The Psychology of Peter Parker (AKA The Spider-Man)

“I’m gonna lie close to the ground and continue being a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Keep helping the little guy.”          ―Peter Parker

PSYCHOLOGICAL REPORT

Name: Peter Benjamin Parker
Date of Birth:  March 10
Education: Some high school, still enrolled
Employment: Stark Internship (former)
Date of Initial Interview: 7/7/2017
Date of Report: 7/24/2017
Therapists: Brandon Saxton, M.S., Katie Gordon, Ph.D.

Presenting Problems
Peter Parker was referred for services by his aunt, May Parker. May reported having concerns because he was struggling at school, missing class, quitting extra-curricular activities, sneaking out at night, and losing his belongings. He was also fired from his internship and was being bullied at school. May claimed that she was worried that the combination of typical stress involved in being an adolescent, the loss of her husband and Peter’s other guardian, Ben Parker, and the loss of his Tony Stark internship were taking a toll on Peter.

Individuals Present
Peter felt that he did not need to come in for discuss his challenges today. May reported that she felt Peter was probably nervous, and suggested he bring along his best friend Ned Leeds who might be able to support Peter and help shed some light on what has been going on at school. May was in the session for the beginning of the interview. The remainder of the interview was conducted with Peter and Ned.

spider-man-homecoming-peter-and-ned

History of Presenting Problem
Peter denied any history of struggling in school or missing class. He reported that he has traditionally done well in school and his extra-curricular activities, but that recently he has had less time to keep up. Peter had been involved as an intern for Tony Stark (local entrepreneur, owner of Stark Industries, and Iron Man). Peter said that he had done his best, but it was not good enough, and he was consequently fired. Peter reports that this has impacted his mood and behavior, but prior to the internship, these behaviors were not present. Regarding the bully, Peter and Ned both reported that their fellow student, Flash Thompson, has always bullied them. Peter denied that it bothered him much.

Family History
Peter’s parents passed away when he was younger; his Aunt May and Uncle Ben were his guardians growing up. Peter then lost his Uncle Ben. Peter said he felt very close to his Aunt and that she is a wonderful role model for him. Peter describes his aunt as doing the best she can for him and he regrets causing her any additional stress with what he has been going through.

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Educational/Employment History
Peter is still enrolled in high school at the Midtown School of Science and Technology and does not know what he wants to do after high scho… OH WAIT! Peter’s friend Ned just reported that Mr. Parker is the SPIDER-MAN and his plan is to someday join THE AVENGERS (videos of the Spider-Man are present on YouTube). Note: We just reminded Mr. Parker about the rules of the office (no hitting, he attempted to hit Mr. Leeds after reporting that he is the Spider-Man) and the rules of confidentiality. After doing so, Mr. Parker confirmed that he is, in fact, the vigilante known as the Spider-Man. In fact, the Stark Internship was him being Spider-Man!

Psychiatric/Medical History
Peter denied any past emotional struggles aside from the expected grief he experienced following the death of his parents as well as his Uncle Ben. Beyond that, Peter stated that the only significant medical event in his life was a spider bite. The symptoms of the bite, which remain, include an almost spider-like physiology. This includes Peter being able to walk on walls, move very quickly, and be physically stronger and more durable than other people. He also possesses enhanced senses including keener eye sight and faster reflexes. And, irrelevant of the spider bite symptoms, Peter is also a gifted person. He is intelligent, quick-thinking, trilingual, and thoughtful.

Diagnostic Impressions
Although Peter is experiencing some social and school impairment, the cause is not related to any mental health concerns. However, we recommend that Peter is monitored to ensure that these kinds of symptoms to not develop in response to the experiences he will have as a superhero.

Treatment Recommendations
We strongly encouraged Peter against a life of vigilantism (even though we think superheroes are awesome, we can’t advocate an adolescent fighting crime illegally!) However, he insisted that he would continue. We used the remainder of the session brainstorming ideas ghat Peter could try to reduce the risk of being hurt or hurting others, falling behind on home, social, and school obligations while still maintaining his role as Spider-Man. We also insisted that Peter return for occasional check-up sessions to monitor the impact of crime-fighting stress.

homecoming

Status at Termination
At the end of the session, Peter seemed to understand the importance of balancing his life as Peter Parker and his life as Spider-Man. He also agreed to return to we could monitor he mental health and process any difficult experiences he faces as the Spider-Man. Ned seems like a good source of social support. In addition, Peter feels confident that he would have the support of Tony Stark if he truly needed it. This case will be updated as needed (i.e., check back after Infinity War!)

 THE GORDON/SAXTON TEST

Was the portrayal of mental illness accurate?
There was very little, if any, mental illness portrayed in Spider-Man: Homecoming. One character, at one point, uses the term “psychopath” to describe The Vulture. The character is not a therapist and is not using the term in the psychological sense.

Was the character struggling with mental health issues depicted with compassion?As stated above, as the movie does not portray any specific mental illness, but we feel that Peter is generally depicted with compassion. He is a resilient and good-hearted adolescent trying his best to make the world more positive.

Overall rating:
As the film does not portray any mental illness, we are instead going to simply rate it in terms of enjoyment. On a scale of Andrew Garfield (our least favorite) to Tom Holland (our most favorite), we rate this depiction of Spider-Man as Tom Holland! That is, we loved it! The film truly is a lot of fun. It is light-hearted, does not get bogged down in the details of an origin, and overall is just a solid action-comedy. We can’t recommend it enough!!

 

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