Created By: StarValkyrie on August 30, 2012 Last Edited By: StarValkyrie on September 4, 2012
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All Therapists Are Muggles

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Sometimes, characters needs therapy to cope with what's happened to them, but the events they would need to talk about are part of some Big Secret that would sound delusional to outsiders. Unfortunately, there are no therapists that aren't outsiders.

To make matters worse, the character can’t or won’t creatively edit their story. Maybe to add insult to injury, the author finishes an adventure by winding back time so only this character remembers what happened or has them followed by a shadowy government agency charged with enforcing The Masquerade.

Not a single therapist in the world is "in the know".

You could try and get the help you need anyways but your Muggle therapist will probably get quite the wrong idea. Cue men in white coats wrestling you into a straight jacket.

You might even end up turning your therapist mad by revealing the secret or by covering it up again when you're done.

Options remaining: Go Ax-Crazy, Join The Dark Side, Die at your own hand or another's, Take the blue pill, be Killed to Uphold the Masquerade

Sister trope of There Are No Therapists. Compare with Cassandra Truth and You Have to Believe Me. May be caused by The Masquerade, The World Is Not Ready, or the Weirdness Censor.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Fakir and Rue from Princess Tutu could definitely use some therapy considering their issues, but they'd have to find a therapist who would be able to swallow the idea that part of their problems stem from being characters in a fairytale.

Fanworks
  • Lampshaded regularly in the Harry Potter fandom to explain why the many characters with serious issues and traumatic backgrounds can’t get therapy.
    • Oh God Not Again! mentions that Cho Chang only got better after years of therapy, and she needed to edit her story, because all therapists are Muggles.
  • Discussed in the Harry Potter fanfic "Reparations", Draco Malfoy is a therapist in the drug rehab wing of St Mungo's and argues that wizards have to have their own rehab because if wizards only had muggle therapists and groups, they would have to edit magic out of their accounts and that would sabotage the process and doom the patient to failure.
  • Lampshaded in the author's notes of Windows of the Soul, a Mai-HiME fanfic that deals with Shizuru's lingering guilt over her actions late in the series and the implications they have for her relationship with Natsuki.
    "Sometimes I wonder whether it would be easier if I just had Shizuru see a psychologist. The problem being, how does she say "I have a huge guilt complex over killing scores of people with my summoned demon named after the legendary Kiyohime" without being put in an asylum? Perhaps the First District has specialised psychologists. Oh, wait. She blew them up. That's what she's guilty about."

Comics
  • In Marvel Comics there is one non-Muggle psychologist (Doc Samson) who apparently every super in the world goes to with their problems. Except not lately, because he has been evil and/or dead.

Film
  • The psychiatrist consulted in The Mask doesn't believe that the mask could have any supernatural properties.
  • In the Film of the Book The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Peter and his siblings lived into adulthood in Narnia, a magical land inside a wardrobe, and now are stuck in a world that treats them as children so despite having problems like getting into fights and struggling to relate to other people, trying to explain those issues to a [[Muggle]] therapist would probably get them sectioned.
  • Inverted in Blade 3: a famous psychologist goes on record on TV that Blade is crazy... only for it to be revealed he's a Familiar to the ruling vampires (basically their stooge).
  • Played straight and subverted in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, in that one of the therapists trying to help the Freddy-plagued kids is actually willing to admit the possibility they and Nancy are faced with a supernatural threat. The other, unfortunately, assumes they're delusional and has one of them sedated: the worst possible outcome of this trope, under the circumstances.
    • Inverted in Freddy vs. Jason: the mental-hospital staff in Springwood know damn well that Freddy is for real, and use Hypnocil and fraudulent institutionalization of witnesses to ensure that Freddy's potential victims remain Muggles. That way, the dream-stalking killer can't gain strength from their fear.
  • The police psychiatrist in Terminator and the hospital administrator in Terminator 2 aren't for one moment going to take stories of time-traveling killer cyborgs seriously.

Literature
  • In Twilight, when Bella's erratic behavior after Edward leaves her borders on clinical depression, Charlie tried to get Bella to see a therapist. She refused, claiming that she couldn't tell a therapist about how the Cullens were vampires and she’d decided that therapy wouldn't work if she wasn't 100% truthful.
  • Animorphs: The need for secrecy prevents any of the characters in this from seeking help, but the psychological ramifications of being in the sort of fight they're in are explored. The Animorphs have very interesting nightmares, and will do so for the rest of their lives. Cassie tries to act as a sort-of therapeutic substitute, but her success is limited.
    • In one book, Marco lampshades the impossibilities of telling a professional therapist about their problems: "Hello, Doctor Freud? My dad's thinking about remarrying. See, he thinks my mom is dead, but she's not. She's actually a slave to an alien race trying to take over the planet. And did I mention that I'm fighting this alien invasion myself? That I do it by turning into animals? Say what? What size straitjacket do I wear?"

