Friday, May 1, 2009

Please Get Some Help

Bizarro is brought to you today by Biker Chick.

I began consulting psychotherapists and counselors in my late twenties when I was beset with depression. I've always found therapy helpful in a crisis-by-crisis context, that is to say that I don't just go once a week for years on end no matter what is going on in my life, like Woody Allen or this pampered rich lady I know who actually just needs more attention for her trivial soap-opera-of-a-life than the public is willing to give her. I go when I'm having trouble with something specific like a breakup, a job change, etc., and continue until I've got a grip on it. That's how it works best for me.

My first therapist, the one treating me for depression all those years ago, taught me to monitor my feelings more closely, discern why I react a certain way to certain stimulus, and be more assertive in getting my own needs met. Then she died of cancer. I immediately sought the help of another therapist in dealing with my abandonment issues.

The most important thing about the process is to pick a therapist who is right for you. For those of you considering therapy for the first time, here are some tips about choosing one:

1. Once your therapist begins helping you help yourself, it is quite common to have very strong feelings for them. Some patients even believe they are in love. This is called "transference." For this reason, pick a therapist that you could not possibly imagine having sex with, no matter how drunk you were. If you're straight, pick someone of the same sex, if you're gay, choose someone of the opposite sex. If you've got "daddy issues," choose someone younger than you, etc. My current therapist is an avid fan of reality game shows, smells like damp Fritos, and dresses like a clown.

2.Therapy styles vary widely. Some offer advice and feedback, others sit silently for months and force you to do all the work, claiming the only way one can truly learn is to discover the answers for oneself. Choose the style that is right for you. If you are actually interested in solving your problems and moving on, someone who offers feedback might be best. If, on the other hand, you just want someone to listen to you whine, your friends and family have cut you off, and money is no object, the quiet kind may be just what the doctor ordered. My own opinion is that the quiet kind is little more than a very expensive bartender who serves no alcohol.

3. Run a background check on your therapist. If he or she has a record of extracting personal information from vulnerable people then posting it on a web site with hidden-camera videos of them using their tiny office bathroom, shy away. The legal case can drag on for years.

4. When speaking of your spouse, refrain from expressions like, "I want to kill her." They are required to report this to the authorities.

I hope you have found this list to be informative and that it helps you find help. If you're anything like me, you really need it.


Jenny said...

If I could just add - a lot of people don't recognize that it's okay to try out several different therapists when you're starting, to find someone you like and you perceive as liking you. The point of therapy is to find someone that's a good fit for you. Their feelings won't be hurt if you decide to go with someone else.

Anonymous said...

Happy May Day, Sry, Loyalty Day!!! funny post, as usual, on an experience that I admire you talking about, Mr. Piraro.

But what about people who are constantly haunted by the decisions they make or can't make on a day-to-day basis; those with serious phobias and all. They Gotta be like Woody Allen, I guess or just have some really really patient and supportive friends, I suppose. TC.

ur Fan,
Dee Sh

Karl said...

I really liked this cartoon. I laughed at the idea of the pirate not realizing the voices in his head were coming from the parrot. Very funny!

On a serious side, I don’t know if psychologists or psychiatrists can truly solve difficult relationship issues. Many people believe that therapists have “all the answers” and I’m not saying they can’t help, because they’ve studied human behavior and recommend what you should do, but that’s about it. Getting over the fear of something like spiders or heights is one thing, but relationships are a totally different field.

Relationships are harder to sort out, because you’re not just dealing with one perplexed person, you’re dealing with at least two, each with their own hopes, ideals, expectations, feelings of not being loved, jealousy, ego and so on. The only good thing to know is that no one is alone; everyone (whether they admit it or not) has relationship issues, and there aren’t enough therapists in the world to solve every problem. Both people in a relationship have to work hard to keep it going. If one takes it less seriously, then it’s not going to be successful. Just remember that in a relationship, it takes as many people to solve the problem as it does to create it.

John said...

This is a late post about yesterday's strip.

I agree that since you've been moderating the comments that things have been better, but the disadvantage to having to wait for comments to post makes it less of a conversation.

I told my wife about the Capt America cartoon and she asked me how you can use other charaters, isnt that copyright infringement...I answered based on my limited understanding of intellectual property's a parody, he's only doing it this one time, finally admitted that I DON'T KNOW. So, can you explain this legal issue in simple language?

Robert Finis said...


Lori said...

that's a very helpful list. i knew someone who developed a crush on her therapist, even though she didn't find him physically attractive. even intellectually knowing that it was transference, she was still distracted by the feelings. if i feel the need to go visit a therapist, i will definitely make sure to pick one that i cannot possibly be attracted to.

i have had therapists who were good, therapists who were bad, and therapists who were so-so. i've known other people who had the same therapist as me and thought the opposite thing from me. it really is a personal matter.

Anonymous said...

These are good points. I will quit choosing therapists b y picking the one with the biggest tits.

PIRARO said...

@ John...
You're exactly right. It is legal to use a copyrighted character if you are parodying that character. I couldn't get away with an entire comic strip about Captain America unless I changed his name and his look, but once in a while is fine.

doug nicodemus said...

funny i pick my therapist by the size of there nose..

Anonymous said...

funny thing though, Mr. Piraro... before you had written the post, I actually thought you wanted the cartoon to mean that sometimes instead of going to other people with your problems, it does better to take a good look around you. silly, huh?


ur Fan,
Dee Sh

Dave said...

Thanks for being both funny and personal. Reminds me to lighten up. Reminds me, too, that what I like best about my therapist is his big belly laugh and all the comic strips pinned to his bulletin board. I'll give him yours next time I check in.

Wisecrack said...

Who needs therapy when there is Prozac!!!!!

Nik Daum said...

That pirate has some stylish shoes.

Rosie said...

Dan, this is an excellent post. I really enjoyed your pointers on choosing a therapist. "Smells like damp Fritos" is a line that I'm going to have to shamelessly steal. Then again...we have a lot of dampness out here in the Aleutians. Cheers! --Rosie