The Shrink

The mental health field is a complicated one. And fiction writers aren't necessarily fond of complicated real-life concepts. That's why you get tropes such as All Psychology Is Freudian. When even that is too much, you'll see There Are No Therapists.

But that's obviously quite unrealistic. There are, in fact, psychologists and psychiatrists in this crazy world of ours. And this trope is dedicated to the portrayal of them in fiction. There are three general portrayals:

  1. The Harmful Shrink: Whether this doctor is evil or simply so stupid that he or she hurts the patient, The Harmful Shrink is the worst kind of psychologist. He's cruel and lacks any empathy with his patients. He might be working with the enemy. He'll frequently violate the sacrosanct concept of Doctor-Patient Confidentiality. Expect him to shovel pills down the patient's throat. Shrinks who are less actively malign will still tend to cultivate dependence on themselves in their patients for the purpose of getting more billable hours, even if their therapy is no longer necessary or doing more harm than good. A particularly common subset is grief counselors who do all they can to make sure their patients never recover from their losses and keep going to grief counseling forever.
  2. The Well-Meaning, But Dopey And Ineffective Shrink: Usually liberal and possessed of extraordinary amounts of empathy, this doctor really wants to help you. He'll spend hours listening to your problems. He'll try to avoid pumping you full of psychotropic drugs. But he just doesn't get it. His failing is usually due to a surfeit of compassion. Dr. Love here just can't quite fathom the concept that his patients are anything but great people suffering from problems beyond their control. Frequently seen in the Law Procedural, where he is suckered by the defense into testifying that the brutal and murderous man on trial is crazy and can't be punished, or in Speculative Fiction, diagnosing the hero as insane for reporting (genuine) monsters/ghosts/etc.
  3. The Awesome Shrink: Exactly What It Says on the Tin. But even within this group, there are different varieties of Awesome Shrink. He can be compassionate and understanding where everyone before has been cruel to the protagonist. Alternatively, he provides the character in question with the kind of Tough Love he's always needed. Regardless, he's always smart, almost always cool, and never resorts to drugs when they're not needed.

Sillier examples of the first two types are often portrayed as bearded men with Viennese accents.

Some works feature psychiatrist characters who bounce back and forth between these categories or multiple psychiatrists who cover different types. And, as always, keep in mind that these categories are somewhat simplified. Not every character is going to fit precisely in one of the three types.

Also, all three types are Truth in Television, which is why seeking therapy in Real Life is sadly so difficult: the people most in need tend to be the least equipped to be good mental health consumers — which is required to get the most out of therapy by knowing what kind of therapy you need and finding a therapist that is awesome (and not the first or second variants, or incredibly judgmental/unable to empathize with one's lived experience). Ending up with the awesome variant on the first try is often not possible even for the financially well off who can choose whomever they want, much less for someone just stuck with whomever their insurance/public assistance will pay for. This is one reason why some people might choose to go without therapy, even people with major disorders.

Compare with Psychologist Teacher. Patients visiting The Shrink may well lie down on a Freudian Couch for therapy.


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Anime and Manga
  • Sword Art Online: Not intentionally harmful, but the therapists that Sinon is mentioned to be seeing to deal with her Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are certainly not helping her any. The reason being that Sinon happened to kill the robber with his own gun, and these being Japanese therapists, they tend to treat her as though she's committed an unforgivable sin by doing so, despite it being in self-defense, which is not helpful for her mental state.

Comic Books
  • 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 a villain.
    • Hugo Strange may count as well, especially in the The Batman incarnation. Also Harley Quinn's origin, as detailed elsewhere. Batman writers hate psychiatry.
    • Not only is Arkham Asylum a Cardboard Prison, very little effort seems to be made towards treating the inmates (which should be done with someone who is legally declared mentally ill), so there likely aren't many competent psychiatrists in Gotham. Batman is known to despise Dr. Arkham, both for the bad security at the place and what happens inside.
  • 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. Of course, Roger knew this the whole time and quickly dispatches it, but he was hoping to get some closure while he was at it.
  • Marvel Comics' Dr. Karla Sofen, aka Moonstone, is a supervillain psychiatrist whose powers are unrelated to her profession. One of her favorite hobbies is manipulating depressed patients into committing suicide.
    • Moonstone was mentored by Doktor Faustus, an enemy of Captain America who's made a career out of committing Mind Rape.
  • In Seven Soldiers: Mr Miracle, Shilo Norman's therapist Dr. Dezard is, as the name suggests, really Desaad, whose "therapy" is actually priming people to be hosts for the Anti-Life Equation.