Live Action TV
  • In Torchwood, Suzie went to a support group to talk through her work-related issues but due to the need for secrecy, she had to drug her confidant to make him forget and unfortunately, this turned him into an Ax-Crazy serial killer.
  • In “Doctor Who’’ Amy is twice sent to therapy when others find out what she’s experienced and can’t believe it’s real: in “The Eleventh Hour” because of her tales of The Raggedy Doctor, and in “The Big Bang” where all the stars have gone out and young Amy is the only person in the world who remembers them.
  • In Being Human (UK), Annie was abused by her fiance, forced to watch him be romantic with his new girlfriend (who was also Annie's old friend), and then found out that he murdered her. Unfortunately, Annie is dead and thus would have a bit of trouble making an appointment.
  • Pretty much all the hunters in Supernatural have deep-seated psychological issues which go unaddressed apart from the occasional monster induced psychologically-convenient dreamscape. The reason they can't seek aid is nicely demonstrated by the episode "Sam, Interrupted" where they do go to a therapist and try to explain their problems. Shortly after they start into why they have these issues they get committed. (Fortunately, it was all part of the plan.)
  • Subverted on an episode of Out of This World. Evie goes to therapy and brings her mom and dad, or at least, the glowing crystal that her alien dad communicates through. The therapist is very much a muggle but believes them and they appeal to doctor/patient confidentiality to keep their secret safe.
  • Buffy sees a counselor in season 2 who has no idea about vampires and the like, though he turns out to be a pretty good counselor anyway, and figures out what her problem essentially is minus the supernatural elements. Then he gets killed by a Hulk expy.
    • Averted briefly, however, in season 7 when Buffy herself becomes a counselor.

Video Games
  • Persona 3's cast is a group of teens who frequently go into a twisted, bloody version of their school and fight monsters by shooting themselves in the head with guns that shoot psychological trauma. Ken is so bad he was going to commit suicide after getting his revenge against a certain individual. But since no therapist would believe them about the Dark Hour, they’re on their own.


TRS thread here (for There Are No Therapists).
Community Feedback Replies: 32
  • August 30, 2012
    dragonslip
    why would any therapists be in the know?

    "To make matters worse, the character can't or won't creatively edit their story" that does sometimes happen (like in spiderman 2) and it usually makes things worse because the character don't know what is or is not relevant when deciding what elements of the story to and to not change (like in spiderman 2)

  • August 30, 2012
    StarValkyrie
    ^ "why would any therapists be in the know?" - because if wizards have hospitals full of healers, they could just as easily have therapists but some writers go the All Therapists are Muggles route anyways if that's what they want, especially when they feel their story has more drama when characters are left on their own to deal with their issues.
  • August 30, 2012
    JonnyB
    The psychiatrist (played by Ben Stein) in The Mask doesn't believe that the mask could have any supernatural properties.
  • August 30, 2012
    cygnavamp
    • Subverted on an episode of Out Of This World. Evie goes to therapy and brings her mom and dad, or at least, the glowing crystal that her alien dad communicates through. The therapist is very much a muggle, but they appeal to doctor/patient confidentiality to keep their secret safe.
  • August 30, 2012
    Earnest
    On the flipside, another way to look at this scenario is "There are no Wizard Therapists" (though your original title works fine). The idea being that those inside the masquerade don't believe in or bother with caring for the mental health of their fellows.

    • Inverted in Blade 3, a famous psychologist goes on record on TV that Blade is crazy... only for it to be revealed he's a Familiar to the ruling vampires (basically their stooge).
  • August 30, 2012
    animeg3282
    Part of There Are No Therapists BTW Averted in Young Wizards the school therapist/counselor knows about wizardry..although he's not a wizard?
  • August 30, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In Marvel Comics there is one non-Muggle psychologist (Doc Samson) who apparently every super with a problem goes to. Except not lately, because he has been evil and/or dead.
  • August 31, 2012
    Frank75
    The justification behind this trope: If there were therapists for vampires, wizards and so on, the writers would also have to think up how exactly this would work. That's a lot of details, so they go the easier way.
  • August 31, 2012
    kjnoren
    The Bujold example is using this trope straight: Cordelia literally couldn't tell the Escobaran or Betan therapists the truth about what happened her, since that could set off a civil war on Barrayar.
  • August 31, 2012
    Rognik
    I'm not sure if The Sopranos would count here. Tony Soprano starts the series by going to meet a therapist, and tells her all about his life in the mafia. This is all pretty benign, but as his family doesn't know, they would be the "muggles". ((I haven't watched the entire series, though, so I might have some facts wrong here. Please correct me if I'm wrong.))
  • August 31, 2012
    StarValkyrie
    ^^ Okay, that needs fixed then. I just saw that example on There Are No Therapists and haven't actually seen/read the work myself. Are you familiar enough with the work to rewrite that example?

