"I just wanted you to know that besides the murders, and you trying to kill me, you were the best doctor I ever had."
, "Mr. Monk Goes to the Asylum"
Sometimes There Are No Therapists
... and sometimes you'll only wish
Mental illness or psychological trauma can be serious, damaging issues that may need many months, if not years, of serious and dedicated care from a highly trained and understanding professional. This trope is what happens when you take those professionals and add a sprinkle of Ax-Crazy
, Torture Technician
, and / or Manipulative Bastard
. Psycho Psychologists are therapists who really should not be a therapist; at best they will display a criminally negligent Lack of Empathy
with the patient and either grow callously frustrated with dealing with other people's problems, or give them horrible and often self-destructive advice; at worst, they will have sinister, ulterior motives and actively abuse the relationship, possibly making their hapless victim an Unwitting Pawn
in some evil schemes, or perhaps deliberately sabotaging their fragile mental state out of sheer spite or sadism.
Expect them to be found at a Bedlam House
and utilize Electroconvulsive therapy
, Mind Rape
, Brainwashed and Crazy
and More Than Mind Control
too often, but they can also be found in more humanistic forms of therapy like counseling or Freudian therapy
Psycho psychologists aren't even limited to Psychology-related settings. They may be recruited by the Big Bad
to mastermind the Mind-Control Conspiracy
; they might be employed by the Secret Police
to create the Manchurian Agent
; they may put their considerable skills and training to use as a Diabolical Mastermind
. Or maybe the years of listening to other peoples problems have simply driven them over the edge. The nut and bolts of this trope is mostly a psychologist who is, quite simply, either evil or crazy, however they put their abilities to use.
Sub-trope of Mad Doctor
; see also The Shrink
, Mad Scientist
and Morally Ambiguous Doctorate
. Compare with the evil variant of Warrior Therapist
, who crushes your will
on the battlefield, not the sofa. See also Orderlies Are Creeps
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Anime and Manga
- In Monster both Johan and Nina are the product of an elaborate psychology experiment to produce an Übermensch. While the doctor in charge of said experiment was an Anti-Villain who aborted it before it went horribly right (though, in Johan, it already had), the experiments continued in state-run orphanages throughout East Germany, and the guys in charge of those attempts fit this trope to a T. One of them is encountered after the experiments ended and, having run into Johan previously, horribly abuses his foster son because he is not more like him.
- In the first anime of Hunter × Hunter, Leroute was a psychologist who would manipulate her patients into committing suicide, and tried to break Leorio by talking.
- In Durarara!!, Izaya Orihara.
- Professor Frank from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds. He's clearly more insane than any patient of the typical psychiatrist.
- In Black★Rock Shooter, The school councilor Saya Irino is revealed to be this. She'll mentally break any student who comes for help in their living days. It's not without reason, though (It Makes Sense in Context): whenever someone's mind breaks down, an "Otherself" of that person will appear in the Mental World, embodying one's hard feelings and despair. In the past, Saya made a vow to help her old friend, Yuu (who got swapped mentally with Strength, her Otherself) to send opponents against the titular Black Rock Shooter; a monster killing Otherselves to cure them. Now that Yuu is in the Other world, she is a target as well. Of note, it doesn't help that Saya herself also has an Otherself, called Black★Gold Saw.
- Dr. Crane of the Batman franchise was a university psychologist studying the effects of fear on the human mind. He got kicked out and became the Scarecrow.
- Hugo Strange may count as well, especially in the The Batman incarnation. A Stalker Without A Crush and Diabolical Mastermind who wants to be Batman, who he views as The Übermensch, though since Evil Cannot Comprehend Good he refuses to acknowledge that Batman is actually as heroic as he believes, and subconsciously Batman is driven by fantasies of power.
- He was a little different in Batman: The Animated Series. He was still evil, but motivated mostly by greed, using a device to read the minds of his patients and then use the dark secrets he learned to blackmail them.