  • In The Thomas Crown Affair (1999), Crown occasionally attends sessions with a psychologist (played by Faye Dunaway) who holds him in open scorn and repeatedly laughs in his face when he bares his innermost feelings to her.
  • In There's Something About Mary, Ben Stiller's character is intently talking to a psychiatrist who is paying no attention at all, then hears a couple of words out of context and makes a pat diagnosis of latent homosexuality.
  • In David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch, the protagonist tries consulting Dr. Benway (Roy Scheider) about his wife's addiction to his bug spray. His method doesn't help much, and he turns out to be just as crazy as everything else in the movienote .
  • Miracle on 34th Street uses one as an antagonist in the original film and most of its remakes. In the original, Sawyer isn't actually licensed to do anything except handle employment screenings, but he uses his office to practice psychiatry anyway. He immediately hates Kris because the man starts pointing out all of Sawyer's issues during the screening and tries to get Kris fired. When that fails, he basically starts tormenting Alfred the janitor by conducting off-the-books psychiatric sessions with him and filling his head with any number of false diagnoses. Kris confronts Sawyer over it and in the process thumps him on the head with his cane...leading to Sawyer finally having the leverage he needs to get Kris committed to Bellevue, thus allowing him to try and conceal his fraudulent practices from his employer.
  • Undergoing Adaptational Villainy, in addition to being Gender Flipped, the Dr. Kafka seen in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is this type, experimenting on Electro once he's brought to Ravencroft to test the limits of his powers and clearly enjoying every moment of it.


Live-Action TV
  • In Dexter, Dr. Emmett Meridian is a psychiatrist who subtly manipulates his patients, all women, and convinces them to kill themselves. Of course, Dexter signs up for a session with him to get closer and finds himself revealing more about himself than he initially intended.
  • The unsub in the Criminal Minds episode "Scared To Death", who murders his patients using their worst fears.
  • 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 basically amounted to torture, turning him into a homicidal psychotic.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dev Cvetic in the opening series of ER, suffering from his own issues, becomes more and more reckless and cavalier with each episode before Susie finds him dictating his own issues into a tape recorder.
  • In the first season of Mad Men, Betty visits a shrink to talk through some of her housewife ennui. When Don calls the doctor later that night, the psychologist matter-of-factly reveals everything Betty told him in their session. The implication is that psychologists in the 50's and early 60's have these conversations with their patients' husbands all the time.

  • The title character from "Dr. Jerome, Love Tub Doctor" by The Bogmen, who uses psychotherapy, hypnosis and a hot-tub to seduce patients.

  • In the Our Miss Brooks episode The School Board Psychologist, a dangerously incompetent psychologist tries to force Miss Brooks, Mr. Boynton and Mr. Conklin to find another line of work.

  • Dr. Rook, the jailhouse shrink in One Touch of Venus, is not as harmful as the police lieutenant wants him to be, but still somewhat hostile and a little insane.
    Rodney: I'm not the loony one—you are!
    Rook: That's what they all say.

Video Games
  • 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, Fontaine says he'll take the morphine off his hands, and of course, 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 manipulates 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. 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 offers 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.
  • Michael's shrink in Grand Theft Auto V is not "evil" so much as he is greedy, condescending, and utterly uninterested in truly helping Michael and his family.
  • The main character of Night in the Woods sees a therapist, Dr. Hank, which is good, since she's clearly mentally ill and is suffering some sort of nervous breakdown. Unfortunately, Dr. Hank is utterly worthless as a therapist — his only method seems to be "write it down in a journal." If his patient were someone else, he'd just be Ineffective, but when you find out Mae's mental problems led to her putting someone in the hospital, nearly getting herself killed multiple times, and having the aforementioned nervous breakdown, which in turn led to her dropping out of college, he's officially crossed into harmful territory. Another character mentions having seen him for her drug problem, but finding him to be useless as well, and only getting clean when she changed doctors.

Web Animation
  • The Counselor from Red vs. Blue. His job is to manipulate the Freelancers, AIs, and soldiers in whatever way the Director wants, their actual mental health needs be damned.
  • Though it's more of an Informed Ability, Nappa in Dragon Ball Z Abridged. He's a big, meat-heated brute that slaughters the heroes towards the end of the Saiyan Saga, and he mentions that he has a degree in child psychology...with an understandable minor in pain.

Western Animation
  • 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.
  • Plankon once passed himself off as a psychiatrist as part of a Batman Gambit to get SpongeBob SquarePants 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...
      SpongeBob: Huh, you're shorter than I expected. I guess that's why they call you "shrink"! (Rim Shot)
  • The Simpsons: A therapist attempted to cure Homer of his Bart-strangling obsession (or at least make him understand it's not acceptable to strangle children) by having somebody strangle Homer all the time. When Homer was "cured", the therapist said the road of recovery was far from over, but had a change of mind when Homer confessed to lying about having insurance.