    ^ I think that's, at the most, one of those basic aversions so it doesn't need to be listed. Plus yes, the therapist didn't know Tony was mafia, but that's not the same as being muggle about the mafia because its something that a therapist would believe - because even non-mafia therapists know mafias exist.
  • August 31, 2012
    kjnoren
    In Shards of Honor by Lois Mc Master Bujold Cordelia literally couldn't tell the Escobaran or Betan therapists the truth about what happened her while in Barrayaran captivity, since that could set off a civil war on Barrayar.
  • August 31, 2012
    StarValkyrie
    ^ That's not the same thing. All Therapists Are Muggles is for when what actually happened to her would sound like a delusion to anyone who didn't already know it actually happened and there are no therapists who do know it actually happened. The example in There Are No Therapists made it sound like Cordelia got therapy at some point but her therapists were horrified to learn what she'd been through and thought that after what happened to her she had to be worse off than she was and just not admitting it to them - so she was able to convince them of the truth of her story, but not of the truth of her mental and emotional state relating to it.
  • August 31, 2012
    NimmerStill
    @Frank75, that's not justification. The way this *is* usually justified (though not so well in Harry Potter) is that most people in general are not in the know (as in Torchwood and Buffy), and therapists are even less likely to take people's reports of the supernatural at face value, and if they saw it first hand they'd probably keep quiet lest they lose their license.
    • Buffy sees a counselor in season 2 who has no idea about vampires and the like, though he turns out to be a pretty good counselor anyway, and figures out what her problem essentially is minus the supernatural elements. Then he gets killed by a Hulk expy.
      • Averted briefly, however, in season 7 when Buffy herself becomes a counselor.
  • August 31, 2012
    SharleeD
    • Played straight and subverted in A Nightmare On Elm Street 3, in that one of the therapists trying to help the Freddy-plagued kids is actually willing to admit the possibility they and Nancy are faced with a supernatural threat. The other, unfortunately, assumes they're delusional and has one of them sedated: the worst possible outcome of this trope, under the circumstances.
      • Inverted in Freddy vs. Jason: the mental-hospital staff in Springwood know damn well that Freddy is for real, and use Hypnocil and fraudulent institutionalization of witnesses to ensure that Freddy's potential victims remain Muggles. That way, the dream-stalking killer can't gain strength from their fear.
  • August 31, 2012
    kjnoren
    Which fits what happened to Cordelia to a T. She was offered therapy, but couldn't tell her story in any believable or truthful way since that could cause a civil war. At the same time, she was pretty messed up, but not due to rape or captivity, unlike most other female prisoners.

    The description in There Are No Therapists of what happens in Shards of Honor is hopelessly muddled.
  • August 31, 2012
    StarValkyrie
    ^ I wouldn't worry too much about the one in There Are No Therapists because it's probably going to get deleted in the cleanup considering how many different kinds of therapists there clearly are in the work.

    As for here, it's really hard for me to understand what you're saying without knowing the work but as the example reads now, it's not this trope, so if you're sure it actually is this trope then it needs to be written in a different way. Basically, the important part of the definition of this trope is being mistaken for being delusional. To me, the fact that people would go to war if they knew what had happened to a character sounds like she would be believed by near about everyone.
  • August 31, 2012
    kjnoren
    Then perhaps the trope is overly narrow or badly described. The events in Shards of Honor fits neatly with the laconic.

    Also, while Cordelia's real story might not be believed on Beta Colony, it would be believed on Barrayar, and cause a civil war there.
  • August 31, 2012
    StarValkyrie
    ^ Then what do you suggest for the laconic? The important parts of the extended definition are 1) a character needs therapy, 2) the events they'd have to talk about are part of a larger secret or conspiracy (generally The Masquerade) that would sound delusional to outsiders 3) all therapists are outsiders.

    I'm concerned that if it gets less narrowly described, its going to get people listing everything but the kitchen sink which is exactly the problem we're trying to clean up in There Are No Therapists.
  • August 31, 2012
    kjnoren
    Then So H fits with all three. Cordelia needed help. There was a large conspiracy at the core of her troubles. It would sound delusional to non-Barrayarans (there it would be believed, but cause a civil war.) No therapist knew of the conspiracy.

