Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Steve attempts to enlist in the U.S. military multiple times, consistently rejected because of his health problems and frail physique. These attempts catch the attention of an American organization, the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), who work to bring down the Nazi science division named HYDRA. Because of Steve’s morality and inner strength, he is selected for a top-secret Super Soldier program developed by Dr. Abraham Erskine and Howard Stark (The First Avenger, 2011). After gaining superhuman strength through the transformation, Steve becomes a war mascot, an American icon, and a key member in the fight against HYDRA. Known nationally as Captain America, Steve frees captured Allied POW’s and actively fights HYDRA in a variety of attacks (The First Avenger, 2011). Steve ultimately crashes into the Arctic during his final mission with the SSR in 1945, becoming frozen in ice and preserved for 70 years. He subsequently awakens as not only a surviving war veteran, but also as a soldier very much out of his time. This case study will analyze Steve’s recovery process throughout The Avengers (2012) and The Winter Soldier (2014), and speculate on the importance of recognizing similar struggles in military veterans today.  Continue reading →