    Well-Meaning, But Dopey And Ineffective 
Anime and Manga
  • In Loveless, Ritsuka has one of the well-meaning but useless kind.

Comic Books
  • Doc Samson in the Marvel Universe. His good intentions often lead to poor results:
    • He actually managed to merge various versions of the Hulk in one personality, but lied about the result being the real Banner.
    • He was the Hulk's shrink during the Pantheon saga. In the end, Banner completely fell apart and Fury commented that Samson was acting more like his own patient.
    • His regression therapy of the Punisher was hijacked by a third party and led to Castle going berserk and seemingly killing Nick Fury.
    • In his own limited series, he tried Talking Down the Suicidal, only for said suicidal to jump when Samson was done talking.
  • Dr. Long in Watchmen — the psychiatrist who attempted to analyze Rorschach.
  • Dr. Harleen Quinzel in Batman. Tried to cure the Joker of his madness, but failed so spectacularly that she's now as nutty as he is.
    • Let's face it — almost every doctor who works at Arkham Asylum is like this, judging by their success rate with Batman's enemies.
      • Except for the ones who are crazier than the patients.
  • Otto von Himbeergeist from one Lucky Luke album, who tries to cure the Daltons. While his diagnosis is usually right on-spot, he doesn't manage to turn them. And then, he gets the idea that he should've started a career in crime rather than in academics...
  • Rung from The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers and The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye. He is a genuinely highly trained psychologist, but his patients are often so badly messed up that the best he can manage is keeping them technically functional. That said, all of his patients we've met do seem fond of him.

  • The Bad Seed has a non-professional example in Monica Breedlove. A fan of Freudian psychology, she likes to psychoanalyze people for fun; she diagnosed her gardener as a paranoid schizophrenic and herself as loving her brother. Despite how much knowledge she has about psychology and human nature, her arrogance and constant talking blind her from being able to apply it in a real situation, and she is unable to see the chaos that is going on right under her nose.
  • Dr Fairbairn, the psychotherapist who Child Prodigy Bertie Pollock sees in the 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith. He insists on interpreting what Bertie says to fit his theories, rather than adjusting his theories to fit what Bertie says. As a result, he is completely unaware that Bertie just wants a normal childhood.

  • The Terminator movies have Dr. Silberman, who considers himself too sane to buy into Sarah's apocalyptic foreknowledge delusions.
  • Sophie in Shortbus is a "couples counselor" who doesn't like it when people call her a "sex therapist" (who, ironically herself, can't have an orgasm).
  • Dr. Simms from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors genuinely wants to help the Elm Street kids, but her refusal to acknowledge the supernatural threat only puts them in worse danger.
  • The psychologist or psychiatrist in The Stepford Wives. (The original, at least.) You just know she's not going to believe it.

Live-Action TV
  • One served as a kind of "inexpert witness" for ISN in the Babylon 5 episode "The Illusion of Truth". He seems nice enough, but has no idea what he's talking about (he misidentifies Stockholm Syndrome as "Helsinki Syndrome") and is being hauled out to provide propaganda against the heroes by what is basically a fascist government's PR wing.
  • John Watson's therapist, Ella Thompson, in Sherlock is not blatantly idiotic, but doesn't seem all that useful, believing that John's shaky hand and psychosomatic limp is because he's suffering from PTSD, when, in reality, it's the boredom of civilian life that is causing him depression. However, John at least seems to trust her enough to go back into therapy with her following Sherlock's (ostensible) death. On top of that, while she misdiagnoses the source of his problems, she does encourage him to write a blog about his life, providing the motivation for Watson documenting the rest of the series (much as the original character documented his experiences with Holmes for magazines.)
    • Ditto for Louise Mortimer in "The Hounds of Baskerville": while she genuinely cares about Henry Knight, she doesn't realize that the delusions she believes he's suffering from are caused by witnessing the brutal murder of his father and then being regularly dosed with an experimental psychotropic drug. In her defense, nobody would have reason to suspect that given it was all classified and Sherlock himself wasn't thinking of it until he experienced the Hound as well.

  • Fred Freud in the song of the same name by Lee Hazlewood attempts to cure his patients by prescribing classical music.

