[[quoteright:250:[[Manga/ChronoCrusade http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/get_your_head_together_Joshua.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:250:Joshua tries to fight off the power of demon horns.]]

->''"I've never before realized that "cacophony" was onomatopoeic: the noise of the Poultry Bldg. is cacophonous and scrotum-tightening and totally horrible. I think it's what insanity must sound like. No wonder madmen clutch their heads and scream."''
-->-- '''David Foster Wallace''',''Getting Away from Already Being Pretty Much Away from It All''

The head is where the brain is, and the brain controls all conscious and unconscious functions. So when there's some external, intangible assault on the brain, cranium or ears, it's only natural to seek to protect the head. GottaGetYourHeadTogether is the resulting trope, most frequently seen in comics, sci-fi, games, and animation.

If a mind control power is used, the character(s) attempting to resist it will clutch their heads, usually in pain

If a sonic assault has been unleashed, the victims will clutch their heads to protect their ears.

Variations on the headclutch include huddling into a ball on the floor, falling to the knees, or doubling over as if attempting to shake off the intruding influence.

This pose, often seen in tandem with TheScream, can also be encountered in situations where a powered character is reaching the upper limit of their concentration and ability; which makes this trope a relative of the PstandardPsychicPstance. It often precedes YourHeadASplode.

As mind manipulation technology has not yet been perfected, we cannot ascertain whether or not the psychic variant is TruthInTelevision. The sonic version is, though.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Vegeta does this in ''Anime/DragonBallZ'' when Babidi is taking over his mind and amplifying the lingering evil within him.
* Asuka does this in ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' when she gets {{Mind Rape}}d by the Angel Arael.
** In the ending film, Maya does it - complete with screaming - after [[EldritchAbomination Lilith]]'s hand passes through her.
* In ''Manga/ChronoCrusade'':
** Joshua often clutches his head and screams when the power of the horns on his head overwhelms him. (The picture above is just one example of many.)
** The manga shows Aion clutching his head [[spoiler:after discovering horrible secrets about his society, including that Pandaemonium was once a human woman, pregnant with him and Chrono, before she was turned into the HiveQueen of the demons.]]
* ''Manga/ElfenLied'':
** Child!Lucy does this whenever her "killer instinct" is talking to her.
** Adult Lucy does it when her SplitPersonality is about to take over.
* Ryouga from ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf'' does this every chance he gets, whether he's succumbing to despair, embarrassment, or simply [[NoSenseOfDirection has gotten lost yet again]]. It even became his "Lose" pose in the UsefulNotes/SuperFamicom fighting games.
* In ''Manga/SaintSeiya'', MusicalAssassin Siren Sorento is assaulting God Warrior Siegfried's mind with the melody from his flute. Desperate to ward off the attack, Siegfried first covers his ears, then ruptures his own eardrums... but the sound still reaches directly into his brain, causing him to clutch his head in madness.
* Constantly happening to and around [[WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity Tetsuo]] in ''Manga/{{Akira}}''. Apparently, [[PowerIncontinence being psychic really, really hurts]]. [[YourHeadASplode And you know what they say about misery...]]
* [[TheHero Dan]] from ''Anime/{{Bakugan}}'' grew fond of this trope during the first part of the fourth season due to constant MindRape from the BigBad.
* Gaara from ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' did this quite a few times during the chuunin exams because the One-Tailed Demon inside him was rearing its ugly head from the sight of all the fighting and blood being spilled.
** Another trigger for his extreme mental anguish was anyone acting in resemblance to his late uncle Yashamaru, or anyone who stepped in to protect his opponent; such selflessness--risking your life to protect another, clearly weaker person-- makes his consciousness tear at its seams, for he never had anyone to love him or protect him or even play with him when he was a child, save for his uncle.
* Happens to TheBrute of the villain's minions in ''Anime/TheMysteryOfMamo''. Unlike most examples, his head is literally coming apart, thanks to Goemon's [[AbsurdlySharpBlade sword]].
* This happens often in ''Anime/YuGiOh'' most notably Joey/Jonouchi in his fight with Yugi, does this multiple times while trying to [[FightingFromTheInside resist]] Mariks control after being [[BrainwashedAndCrazy brainwashed]] by him.
* The villain Twice from ''Manga/MyHeroAcademia'' does this sometimes when the [[HearingVoices voices in his head]] keep contradicting his thoughts, he needs to wear a mask that completely covers his head in order to "stay whole".

