Giving equal time to horrible therapists

by Cody Dolan on August 22, 2010 · 5 comments

in stigma,therapy

Last month we shared with you what I’m sure we can all agree is the ideal psychiatric environment: Strobe lights, thumping bass, Lil’ Jon imploring you to “get outta your mind,” a cheering crowd and a frank and open discussion on accepting who you are through the medium of dance all added up to a fantastic two-minute clip that’s no longer available because Fox doesn’t want people to get excited about the incorrectly punctuated So You Think You Can Dance. You can, however, find a very low-resolution copy here.

Today, we present you the other side of that coin, the side that’s all scratched up and ugly like Two Face’s coin in The Dark Knight:

I’m pretty sure no one would see a therapist if the sessions went like this. In fact, I’m pretty sure a few therapists like this would kill the industry.

Aside from the obvious, there’s a lot wrong with this GEICO commercial. A quick rundown:

  • No one goes to the trouble of finding a therapist, scheduling a visit, clearing it with the insurance company, working up the courage to admit they need help and actually going to the appointment to talk about the color yellow.
  • I’ve been in a few psychiatrists’ offices, and I have yet to see a couch/recliner like that.
  • It’s a little dark in there, no?
  • What, exactly, is a “jackwagon,” and why is it a bad thing?

    Of course, absolutely none of these issues stop the commercial from being hilarious. R. Lee Ermey is a national treasure. I laugh every time he tosses the tissues away in disgust.

    But I’m curious what you think. Is this commercial harmless fun, or does it contribute to the stigmatization of mental illness?

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    { 5 comments… read them below or add one }

    missbelle May 28, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Therapists can be contemptuous, confrontational and particularly arrogant. And if you don’t like it, they argue you’re complaining because you haven’t forgiven your parents. Nothing happens in their schooling that magically bathes therapists with mental health.

    Clint August 26, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    As someone who frequented a therapist for a few years, I had no problem with it, particularly since GEICO is known for such parody. Plus, I think it meant to touch on the fact that we have grown a wee bit more sensitive as a society, so easily offended and hurt. The truth is this — there are plenty of people out there who desperately need therapy and are not receiving it, just as there are others who see therapists to get over issues that perhaps aren’t so severe. It’s no perfect science. Then again, what is?

    Louis August 26, 2010 at 11:05 am

    One would hope no one took this depiction seriously as it’s an obvious exaggeration. I love the Geico commercials as they’re always over the top, most recently the one involving the pig going “Weeeeee” all the way home; that one had my sides hurting. But back to your take, it does not at all contribute to the stigma. In fact, are you sure such a stigma still exists Dolan? Most people nowadays want to be in good physical AND mental health, so seeking a therapist or other qualified professionals seems to be the logical medium.

    Julie August 26, 2010 at 9:59 am

    I don’t believe anyone watching is going to think it is a realistic depiction of therapy, or be frightened by it. The whole point of the commercial is that you WOULDN’T have a drill sergeant as a therapist. I too find it very humorous and non offensive. I think if they used a more true/realistic tactic, like Rogers, and exaggerated it to make it funny, then it could be construed as offensive and off putting to potential patients (and therapists, for that matter). I thought it was done tastefully and it certainly made me laugh. :)

    SJ McKinley August 25, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    If you have been in therapy, the commercial is pretty funny because you know that is no where like a real therapists office or behavior. I laughed when i saw it. However, if you have never been in therapy but were thinking about it, this might make you put off your decision. No one wants to think when they talk honestly about their feelings they will be berated. That’s one major fear people who come to therapy have. Too bad they could not make something like Rogers “unconditional positive regard” seem funny. It sure would be less threatening.

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