Role-Playing Games
  • Dr. Nicholas Saran in Dino Attack RPG truly meant well, but he had some... difficult cases. For one thing, he could never quite get enough time with Kate to really get to the heart of her trauma. Pharisee, on the other hand constantly refused any kind of counseling from him, though he might have gotten some spiritual counseling from Dr. Noomi Shaw. The best he got to a successful counseling session was with Rex, which happened entirely off-screen.

Video Games
  • The therapist in Phantasmagoria 2. While it's good to see a horror game avert There Are No Psychologists, she's extremely useless around a patient who obviously needs a lot of help working through his issues.
  • You can find tapes in Batman: Arkham Asylum chronicling the doctors' attempts to treat all the supervillains in the asylum. The shrinks try their best, but damn are they out of their leagues. Killer Croc points out in his very first tape that he knows what the doctor is doing, it's not going to work, so stop trying or I'll eat you.
  • In Mystic Messenger, the characters most in need of psychological help (Rika and Saeran) do see therapists but the therapists are depicted as completely unable to help them. Apparently in the world of Mystic Messenger, multiple therapists are so incompetent that they couldn't tell that a clearly-suffering patient was mentally ill and a broken person just needs The Power of Love from their twin brother to heal instead of useless therapy!

Web Comics
  • Tip from Skin Horse is a psychologist who tends to be well-intentioned, but a little too reliant on therapy puppets and self-help books. And he's been known to storm out after insults to his fashion sense. It's stated in-universe that Tip is a psychologist, not a therapist. It's like going to a Doctor with a PhD in biology instead of a Medical Doctor. They know the general idea on how to treat it, but not the exact details.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Reynir awoke to his mage powers after ending up Little Stowaway to an expedition in a Forbidden Zone. It just so happens that The Medic Mikkel, who is basically the team therapist by default, is a Flat-Earth Atheist and Religion Is Magic is one of the reasons Reynir has powers in the first place. The setting includes ghosts that are only visible to mages and capable of sucking the life out of human beings. The expedition including another mage and Reynir's own slowly developing powers are the only reasons the crew has yet to have any casualty by them. One of the stronger ones heavily implied that if Reynir returned home, it would follow Reynir there and kill all his loved ones. Meanwhile, Mikkel looks exasperated if Reynir mentions ghosts and calls Reynir's attempts at protective runes "decoration", all while otherwise genuinely caring about everyone's well-being, both physical and psychological. It's little wonder that after the aforementioned threat to his family, Reynir resorts to using one of the two mages he can contact via Talking in Your Dreams as a sounding board, despite actually not knowing him that well (the one he's actually travelling with dislikes him, has No Social Skills, and doesn't speak his language in the waking world).

Western Animation
  • Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist was about a psychologist. He was more of the second variety, with occasional flashes of competence.
  • In the Batman universe, Harley Quinn was a psychiatrist named Dr. Harleen Quinzel at Arkham Asylum before the Joker lured her to a life of crime. She was the well-meaning, dopey type.
    • On that note, Dr. Bartholomew of Arkham Asylum genuinely wants to help, as demonstrated in the episode Dreams in Darkness. But he's naive at best...
  • Dr. Scratchensniff of Animaniacs. He's had some success with humans, but none at all when attempting to "de-zanitize" the Warner Brothers (and the Warner sister). (Maybe it was a little easier for him treating Wakko for his coulophobia.)
  • Dr. Marvin Monroe of The Simpsons.
  • In Winx Club the Trix were hauled off to what basically was a criminal asylum after the first season ending. While the treatment usually works, the only thing they did to the Trix was to traumatize them into being even worse out of spite (to be fair, it looked more like brainwashing by overdose of extremely cute things than a legitimate medical treatment, and the Trix simply hate cute things).

Comic Books
  • Dr Ashley Kafka, also of the Marvel Universe and specifically Spider-Man. The Ravencroft Institute she founded feels like the writers were making a specific attempt to avert Bedlam House.
  • Charles Xavier in the X-Men franchise.

Fan Works
  • Ghosts of Evangelion: Dr. Okada was Shinji and Asuka's therapist for several years after Third Impact. He is actually efficient and good at his job.
  • Dr. Caitlin Flanders, in Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, mostly manages to help Samantha Shepard through her issues. She also assists Jackie and Sarah. In-Universe the reason this works is due to her extensive training in both psychology and psychiatry paying off (including handling non-Human sapient species). She does note, however, that certain situations do exceed what she was educated in.
  • In Supergirl fic Survivors, Dr. Jessica Ryan, Kara Danvers's therapist is determined and patient and does her best to help Kara come to terms with her Survivor Guilt, PTSD... issues.