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''Franchise/MarvelUniverse'':
** Almost anyone being attacked by a psi will do this.
** And any with psi-based powers hit with psychic backlash. Also happens to anyone attempting to use Cerebro to scan world-wide, from Professor Xavier to the mildest psychic, so often that you wonder why they still trust the thing.
* ''Comicbook/FantasticFour'': Susan Storm-Richards tends to do this when she's pushing her force field power to its upper limit.
* ''ComicBook/{{Supergirl}}'':
** In ''[[ComicBook/Supergirl1982 a classic issue]]'', an amnesiac Supergirl's clone does this when the titular heroine reveals her true nature.
** In the last issue of her second solo book Supergirl clutches her head, screaming "Get out of my head!" when a telepathic super-villain attempts to mind-rape her.
** In ''ComicBook/SupergirlCosmicAdventuresInThe8thGrade'', Linda Lee accidentally breaks a wall and clutches her head as wondering how she can fix it before someone stumbles upon the mess.
* Franchise/{{Superman}}:
** ''ComicBook/WarWorld'': Mongul clutches his head when Warworld's control helmet nearly fries his brain.
** In ''ComicBook/KryptonNoMore'' Franchise/{{Superman}} does this twice: when Comicbook/{{Supergirl}} tells him that they are Earth-born human mutants and later when the light of an orange star blinds him in the middle of a battle.
* The first villain in ''ComicBook/XWingSeries: Requiem for a Rogue'' is confronted by a more powerful villain, who uses his blaster to burn off his own hand, telekinetically uses it to choke the first guy, then makes the first guy's head explode. Because [[ComplexityAddiction just shooting, choking, or head-exploding him would be too simple, apparently]], and {{Death Trap}}s aren't personal enough. There's a GoryDiscretionShot, and the first bad guy's silhouette is seen clutching its head before exploding.
* In ''ComicBook/JusticeLeagueCryForJustice'', when the heroes seek [[YouKeepUsingThatWord justice]].
* Vakama on the cover of ''ComicBook/{{Bionicle}} #21: Dreams of Darkness'', tortured by his nightmare-like visions.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Both Ringo and John in ''Fanfic/WithStringsAttached'' employ this trope.
** Ringo uses it when he uses his mindsight for the first time, and the power nearly makes his brain explode. He also uses it several times in the Hunter's world when he is caught in a sudden psychic scream.
** John also uses it in the Hunter's world on the occasions when the shrieking [[{{BFS}} Blackfire]] is drawn. The last time this happens, his ears start to bleed.

* ''Film/TheTrumanShow'' when the actors' earpieces emit a grating whistle.
* ''Film/XMenFilmSeries'':
** ''Film/X2XMenUnited'': When Dark Cerebro goes off, all the mutants in the world (except for Magneto because of his helmet) clutch their heads.
** ''Film/XMenDaysOfFuturePast'': 1973 Charles Xavier does this when he misses a dose of his PowerNullifier serum.
** ''Film/XMenApocalypse'': Professor X grasps his head when he's overwhelmed by Jean Grey's "dream" of an impending apocalypse.
* Galvatron suffers from this trope in ''WesternAnimation/TransformersTheMovie'' at Unicron's hands.
* Various Hogwarts students in ''[[Film/HarryPotter Deathly Hallows Part 2]]'' when [[spoiler:Voldemort speaks in their heads]].

* Franchise/HarryPotter does this a lot throughout the series because of the scar that connects he and Voldemort. In ''[[Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows The Deathly Hallows]]'' specifically, he would clutch at his forehead in an attempt to resist the visions that came whenever Voldemort was at his most powerful, so as to stay within the present.
* In a non-combat example ''Literature/TheHorseAndHisBoy'', Mr. Tumnus the Faun gets a sudden brilliant idea which might free the party from their current predicament and poses, as a person who didn't know him describes it, "holding his horns as if he was trying to keep his head on by them."

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'' episode "The Way To Eden". Dr. Sevrin uses ultrasonics to stun the Enterprise crew. Watch it on [=YouTube=] [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4CFxk1zO8M starting at around 5:00]].

