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A comic by Michelle Au
August 4, 2004 1:21 PM   Subscribe

A cutely illustrated tale about working in a psychiatric hospital. Reminds me somewhat of the drawings of Drew and Natalie Dee.
posted by VanRoosta (34 comments total)

 
the drew and natalie dee siblings' links for ya.

great stuff, for people who like great stuff.
posted by lotsofno at 1:38 PM on August 4, 2004


Cute! Thanks.
posted by dobbs at 1:55 PM on August 4, 2004


Very cute indeed. I'm really enjoying this.
posted by Evstar at 2:12 PM on August 4, 2004


Non-so-cute, non-illustrated tales about living in a psychiatric hospital. WARNING: NOT CUTE. Contains harsh language and harsh behavior.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 2:13 PM on August 4, 2004


Sleeping in the day room? That crazy bastard!
posted by skallas at 2:41 PM on August 4, 2004


Fun link! Nice break in the day - thanks!
posted by jasper411 at 3:12 PM on August 4, 2004


Cute Loonies! Excellent
posted by dodgygeezer at 3:16 PM on August 4, 2004


Dunno. Am I the only one who sort of found this thing pretty insulting to mentally ill people? They're portrayed so simply, and in an unbelievable way. The dialogue, especially. Unbelievable and one-dimensional; it all seems made up. If it wasn't drawn so cutesy and harmless, I'd almost think she was making fun of these people. (and truthfully, making fun of mental illness is like making fun of cancer or any other terrifying internal problem) The whole thing reads like she went to the zoo or carnival, instead of like she had the opportunity to meet some off-level people and honestly communicate a story of spending time there. Which was my interest in reading it.

(pains through the rest of the story) The ending confirms this. It's kind of like a sorority girl forced to work a soup kitchen and going "ick!" around homeless people, or something.
posted by Peter H at 4:10 PM on August 4, 2004


Peter H is feeling sensitive today, so let's all give him our support during group.
posted by stonerose at 4:21 PM on August 4, 2004


Some other stories from the psychiatric ward.
posted by rafter at 4:25 PM on August 4, 2004


No, I had the same reaction as Peter H. I was hoping she'd be locked in there permanently.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:26 PM on August 4, 2004


I can see both sides of this: after taking my father to the psych ward last year (involuntarily) I thought I would completely lose my ability to understand that sort of humor -- but in fact it made me appreciate it more, simply because going through it was so horrible that I needed ANY excuse to laugh (i.e., release tension, fear and shame re:my father losing his marbles.)

However, I also know that "trench humor' rarely translates well outside of the milleu from whence it comes.
posted by ltracey at 4:50 PM on August 4, 2004


Peter H is feeling sensitive today, so let's all give him our support during group.

Can't we just put him in the 4-point restraints instead?

This girl is easily shocked. I see crazier people every day during my commute.
posted by jonmc at 5:08 PM on August 4, 2004


Peter H is feeling sensitive today, so let's all give him our support during group.

Quite genuinely, that made me laugh out loud.

And you're right too! I think I'm having my special monthly time or something. But I apologize for any drama.

.. (returns to sucking thumb and rocking back and forth, plotting manifesto responses!) ..

xo,Peter
posted by Peter H at 5:15 PM on August 4, 2004


I wasn't offended at all, especially after reading a few books that gave me some understanding of what medical school is like.

However, I also know that "trench humor' rarely translates well outside of the milleu from whence it comes.

Exactly. See it for what it is.
posted by letitrain at 5:18 PM on August 4, 2004


For what it is worth, I thought it was cute, and not really condescending.
posted by konolia at 5:53 PM on August 4, 2004


Quite genuinely, that made me laugh out loud. And you're right too! I think I'm having my special monthly time or something. But I apologize for any drama.

For what it's worth, that is what made me laugh out loud. :-)

Nothing like quality self-deprecation to make me giggle.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:32 PM on August 4, 2004


I thought these were great - and if she's presenting an overly simple portrait of crazy people, that's to be expected, since she wasn't planning on going into psych. Thanks for the link, I read all of her comics, and they were great.
posted by kavasa at 6:40 PM on August 4, 2004


i have mixed feelings about it ... i can understand the professional burnout or distance from the patients ... but i don't see anyone getting through their problems in that comic ... and you can't tell me that everyone who goes to a mental hospital is doomed for life

still, the last part was funny ... yeah, how would she convince them that she wasn't a patient?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:55 PM on August 4, 2004


(and truthfully, making fun of mental illness is like making fun of cancer or any other terrifying internal problem)

I agree with you Pete, but how should I explain my point of view....

Have you ever noticed a large number of EMT's smoke even though they are quite aware of the risk? They have full knowledge of the cancer ward but still suck on a fag during lunchbreak. It is a stress reliever to them, and gives them 10 minutes to walk away from the reality they are set in.

Reading the entire strip, it occured to me the level of stress she must have been going through. I did not find it unusual in the slightest to joke about these very serious issues, because the artist in real life must (assuming a lot of things here) have been under some pretty deep stress.

