Barrison, Frances Louise (aka, Shriek)

Introduction

Frances Louise Barrison (aka, Sandra Deel) is a unique case to study. She is one of Spider-Man's few female enemies and is a mass murderer, making her a very unusual combination. While "Shriek" is in many ways an anomaly, there are a few patters that she does follow.

Much of what is known about Frances' past is only alluded to and she has repeatedly claimed to not remember her past. She has admitted to being overweight as a little girl, a fact that embarrassed her mother. Her mind had blocked out the various forms of abuse she endured by her parents, even though she still felt revolted by the suppressed memories. (Amazing Spider-Man #392)

At some point, Frances became a drug dealer in New York City and encountered the vigilante duo of Cloak and Dagger. During the riot known as "Maximum Carnage," Shriek again encountered the team and told Cloak that she had gained her sonic powers shortly before their previous encounter. He had used his "dark dimension" against her and she claimed that the experience drove her mad. (Cloak and Dagger both gained their powers from tainted drugs, so it is possible that Frances also gained her sonic abilities from such altered illegal drugs.) (Web of Spider-Man #101)

As "Maximum Carnage" took Manhattan by storm for a period of days, Barrison formed a sort of family unit with the other murderers, acting as their mother and her lover, Carnage, as their father. It was, not surprisingly, an unstable dynamic. Carnage beat Shriek for going on a killing spree without his permission as he tortured his hated enemy, Venom. Despite the violence, Barrison stayed loyal to her "husband." (Spider-Man #37)

After the riot was ended, the Carnage "family" members were sent back to prison. One year after "Maximum Carnage", Barrison was transferred to the new Ravencroft institution when she tried to break out, but Spider-Man had been on hand to oversee her transfer. The stress of handing a mass prison break took a toll on the wall crawler's temper and Shriek used her psychic "empathy" powers to re-charge her sonic blasts. (Her empathy powers allowed her to feed her sonic powers off of the psychic anguish of others.) Spidey defeated Shriek after he calmed himself, cutting off her fuel. Back in her cell, Frances congratulated herself on the near escape, as well as her increased ability to feed off of others pain. She enjoyed Spider-Man's pain and looked forward to tasting it again, even calling him her "new boy-toy." (Web of Spider-Man Annual #10)

Her second chance came soon enough, after she escaped from Ravencroft Asylum with her former "family" member, Malcolm McBride (aka, Carrion). Wholesale slaughter was averted because the duo focused on McBride's real mother, Beatrice. Shriek demanded that Carrion consider her to be his real mother, not Beatrice. Spider-Man arrived but was in a deadly angry emotional state after being betrayed by his former friend, Harry Osborn. She was quite happy to see the psychological change in her enemy and after he was briefly defeated she mused to herself, "Your darkness Spider-Man. I can feel it. Thicker--tastier than it was before. You're moving closer to my world all the time. I think, perhaps, if I give you a little push--you might be the father my boy needs. The husband who'll fulfill my every desire. I'd like that. And I think, with a little help from me--you'd like it too." (Amazing Spider-Man #391)

After she was taken back to Ravencroft, she stayed institutionalized for many years. Her new doctor was Dr. Tanis Nieves, who seemed to have made great progress with her treatment of Frances. She was much more docile and even had a fondness for her doctor. When her "son," Doppelganger, invaded her holding facility, Frances was initially worried that she would revert back to her murderous old ways without her doctors help. Her fears were well founded, as when the security team tried to kill Doppelganger, Shriek killed them. Reuniting with her "son," Shriek commented that she forgot how fun it was to use her powers. (Carnage #4) She soon reunited with Carnage outside of the facility, who had also just returned from a long exile. Shriek was eager to start a new massacre with her man, but he was more interested in continuing a fight with Spider-Man and Iron Man. In the meantime, Shriek occupied herself with her mind control abilities and attempted to start a new "Maximum Carnage style" riot. Doctor Nieves stopped her and Shriek ended up in a coma. (Carnage #5)

Psychopathology: Hybristophilia

Hybristophilia is a Greek term that comes from words that mean "to commit an outrage against someone" and "having a strong affinity/preference for." Hybristophiliacs are attracted to those that have committed outrages against other people. This is sometimes called "Bonnie and Clyde Syndrome."

