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Some comics about mental illness by Darryl Cunningham.
June 12, 2009 9:39 PM   Subscribe

Some comics about mental illness by Darryl Cunningham. (via)
posted by MegoSteve (39 comments total) 79 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is simply phenomenal. Thank you.
posted by silby at 10:10 PM on June 12, 2009


wonderful.
posted by arnicae at 10:29 PM on June 12, 2009


People who can work in those conditions are heroes.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:50 PM on June 12, 2009


Sensitive treatment without being saccharin. Nice style, too.
posted by Xoebe at 10:51 PM on June 12, 2009


Based on my real life experiences (which I wouldn't wish on the worst person in the world), this alternately saddened, cheered and scared me. Raw truth. Not much I didn't already know (which is what scared me), but a lot that everybody should know.
posted by wendell at 10:52 PM on June 12, 2009


I liked them. But I thought it was a touch hypocritical to preach about the stigmas and prejudices the mentally-ill face and then poke fun at a feces-smearing nutjob.
posted by Ugh at 10:58 PM on June 12, 2009


Dunno what other people thought, but I didn't think he *was* poking fun at the 'feces-smearing nutjob'. Not in the slightest. Psych patients' relationship with bodily functions can be alternately funny and disgusting. He represents this, but I think it's a fair stretch to say that he poked fun at the patients.
posted by tim_in_oz at 11:10 PM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is very good. Thank you.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 11:11 PM on June 12, 2009


I didn't see any poking fun at a feces-smearing nutjob. I did see a lot of compassionate thought, though. Thanks for the links, MegoSteve.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 11:17 PM on June 12, 2009


Well, perhaps it was because I read them out of the order they are listed and finished "Dementia Ward" last. To me it went something like "Don't make fun of the mentally-ill. They are people with real feelings dealing with genuinely debilitating diseases and they very much deserve our respect. Now, let me tell you about the time this nutter ate a shit pie."
posted by Ugh at 11:21 PM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


These are very, very good. Mental illness (suicide, depression, drug abuse, PTSD) has run its way through my family (although the worst of it was two generations before me). It is sometimes impossible to try and talk with others about it because in many ways society wishes everyone with a mental illness would just go away. I'm convinced that if human civilization doesn't nuke itself into oblivion, we will look back on our treatment of the mentally ill with shame.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:26 PM on June 12, 2009


I understand why people make think this guy is turning this into spectacle. But unfortunately, this is the reality of mental illness. It is never pretty. For another fascinating, utterly depressing read, check out this Salon article: "Planet Autism" by Scott Sea
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:31 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good, but seemed a little.. I can't put my finger on it.

But good, slightly wordy but well written with good insight.
posted by Malice at 12:19 AM on June 13, 2009


This is truly beautiful, and portrays the agony of dealing with the mentally ill.

My mother is truly mentally ill. With good reason. She was abused, horrifically, during her childhood. And yet, as much as I understand that, it is very much the reason she and I will never have a real relationship. She was abused until she was 17 years old. And at 59, despite the fact that her life has been truly blessed for the last 42 years, she cannot move past her childhood.

I hate her for that. It's not fair, but it's true. She wants to make my life all about the fact that I didn't have to survive the evils that she did. There is nothing I can do to be thankful enough, in her mind. I spent my life providing confirmation that she must have been a good mother, because my childhood was better than hers. And unless I express unending gratitude that I didn't experience what she went through, I am a horrible, manipulating person who utterly lacks sympathy for her difficulties.

It has taken me years to realize that I cannot fix her history. That I am not responsible for the way that she lives and experiences her life now. And yet, as far as I've come, I feel awful even writing this much. I grew up thinking that if I were just good enough, if I were just thoughtful enough, if I were just, well, anything enough, I could make her life easy. But it's an illness. I can't fix it, nothing will be helped if I sacrifice myself. Except... I live haunted by the idea that maybe, maybe, just maybe, if I get it right this time, well, maybe she'll only hurt me, and not everyone else. And I'm used to it, right? No big deal, really, right?

And that's why I am so unbelivably, incredibly, unendingly thankful for the mental health professionals out there who can deal with people like my mother. And there is something intensely beautiful about these comics, which have the power to remind me not only to thank the people who take care of my mother, but also remind me that it's not my fault.
posted by amelioration at 12:33 AM on June 13, 2009 [25 favorites]


Spelled "affects" wrong.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 12:35 AM on June 13, 2009


This is one of the best things I've seen on the web in a long time.
posted by Nick Jordan at 12:57 AM on June 13, 2009


Jesus, PostIronyIsNotaMyth. I knew what I was in for with that autism article, but that was still weapons grade sad.
posted by Nomiconic at 1:09 AM on June 13, 2009


And at 59, despite the fact that her life has been truly blessed for the last 42 years, she cannot move past her childhood.

Do any of us?

Except... I live haunted by the idea that maybe, maybe, just maybe, if I get it right this time…

I think very, very few people move past their childhood. When push comes to shove, we all fall back to what we learned first.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:13 AM on June 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


The comic about personality disorders is disappointing as an attempt at psychoeducation.

He doesn't seem to understand the difference between personality disorders and anti-social personality disorder (ASPD).

He does depict someone with borderline personality disorder (BPD) as well, which is different from ASPD although they do overlap in some people, like the scary convict who cuts himself.

