Marvel’s X-Men: A Literary Archetype for the VR Counseling Field
In the 1960s, Stan Lee and Marvel Comics premiered X-Men. The book was an enthralling narrative of people born with congenital or genetic characteristics that made them different from the rest of society at large. These differences–sometimes extraordinary powers, sometimes extraordinary disabilities were accordingly a pivot leading to either stigma or privilege. The story revolves around two major characters in the book who embody those philosophies leading people with the x-gene to master their mutation into action of privilege or stigma. Although the X-MEN is a pulp fantasy of a hopeful, industrial, post War America, its fanciful and socially relevant themes provide a model of guidance and exploration upon the themes of biological condition, adaptive technology, the mind and human potential, rehabilitation of weaknesses into strengths and the advocacy and self-identity of the minority in face of adversity from the majority. The book provides a rich framework for exploring Rehabilitation Counseling and an analysis of the human condition.
The Biological Condition: Mutation, the Perspectival Pivot of Ability and Inability,
Both Professor X and Magneto recruit and scout mutants (X-Men 1963). Those in dire need and those with exceptional capacity. Of course they both carry out the same work of providing counsel in their two very different ways, but they have to deal with similar underlying issues. First the reality that the human societies from which they are coming are harsh, judgmental and even in some cases have sent them into destructive behavior and self-loathing. The X-Men universe features groups of people who are committed to hating mutants like the Friends of Humanity (FOH) or eugenicist oriented politicians and governmental leaders like Graydon Creed who are hell bent on government programs to eliminate mutants, seeing them as a threat to “normal” people (X-Men ).
Second, after freeing them from the doldrums of despair and self-esteem and self-efficacy deficits–sometimes impossible due to psychiatric complications like in the cases of Sabertooth’s psychopathy or Mystique’s personality disorders–Professor X and Magneto spend an immense amount of time in retraining them to hone their condition into strengths. The series is filled with great cases studies such as Wolverine who suffers from PTSD after governmental experimentation and special ops and has bouts of bloodthirsty violence in addition to total estrangement. Then there’s Storm who has bouts of claustrophobia. Or Jean Grey–the highest ranking psychic mind after Professor X–whose empathic ability is susceptible to bipolar mania. Or even the professor himself who had to master himself, suffering the schizophrenic ailments of hearing voices and navigating it to find his own.
Adaptive Technology: Prosthetic Functions from Bionics to Fashion.
One of the earmarks of comics have always been the gaudy costumes and outlandish codenames and dual identities of the characters. However we forget that many comics were published in a hyper-nationalized, racialized and militarized era of propaganda and espionage. And the reality of that era included real-life spies and public figures who often even changed their histories and names. In our era of non-compromising personal identities and absolute individualism, the importance of costume and its power is often misunderstood. Fitting into Narrative Psychological Theory and also the Dramaturgy Sociological Theory the idea of context and role are penultimate. A large part of the ritual is… “related to the idea of role enactment is the concept of identity. Social identity is an effect of role enactment (Sarbin & Allen, 1968). Identities are social productions that reflect the social definition of an individual’s reality (Weigert, 1986). An individual’s identity changes to adjust to each new social situation. Dress becomes the vehicle that announces one’s identity to others in the same way that a policeman’s uniform announces his identity (Stone, 1962). ” (Miller 808)
In other words, clothes visually communicate about the person to their environment. In addition the clothes involve a role to be played, almost like the participants of a West African masquerade. Costumes require an according action and illicit an according reaction. So in X-Men comics, the costumes and alter egos empower the characters to enter a modality to carry out their vocations, vocations which display their mastery of their disability. In one study findings saw that clothing affected the psychology of the wearer. In the study “the findings support the significance of costume in role enactment, since the largest percentage of respondents perceived Halloween as a success and believed that they could play different roles when wearing a Halloween costume (45%); see Table 4. This finding suggests support for the contention as presented by Stone (1962) and Goffman (1959) that people cannot leave their usual roles without leaving their usual dress.”(Miller 813)
The power of costume marks not just our culture and national identity but also our functions and specializations, as indicated by Earnst Harms article in the American Journal of Psychology, “the most important social influence on dress is what we may call the element of “costume.” In the entire realm of dress this element of costume is what gives the general inclusive stamp, while it has as its opposite the tendency toward the differentiation of social ranks… Costume also includes the national characteristics of dress as well as the peculiarities of professional groups, of soldiers, of political groups and organizations. And costume also includes fashion” (Harms 243) The dynamic costumes of say, Cyclop’s TBI/ vision impairment adaptive headgear, Rogue’s body contact insular jumpsuit, Gambit’s fingerless gloves, Wolverine’s claw release vents, or even Professor Xavier’s telekinetic hover chair illustrate the need of ergonomic, adaptation tailored technology away from generically produced adaptive technology. In addition for matters of vocation and professionalism the detail of what group the clothing binds or disassociates is an important consideration especially in job interview, application and retention.
