Let's face it: half of our favorite stories wouldn't exist if the characters just went to therapy. The Trojan War would've lasted nine years, and Bruce Wayne would own a normal basement with a ping-pong table. Part of the reason so many stories resist therapy is that:
- mental illness has been unrecognized and stigmatized for a long time, therapy is viewed as for the weak, but also,
- how do you build conflict if therapy is supposedly a cure-all?
Anybody who has been to therapy can tell you: therapy is not easy. Nor is it perfect. Take for instance the segment from Cathy Park Hong's Minor Feelings in which she describes being ghosted by her therapist in a time of need. Or Emma Grove's miscommunications with her therapist in her graphic memoir The Third Person. Therapy is far from a cure-all—in fact, it might just lead you deeper down the rabbit hole. From utilizing therapy as a framework, conflict or simply including it as a facet of the character's life, the following books showcase characters who receive some kind of mental health care. Chemistry by Weike Wang Chemistry follows a Ph.D. student on the brink—her chemistry research is proving increasingly unsolvable, and she has no idea how to respond to her boyfriend Eric's marriage proposal. When years of repressed trauma come to a head, the narrator spirals into an unhinged breakdown, quitting her research and spending her days hiding and drinking. In the […]
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