Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 364

"The story of Clark Kent is by now well-known, though my access to his psychological records give me perhaps greater insight than the newspaper stories might allow. Mr. Kent has spent the better part of the last year bouncing around the country from facility to facility, but I have high hopes that San Haven Asylum will be the end of his journey. The relative remoteness (Dunseith, ND, is the closest town, still some miles away) is why I requested his transfer to this facility. Isolating Kent from the subjects of his delusions and his enablers may be the change he needs to finally cure this disorder.

"Even with his case files, the genesis of Mr. Kent's psychosis is unclear. He is certainly a paranoid schizophrenic, but the narrative that underscores his delusions developed in his childhood, well before any likely onset of schizophrenia. Then again, if one listens to Mr. Kent, he is a very unlikely individual.

"The core of his personal narrative is a grandiose delusion, specifically that he possesses special powers and abilities beyond those of mere mortals, that he is an exalted character called "Super-Man." This originated in Kent's childhood, first with stories about feats of strength or speed that his parents dismissed as normal pretend play. Some of Kent's previous therapists would put the onset of hallucinations in the same period; Kent's parents recall that he claimed to be able to hear voices and sounds with "super-hearing" and see through solid objects with "X-Ray Vision." It was not long afterward that he began telling stories about imaginary friends (again, initially dismissed as normal play by his parents), children from the "future" who also had special abilities and thought of young Kent as a great hero.

"Sometime in late adolescence or early adulthood, Kent's grandiose delusion grew more detailed, and other symptoms began to develop. Not only was he a veritable god among men and a predestined hero, but he was the sole survivor of an advanced alien race, secretly adopted by his "foster" parents, to protect him from the government and from alien "man-hunters" who would have exploited or dissected him. This seems to be the earliest of Kent's persecutory delusions. The details here are clearly less developed than other aspects of the narrative: sometimes he came to Earth as an infant, other times as an embryo in a technological womb; sometimes his alien parents chose Earth intentionally, other times his survival was a lucky shot in the dark. The inconsistencies suggest that this is a later part of the delusion, one that he has not thoroughly considered.

"It is at this time that Mr. Kent began to incorporate real-world figures into his delusion, claiming at various points that he knew and befriended billionaire Lex Luthor. This relationship eventually soured in some way (another inconsistency in Kent's stories), leading Luthor to become Kent's--or rather, "Super-Man's"--"arch-enemy." This remains Kent's strongest and most prominent persecutory delusion, but he would incorporate other figures into the narrative in various ways, usually by suggesting that they lead double-lives. For instance, he claims that wealthy philanthropists Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen (along with scores of others, from police officers to test pilots) are actually costumed vigilantes.

"Kent moved to Metropolis sometime after graduating high school; though his delusions were well-developed by this point, his paranoid tendency toward secrecy prevented them from impacting his social skills too severely. The move away from home, however, seems to have been the breaking point. Kent's delusions consumed more and more of his life, driving him into solitude--with one exception. In Metropolis, Kent became aware of Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane, who became the subject of his primary erotomanic delusion. Kent stalked Lane, going so far as to put her in dangerous situations so that he could "rescue" her. This is what led to his infamy, as Lane published the entire debacle in her column.

"And that, of course, was what finally led to Kent's institutionalization. But his unique needs, his refusal to take medication, and his penchant for violent outbursts and escape attempts led to his frequent transfers.

But San Haven will be his last stop; I will see to that much. If I can't break Clark Kent of his dangerous delusions, then I will make sure that he remains locked up here for the rest of his life."

--From the notes of Hugo Strange, MD.

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