While the market offers stock options it has been apparent that fitted technology, considerate of individual physiologies increases ability. Even in the case of veterans “…the personal nature of disabilities in that each one was different depending on the injury to the veteran’s body. This required a customized approach to the prescription and provision of the prosthetic devices to be used by the veteran. Artificial limbs, orthotics, wheelchairs and other prosthetic devices didn’t lend themselves to bulk low-bid volume contracts as prosthetic devices had to be fabricated on a one-on-one basis.” (Downs 54-55) One of the most vibrant and typical examples of prosthetic limbs in X-Men is the war veteran Forge who has a cybernetic leg and arm. As fantastic as the idea sounds, it is the conceptual basis that essentially makes “disability” a pivot from acute inability to acute ability. A real-life example is Aimee Mullins.
Aimee Mullins, an infant paraplegic amputee, grew up mastering adaptation in accordance to the development of technology. And incredibly the pivot of disability allowed her the development of ability that made her bionic. Her journey out from human frailty ironically put her on a path of becoming more than human in some of her life aspects. Interacting with children in a presentation helped her realize… “that the conversation with society has changed profoundly… no longer… about overcoming deficiency. It’s a conversation about augmentation. . about potential. A prosthetic limb doesn’t represent the need to replace loss anymore. It can stand as a symbol that wearers have the power to create whatever it is that they want to create in that space. So people society once considered disabled can now become the architects of their own identities and indeed continue to change those identities by designing their bodies from a place of empowerment. What is exciting is that by combining cutting-edge technology robotics, bionics – with the age-old poetry, we are moving closer to understanding our collective humanity. If we want to discover the full potential in our humanity, we need to celebrate those heartbreaking strengths and those glorious disabilities we all have. It is our humanity and all the potential within it that makes us beautiful.” (Mullins 55).
This viewpoint of a malleable human potential could only be expressed by someone like Aimee Mullins who experienced the debilitating restrictions of physiological limitations and the virtually limitless freedom of physiological augmentation. It’s a viewpoint that is the basis of X-Men lore and the congenital disability metaphor of the mutant x-gene. Essentially Aimee Mullins addresses that the empty space of where a human being’s function has gone absent or has been replaced by vacancy, in that vacancy a new function, vocation or ability can occupy, accentuate, and accelerate that individual, their constituency and their environment.
The Mind and Potential
The Counseling Styles of Magneto and Professor X
Often compared to Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X stand Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr (Max Eisenhardt). Better known as Professor X, Charles Xavier is born with a congenital condition of acute ESP that ironically manifested as a disabling condition in his youth. But as he resolved his difficulties with his condition, he realized his ability and mastered it into powers rather than debilitations. His political stance eventually solidified that as the series terms “mutant abilities” were not only a gift, but one that can serve to benefit humanity and “mutant-kind” mutually. Professor X grew up affluent and privileged and accommodated. On the converse is Magneto, Erik Lensher, his long-time colleague, yet political and philosophical opposite. Magneto’s stance is one of mutant supremacy. And although some mutations are debilitating, his view is that humanity is less advanced and mutants should have a more pivotal role in their own and civilization’s destiny. Magneto’s condition is a molecular structure that channels magnetic forces that he has mastered, effectively manipulating metal objects. His philosophy is harsh, yet an immediate result of surviving the Holocaust as a Jewish person.
