The Orange Lantern Corps is a bit of a misnomer. There is only one Orange Lantern, and his name is Larfleeze. True, he does create corps members using his orange ring, but these are merely constructs of beings he has killed. They are not true partners or team members, and he does not have reciprocal relationships with them. Larfleeze is powered by the orange light of Avarice, and “Mine!” is his mantra. He desires to possess everything in the universe, and his junk piles attest to his efforts to realize this goal. Larfleeze is the only Orange Lantern, because Avarice will not allow more than one, so Larfleeze had to kill a comrade in order to become the sole possessor of the orange light.
Avarice is not an emotion I tend to deal with often at the clinic. Greed is not typically an issue that drives people into therapy, nor is it on the short-list of emotions that I help clients to identify and recognize within themselves. Perhaps this is because greed is so common in our materialistic and consumer-driven culture that we find it acceptable and do not even see it as problematic. True, kleptomania is a diagnosis in the DSM, and I screen for problem gambling in my intakes. However, these have not been major areas of concern for the people I have worked with. On the other hand, jealousy and envy come up often, and these are emotions that I help clients to recognize and identify within themselves. Discontent and a feeling of unfairness appear consistently in therapeutic conversations. Financial issues and disagreements arise on a regular basis in my work. Sometimes these issues even enter the realm of entitlement.
Larfleeze could easily be written off as a selfish miser with no desire to share or give away from himself. His greed is insatiable, in part due to personality traits that were shaped in him throughout his life and in part due to the amplification of those personality traits by the orange ring that he possesses and that possesses him in return. His species has a long lifespan, and he is said to be billions of years old, which has given Avarice plenty of time to direct the course of his life and to reinforce itself within him. However, look closer, and Larfleeze is a much more empathetic character (a good reminder regarding to look below the surface when we have difficulty empathizing with others). He was kidnapped from his family at a young age and forced into slavery, where he learned cruelty and want from his owners. Those who have known neglect or loss sometimes store up whatever they can, due to experiences of not having enough in the past. Possessions can also serve as ways of holding onto stability in lives that have known chaos and change more often than not. A perceived threat or loss of these possessions can trigger reactions far beyond what onlookers might expect, based on what those possessions have come to represent.
The Orange Entity (the embodiment of Avarice), Ophidian, has many similarities to the serpent spoken of in the biblical book of Genesis, who promised the knowledge of good and evil, the ability to be like God. To be like God in this context means many things, including that we are in control, that we are our own masters, that we want for nothing. Ophidian offers the universe and ultimately delivers isolation and the empty pursuit of “just a little more!”
Larfleeze’s desire to be the sole proprietor of the universe belies his true desire. The Predator (the embodiment of the violet light of Love) recognized that Larfleeze’s true love is his family that he was separated from, and Adara (the embodiment of the blue light of Hope) interpreted his efforts toward owning everything as a way to fill the hole that the loss of his family had created. Adara revealed that Larfleeze’s family was still alive and missed him, and, at least for a brief moment, Larfleeze dared to hope that Adara was speaking the truth.
Sometimes our clients’ (and our own) goals and desires are masking what we truly want (and possibly need). Sometimes we lose ourselves in our pursuit of items, relationships, careers, respect, feelings, and more, because we cannot tolerate the hole we have inside of ourselves, a hole we might not even recognize (or want to recognize) is there. None of the pursuits I listed are inherently good or bad, though they can be distractions from our deepest longings. If so, even achieving such pursuits will not satisfy, leaving us frustrated and confused. Perhaps we have recognized the hole in our lives, but we have convinced ourselves that it is impossible to fill that hole with what we truly yearn for. Maybe Larfleeze had given up hope that his family was still alive, much less wanted him back. Sometimes the pursuit of lesser desires seems like the only option. Avarice might need to glimpse the Hope of one’s truest longings in order to be overcome.
Sometimes therapy involves insight into the deepest holes in our lives and what we are trying to fill them with. Lex Luthor was briefly deputized as an Orange Lantern, during which time he cathartically revealed that his ultimate desire was to be Superman, to which those around him replied, “We know.” (Sometimes others see our true desires better than we do ourselves, blinded as we can be by our own perspectives and our own defenses against being honest with ourselves). Sometimes therapy is a meaning-making process, focused on helping us to pursue what we most value. Sometimes Avarice points to something deeper and shows us what we truly want. Could its energy then be put to good use?
How often do you deal with Avarice in your work? What are the deepest longings in your clients’ lives? How do you help your clients see past the distractions to what is most meaningful to them? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Facebook page!