- Then there is Harley Quinn, who was the therapist for The Joker and ended up falling completely in love with him, quickly becoming his sidekick.
- And then there is Dr Jeremiah Arkham, who starts off as merely a well meaning shrink with probably the worst assignment in the world (running Arkham Asylum); he eventually goes off the deep end and became the new Black Mask (although this appears to have been retconned into a temporary condition by the New 52).
- His ancestor Amadeus, the guy who founded Arkham Asylum, was also nuts, and murdered one of his patients who had raped and killed his wife and daughter. Its strongly implied that Arkham, if not Gotham itself, is somehow cursed, and anyone who works there is going to be driven insane- Amadeus thought his family was haunted by an "evil Bat spirit", and performed occult rituals to bind it to the Aslyum, which he is ultimately incarcerated in himself.
- Doc Samson turns into this due to the Intelligencia, though this involves turning him into a Super-Powered Evil Side
- Spider-Man has the largely forgotten villain Judas Traveller, a renowned psychologist and philosopher who claimed to be a powerful immortal mutant, but was really just a regular illusion-casting one, though this still made him dangerous and allowed him to fake it convincingly. He took over the Ravencroft Institute for the criminally insane and used his powers to, amongst other things, screw with Peter's mind and separate Carnage from his symbiote.
- "Professional Help", one of the stories from Hellboy: Weird Tales, has Roger telling a shrink about a particularly distressing case he worked involving a baby giant, Nazi Scientists, and a Black Metal cult. The shrink turns out to be an evil spirit that feeds on mental anguish. Roger knew this the whole time and quickly dispatches it, but he was hoping to get some closure while he was at it.
- Dr. Karla Sofen, aka Moonstone from Thunderbolts, is a supervillain psychiatrist. One of her favorite hobbies is manipulating depressed patients into committing suicide. She also obtained her powers by manipulating one of her patients (the previous Moonstone) into giving her their source (an alien gem).
- Wonder Woman villain Dr. Psycho is a crazed, misogynistic dwarf psychologist.
- Desaad, right-hand man to Darkseid, went incognito as Dr. Dezard and provided evil therapy to (among others) Shilo Norman in the Grant Morrison version of Mister Miracle.
- Doctor Gross from Hack/Slash, a skinless psychologist specializing in physical and mental torture.
- At one point, Mysterio managed to briefly convince Spider-Man that he was crazy and posed as a psychologist to convince him that the root of his problem was the secret identity. He would feel so much better if he confided in this friendly psychologist...
- What was really scary about this one in retrospect was that Mysterio had just about succeeded, until J. Jonah Jameson and Flash Thompson blunder into the house where the therapy is being conducted and where Mysterio had set up the illusions that made Spidey think he was hallucinating. When Jameson and Thompson see and react to the "hallucinations" too, Spidey realizes that he's not crazy and that Mysterio's conning him. Cue the beatdown.
- And at one point Spidey furiously unmasked the Green Goblin to find not Norman, not Harry, but Harry's psychologist, who'd found out where the glider and the costume were stashed and taken the chance to try a little supervillainy.
- One Gahan Wilson cartoon has a psychiatrist scribbling down, not notes on what his oblivious patient is saying, but something like "I, Doctor Herman Schultz, am GOD and can solve all of mankind's problems!!"
- The therapeutic hypnotist in Dead Again is evil. He starts out as comic relief obnoxious, but he turns out to be the Big Bad at the end.
- Batman Begins features the Scarecrow as one of its villains. Here, he helps convicted mobsters avoid jail time and get transferred to his Asylum, via testifying for the Insanity Defence on their behalf, where they help him perform his twisted experiments and poison Gotham's water supply on behalf of Ra's Al Ghul; essentially, he is a Psycho for Hire. He returns in the sequel for a cameo where he peddles his toxin as drugs.
- Doctor Jack Grefe from Lovers Lane, one of the film's three killers.
