Loki is an Asgardian god, and his daily schedule involves making evil plans on capturing the world and, occasionally, attempts to translate these plans into reality. Loki described his work as very stressful. He has complicated relationship with his family and problems with the US and Asgardian law. He also has a criminal record. Those who know him describe him as a nervous, tough, and untrustworthy person. While speaking, Loki prefers to present information in a jocose way, even if it is about something hard to speak about.
According to Loki, he has never applied for psychological help before. He denied any intake of drugs and described his usual consumption of alcohol as, “Not more than a common Asgardian god drinks.”
The patient’s complaints
Loki agreed to apply for mental help services after his brother managed to convince him that he needed professional help. It was quite hard for him to admit that he needed any help from another person. He started the dialog with speaking of a recent problem, i.e. his maniacal desire to govern the world and his alienation from other people. I asked him to demonstrate the way he usually talks to different people, including family, acquaintances or strangers. It turned out that he preferred mocking a person that he speaks to and avoided a serious tone in a conversation. Loki feels uncomfortable when his brother tried to be helpful, and when it comes to that, he immediately turns everything into an offensive joke. He does not have any friends or any person he could trust.
Loki told about the difficulties of his childhood; he claimed that it was a hard period for him. He had constantly been feeling second after his brother, Thor, who was faster, stronger, luckier than him, and had more attention from parents, particularly father, Odin, whom Loki was unsuccessfully trying to impress. The things Odin valued the most were physical strength and the ability to fight in battle, but Loki was not good at these things, and he was feeling like he was disappointing his father. He was good at magic, which made people not trust him and led to his alienation from others. Later Loki found out that he had been adopted, which made him even more jealous and suspicious of his (adopted) father. Loki mentioned that he sometimes feels anger and hatred toward both Odin and Thor.
Apart from that, Loki’s conflicts with Asgardian authorities and the Avengers led to several acts of his imprisonment on a supermax basis. This mode of imprisonment included solitary confinement, being isolated in a small cell, guards’ authority to punish him without any report, and no access to any activities. During and after the imprisonment Loki has been feeling anxiety, distrust, and suspicion toward those who tried to approach him. He told about his occasional anger attacks when he would break furniture and other objects and threaten people around him.
To get more information about Loki, I had to interview his brother, Thor. Thor told that in his childhood years Loki did not openly demonstrate any hatred to others, but looked isolated and often refused to communicate or play with other children. According to Thor, as a young adult Loki occasionally presented some moments of positive behavior, such as attempts to help others, sympathy, compassion, but then immediately switched back to his “evil” pattern.
The nature of illness
Zervas and Sherman’s study suggest that parental favoritism tends to lower significantly the self-esteem of the less-favored child (Zervas & Sherman, 1994, p. 32). Along with that, parental disapproval damages self-esteem as well, making a child feel useless and unworthy (Kernis, Brown & Brody, 2000, p. 244-245). As Masten and Garmezy claimed, the presence of traumatic events in childhood increases the probability of criminal behavior later in life (Masten & Garmezy, 1985, p. 3). It can be therefore assumed that Loki’s troubled childhood eventually caused problems in his social life as an adult, which led to his imprisonment. Any form of incarceration, and especially the supermax one, is known to produce hard psychological effects. According to Haney, being incarcerated in supermax penitentiary facilities is more likely to cause harsh psychological impact than being in a regular prison, and often leads to such consequences as anxiety, panic, rage, loss of control, and many others (Haney, 2001, p. 130-131). Social withdrawal, “fighting against the system,” and dreaming of revenge can also be among the effects of such incarceration (Haney, 2001, p. 140). Ex-inmates usually encounter significant problems in their social life after their release (Haney, 2003, p. 59).
I recommended antidepressants (fluoxetine) to help Loki deal with his sudden anger attacks and anxiety and to level his mood. However, I insisted that he consult with an Asgardian specialist before taking the medication, since its effect on an Asgardian may differ from the usual one. Cognitive behavioral therapy was also recommended for the anger disorder (Beck & Fernandez, 1998, p. 71). I suggested that Loki apply for prisoner-oriented rehabilitative services. He was resistant about the latter at first, so I had to convince him that there was nothing shameful about an ex-prisoner applying for help to those, who specialize on such cases, and then he agreed to apply. Finally, I advised him to communicate with his brother more often and engage in some interesting activities together.
Beck, R. & Fernandez, E. (1998). Cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of anger: a meta-analysis. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 22(1), 63-74.
Haney, C. (2001). Mental health issues in long-term solitary and “supermax” confinement. Crime & Delinquency, 49(1), 124-156.
Haney, C. (2003). The psychological impact of incarceration: implications for post-prison adjustment. In J. Travis & M. Waul (Eds.). Prisoners once removed: the impact of incarceration and re-entry on children, families, and communities (pp. 33-66). Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute Press.
Kernis, M.H., Brown, A.C. & Brody, G.H. (2000). Fragile self-esteem in children and its associations with perceived patterns of parent-child communication. Journal of Personality, 68(2), 225-252.
Masten, A. & Garmezy, N. (1985). Risk, vulnerability and protective factors in developmental psychopathology. In F. Lahey & A. Kazdin (Eds.). Advances in clinical child psychology (pp. 1-52). New York City, NY: Plenum.
Zervas, L.J. & Sherman, M.F. (1994). The relationship between perceived parental favoritism and self-esteem. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 155(1), 25-33.