[[quoteright:221:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Time_transfixed.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:221:[[TheWalrusWasPaul Clearly, your train is leaving at approximately 12:44.]][[note]]''Time Transfixed'' by Rene Magritte[[/note]] ]]

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->"''Everything you know is wrong. Black is white, up is down and short is long.''"
->"''And everything you thought was just so important doesn't matter.''"
-->-- '''Music/WeirdAlYankovic'''

The Mind Screw is something that relies so heavily on [[RuleOfSymbolism symbolism]] or [[WhatDoYouMeanItWasntMadeOnDrugs surrealism/absurdism]], or failed so extremely in an attempt at regular old coherency, that the immediate response afterwards is "What the heck was ''that''?!?!"

These works ''beg'' for fans to [[WildMassGuessing invent their own improbable theories]] about EpilepticTrees and such.

There are several criteria for a Mind Screw, and a Mind Screw will usually fit a few of them:

* The work looks weird due to [[RuleOfSymbolism symbolism]] or just general surrealism.
* The symbolism is used heavily and never explained.
* Things happen, but the work never explains how they are connected.
* TheReveal is left out.
* Things happen without a cause, even in context. Especially in context.
* Several plot developments are obscured.
* The work is [[AnachronicOrder non-chronological]].
* A few random scenes (such as vignettes or non-sequiturs) are added in, breaking up the narrative.
* The story has NoEnding.
* TheReveal is vague, or contradicts the rest of the story.
* [[JigsawPuzzlePlot There are several surprises, and the story only makes sense when you have them all.]]

While some fans can make arguments over what the symbolism means, and what everything represents, many mind screws will pad themselves with [[TheWalrusWasPaul meaningless sequences]] to make the audience work even harder. Arguments over which sequences are significant are common. [[TrollingCreator Don't expect the writer to be very helpful.]] And if the show has [[AllThereInTheManual supplemental materials]], don't expect them to be much help either. (If, by some miracle, they ''are'' helpful, you've got yourself a Mind Screwdriver.) The more decipherable symbolism tends to focus on the perceptions people have of one another and [[ComingOfAge puberty]] and [[FreudWasRight sex]]. Japanese and South Korean often produce this sort of thing and particularly in the horror and psychological drama genres because Asian audiences thrive on this type of oblique, enigmatic ambiguity. DavidLynch [[GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff is hugely popular in Japan for this reason]].

Note that the screwing is not the kind that involves romantic candlelight, long walks on the beach and the throes of passion. [[RuleThirtyFour Unless you're into that.]]

Not to be confused with MindRape, no matter how the audience feels, nor with the MindGameShip, nor MentalAffair, which is a ''literal'' mind screw.

Distinct from an InJoke, which is designed to make sense to a portion of the audience.

When trying to get the creators to explain just ''what the heck is going on'', expect some form of ShrugOfGod or [[TheWalrusWasPaul worse.]]

Examples listed are works that are either intended to provoke this reaction or have provoked this reaction in a large spectrum of the audience, but one troper's Mind Screw is another troper's FridgeBrilliance.

{{Sub Trope}}s include GainaxEnding, DadaAd, AlienGeometries. TheEndingChangesEverything is an ending that does not rely on overt symbolism for its confusing nature, but has much the same effect on viewers. When this is funny, it's SurrealHumor. When frightening, it's SurrealHorror.

Compare with PutneySwopePanic, TrueArtIsIncomprehensible, WhatDoYouMeanItWasntMadeOnDrugs.

Contrast with MindScrewdriver, where the Mind Screw elements get rationalized/explained.

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!!Examples are sorted in the following subpages:

[[index]]
* MindScrew/{{Advertising}}
* MindScrew/AnimeAndManga
* MindScrew/ComicBooks
* MindScrew/FanWorks
* MindScrew/{{Film}}
* MindScrew/{{Literature}}
* MindScrew/LiveActionTV
* MindScrew/{{Music}}
* MindScrew/{{Theatre}}
* MindScrew/VideoGames
* MindScrew/VisualNovels
* MindScrew/{{Webcomics}}
* MindScrew/WebOriginal
* MindScrew/WesternAnimation
* MindScrew/{{Other}}
[[/index]]

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