The contrast between Magneto and Professor X border on the methods of Gestalt Theory versus Psychoanalytic theory. The notions of superiority of Magneto versus the notions of co-existence of Professor X mirror that of the Deaf community versus the hearing impaired. Within the range of people with disabilities the acknowledgement of in-group and outgroup cultural differences determines the cooperation we can achieve in helping solve one another’s problems. It essentially is the equation of accommodation and the the realization that ability and inability are a spectrum in which disability is merely the downward lever for an often unacknowledged upward lever of pure ability or power.
Onslaught & Countertransference
Onslaught, X-Man #15 (May 1996) A very well written story arch that looks a countertransference manifestation that affect the Marvel universe called Onslaught–essentially a psychoprojection of Professor X’s unresolved transferences manifest in one catastrophic countertransference. The saga and it’s illustrations of interactions create a very detailed picture of a range of moods and brooding that illustrate the sarcasm, said doubt and general manipulative behavior that shouldn’t ever be the conduct of a counselor. But in the manifestation of the Onslaught countertransference monster, Professor X becomes unhinged, essentially affecting all of the characters in the Marvel Universe with which he interacted. The saga was quite powerful. And its an even more powerful metanarrative for deployment in counseling: 1) Believe in your clients doubtlessly.2) Don’t pick favorites nor evidence of favorability. 3) Share your thoughts on approach and technique openly and evenly. 4) Empower your clients to correct your miscouncil.
Effectively the saga ends with Onslaught defeated thanks to the teamwork of all the Marvel Universe but not without the expense of major characters from throughout. Bad practice in counseling technique is ultimately costly and perhaps ambiguous advice and ambiguous emotional relationships are much stable and handier in the long run.
Psychoanalysis and the Astral Plane
Although academia has gone the route of championing empirical evidence exclusively, the scholars of the ancient traditions that set the foundations of our institutions of knowledge were much less conclusive about reality and made much more space in the accommodation of not just doubt, but also faith. The Astral Plane (Strange 1963) is one of those ancient concepts rooted in Platonic and Greek philosophical history. In the early nineteen hundreds, when science was gaining popularity, there was still a populous and educated group of scholars involved in “mystery religions” that looked at old texts.
One prominent scholar of the era was GRS Mead, who brought up a few valid points on the pursuit of knowledge and the nature of skepticism in that era. As quoted in his booklet, The Subtle Body, a composition looking at the idea of our human psyhco-energetic body as perceived through various knowledge systems, he writes in the proem: “It is, however, the prevailing habit of the skeptical rationalism of the present day to dismiss summarily all such beliefs of antiquity as the baseless dreams of a pre-scientific age, and dump them all indiscriminately into the midden of exploded superstitions.” His notions, though dismissed by the proper sciences–sciences that eventually popularly pursued eugenicist notions, by the way–because of they’re theosophic nature, analyzed all data addressing concepts like mind and spirit and theology in order to understand whether “death”, “life”, “soul” and “resurrection” were ancient concepts that were literally about the body, or even more deeply, devices acknowledging the intellectual or spiritual mind.
He goes on to write of the subtle body, acknowledging several times in the text as a theory. He writes, “Now, in my opinion, it is precisely this leading notion of a subtle body, which for so many centuries has played the dominant role in the traditional psychology of both the East and the West, that is most deserving of being retried, reviewed and revised to serve as working hypothesis, to co-ordinate and explain a very large number of these puzzling psychical phenomena.” (Meade 1919). What we can see in X-Men lore and in other parts of the Marvel mythos is the utilization of the same idea of a notion of a subtle body, but of course writers have approached it in terms of astral projections and astral bodies upon an astral plane. Its curious how ancient scholars who created the format for which we pursue knowledge entertained such concepts, and that such those same concepts certainly have retained their place in today’s discussion.