  • The Snake Pit features Dr. Kik, who is friendly and gentle, and who succeeds in curing the young woman in his care of schizophrenia.
  • In Analyze This (and its sequel, Analyze That), Billy Crystal plays an Awesome Shrink to whom Robert De Niro's mob boss character grows too attached.
  • In Good Will Hunting, one of the major characters is the Awesome Shrink (played by Robin Williams).
  • Dr. Luther in The Three Faces of Eve.
  • Dr. Chase Meridian in Batman Forever, played by Nicole Kidman, is a very rare example of a heroic psychiatrist.
  • Dr. Loomis from the Halloween movies is awesome in a different sense. One gets the sense that he would be doing great work in his chosen profession if one of his patients hadn't turned out to be Michael Myers.
  • Dr. Jaquith, Claude Rains's psychiatrist character in Now, Voyager.
  • Dr. Jack Mickler in Don Juan DeMarco. Compassionate, competent, and knows when to leave well enough alone. Johnny couldn't have found a better replacement father.
  • The President's Analyst: James Coburn plays a psychiatrist so good he's recruited for the title role - toward the film's end he gets out of a forced defection by getting his Soviet captor to realize, through seemingly innocuous conversation, that he only became a spy out of fear of his Stalinist father.
  • Dr. Lowenstein from The Prince of Tides

  • Sigmund Freud himself in The Dracula Tape.
  • Dr. Neblin, John's unfortunate therapist in I Am Not a Serial Killer. While in session with him, John remarks that therapists are "so open-minded [he] sometimes wondered how they kept anything in there", implying that he sees Neblin as more of an ineffective type, but he's one of the few people who consistently believes in John and genuinely tries to help him, even answering a phone call at 2am and coming to get John because he sounds like he's in trouble.
    "Listen to me, John." said Dr. Neblin, more serious and intense than I'd ever heard him. "Listen to me. Are you listening?"
    I squeezed my eyes shut and gritted my teeth. "It's not John anymore, it's Mr. Monster."
    "No, it's not," said Neblin. "It's John. It's not John Wayne, or Mr. Monster, or anybody else, it's John. You're in control. Now, are you listening to me?"
    I rocked back and forth. "Yes."
    "Good." He said. "Now pay very close attention: you are not a monster. You are not a demon. You are not a killer. You are a good person, with a strong will and a high moral code. Whatever you've done, you can get through it. We can make it right again."
  • Dr. Berger in Ordinary People. Judd Hirsch's portrayal of him in the film adaptation has been cited by Psychology Today as one of the most positive portrayals of the psychiatric profession on film.
  • In I Am the Cheese, the main character spends every other chapter or so relating his life experiences to a psychologist at a sanitarium.
  • Susan Silverman in the Spenser series. She plays with this a bit, commenting on "crazies" and "nuts" occasionally when discussing her job with the title character, but it is obvious she is making light of her profession's commonly perceived tendency toward Type 1 and 2. She is otherwise portrayed as extremely caring and dedicated to her clients.
  • Doctor Nolan in The Bell Jar, who builds up a relationship of trust with Esther and ultimately improved her condition enough that she could feel hopeful again. Based on the author's real-life experiences.
  • Mr Nutt, polymath genius in Unseen Academicals, heroically psychoanalyses himself.
  • Rivers from The Regeneration Trilogy is tirelessly kind and patient with the Shell Shocked Veterans he helps to come to terms with their war experiences.
    • Rivers' friend Henry Head is also suggested to be one of these along with some of the other doctors at Craiglockhart.
  • The unnamed psychiatrist in Cut (by Patricia Mccormick). The entire book is narrated in the second person to her, and is about the protagonist's recovery, which is obviously due to the shrink's involvement.
  • Professor Mmaa's Lecture has Dr. Sigismund Kraft-Durchfreud, a termite caricature of Dr. Freud. He is a genuinely competent doctor, if not exactly an "awesome" one.
  • In The Dresden Files' Ghost Story, ectomancer (a man who can speak to spirits and have control over them) Mortimer Lindquist is this for the ghosts of those who died. He helps them deal with what is holding them back so they can move on. Those who cannot move on, he helps to control themselves and not become dangerous creatures.
  • Amity Sheridan from Geoph Essex's Jackrabbit Messiah comes into her own as a kind of Action Shrink by the climax of the book. Once Lieutenant Springer helps her get out of her own head a little, Amity's professional experience and great instincts help save the day more than once, showcasing her careful analysis and empathetic people skills to do everything from figure out how to "restore" Jack's powers to getting a former enemy to switch sides.
  • Manifestation: Dr. Patricia Caldwell, the psychiatrist Gabby Palladino visits throughout the book.
  • Dr. Minerva, Craig's therapist in It's Kind of a Funny Story.
  • Mary Russell's psychiatrist in the backstory; Mary uses the coping skills she learned from Dr. Ginzberg to deal with her own guilt and trauma throughout the series, help a traumatised child, and restore the memories of a witness.

