Published May 11, 2017

Psych Ward: Silver Surfer

Norrin Radd comes to therapy coping with a very human problem.

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As noted in previous session, while the client is most often known as The Silver Surfer, he is/was once Norrin Radd, a denizen of the planet Zenn-La. While he feels as though Radd was a previous form and not truly who he is, the clinic nonetheless notes him in his original designation. We do not wish to deny his current identity, but we also believe that his life as Radd, however in the past it may be, is part of what made the Surfer who he is and it should not be ignored.

Now, as in previous encounters, the client presents as deeply introspective as well as casually grandiose. He can be deeply unsettling to many as his mixture of largely affectless appearance and dissertations on the cosmic horrors of the universe is difficult to connect or engage with in ways that might feel meaningful.

That being acknowledged, this session found the client acting, to turn a phrase, in a far more human manner. He and his space faring companion, Dawn Greenwood—a human—recently returned to Earth to be present for the birth of her twin sister’s first child. While the duo encountered significant interference along the way, they did return very rapidly. However, what they came back to was not the exciting event they had anticipated.

Surfer, while no stranger to trauma, tragedy, or suffering, explained that he found himself at a loss as to how to help Dawn. She, he admitted, is his friend and may very well be the person he is closest to in all existence. And yet, he found himself utterly unable to meet her emotional needs at such an important moment.

As we explored his experience of the time since returning to Earth, he admitted that the Power Cosmic makes everything bigger and smaller at once. He can open himself up to the universe in such a way that nearly every feeling, every emotion, every sensation can be available for him to enjoy vicariously through another living being. He can find himself profoundly moved by the first steps of Shi’Ar and horrified by the actions of one Skrull might take against his brother.

And yet they feel so separate from him as well. The writer suggested it might be a bit like looking a friend’s slideshow of their vacation and seeing and appreciating all the sights, all the fun, but also being utterly unmoved by it and the client agreed. It was more clinical than experiential for him.

Silver Surfer and Dawn Greenwood by Mike Allred

Thus, when confronted, face to face, with raw true pain, he found himself adrift. While he watched his friend’s utter anguish, he felt confounded, overwhelmed, and distant all at once. This being he cared for more than perhaps anyone since the love of his life back when he was still Rann was in a state of emotional suffering. He possesses more power than nearly any creature on Earth. And still, all his ideas, all his plans to comfort her, felt utterly inadequate and incompetent in the face of her experience.

So he came to this writer to ask, simply, “What do I do?”

Alas, I had to tell him what I have to tell all kinds of clients—be they hero or villain, alien or human, super powered or standard issue, child or adult—every day. Some things are too big for us. Some things there are no answers for. Some pain cannot be spoken, or hugged, or joked away. Sometimes the only thing that can be done is to stand next to your friend, your spouse, your sibling, your loved one and say, “I’m here for you. As long as you need me, I’m here.”

The Surfer, for his part, found this response utterly unsatisfying; understandably so. I validated his experience of Greenwood’s pain and his experience of his frustration at my reply. I recommended a few books he may want to read. In the end, however, the client simply could not accept that what I offered could possibly be the “correct” answer.

I have therefore referred him to Doctors Dan Slott and Mike Allred who are experts in the field of grieving and support. The first session is scheduled for June 14 and the progress note will be found in file SILVER SURFER #12.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Staff Therapist is here for you. As long as you need him, he’s here for you, Power Cosmic or not.