The most long lasting quote that impressed me after reading the booklet by GRS Mead was his quote describing the scholarship of his era, giving me great insight on the context of academia at the turn of the century. He writes, “On all sides we are hearing of telepathy, telergy, clairvoyance, clairaudience, psychometry, mesmerism, hypnotism, suggestion and auto-suggestion, automatic writing, trance-phenomena, mediumship of every variety, multiple personality, exteriorisation of sensibility, psychical materialisation, communication with the departed, visions and rapts, dream-psychology, the psychology of the abnormal, with all its manifold complexities and well-nigh inexhaustible data, psycho-analysis, psychical research, psycho-therapeutics, mental and spiritual healing of every kind, and so on and so forth. The atmosphere is thick with rumors of psychism, spiritism, theosophy, occultism, Christian science, new thought, magic and mystery and mysticism of every grade. (Meade 1919)”
For those of us in counseling psychology, the idea of our industry along with “psycho-analysis, psychical research, psycho-therapeutics, mental and spiritual healing” as in the same arena as other listed is eye-opening. Though Freud produced a large amount of work, to the rationalists at the time, even psychology was on the same side of the spectrum of baseless, low-evidence science. So in X-Men as I grew up reading about the astral plane and Professor X’s pyschoanalytic interactions via his own subtle body with subtle bodies of others, I was experiencing an age old intellectual discussion where quantifiable science had dropped off into the realm of qualitative data and potential fantasy. But is it not fantasy that motivates people in the counseling field for the goal of helping? Mustn’t we have faith that human potential is limitless?
Cerebro & The Danger Room:
Counseling Outreach Assessment Leads, Biofeedback technology, Training Protocols.
One of the most dynamic fictional devices is Cerebro, a sort of thought processor. In the comic book it is used for tracking and assessing the potential of mutants according to a psychic resonance or signature that’s particular to each. Using old speak–brainwaves. Although the idea of such a device is far fetched, the evidence for the need of such psychometry is proven in the multitude of problematic encounters that are manifest in accommodating individuals with disabilities or any type of physiological, psychosocial difference. One of the obvious indicators are the continuous human rights struggles that occur everyday on the basis of sex, gender, race, social class, religion, etc. Those who have power often mis-gauge those who do not and behaviors of dominance, violence and marginalization befall those of minority status.
The myriad factors that influence the quality of another’s existence must have various ways of being measured and indicated so they can better receive accurate and consistent assistance. But in so many cases the assessment is cheap and minimal or expensive and excessive.
The most effective strategy is to create singular testing and training systems that serve as a singular myriad test that does one hundred things at one time or limited sittings. The Danger Room in X-Men comics–much like Star Trek’s concept of the Holodeck, a hologram grid room deck of their aircraft–is a simulation space engineered to imitate multiple scenarios. With modern technology, wall projections, touch screens, sensors, track cameras, air conditioning, etc, many of the simulations that we practice as counselors as role-plays, group therapies, one on one counseling, etc, can easily be transferred into computer programs and be administered in a manner that allows us better distance to be objective observers and adjusters of a client’s behavioral processes. Because experience is an invaluable method of education and rehabilitation, a VR simulation can allow for a thousand experiences in a only a thousand seconds. Like a video game allows unlimited chances to try and try again. However the video game industry stays distinctly segregated into entertainment away from underfunded and under-mentioned rehabilitation counseling programs.
There are rudimentary frameworks that can develop into ideas like Cerebro and the Danger Room such as a new device being implemented in New Jersey knows as TACT. The “Technology Assisted Classroom Teaching (TACT)” device was “developed by The Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Health (CNNH) in Voorhees, NJ, is a teacher-initiated remote behavior capture system with access to professional support and expertise. This technology utilizes a camera and a small computer to efficiently record target behaviors, both antecedents and consequences, and also acts as an aide in teaching new skills. Behavior and teaching can be viewed in real time over Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant Internet portals, or can be captured and reviewed at a later date by a behavior analyst or other clinician. Teachers control the device, and data can be collected as needed. Such an approach reduces any “reactance” effects or distractions of an extra observer being physically in the classroom, and is very cost efficient, as there are no travel or other expenses of having a behavioral consultant attend in the classroom—often when the target behavior does not occur. TACT will also allow the Behavior Analyst to take data on a daily basis and provide the necessary feedback fostering behavioral progress and success in the classroom. TACT technology is viewed confidentially and in compliance with laws and regulations.” (Pelicari 2010).
Technology can be used to observe an entire teaching group and allow teachers a more neutral role in assessing the development of pupils, giving them detailed attention, given testing criteria can curriculum are broadly measuring and without cultural bias.
The underlying ideas and mechanism that Cerebro and the Danger Room would have to involve an optical, analytical network in order to adapt and anticipate the developmental needs of the user. And similarly, in the comics, the Danger Room featured a separate observation and control room on the balcony of the floor above the VR simulation grounds.