- Mild example: The shrink in Local Hero brazenly insults client (later former client) Mr. Happer, stopping at nothing to get the message across, looking to confirm some unstated hypothesis of his. Happer eventually calls for him to be shot dead.
- Blue in Sucker Punch, the male psych nurse in the asylum where Babydoll's father dumped her. Not only is he running something on the side where he fakes papers for Lobotomies for money, he goes even more psycho after Babydoll is lobotomized, and it creeps him out so much he doesn't even want to rape her like he was planning on doing.
- Dr. Robert Elliot (Michael Caine) in Brian De Palma's 1980 film Dressed to Kill.
- Dr. Emil Breton in Brian De Palma's Sisters stalks his former patient/ex-wife obsessively, and uses drugs and hypnosis to control her and supposed threats to her alike.
- Mel Brooks' High Anxiety. Nurse Diesel and Dr. Montague of the Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous are dangerously insane. They hire a killer to murder anyone who gets in their way.
- Shock Treatment's tight-knit sibling medical team Drs. Cosmo ("Mac") and Nation Mc Kinley run the quack and dangerous reality TV show/mental asylum Dentonvale, administering traumatic treatments at the behest of their sponsor and supported by no real research or diagnosis.
- Played with in the Dr. Mabuse film series:
- In the original Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler one of Dr. Mabuse's identities (possibly the "real" one) is as a psychoanalyst.
- In the sequel The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, Mabuse has apparently died in a hospital for the criminally insane, but his organisation is mysteriously starting up again. In fact his psychiatrist, Dr. Baum, has been "taken over" by Mabuse's personality and is committing the crimes. It's deliberately unclear if this is due to Baum spontaneously going mad, to post-hypnotic suggestion by Mabuse, or to actual spirit possession.
- In the second sequel Die 1000 Augen des Dr Mabuse, one of Dr. Mabuse III's identities is as Dr. Jordan, a psychiatrist.
- Barry Nyle in Beyond the Black Rainbow
- In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the psychiatrist at the mental hospital where Sarah Connor is being held against her will is more concerned with using her to bolster his own career than treating her. (Not that she's insane, but everyone quite reasonably thinks she is.) In the first movie, though, he was mostly just smug and maintained that Kyle was delusional instead of believing his crazy story about time-travelling robots.
- In Nightbreed, at first Dr. Philip Decker seems like a concerned psychologist who feels obliged to report Aaron Boone to the authorities for all the apparent murders that Boone committed during his blackouts. He prescribes Boone some medication to keep him from having another episode until he turns himself in. Turns out that the drugs are actually hallucinogens, Decker is the real killer and has framed Boone for his own crimes.
- Subverted in Hellraiser: Inferno. The precinct psychiatrist Dr. Paul Gregory initially reveals himself as the Engineer killer when Joseph finds his wife and child frozen to death in his home. It's actually Pinhead in disguise and is further implied to have made up the doctor's identity to begin with, as he is the one to inform Joseph of the Lament Configuration's origins.
- Dr. Ronald Pendleton of Choose may have had the best of intentions, but having mental ward patients hold a puppy and then offer them increasing amounts of money, then their freedom, if they snap the puppy's neck may not have been the best of plans.
- Dr von Blimenstein in Tom Sharpe's novel of apartheid South Africa, Indecent Exposure, who applies two different clinical standards depending on whether she's dealing with white or black mental illness.
- Peter Teleborian from The Millennium Trilogy was Lisbeth Salander's state assigned childhood therapist. He reported that she was a seriously disturbed sociopath and a danger to society, and testifies to that to the police and in court, but while Salander was indeed disturbed she was no sociopath- he gave that report because she refused to speak to him, and resisted her attempts to control him, to which he responded by strapping her to her bed for days on end, and psychologically torturing her. He's also a pedophile and its implied that he had been abusing most of the other children in his care, and he's arrested after the police find thousands of child pornography photos on his computer. He is probably the person who did the most damage to Salander's life which, given all the horrible people she had in that life, really is saying something.