There are two types of Hybristophilia: Type One (Passive) and Type Two (Aggressive). Type One individuals have no interest in taking part in their lovers crimes but instead seek to rehabilitate them. They often make excuses for why the object of their affection did the atrocity.

Type Two Hybristophiliacs have no intention of trying to rehabilitate their loved ones but rather want to join them in their crimes in hopes that the killer will return their love.

Little research has been done regarding this phenomenon but it is known that regardless of which type the individual falls under, they will likely end up in an abusive relationship.

From Abused Daughter to Abusive Mother: A Team Killer

There is a pattern in Barrison's behavior of trying to create a family dynamic with other killers. While Frances has been called a serial killer, she is more accurately a mass murderer. Female serial killers are extremely rare and female mass murderers are even more uncommon. However, when a woman does commit such crimes, she often falls into the category of a team killer.

FBI Special Agent Roy Hazelwood has conducted a study that explored the backgrounds of "team" killers. The women often come from homes with a history of physical abuse and inappropriateness. Hazelwood claims that when the woman is joined with her sadistic partner, her own personality becomes secondary to the goals and desires of the male killer.

Shriek is an anomaly in that regard, as she was already in prison for murder when she met Cletus Kasady. She often allowed him to get his way after the were free and was often reprimanded, sometimes violently, by Kasady if she tried to engage is murder without his permission. She was subservient to him, but not completely.

Drug Use and Traumatic Brain Injury

Frances has admitted to being a drug dealer in her past, suggesting that she may have also been a user at the same time. Many controlled substances can bring about personality changes and violent behavior if abused over time. As Shriek never explained which substances she abused, it is impossible to surmise how the drugs affected her.

Barrison claimed that being exposed to Cloak's void drove her insane. It is also impossible to determine how the Dark Dimension changed her.

However, we know that she had been physically abused as a young girl and possibly touched inappropriately by her parents. Studies have shown that unacceptable touching between an adult and child can have many negative long term affects on a person, but criminality is not frequently one of them.

Many people suffer from physical violence as children but not all of them go on to become violent themselves. Those that do go on to commit violent acts usually have several factors in common: having parents that use harsh or erratic discipline, living in an impoverished community that is rife with drugs, guns, and crime and being separated from the community.

The fact that Frances claims that she has no memory of her childhood suggests that she suffers from transference. Transference can be defined as "the redirection of feelings and desires (and especially of those unconsciously retained from childhood) toward a new object." Frances must have hated her parents for their abuse and she turned her rage on society as a whole. The fact that she seeks victims at random instead of parents suggests that others made her life a living hell and not just her family. She hates society in general, which makes her very different from a serial killer, whom hate specific people.

Conclusion

The childhood trauma, whatever it was, was "so profound, so shattering, that it redefines the word." (Amazing Spider-Man #390) From that point, she became a dealer and possibly an addict. At some point early in her life she formed several super-human abilities: from creating sonic blasts, to manipulating the emotions of others. Her encounter with the vigilante duo had an unclear affect on her, but she believes that it drove her insane. From that point forward, her goal in life has been mass murder and the spread of chaos. In several instances, she has worked as a team killer and committed murders with groups of other antisocial personalities. Therapy under Dr. Tanis Nieves was likely long and stressful for both therapist and patient but showed positive results. As long as Frances can stay away from those that tempt her back into a life of bloodshed, intense psychotherapy may be effective in giving her some resemblance of peace. That is, if she ever wakes up from her current coma.

Diagnosis

  • Axis I: Hybristophilia; Drug abuse.
  • Axis II: Anti social personality disorder.
  • Axis III: Skin chalk white; Blue scar/birthmark/tattoo over left eye. Various super-human abilities.
  • Axis IV: Extreme family abuse as a child; Attracted to highly dangerous men.
  • Axis V: 10-- Persistent danger of severely hurting self or others.