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 →

What can Gollum from The Lord of the Rings teach us about Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)?

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Character Overview:

Most commonly recognized as Gollum, Smeagol is a Hobbit who becomes corrupted by the One Ring, and slowly loses his self-identity while an ulterior, nefarious second personality develops. Though he is widely known as the creepy character bloodthirstily whispering the words “my precious”, Smeagol’s original character was a relatively ordinary Hobbit living in The Shire with his family. Gollum’s persona is particularly interesting throughout the Lord of the Rings trilogy, since initially this character does not even seem to be human, but rather a repulsive creature. This case study will explore Smeagol’s slow recovering of his past, his split personality between two opposing identities, and how his behaviors can relate to the prevalence of psychosis today. Continue reading →

Everything, Everything: Challenges in Providing Mental Health Care

Lately, I’ve been encountering some of the most emotionally challenging sessions at work. Everything that I learned about interpersonal relationships, everything about psychology–I’ve found that everything, everything, matters in shaping the therapist that I want to become. I was challenged beyond my own mental capabilities this week, and realized that I still have a long way to go before I can confidently provide the best mental health care possible. Until then, I still have everything to learn. This post is a reflection on thoughts from my current job, and the mental preparation I need while building a career in therapy.  Continue reading →

What can Marvel’s Loki teach us about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

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Character Overview:

Loki is the God of Mischief, adopted brother of Thor, and grows up as a prince of Asgard despite actually being a Frost Giant. As presumable through the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Loki is a troubled character who has had a difficult childhood, a lack of self identity, and a divorce from his birth culture. He is also a widely popular antagonist because of the underlying sense of goodness in him, despite his consistent tendencies of betraying those who trust him and being characteristically spontaneous. This case study will look into the psychological background behind Loki’s behaviors, and explore how his actions and tendencies affect maintaining healthy relationships and living a typical lifestyle.  Continue reading →

Comparing the LCSW, LMFT, LPCC, and Clinical Psychologist

mhaThe distinctions between LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist), LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), LPCC (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor) and Clinical Psychologist (PsyD, PhD) have kept me baffled for months before I began the graduate application process. Having graduated with a B.S. in Clinical Psychology, I knew that I wanted to practice therapy, but this variety of options were overwhelming in the ways they differed and aligned. In this brief post I’ll summarize my understanding of the different licenses, and why I selected the LCSW path.  Continue reading →