I am also sad to see someone say that "personality disorder sufferers are the patients nobody wants." Although bias against them exists, there certainly are clinicians who are willing to treat patients who have BPD. In fact, an entire type of therapy has been created specifically for use by these patients. Other personality disorders, I'm not sure.
posted by kathrineg at 3:48 AM on June 13, 2009


"In the brain there are naturally occurring substances called neurotransmitters."
"Will this rain ever stop?"
posted by debbie_ann at 4:52 AM on June 13, 2009


I liked them. But I thought it was a touch hypocritical to preach about the stigmas and prejudices the mentally-ill face and then poke fun at a feces-smearing nutjob.

False sense of equivalency. Speaking plainly and honestly about something != making fun of it.
posted by autodidact at 7:00 AM on June 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Substitute the words mentally ill with the word cancer. Substitute the words mentally ill with the word diabetes. Substitute the words mentally ill with the word Parkinsans...

The World needs more of this.
posted by captainsohler at 8:16 AM on June 13, 2009


After reading this, I can now picture my neurotransmitters as small white circles with snoring "zzz..." - s over them.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:31 AM on June 13, 2009


My dad, who has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, went into a secure nursing facility last month, so this was pretty electric for me. Additionally, I've suffered major depression at different times in my own life, although I've never been in-patient for any of it.

I got the impression that the four stories were conceived at different times and certainly weren't a cohesive whole. He was making different points in each one. I found them all compassionate. Nor did I see a misrepresentation of personality disorders, which are somewhat controversial in the field. This may be a more overt bias in Britain than in the US, as well:

Many — perhaps most — contemporary British psychiatrists seem not to regard personality disorders as illnesses. Certainly, it is commonplace for a diagnosis of personality disorder to be used to justify a decision not to admit someone to a psychiatric ward, or even to accept them for treatment — a practice that understandably puzzles and irritates the staff of accident and emergency departments, general practitioners and probation officers, who find themselves left to cope as best they can with extremely difficult, frustrating people without any psychiatric assistance.

It may also relate to relatively-recent changes in UK law that limited treatment.
posted by dhartung at 9:47 AM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am also sad to see someone say that "personality disorder sufferers are the patients nobody wants." Although bias against them exists, there certainly are clinicians who are willing to treat patients who have BPD.

I swear MeFi has a psychiatric disorder in which broad generalizations are always interpreted literally.

Obviously there are clinicians who are willing to treat BPD.

I thank the author of the comics for not treating his readers as morons. The comics would not have been improved by changing a succinct description of the general problem into panel-filling comprehensive disclaimer. It is, after all, a comic, not a peer-reviewed study.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:09 AM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Reading about mental health is a bit weird for me because I have visited crazy and I still live with a survivors mindset when it comes to the subject. My perspective comes from being admitted involuntarily to a mental health unit after a psychotic break. I lost my job, had a break up and I was self medicating when it caught up with me.

My patients view of mental health practice. The good, eating nutritional food five times a day and having a safe environment to sleep; the bad: the MHU is full of crazy people right when you need some sanity.

I do not think that putting everyone who has a mental health issue into the exactly the same place is a good idea. Would you put burns victims into the same ward as people with staph infections? No, of course not. We are still in the dark ages with this stuff.

I think this guys comics are cute, but his is a relatively kind look at the subject.
posted by vicx at 10:13 AM on June 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Yet many people still believe mental illness to be the result of failure of character and self-discipline."

This would be most of the U.S., where it's primarily handled as a criminal matter.
posted by crapmatic at 10:18 AM on June 13, 2009


I thank the author of the comics for not treating his readers as morons.

Really? You think being accurate is treating people like morons? To say that no one wants to treat patients with personality disorders is an amazingly broad generalization based on bad information. Yet there are many who believe it and he is perpetuating that. Parroting it doesn't do anyone any good and discourages people from getting help. I think he simply doesn't know better, considering the mistakes in the rest of the comic.
posted by kathrineg at 12:20 PM on June 13, 2009


kathrineg, don't assume that the surface meaning is what's meant. Humans use language in many ways.

Though I am now a bit tempted to write a story in which everyone says exactly what they mean, and every statement is factually correct.
posted by shetterly at 3:50 PM on June 13, 2009


Really? They do? I had no idea.
posted by kathrineg at 5:53 PM on June 13, 2009


These are really great. Thanks for posting them.
posted by wittgenstein at 6:26 PM on June 13, 2009


Superb.
posted by limon at 6:57 PM on June 13, 2009


kathrneg, what you seemed to be missing was that the comic treats its subjects with enormous compassion. Sometimes there's a tension between what's said and what's done. That's art. Acknowledging that the caregivers are human also is part of what makes the comic powerful. If it was about perfect beings being perfect all the time, no one would find it inspiring.
posted by shetterly at 7:35 PM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


> If it was about perfect beings being perfect all the time, no one would find it inspiring.

Well, yeah, then it would be MetaFilter.
posted by shadytrees at 7:47 PM on June 13, 2009


Interesting, though the depression comic felt a little like an ad for a new prescription antidepressant ("Will this rain ever stop?" *sun comes out as subtle as a cluehammer pounding into a clue-by-four*).
posted by Eideteker at 4:14 AM on June 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


heheh. Clue-by-four. Thanks for reinstating my cynicism against such powerful optimism :)
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:03 PM on June 14, 2009


These are great. Thanks so much for posting this.
posted by thisperon at 1:38 AM on June 15, 2009


Another strip posted yesterday.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:07 PM on June 16, 2009


I agree Eideteker. It annoys me that the first response to depression is always "pills!" instead of psychotherapy. It's always mentioned as an afterthought. I of course say this from reading much of David Burns's work, one of the pioneers of cognitive behavior therapy and a leading clinician and researcher, and someone who routinely disparages the over reliance on drugs as a first line of treatment.
posted by Defenestrator at 5:12 PM on June 20, 2009


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