Although the pedagogical deliveries are very manual, disintegrated and traditional, with the developments of video gaming and virtual reality, I would imagine the integration of VR simulation will be the way of the future. Marvel Comic’s X-MEN and their “danger room” and many others. Technology and improved graphics resolution provides many solutions and is already available evident in products like Google Glass, Sony VR headsets, and wall projected touch screen as manufactured by Panasonic like the ones I used teaching ESL in Japan. VR simulators to cover curricula of social and cultural interaction can improve the comprehension of civics and more, reducing the counseling hours necessitated and increasing the potential number of sessions clients need for Therapy.
There is easily available evidence that supports that digital simulations assist the learning development particularly of students with autism. Some digital assessment and treatment technology already in research and on the market include SMART-games on the Pluff platform, which produced test results that indicated it “Overall results suggest that Pluff is acceptable, usable, and enjoyable for higher functioning children with ASD and that the directions for operating the controller were easily understandable” (Gotsis 2015).
Another digital platform is Small Steps Big Skills which was reviewed in two studies, one in the Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and in the Journal in Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities. The platform was said to have very favorable results: “Findings from the beta version of the game showed that linking these elements is an effective way to teach skills, and results were published in two special education journals. The first study results published in Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities in December, 2009 showed three elementary aged students with autism mastered all three skills taught through a beta version of the video game and generalized the skills to their natural environment. In a second study published in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in June, 2010 results showed three middle school-aged students with intellectual disabilities increased the percentage of steps completed in the correct order after playing the game” (Anonymous 2011). Conclusively, platforms like Small Steps Big Skills utilize video modeling and the Pluff platform provides real-time empathy reading simulation without the need of constant counselor interaction for retraining purposes. Ultimately VR programs will grow initially from their scripted scenario basis, but as did table-top RPGs of the 70s and 80s , they too can eventually be tapped by computerized and three dimensional GUI technology as is standard in the highest end entertainment systems.
Mapping Vocational Potentials Far Beyond RIASEC
In addition to training protocols for those venturing into and back into the job force with developmental disabilities or after sustaining debilitating injury, assessment batteries are a pivotal tool in evaluating what training and accommodations they require. While the industry of our nation does have its modern assessment staples like Holland’s RIASEC types, Krumbolt’s associative learning theory, the ever popular Myers-Briggs quadri-variable personality codes, an important scholar whose work deserves more attention and analysis is Dr. William Marston. While the other theories are helpful in their analysis and measurement of interest, Marston developed a theory that focused on group power dynamic and personality type. Often the discrimination against individuals with disabilities is enacted not because the management comprehended the moral implications of their dehumanizing behavior, but especially from a more elementary bullying sort of dynamic rooted I the fact that “they can”. Marston’s DISC theory looks directly at this ability potentials aspect. The assessment “…based on the work of psychologist William Moulton Marston, PhD. 2 Marston was interested in how people felt, behaved, and interacted with the world around them. 2 The DISC method is easy to administer and interpret. This instrument helps determine the different personality types (ie, Dominant, Influencer, Steady, Conscientious) of each person in the workplace.” (Slowikowski 2005).
Although comic books–especially historically–seem like a sociological Dramaturgy therapeutic panacea for society, one of the biggest reasons we’ve only been able to embrace their messages in retrospect was thanks to the moral fundamentalism of a McCarthyist mogul of censorship, Dr. Wertham, who essentially attacked the medium as the root cause of unsavory behavior in youth, much like Tipper Gore’s attack on the rap and rock and roll industry during the eighties. The 1950s censorship of pulp publishing and comic books ended careers, debilitated industrial growth and essentially ended important social ties and therefore cultural developments. Although the stories were fanciful, graphic and provocative, creative culture is a transmuting of thoughts–like X-Men’s Cerebro, and even psychic so-to-speak. When person picks up a publication and comprehends it, there is a timeless transmission of thoughts, be they two days or two thousand years previous. A book co-authored delivers to its human reader a discussion and collaborative narrative. A memoir or work of abstraction can be an empathic device of delivering experience and emotion. But Dr. Wertham didn’t comprehend the psychological and psychotherapeutic importance of the creative mediums and to this day, academia suffers an intellectual deficiency without it… “A true arch-enemy of the form, Wertham’s critique of comics went beyond criminological concerns: Comics didn’t just pervert children, you see, but ruined their ability to appreciate fine literature and art later on in life. He argued that tales about Batman–not to mention Tales from the Crypt–were like heavily seasoned food that destroyed young aesthetic palates before they could be trained to appreciate delicate, refined fare. Shakespeare, he fretted, just couldn’t follow Superman.” (Gillespie 2001).