- Dr. Hilarius in Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49. Prescribes and takes massive doses of LSD. Has other issues as well.
- Hannibal Lecter almost goes without saying. Lecter, the brilliant, cultured, refined and charming psychiatrist and Renaissance Man, and also Ax-Crazy cannibalistic Serial Killer known as the Chesapeake Ripper and, later, Hannibal the Cannibal. He murdered one patient and fed him to his dinner guest because of his terrible flutist skills (though he was also apparently tired of his whining in sessions), and another he drugged and convinced to slash his own face with a piece of glass and feed the flesh to his dogs; though, granted, the first was a Jerkass Victim and the second was a psychopathic pedophile. He had dozens of other victims, but its unlikely any of the rest were his patients.
- It was also believed by Jack Crawford that Lecter encouraged his patients to perform acts of violence as a way to amuse himself.
- Dr. Mark Ahriman in False Memory by Dean Koontz fits the bill. He mind rapes his patients into committing crimes/very creative suicides, and occasionally actually rapes them. It's all for his own entertainment. He also has an obsession with eyes, tears, and misery in general. When his victims cry, he licks their tears.
- Rare example of the Harmful Shrink as one of the good guys: Dr. Vail, psychologist for Dream Park in The Barsoom Project, lacks empathy and is willing to risk others' sanity in order to protect the Park (because where else would he have absolute control of subjects' experiences?). Be very glad he's on the hero's side, because what he does to the villains in the end ain't pretty....
- Psychiatrist William Haber in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven. He also appears in The Film of the Book.
- Doctor Gordon in The Bell Jar, who behaves indifferent and cold to Esther in her therapy sessions and ultimately botches electroshock therapy, giving her a traumatic fear of the procedure. Based on the author's real-life experiences.
- Dr Myra Lark in "You Don't Have to Be Mad..." and other Diogenes Club stories by Kim Newman. Described in the character sheet of Secret Files of the Diogenes Club as more interested in the uses of the mentally disturbed than in curing them. Also her superior in "You Don't Have To Be Mad..." Dr. I. M. Ballance.
- Dr. John "Night Tripper" Havilland in Because the Night by James Ellroy, who manipulates his patients into both suicide and murder For the Evulz.
- Flenser in A Fire Upon the Deep is the psychological equivalent of an Evilutionary Biologist, thanks to the hive-minded nature of his species. He creates hive-minds of every possible configuration in order to see what will happen to their members, and the result is usually temporary or permanent psychological damage. He does take his science seriously though—he's willing to raise a new mind entirely on positive reinforcement, not out of any love for it, but because he's genuinely curious what effects such an upbringing will have.
- Dr. Holmes and Dr. Bradshaw, the psychologists in Mrs. Dalloway, end up as this from different angles, and they're easily the most despicable characters in the book.
- John Melvin from Sunny Randall's Shrink Rap, who lures women into relationships with him before he kills them. His ex-wife Melanie Joan is still heavily scarred by her experiences with him and hires Sunny as a bodyguard to keep him away.
- One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest has nurse Ratched. The Black Boys are not quite mental health professionals, but their jobs involve working with mentally ill people, and they may need help a lot worse than the patients.
- Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger has a relatively light-hearted example: Doctor Pickell aka Doctor "Pickle" thanks to his pickle ornament. Pickell uses the pickle to hypnotize people to get rid of the problems they go to him to treat, but he also implants a Trigger Phrase that gives them entirely new issues just For the Evulz. One of the rare examples of a psycho psychologist actually getting caught, he had his license revoked... whereupon he became the school's guidance counselor.
He cured people with sick minds. Although Doctor Pickle had a pretty sick mind himself.
- Referenced in Jack Chalker's Four Lords of the Diamond series, when one of the protagonists meets a psychiatrist who wears glasses as an affectation, on a world where all health issues are instantly fixed, including imperfect eyesight. He thinks to himself that he has yet to meet a shrink who didn't need to see one.
