From Dorks of Yore: The Punisher’s mental health is evaluated by respected pyschologist Dr. Larry Lewis.
Most people think The Punisher is motivated by revenge, but Dr. Lewis teaches us that it is something much more complex – something The Punisher himself probably doesn’t understand.
“Frank Castle witnesses the murder of his wife and two children in Central Park. The authorities do nothing. Frank becomes ‘The Punisher’ and goes on a lifelong vigilante killing spree. But what is really going on iside his head?
Issues of complicated grief and loss. I would say that’s the driving energy. No history of this behavior before; experiences a catastrophic loss that most of us never pull out of; finds a way to give meaning and value to his life where none was there. But as a result, will never fully grieve this loss because he can’t embrace the soft side of him.
You can’t quit smoking a little; you’ve got to quit smoking. You can’t grieve a little and get through a loss. Every time he kills someone, it’s his way of grieving, but it’s maladaptive. He feels a redemptive moment; he feels inside a kind of salve on the wound of that event. But in murder, the premise we operate under is ‘Once an act is done, it becomes a doable act.’ And that’s why you see the body count increasing, increasing, increasing – because he can’t get there. He’s like a crack addict or an alcoholic. ‘If I just have a fifth, that’ll be the bottom,’ and then you get to a fifth and then it’s two fifths, and the body builds this tolerance, and the only way he’s going to get where he wants to go is sobriety in that case. The only way he’s going to get where he needs to go is to stop the behavior and grieve.
But as a psychology professor once told me, ‘Leave the OCD people alone if they have an MD PhD and they’re in the basement doing hematology research. Because we don’t care that they’re not social; they might find the cure to blood cancer.’ I don’t care that he’s not going to grieve, he’s doing society a favor. He’s eliminating something in a way that can’t be talked about, that can’t be condoned. Everybody in right polite society circles will say ‘He needs to let the authoriteis handle it,’ but we know, we all feel ‘Bullshit. He’s doing what’s right.’ In the back of all our minds, we’re glad he’s doing it. We want higher body count, but we can’t acknowledge it ourselves because it’s mean, it’s wrong”