But dynamically—in the same era the medium was attacked—a highly educated and inventive Harvard graduate and inventor of the polygraph, Marston, championed pulp publications. In a particularly comic book context, if… “Wertham was the Lex Luthor of comics, hell-bent on their total annihilation, then William Moulton Marston was their Man of Steel, dedicated to championing their cause. Marston was a Harvard– trained psychologist who had a law degree to go along with his Ph.D. In the ’20s and ’30s, Marston was best known as a tireless advocate of the polygraph-he developed an early lie detector machine-and he lobbied unsuccessfully for its use in the courts.” Marston wrote Wonder Woman which initially was a comic book that explored feminist ideas, bondage themes and the dynamics of power-play, privilege and stigma.
Marston was obviously highly educated and understood his material as a conceptual free-space to find solutions for human issues. And in his intellectual acrobatics, not only did he come up with the polygraph, he also came up with an assessment theory called DISC, which unlike RIASEC, focuses squarely on power-dynamics of personality. Conclusively, though the 1940s and 50s were an era biased towards the WASP demographic, great minds like Marston’s have a lasting influence. The highly educated writers of that era simulated application of theories like Narrative therapy in their fiction in a sociological context. If career counseling and other industries are economic bodies of a macro-body we call “society”, the rehabilitation of it–in the Dramaturgy sociological theoretical framework that emphasizes role and performance–requires we approach its condition with Narrative Therapy, imparting Jungian Archetypes for its improvement. Science-fiction from Asimov to Bradbury to Verne has always done this and the intellectual cross-training of Academia and industry must maintain the tradition for any future to remain possible.
Mutant Eugenics, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Biodiversity
The Crux of Social Privilege- Stigma & Vitalness of Self-Advocacy
In a great article that addresses the inherent biases often held by those in places of privilege over those not–in this case those who hold the stigma of being physiologically different–the presumptions, anticipations and attitudes all expressed in our narratives serves as a very explicit indicator of the harmony or disharmony of our interaction. An excerpt that illustrated the value of the minority vs minority interaction of LD constituencies (the mother and child) versus the constituencies of pedagogy (the teachers and administrators) is epitomized by their narrative/ counter narrative.
“This dynamic, this narrative/counter narrative exchange, is similar to the dynamic that birthed the LD category. The early LD advocates described by Sleeter (1987) were responding to oppressive narratives that they felt would have devalued their children — narratives that would have stripped them of their intelligence, their emotional stability, and/or their affiliation with dominant cultural, narratives that would have associated their privileged white offspring with the children of the poor and the ethnically othered.” (Hale 2010). The frustration of this advocacy is the exact backdrop of X-Men comics and the Xaviers School for Gifted Youngsters. One character, Jubilation Lee, codenamed Jubilee has a mutation that affects electrical circuitry. Her own mastery the crux, uncontrolled and developing, her ability merely damaged every electric circuit with which she came in contact. But with mastery, she could produce explosive results. However, like all consumers of the VR counseling field, Charles Xavier first discovered her in a home setting with parents overwhelmed in dealing with the negative narrative of the public system that couldn’t help her and therefore stigmatized her. And in the tragedy of what makes X-Men, the professor intercepts her to his private boarding school, because her “normal” parents ultimately aimed for return to foster care. Although X-Men is an extreme case in the failure of advocacy and the system itself in serving physiological diversity of a population, it also highlights the amazing advance and potential that can be tapped via personalized learning programs and accommodations of learning styles and physical capacities.