Live-Action TV
  • Aaron Sorkin's a big fan of shrinks- they tend to be of the tough love, teller-of-hard-truths type.
    • Stanley Keyworth in The West Wing is probably the best example of this. He is called in by Leo to meet with Josh, who is very resistant to the idea, and tries to deflect the difficult questions asked of him with anger and snarkiness. Stanley is not at all fazed by his aggression, and eventually pushes Josh into admitting that he didn't cut his hand on a glass, but instead broke a window in his apartment while having a flashback to the shooting. Josh is diagnosed with PTSD, and Stanley makes it very clear that he is not "cured" and requires much more treatment.
      • Two years later, when the White House is shot at, Donna expresses concern over Josh's mental health and calls Stanley, telling Josh that he's on the line if he needs to talk to him (implying that while Josh's disorder is under control, it is not completely gone from his life, and is something that he still occasionally struggles with).
    • We can also assume that Abby Jacobs, Dan Rydell's shrink from Sports Night, was going to continue being awesome if the show had survived.
    • And continued in The Newsroom with Will MacAvoy's therapist Jack Habib, played by David Krumholtz.
      • "Why are you fucking around with me?"
  • The Walking Dead, for a grand total of one episode, gives us Eastman, a former prison psychiatrist. It is through his help and teachings of Aikido that Morgan, who was extremely unhinged at the time, was able to find inner peace and become the badass Martial Pacifist he is as of Season 6. At first, he captures Morgan and keeps the man in a cage, snarking on occasion and trying to converse with him. The cage wasn't even locked! As time goes on, Morgan slowly begins to calm down as Eastman continually dissuades his "Clear" mindset. Unfortunately for Morgan, Eastman gets bitten when Morgan freezes up at the walker that he had killed coming for him.
    • While it's never really mentioned beyond her first appearance, Denise was also a psychiatrist. This allows her to get through to the Wolf when she's held hostage by him, at the very least managing to get him to do a Heel–Face Turn and save her when Alexandria is overrun. Later on, she tries to give an inspiring speech to Daryl and Rosita to push them to better their personal lives, before being unceremoniously shot through the eye... by Dwight... with Daryl's crossbow.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit adds forensic psychiatrist and FBI profiler Dr. George Huang to the cast late in season 2. Dr. Huang's pretty awesome, though his observations do not go unchallenged.
  • Both of Adrian Monk's shrinks in Monk are awesome. Dr. Kroger always has advice that's relevant and helpful. Granted, Monk isn't always very good at following that advice, but still. Dr. Bell, Monk's shrink beginning in season 7, is equally awesome.
  • Tony Hill from Wire in the Blood is an awesome psychologist. Though most of his screen time is devoted to second guessing criminals, rather than curing people. He's so good one crazy hoodoo doctor was convinced that Tony was a witchdoctor too, and the ending suggests they died from hallucinating a swarm of flies suffocating them. And sometimes it appears he might not be quite right himself.
  • Dr. Sweets on Bones, and before him Stephen Fry as Dr. "Gordon Gordon" Wyatt. Both are treated as the Ineffectual Shrink at first but ultimately prove to be very helpful.
  • Sidney Freedman, a recurring guest character on M*A*S*H. The "best TV shrink ever", according to Psychology Today.
  • Dr. Molly Clock in Scrubs. Oddly, she's rather quirky herself.
    • Or Dr. Cox's shrink from "His Story".
    • Dr Hendrick, Sacred Heart's grief counselor, is portrayed as a great counselor, but is nonetheless seen as smug and annoying by the main characters, even when it's them he's helping.
  • Dr. Kate Heightmeyer in Stargate Atlantis.
  • Dr. Samantha Kohl in Raines. Anyone capable of making any progress with someone like Raines has to qualify as an awesome shrink.
  • Major Grace Pedersen, the Australian Army psychiatrist serving with the ISAF medical unit in Combat Hospital.
  • Dr. Lee Rosen of Alphas, who is also arguably the main character.
  • JAG:
    • Lieutenant Commander Jordan Parker, Romantic False Lead to Harmon Rabb in season 4.
    • Lieutenant Commander Vera McCool, counseling at first reluctant Sarah Mackenzie twice onscreen in season 9 & 10. Mac is reluctantly ordered by Admiral Chegwidden to see a psychiatrist in "Take It Like a Man", following changes in behavior after the events in "Persian Gulf". At first the therapy seems to be ineffective, but when seen in the season 10 episode "The Four Percent Solution" it proves to be effective.
  • Dr. Edna from Season 4 of Mad Men. She manages to be awesome for Sally (her actual patient) and more stealthily for Betty, who was the victim of a Harmful Shrink in Season 1.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has the above-mentioned Dr. Silberman, but his counterpart is the awesome Dr. Boyd Sherman. Not only does he accurately assess John as suffering from PTSD, he also thinks Cameron might have Asperger's Syndrome, he tries to get Sarah to talk (good luck), and sorts out an AI question the geeks can't. Unfortunately, it ends badly for him.
  • Dr Julia Ogden becomes this from Season 5 of Murdoch Mysteries, having previously had an interest in psychology but mostly been The Coroner.