- In Stuart B. McBride's Halfhead, Dr. Westfield is a female psychiatrist much like Hannibal Lecter. Prior to the book's start, she "treated" mentally ill children, but was really turning them into serial killers. Eventually she was caught and subjected to the titular treatment, which is essentially lobotomizing the subject into a mindless slave. However, the treatment failed on her after a few years for mysterious reasons, causing her to seek revenge for everyone she blamed for her sentence. She first had problems due to not having the right drugs (or a face), but fixed them, then started overdosing, causing her to complain about how they "filled my head with buzzing bees and broken glass!".
- In the Wheel of Time universe, during the Age of Legends, Kamarile Maradim Nindar was a world-famous therapist, who used both her mastery of the One Power's mind-related weaves and her considerable skill and knowledge in human psychology to spectacularly cure many people from severe mental illnesses. At some time she got fed up with being nice, joined the Dark One and became the exact opposite of what she used to be, making people crazy and turning them into slaves.
- Olive Farina, a Conspiracy Theorist from the Repairman Jack novel Conspiracies, was convinced by her incompetent shrink that she'd been the victim of Satanic ritual child abuse. It never happened, but her "therapy" implanted false memories that destroyed her relationship with her parents and reduced her to a paranoia-plagued wreck.
Live Action TV
- Leonard's mother, Beverly Hofstader, on The Big Bang Theory. Serving as an older counterpart to the borderline-Asperger's of Sheldon, she has zero compassion for her subjects and merely bats them around like a cat with mice. She even used her infant son as a test case for her book, Needy Baby, Greedy Baby.
- In Dexter Dr. Emmett Meridian is a psychiatrist who subtly manipulates his patients, all women, and convinces them to kill themselves. Dexter signs up for a session with him to get closer and finds himself revealing more about himself than he initially intended.
- Criminal Minds
- Monty Python's Flying Circus had several sketches with psychiatrists, most of them mad.
- Hamlet meets a series of fake psychiatrists who only want to talk about sex ("You've got her legs up on the mantelpiece...").
- A milkman psychiatrist who makes pat diagnoses of patients' problems without first obtaining their full medical history.
- Mr. Larch, a psychiatrist who calls himself on the phone.
- In an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, there was a psychiatrist that manipulated his patients into investing stock for another patient of his. He even managed to manipulate one into killing himself.
- Another one had a therapist who gave a paranoid but harmless man a form of "therapy" that amounted to torture, turning him into a homicidal psychotic.
- In an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit a man is beaten so hard his testicles rupture by his son's school guidance counselor, on the grounds that he had not accepted his son's transsexuality.
- Forever Knight had yet another therapist who hypnotized her patients into committing homicide. (The painting of Bedlam in her waiting room was a tip-off something was wrong.)
- Dr. Foster from Skins is a particularly extreme example, seeing as he's a Stalker with a Crush wants to break Effy Stonem down to virtually a Blank Slate to rebuild as he likes.
- A few episodes of Murder, She Wrote had them, sometimes as the murderer, sometimes as a Red Herring. Others had Type 2s set up to look like Type 1s as a Red Herring.
- In the Columbo pilot the first murderer is a psychiatrist who seduces one of his patients, an actress, and convinces her to be his accomplice in the murder of his wife. He is one of the few to catch on to Columbo's act of Obfuscating Stupidity and the only one to do so almost immediately. In a conversation with Columbo, he comes across as a Straw Nihilist as he implies that he thinks of himself as a kind of Übermensch who was entitled to kill his wife because he could get away with it; he later admits that he would probably have killed his accomplice girlfriend at some point too, and perhaps continue the pattern of murder that he had begun, making him Serial Killer in the making.
- See also the episode A Deadly State Of Mind: A hypnotherapist kills his patient/lover's husband to protect the book he is writing using her, then has her cover for him—even "implanted" instructions in her mind during a therapy session. Yeah, it's Hollywood Hypnosis, but still.
