Published May 9, 2017

Psych Ward: Ms. Marvel

In the midst of great upheaval, Kamala seeks solace.

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The client, Kamala Khan, presents as a girl in late adolescence in average physical health. She self-identifies as an Inhuman and has experienced the exposure to the Terrigen Mists and subsequent rebirth associated with Inhuman individuals. The client, however, did not grow up amongst Inhumans and has largely not embraced their traditions. Her exposure to Terrigen was not the result of the sacred ceremony but rather the recent reckless spreading of the Mists by members of the Inhuman community who were seeking to either protect themselves or create a more dominant presence on the globe.

The client, nonetheless, bears the Inhumans no ill will and, in fact, has generally been excited to receive powers through her exposure. As a lifelong fan of costumed crime fighters—she confesses one of her favorite creative outlets was writing fan fiction about the likes of the Avengers—she welcomed the abilities with generally open arms and adopted the name Ms. Marvel as an homage to her favorite hero who now operates under the title of Captain Marvel.

Additionally, the client indicates she received some level of self-validation from the experience. Long feeling just a step out of place with her more Americanized—and typically not religious—peers as well as her religiously observant Muslim family, finding out she was an Inhuman gave a frame to those feelings. Of course she felt different than most of the people in her life; she was different than them.

However, the past few months have brought a steady stream of challenges that have left her feelings toward her super powers decidedly more ambivalent.

For instance, the internal super hero conflict over an Inhuman who apparently had some capacity to see the future—although not always in clear ways—led to the client becoming disillusioned with Captain Marvel who came out as a fierce advocate for using the Inhuman’s visions to stop crimes and limit disasters. Khan, on the other hand, saw the potential for a wide range of abuses in the name of safety and, moreover, could not stomach Captain Marvel’s strong-arming of those that disagreed.

On a more personal level, a villain was recently able to find out Khan’s true identity, something that endangered her family and friends as well as herself. The fallout has done much to damage her friendship with Bruno Carrelli, who she often refers to as her best friend.

Ms. Marvel #19 cover by Nelson Blake II

The client’s life, however, has not been without positives. After being widely accepted by the super hero community, she has found a niche with a collection of teen super heroes that call themselves the Champions. Additionally, she has begun to act as a mentor for another young super hero—Moon Girl—an opportunity she has felt honored to receive.

Overall, the client is psychologically and physically helpful. She is, however, also an adolescent and an adolescent super hero at that which means that tumultuous times will be her norm for the near future, if not beyond.

In addition to defining herself beyond her previous idols, she must also define herself beyond the decisions of her parents including in ways that involve her cultural touchstones and religious beliefs. While Kamala seems to love both aspects of her life, she will not necessarily choose to live or worship in the exact same way as her family and coming to terms with that reality will be a process for all involved. Similarly, she will need to decide what her principles are and how strongly she needs to adhere to them to feel like she is being honest with herself and others

The business of being a crime fighter can breed cynicism and lead to significant trauma. It will be important over the course of the client working with this writer to give her a toolbox of skills to promote resilience. This does not mean she will necessarily never deal with depression, anxiety, trauma, or more but rather that when she does, she will have a set of skills that will aid her in limiting the scope of her symptoms and improving her recovery rate.

Given that the client is seeking longer term but less intensive therapy, it was determined that she would be better served by Doctors G. Willow Wilson and Marcos Failla. She will visit them for next session on June 14. Their progress notes will be available in file MS. MARVEL #19.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Staff Therapist remembers what it feels like to be adolescent. Perhaps remembers a bit too well considering how old he is turning this week.