Hale’s article goes on to address the strongly pedagogically rooted issues. The article acknowledges that… “the protagonist is always the social standing of a child and his parents. The antagonists are the ideological assumptions that underlie schooling and the perceptions and biases of those in the school community. The conflict is the struggle between competing views of the child, the antagonistic view being that the child is lazy or stupid and the parents’ being an affirmation of their child’s positive essence. The plot, driven by the central conflict, moves from incident to incident of difference, exposition, and shame until finally the parents, drawing on resources only available to the relatively privileged, enlist experts who wield the symbolic power of science to inoculate their child from criticisms and aspersions, while locating the cause of his difficulties within him. The dénouement involves a change of identity, from “normal” to disabled, from accused to excused. The whole process establishes a rationale to which the parents can cling in moments of doubt and conflict.” As though the pedagogy is unaware that they pursue a narrative in which the system wins and bankrupts the individuals of difference rather than tapping into the minefield of their potential. So accordingly in our field, our role as VR counselors is to serve as a Professor X and channel the ability of our clientele and consumers in order to make them heroic, in costume, in ability, in society.
The Dangers of Self-Loathing over the Human Condition and the “Survival of the Fittest” Myth to Rehabilitation
What is even more compelling in similarity to the comics is how the real-life diagnosis of LD was influenced by socially constructed notions of race. While in X-Men, there are obvious genetic and evolutionary influences on the fight for mutant advocacy, in real life the pseudo science of race essentially was used for eugenicist purposes against the disabled and minority. A perfect example is a book written most accordingly by the offspring of science fiction legend, HG Wells, Spencer Wells, entitled The Journey of Man, delves into the propagandic beginnings of the history of the “Survival of the Fittest” myth. The Journey of Man excerpts how eventually Herbert Spencer, rather than Darwin put forth the term initially. (Wells 11) “As we saw earlier, Darwin wa not a ‘hard’ racist… It was the philosopher Herbert Spencer, for instance, who actually coined the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’, and he used it to justify the social divisions inherent in late-nineteenth-century Britain in a series of widely read books and essays. If divisions within society could be explained by science, then surely differences between cultures had a similar cause.
Combined with the Victorian obsession with classification, this leap from ‘might makes right’ to a belief that these cultural differences must be definable using scientific methods encouraged the growth of the eugenics movement.” Herbert Spencer popularized eugenics, which eventually targeted the physiologically disabled and minority of society. As Spencer Wells explains, “”While eugenics began as a movement dedicated to social enlightenment, its aims were soon perverted, and by the 1910s and 20s it was being used in the United States as scientific justification for the forced sterilization of people believed to be mentally subnormal. It was also behind the mean-spirited implementation of racist immigration tests and quotas (in the 1920s desperately poor eastern European immigrants, most of whom were illiterate, were expected to arrive at Ellis Island in New York knowing how to read). The systematic extermination of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and other supposedly inferior groups by the Nazis in the 1940s had its scientific justification in the application of eugenic principles. Physical anthropology had jumped to the head of the queue in its race to prove ‘useful’.” (Wells 12). The terrorist and eugenic pursuits of Graydon Creed (Uncanny 1993), Bolivar Trask & the mutant hunting Sentinels (X-Men 1965) and The Friends of Humanity Uncanny (X-Men 1992) all parallel the reality of eugenics and the variety of government sanctioned human rights violations that ail our collective human history.
In the X-Universe the theme of predation upon that psychosocial self-loathing over biological worthiness and value recur again and again. In another situation, a core member of the X-Men born with wings reaches a regretful depression and finds himself taken advantage of by the genetic manipulator and megalomaniacal mutant named Apocalypse. Angel is brainwashed and further mutated into the genetic supremacist Archangel (X-Factor 1987). Again, a core member of the founding X-Men, Hank McCoy, codename Beast furthers his mutation in self-loathing pursuit of a “cure” (Amazing 1972).
The Vitalness of Advocacy for Self-Identity Preservation and Diversity in face of the Majority.
Human biology has always proven a need for biodiversity and the Bedouin of Negev, Israel are a perfect example. An article of The New York Times reported, “Bedouins do not carry more genetic mutations than the general population. But because so many marry relatives — some 65 percent of Bedouin in Israel’s Negev marry first or second cousins — they have a significantly higher chance of marrying someone who carries the same mutations, increasing the odds they will have children with genetic diseases, researchers say. Hundreds have been born with such diseases among the Negev Bedouin in the last decade.” (Kraft 2006). That similar pattern was occurrent in the political age of Western Church-states and also apparent in Japan’s imperial lineage. Just as Spencer Wells writings on human migration emphasize the need for biodiversity, as cross pollination occurs in the plant world, it also reigns true for human civilization.
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