    The trouble with the laconic was that you were putting in extra requirements that are not implied by the laconic, or clearly spelt out in the description.
  • August 31, 2012
    StarValkyrie
    ^ Okay when you put it that way... So should the example read more like this?
    • Cordelia in Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga needs therapy to cope with what happened to her while she was held captive by a Barrayaran conspiracy, but none of the Escobaran and Betan therapists would believe her about what happened and telling a Barrayaran therapist would start a civil war.

    For some reason, I couldn't edit the laconic so I just deleted it for now and edited the first paragraph of the definition. I'll have to work on something more concise for a new laconic.
  • September 1, 2012
    kjnoren
    I've already given a good description.

    I think your problem is that you're trying to make the trope too narrow - not with the earlier laconic. Being troubled and in need of professional help, but not being able to get help since your troubles stem from some factor that shouldn't be spread or can be understood by outsiders, that's a perfectly nice trope.
  • September 1, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    The police psychiatrist in Terminator and the hospital administrator in Terminator 2, who aren't for one moment going to take stories of time-traveling killer cyborgs seriously.

  • September 1, 2012
    NimmerStill
    It's probably also worth mentioning the connection to Flat Earth Atheist here; the doubting therapists who conform to this trope don't live in the same world we do.
  • September 1, 2012
    StarValkyrie
    ^ Can you explain that for me? I'm not disagreeing with you, it's just that I'm autistic and this is one of those cases where my brain is failing to make what's probably an obvious connection to most people.
  • September 1, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^FlatEarthAtheist is essentially about people who act and think like they live in Real Life, with evidence pointing toward a world that works by out scientific laws, with incomplete evidence for the existence of any particular deity, and certainly with no evidence for magic, vampires, or (so far at least) aliens.

    But they don't live in that world, they live in a world where magic and/or aliens and/or vampires are all around them, and still refuse to believe in anything except the science of our (real) world.

    Again, it's often justified by some force keeping the truth hidden from most of the "Muggles", whether it be Harry Potter's wizard secrecy, Men In Black and Torchwood's amnesia devices, or Buffy's idea that people "only see what they want to see", but it's still that trope in effect. And this is the therapist version, though I'm not saying that it's not a worthy subtrope. It's also related to Agent Scully for the same reasons.
  • September 1, 2012
    StarValkyrie
    ^ I get Flat Earth Atheist. I'm just not following its connection here. Keeping the truth hidden is The Masquerade. And yes, this is related to The Masquerade, muggle being someone who isn't in on whatever is being kept secret. The part I'm not following is the connection you see between Flat Earth Atheist and The Masquerade, unless you're making a comparison between Flat Earth Atheist and Muggle.
  • September 1, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^Basically, in many of the universes in question being a Flat Earth Atheist is the only way to not be "in the know", especially if you're a therapist in that world and so would be expected to see patients subjected to the supernatural realities of that universe. And as you point out in the description, often not being "in the know" is what makes you a Muggle.
  • September 1, 2012
    StarValkyrie
    ^ "in many of the universes in question being a Flat Earth Atheist is the only way to not be "in the know"" - I don't think so. Admittedly, I don't know all of these examples, but I do know about half and none of them are like that. A Flat Earth Atheist is someone with a very specific, wrong belief about the physical laws of the universe requiring the person to pretty much choose to live in denial. A Muggle is just someone who doesn't know what's going on inside The Masquerade. Yes, in Harry Potter, a muggle is someone who doesn't know/believe magic exists but that's because they never see/remember any evidence to the contrary thanks to the people who preserve The Masquerade. A Flat Earth Atheist looks the truth in the face and says "No, thanks. I've got my own."
  • September 1, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Ok, fair enough in those cases. I admit I didn't know about The Masquerade article until now; I thought it was just a justification for Flat Earth Atheist. But it's definitely related to Sunnydale Syndrome, and Torchwood and Doctor Who blur the line.
  • September 2, 2012
    StarValkyrie
    ^ I've got Sunnydale Syndrome linked already, but as Weirdness Censor. Yeah, Torchwood and Doctor Who deal partly with that but the Torchwood characters, at least, definitely try to maintain The Masquerade. The blurring, I do agree with - the Doctor Who writers have openly declared it a No Logic Allowed show because continuity just gets in the way of writing adventures or something.
  • September 4, 2012
    KingZeal
    Actually, in Marvel, Emma Frost and Professor Charles Xavier of The X Men are both therapists.

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