- Dr. Maggie Walsh, a government spook who masquerades as Buffy's professor of psychology in Season Four.
- Dr. Platt in the season 3 episode "Beauty and the Beasts." He smokes at school, sprays air freshener around his office to cover it up and is quirky enough for Buffy to open up about her being a Slayer and her relationship with Angel.
- In "Conversations With Dead People", Buffy is nonplussed to the find the grave she's been patrolling all night belongs to an old classmate, a psych major named Holden Webster. As a warm-up for their inevitable duel to the death, Vampire Holden offers to psychoanalyze Buffy — and we cut to Buff reclining on a flat tombstone, like a couch.
- The spinoff show Angel had Allen, a milquetoast "sensitivity trainer" who is foisted upon Detective Lockely. He engages the police in passing around a "talking stick" and decreeing "no judgements." Actually, the stick is a cursed totem, reducing the officers to weepy neurotics and allowing the prisoners to bust free. Unfortunately, in the process of roughing Allen up, Angel touches the talking stick too. ("Sense & Sensitivity")
Doyle: (grumbling) I think we've found "Mr. Sensitivity."
Angel: Uh uh! He was here all along, just waiting to come out. Boy, what our parents do to us, huh?
- Lois and Clark brought us the vengeful ex-wife of Lex Luthor, a Daily Planet columnist who peddled pop psychology advice. The columns were actually subliminal messages instructing Metropolitans to hate Superman. Go figure.
- Lois had sessions with several paid psychiatrists, and nearly all of them turned out to be evil.
: I haven't had the greatest luck with psychiatrists. Dr. Friskin
: Oh?? You've spent some time in therapy? Lois Lane
: Oh, no. It's just that the last psychiatrist that I saw had an exact double
of me made and tried to have me killed. Dr. Friskin
: And how did that make you feel?
- A season later, Lois became stricken with amnesia and fell under the care of a certified weirdo who tried brainwashing her into marrying him. It nearly worked, but the amnesia wore off, and Lois ended up kicking him in the groin.
- Same story, different series. On Smallville, reformed criminal Alicia Baker finds herself being stalked by her old doctor from Belle Reve sanitarium (yes, Smallville had its own Arkham), who is jealous of Clark Kent's affections.
- Dr. Anson Fullerton on Burn Notice, leader of the conspiracy that burned Michael. He was a CIA psychiatrist, and built up a network of burned spies in order to do off the books operations. He also used his psychology skills to great effect in manipulating people, particularly Michael.
- The Supernatural episode "Asylum" features the ghost of one of these, who haunts his old asylum and induces insanity in anyone who he touches.
- Lie to Me episode "Do No Harm" where a psychiatrist kidnaps a few children who where her clients.
- Dr. Tristan Adams in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Dagger of the Mind."
- American Horror Story: Asylum has Dr. Oliver Thredson, a psychiatrist who was appointed by the court to evaluate Briarcliff's latest patient, the suspected serial killer Bloody Face. He is kind and compassionate...except that he is the real Bloody Face, and that he set up Kit Walker as his patsy and ensnared Lana Winters as his latest victim. Dr. Thredson also has no qualms about using his medical expertise to torment the two of them after his plans went awry.
- The villain in the "Wahine'inoloa" ("Evil Woman") episode of the third season of Hawaii Five-0.
- Maybe not "psycho", but definitely "pervert"—on Sisters, second-youngest sister Georgie's therapist convinced her she had been molested by her father, then convinced her to turn her back on her disbelieving family. Ironically, had he been correct, this would have been an appropriate reaction, but his sole reason for doing all this was to seduce her. Her attempts at filing a complaint prove futile and he tauntingly suggests that she seek professional help. When she finally catches him in the act (after sending one of the other sisters in to entrap him), she pulls an Ironic Echo and says the same thing to him. Given the high likelihood that she's not the only woman he's done this to, she's probably right.