Tabletop Games
  • The Pardoners' Guild of Wraith: The Oblivion pretty much have to be good, as their purpose is to help wraiths keep their Shadow under control, and being harmful or useless is a good way to ensure the Shadow takes permanent control, turning the wraith into a Spectre - assuming the would-be Pardoner doesn't fall themselves.

  • In the musical Lady in the Dark, Dr. Alexander Brooks analyzes Liza Elliott's musical Dream Sequences and discovers the roots of her nervous disorder in her childhood memories.

Video Games

Web Comics
  • Dr. Corrine from Questionable Content. A particularly amusing/intelligent quote of hers:
    "Just go out and bang some dude" is one of the phrases you will never hear a psychiatrist say. Other such phrases include "I think the heroin is doing you a lot of good," and "jesus [sic], no WONDER your mother never loved you."
  • Kili, a shaman who is also a therapist, in The Dragon Doctors.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • Dr. Bliss, the child psychologist who helped Helga in Hey Arnold!.
  • Morty Storkowitz on Birdz does a good job in taming Mr. Nuthatch. In the course of 13 episodes, Mr. Nuthatch goes from a nervous-wreck coward to being much more confident (though still eccentric). There's even a slight role reversal as Mr. Nuthatch ends up convincing Morty that he shouldn't be afraid to sing.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Zaheer, of all people, in Season 4; when Korra comes to him to try and overcome her PTSD, he reaches out to her and genuinely helps her recover fully so she can battle Kuvira.
    • Katara also plays this role in Korra Alone, counselling Korra as she helps her through physiotherapy, and proving to be essential in helping Korra start her recovery.
    • Earlier, Lin Beifong is directed to a therapist to help her deal with her issues with her sister, which are bad enough that they're making her physically ill. It's a difficult treatment, but it works. Interestingly, the method used is not psychotherapy, but acupuncture therapy using needles and metalbending.

    Multiple types, variable types, etc. 

Anime and Manga
  • All the shrinks in Monster, who range from realistically successful to vaguely psychotic.

Comic Books
  • Dr Jeremiah Arkham in Batman varies between Type 1 and 2 Depending on the Writer. He was originally created by Alan Grant as a B. F. Skinner type who believed in "controlling" his charges, then shifting to a touchy-feely shrink who let them wear their costumes if it made them feel better, before going through a period where he was a costumed villain himself. His ancestor Amadeus, who founded the Asylum, appears as a Type 2/3 in All-Star Western but it's a Foregone Conclusion that he becomes a Type 1, since it's built into the Asylum's history.

Fan Fic

  • In Annie Hall there is an amusing Split Screen scene showing Alvy and Annie at their respective shrinks, who simultaneously ask them how often they make love. Alvy replies, "Oh, hardly ever...two, maybe three times a week." While Annie says, "Oh all the time, at least two or three times a week."
  • Neil Gordon from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Mostly an Awesome Shrink, but subverts it when he's willing to use drugs (Hypnocil) to aid his patients.

  • A major theme in Erica Jong's Fear of Flying.
  • Ditto Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint.
  • Sir Roderick Glossop is a rather complicated example. Sometimes he would qualify as harmful because of his tendency to see mental illness everywhere and his belief that Bertie should be institutionalized. Of course since this is Wodehouse it's Played for Laughs. Later on he becomes more of a dopey ineffectual shrink specifically in his use of “The Glossop Method” where he gives a patient whatever it is they want (alcohol for instance) in the hopes that they will get sick of it and therefore cease to be addicted. Needless to say it doesn’t work.
  • Doctor Gordon in The Bell Jar is the "Harmful" type. He behaves indifferent and cold to Esther in her therapy sessions and ultimately botches electroshock therapy, giving her a traumatic fear of the procedure. He is based on the author's real-life experiences. Doctor Nolan, however, is much better, administering electroshock therapy properly and helping Esther recover.