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'':
** Common for anyone under assault from Daemons or other warp-powers. While it's unlikely to do any difference once a Daemons has taken proper hold, it at least signals anyone around to get away as fast as possible. Psykers, who uses the warp as a weapon, are often seen doing this mindlessly, but that's what happens when you use the dimension of nightmares and horror as a tool.
** The Emperor's Children Traitor Legion has specialized themselves into using sonic weaponry, which inevitably leads to their enemy, and even other friendly squads, to grasp for their ears in pain.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Stock pose in ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes'' for anyone caught by a psionic Hold power.
* In ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'', head clutching is a [[StockMotions Stock Motion]], which also gets used when someone is afflicted with the Fear/Panic/Insanity line of offensive Force abilities.
** Likewise a stock gesture in ''VideoGame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic'', along with a milder variant that basically looks like someone shaking their head to stay awake. Generally this is accompanied by GlowingEyes or a BattleAura that is colored depending on the type of Force effect.
* Cloud from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' ends up doing this quite a bit...
* During the first half of ''VideoGame/ShadowHearts'', Yuri does this as part of his PainfulTransformation.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt'' chapter 19, Zimmy--the girl with static in her head and ImaginaryEnemies--was seen clutching her head just before Bad Things started happening.
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', Tedd and Ellen both clutch at their heads after being subject to having their emotions magically amplified by Magus because of the headache that ensues after a successful use of the ability.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Around 0:33, in Andrew Dickman's Rockman Neo trailer.
* "[[Theatre/AVeryPotterMusical It's just a little makeup! Draco, WAKE UP!]]"

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|2003}}: Back To The Sewer''--The bad guy strikes a MindControl ''gong''.
* ''WesternAnimation/SpiderManAndHisAmazingFriends''
** In "The Fantastic Frump", Doom unleashes a sonic attack that not only causes the clutching of the head and doubling over, but drives Firestar to her knees.
** In "The X-Men Adventure", a sonic attack causes Sprite to clutch her head and huddle in a fetal position.
* In ''[[ComicBook/DCTheNewFrontier Justice League: The New Frontier]]'': The ComicBook/MartianManhunter does it in response to a telepathic assault.
* Ma-Ti on ''WesternAnimation/{{Captain Planet|AndThePlaneteers}}'' frequently suffered from this, too.
* In the 1990s Fox animated ''WesternAnimation/XMen'', young Charles exhibited the head clutch when his powers began kicking in.
* ''WesternAnimation/InvaderZim'' had two of these, although both assaults are tangible:
** "[=NanoZim=]", in which Zim shrinks himself and attacks Dib's brain to make him forget where he hid a disc containing evidence of Zim's otherworldliness.
** In the Halloween special, magical demon-things living inside Dib's head suck Dib into their world and open a portal in his head to get to the real world and take it over.
** I guess "Dark Harvest" counts too, although brains are just one of the multiple organs Zim was collecting to shove inside himself in case of an autopsy.
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' shows that simply the ''concept of altruism'' causes [[{{Jerkass}} Cartman]] to feel mental anguish.
* ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'': "Ask a Foolish Question" When the supercomputer scans all of the Tri-State area, the laser passing over town gets several reactions, including Norm the robot's. He clutches his head with both hands and cheerfully says, "Get out of my mind!"
* In ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'', when Miss Martian first attempts to communicate telepathically with the Team - not understanding that it is an invasion of privacy as she is not of Earth - they clutch their heads.
** In "''Agendas''", Superboy does this again out of surprise when Lex Luthor talks to him at a frequency that only his Kryptonian ears can hear.
** Again, when [[spoiler: M'gann]] psychically attacks Aqualad he screams and clutches his head in pain, only to fall to the ground limp a moment later.
* In ''WesternAnimation/BatmanAssaultOnArkham'', when Amanda Waller starts losing patience, Harley clutches her neck (where the team's ExplosiveLeash is planted) and says "Please don't explode! Please don't explode!"

[[folder:Real Life]]
* If one has a bad headache, it's a natural response to clutch and rub at the temples--sometimes the more bearable pain of the pressure on the head can override the sharp pain of the headache.