- Doctor Michelle Banks on Revenge who institutionalized and psychologically abused an innocent and mentally healthy girl, in an exchange for a cushy private practice. Years later, the girl gets revenge by stealing copies of the unauthorized videos Banks made of her patient's sessions, and shows them at a public gathering, discrediting her, then kidnapping the doctor and locking her in a shipping container for a day.
- Doctor Jeremy Batewell from Profit, who uses his skills at hypnotism to molest his female patients. Jim Profit uses recordings of this to blackmail the doctor into psychologically destroying a rival and committing her to an asylum in a perpetually drugged up state. Jim later exposes the Doctor and "rescues" his rival, leaving her in his debt, and others questioning whether her legitimate-if-dedicated investigation into Jim was the result of the Doctor's handiwork all along.
- Hannibal Lecter actually averts this during the first half of Hannibal's first season. While he's clearly a Manipulative Bastard, evil genius and serial killer, he's an absolute professional when it comes to actually dispensing psychiatric advice. It's only in later episodes that he crosses into this territory by gaslighting Will Graham, and it's for very specific reasons.
- Though this turns out to be retconned to hell and back during Season 2 as we get some extra glimpses of what REALLY went on during Will's sessions.
- The title character from "Dr. Jerome, Love Tub Doctor" by The Bogmen, who uses psychotherapy, hypnosis and a hot-tub to seduce patients.
- Suggested with Dr. X from Queensryche's "Operation Mindcrime" album, although it's unclear if he actually has any claim to the "doctor" title or is just a self-taught brainwasher.
- The stock character of asylum themed anecdotes in Russian Humour.
Psychiatrist: ...But of course he's nuts. Because the REAL Napoleon Buonaparte is ME!
Psychiatrist: ...What, you eat coffee cups for breakfast and only leave the handles? My, my, you must be mentally ill, because the handle is the tastiest bit!
- In Polish stock jokes (at least Andrzej Sapkowski's stories mentioned it as such) "What's the difference between..." riddle says that the difference between an asylum's staff and patients is that the former get to sleep at their own homes.
- A madman in an asylum is brought for a psych evaluation:
Psychiatrist: "Why did you decide to start singing "Deck The Halls" while doing jumping jacks at three in the morning?"
Patient: "Because God told me to!"
Psychiatrist: "I said no such thing!"
- In JAGS Wonderland, Big Pharma is a secret conspiracy being run from the lower chessboards with the ultimate purpose of 'curing' human will to live and triggering the mass suicide of the entire human race. Individual psychologists also operate support groups encouraging denial (and thus self-destruction) among the Unsane.
- Another JAGS villain is Dr. Nothing from the "Fall of New York" setting supplement for Fast Company, the action rules for the system. This guy specializes in crushing the dreams of those who seek to make a difference in the Wretched Hive that New York has become. In addition to his skills as Fast Company (which makes him as Badass as any player character), he likes to Break Them by Talking as well as other dirty social tricks.
- A Dragon article about Heinfroth's Manual of Methods; a spellbook constructed by a Psycho Psychologist in the Ravenloft setting, with spells like submersion treatment, shock treatment and lobotomize, as well as advice on gaslighting and experimenting on living brains.
- One of the main villains in L.A. Noire, Dr. Harlan Fontaine, is shown to be a brilliant psychologist and "doctor to the stars". However, when one of Dr. Fontaine's students, Courtney Sheldon, is in a fix and wondering what to do with some military surplus morphine, he says he'll take the morphine off his hands and he gives the money he receives from it to a corrupt conspiracy that has people burning down housing estates to collect the insurance money. He also forces an ex-patient to burn down two families' houses, forcing them to sell their land.
- The villain in BioShock 2 is Dr. Sofia Lamb, a brilliant psychiatrist who believes Utopia Justifies the Means and that Individuality is the root of all evil. She uses her skills to manipulate patients and the entire city of Rapture into becoming part of the "Rapture Family," which is just an elaborate ruse designed to obscure the fact that she's using the inhabitants to further her crazy agenda.