So yeah, in one perspective it is bullshit and inhumane. In another sense all humans are fallible by nature and have to blow steam to maintain.
posted by Keyser Soze at 6:59 PM on August 4, 2004


Being capable of making fun of it takes away its power. It is then that it can be treated as a visible problem, acknowledged and mocked and will-be-solved.

When you fear it, you're immobilized. When you make fun of it, you're empowered. You won't get it get you down, won't let it beat you.

knowhutimean?

and if you are capable of making fun of it, you will make fun of it. and that "expressing" scares people who are afraid of it: they don't approve
posted by five fresh fish at 8:33 PM on August 4, 2004


Okay, here's what I was trying to really say.

The dialogue and patients she portrays are like sitcom versions of mental illness. I don't want to go back and read it but every time a patient opens up their mouth they say these really unbelievable and made-for-tv comments. like "i want to kill you, blah blah" or "martians are putting teeth in my brain"

Sorry, but that's complete utter horseshit. I have no doubt that she might've spent time with mentally ill people, but one thing is absolute: if they don't trust you they don't talk to you. And if they do talk they are often medicated and really dull, not these babbling cartoons she's going for ... And 2) if they have serious problems [this is my main criticism] she doesn't have an ear for dialogue sensitive enough or even intelligent enough to communicate it well enough, so it sounds like she made the whole thing up based on some comic book about crazies written by a ten year old who thinks it'd be "really cool" to talk all this crazy shit. Based on this as a piece of reportage, I'm led to feel she isn't even in college, let alone medical school. The whole thing reads like a livejournal post with pictures.

It isn't my sensitivity to these kinds of issues, I'm actually in a pretty good mood right now. Honestly, here's an emoticon to prove it, :) heh/

It's just that she claims to have lived this event so I expect something to ring honestly. I think her story is a phoney one.

To continue the cancer metaphor. It feels like if she went to a cancer clinic and someone might say "you know this cancer is eating me away. chemo's terrible, etc" and her cartoon would have some smiley faced jackass going "Yucky, I feel gross!"

So, in honest truth - if she was able to report and remember what people actually said (or was able to catch the sound of what they said with respect for their privacy) then yes, I'd agree with all of you who say something to the effect of "we can laugh at it" — great examples of this are Cucoo's Nest or Girl Interrupted. Ya know? But this mocks its subject matter and doesn't even report it honestly. So I feel the need to criticize it — for the sheer argument that it was a priviledge of her's to walk in the halls and it's pretty irresponsible to make a version of it that seems more grounded in a special "go visit the crazies" episode of Charles in Charge than reality.

And if she's going into medicine, she should be more sensitive.

Is all I'm trying to say.
posted by Peter H at 9:07 PM on August 4, 2004


Oh.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:25 PM on August 4, 2004


Oh.

fff, well that stuff however is GREAT! Yes, that is honest and I dig it.

also not to be missed (nsfw or for established funny paper characters)

I guess it was the Cathy Guisewite form and style to this Michelle Au comic that set me off so much.
posted by Peter H at 9:33 PM on August 4, 2004


I should point out with pride and caution that the above link is full of extremely offensive comic book drawings.
posted by Peter H at 9:34 PM on August 4, 2004


No really, paranoid schizophrenics really do think they're rich and important - important enough for the CIA to be after them. Crazy people really do kill other people with axes. Some crazy people really do ramble on and on and on and on - hell, I've never even been in a mental hospital and I've seen that! And she was a med student, not a psychiatrist - she asked the questions she was told to ask, let people talk, whatever, and wrote it down. There's nothing here that says anything other than "stressed med student letting off steam". Or do you think she was lying about being forced to sterilize a god damn chair on her ob/gyn rotation?
posted by kavasa at 11:39 PM on August 4, 2004


if they don't trust you they don't talk to you.

You obviously know completely different crazy people than I do. If only there were a way to project an air of sufficient untrustworthiness to make them shut the hell up.
posted by majcher at 11:57 PM on August 4, 2004


Perfect example of why our medical training system in the U.S. leaves much to be desired.... Put someone with virtually no psychiatric training or supervision in with the patients who are in the most serious of pain grappling with the most serious of problems, and look at the fun that happens! She gets to keep regular 9-5 hours, is more relaxed, and the patients... Well, who cares about them?! They're just there for the doc's training.

Blah.
posted by docjohn at 4:33 AM on August 5, 2004


Based on this as a piece of reportage, I'm led to feel she isn't even in college, let alone medical school. The whole thing reads like a livejournal post with pictures.


Get over yourself.
posted by delmoi at 4:07 PM on August 5, 2004


"Get over yourself" reads like a livejournal post. By a fourteen year-old.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:16 PM on August 5, 2004


Get over yourself.

*LEAPS!*
posted by Peter H at 10:37 AM on August 6, 2004


—LANDS—
posted by Peter H at 10:38 AM on August 6, 2004


.
posted by Peter H at 10:38 AM on August 6, 2004


:)

Thanks for the thoughtful reply, delmoi!
posted by Peter H at 10:43 AM on August 6, 2004


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