- Alice: Madness Returns gives an especially twisted example in Dr Angus Bumby, whose 'therapy' consists of getting his patients to forget their pasts so he can use them as child prostitutes. He also burns down the protagonist's house to cover his tracks after raping her sister. His Karmic Death is justified.
- Sheng-Ji Yang, the Chairman of Human Hive in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, had an education in psychology (along with many other areas) before the mission's takeoff. He's implied to have used his knowledge to cheat on psychology tests when applying, and that's before starting his personality cult on Planet.
- Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines gives us Alistar Grout, Primogen of Clan Malkavian. He's been spending centuries trying to cure his "unique condition"... and often does it by doing some very non-APA approved research on those with mental disorders. Oh, and he's such an old school shrink, he thinks Freud was too touchy-feely.
- Batman: Arkham City has Hugo Strange, warden of the titular facility, who experiments on his inmates using dangerous mind control drugs and ultimately aims to massacre all of them in the name of the greater good.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum has Quincy Sharp, author of the Spirit of Arkham messages. He's a schizophrenic who hates the mentally ill, and various atrocities he's committed against the inmates are detailed in the messages.
- Dr. Killjoy form The Suffering, whose "unorthodox" methods more often than not resulted in death of the patients of the asylum on Carnate Island.
- Enclave in the Fallout series. Not only did they set up Vault Project only so they could experiment on defenseless populaces, but also conducted pretty horrible experiments after the war.
- In Phantasmagoria 2, Dr. Marek is a complete psycho who runs a downright hellish mental asylum and tortures his patients. He's in league with a Corrupt Corporate Executive and sacrifices his mental patients to be consumed by interdimensional aliens. He even bugged his colleague Dr. Harburg's phone to keep tabs on Curtis.
- Danny Phantom: The Emotion Eater Spectra disguised herself as a therapist and deliberately made her student patients more miserable in order to feed off their negative emotions.
- Darkwing Duck saw a therapist at least twice. Both turned out to be Quackerjack in disguise, using it as a ploy to mess with his head.
- In Batman Beyond there is Spellbinder, who turned out to be the psychiatrist at the main characters high school, who used his position to hypnotize his young patients into aiding him to steal from their wealthy parents
- Plankton once passed himself off as a psychiatrist as part of a Batman Gambit to get Sponge Bob Square Pants to tell him the secret Krabby Patty recipe.
- That episode was particularly hilarious since Plankton's psychiatrist alias was Peter Lankton or "P. Lankton". Also...
- In Metalocalypse, after the band gets in a fight on stage, their manager hires Dr. Twinkletits (pronounced "twink-LET-its") to provide group therapy for them, but the doctor goes on to intentionally make them emotionally dependent on him. Midway through the episode, it's revealed that this isn't the first time he's tried to take over a band in this way, and he actually killed the last one, when he calls their corpses to gloat about being hired by the more popular Dethklok.
- In the South Park episode "City Sushi" Butters gets a therapist due to his supposed multiple personality disorder, who turns out to be both insane and abusive to Butters.
- The Stanford Prison Experiment and the Milgram Obedience Experiment, though well-intentioned, were (and still are) cited as an example of this trope in a number of criticisms of the field of social psychology. Both experiments are consequently among the causes for greater emphasis on ethical considerations in modern psychological experimentation. Neither psychologist was prepared to stop the experiments in a timely fashion although Zimbardo did end his experiment early because of the way the fake guards were treating the fake prisoners.
- Ironically, both experiments involved seeing how unpleasant 'normal' people can be. And the answer both times was 'more than you'd hope.'
- Some real-life psychology students reflect this trope, or are at least aware that they have the potential to reflect this trope.
- It has often been said that psychology and neuroscience classes tends to contain a slightly higher population of people with mental illness (both diagnosed and undiagnosed). Possibly because these people are involuntarily drawn to the subjects to better understand or manage their condition.