Live-Action TV
  • In the German crime comedy Dr. Psycho, police psychologist Max Munzel seems like an example of type 2 and is treated as such by his police colleagues and wife, but he is far less incompetent than his personality would suggest.
  • Frasier. Obviously. Both Frasier and Niles tend to oscillate between types two and three. In fact, part of the show's premise was the irony inherent in a brilliant psychiatrist who dispenses excellent advice to strangers, but cannot figure out his own neuroses or his screwed-up familial relationships.
  • Libby from Lost, who is usually Type 3, but occasionally dips into Type 2.
  • House's psychiatrist in Season 6 is apparently awesome but actually violates so many therapeutic heuristics (ex. don't judge your patient, and picking up a newspaper and ignoring him may make for dramatic effect or comedy in someone's twisted mind but is certainly not realistically helpful), it's no wonder House finally got fed up and walked out.
    • Given the fact that he actually somewhat managed to at least temporary help House - who as a person would be the worst ordeal for any therapist - we may consider him plain awesome.
  • The premise of the television show The Sopranos is that main character and mob boss Tony Soprano starts seeing a therapist. Dr. Melfi actually is a very skilled therapist, and is able to help him through some of his issues. However, later episodes indicate that he may well be a sociopath and beyond actual rehabiliation, and the biggest effect of therapy for Tony has been helping him seem normal (as normal as a mob boss can be).
  • Paul Weston in In Treatment, played by Gabriel Byrne, is a compassionate, savvy and well meaning doctor who has a lot of issues on his own and starts to see a therapist himself, Gina Toll, his old mentor, which adds a new complex relation to his life.
  • Dr. Craig "Huff" Huffstodt (played by Hank Azaria) from Showtime's HUFF.
  • It's still too early to call, but Archie Hopper in Once Upon a Time seems to skate between Types 2 & 3. Like the rest of the cast, he suffers from a nasty case of identity amnesia and tends to be an Extreme Doormat when it comes to Regina's abuse...well, until he grew a spine in the fifth episode. Considering he was Jiminy Cricket, it's probably not a good idea to tell him to violate matters of conscience.
  • Dr. Hartley in The Bob Newhart Show. No matter how many breakthroughs they have, none of his patients get any better.
  • Ezri Dax in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. She starts out not being that good, but she figures out how to treat Garak's claustrophobia before the end of the episode. Granted, she has a huge amount of issues herself (not least having very recently gained an entirely new second personality with numerous lifetimes of experience in addition to her own), on top of having been in training just a few weeks before her transfer.
  • Dr. Noelle Akopian of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is in a rather unfortunate position, being smart, compassionate, and mostly separated from all the drama and thus able to be objective... but having Rebecca for a client. In any other romantic comedy, she'd be the Awesome kind, but since she's counselling the Romantic False Lead, her (good) advice falls on deaf ears, forcing her into the role of the Ineffective shrink, and an Ignored Expert. By the second season, she's realized that Rebecca will never take her advice, and only bothers because she needs money for a new kayak. Further proving that she'd normally be the Awesome kind, when it looks like Rebecca might finally be having a breakthrough, Dr. Akopian is thrilled, cancelling her next few appointments so she can talk to Rebecca longer that day, and immediately stops snarking and starts trying to guide Rebecca towards the realization that being with Josh won't make her happy. Unfortunately, Josh shows up at that exact moment and proposes. Cue Rebecca forgetting all about her breakthrough, and a Big "NO!" from Dr. Akopian.

Newspaper Comics
  • Lucy van Pelt of Peanuts. At 5¢ a session you presumably get what you pay for.
  • A common gag in The Far Side. One of the more famous ones is a therapist who puts in one patient's notes, "Just plain NUTS!"
  • A very, very common setting for The New Yorker magazine cartoons. A typical example shows a guy at home saying to his parakeet, "You came up in therapy today."

Video Games
  • Lux-Pain therapist, Honoka Hino, is a psychiatrist in addition to the school's nurse. She does seem to successfully counsel a few people, like Takuya Inoue. However, later in the game she is infected by a mental parasite after Hibiki Kiryu goes into a coma, and wonders if he'll ever wake up. She reveals she also used to counsel a terminally ill girl who asked her to smile, then died. If you don't remove the parasite, she snaps, goes into the hospital and kills him, then is gunned down mercilessly by the police. She ends up needing more therapy than practically anyone in the game. And that's saying a lot.

Web Comics
  • For a couple of years in Dykes to Watch Out For, Mo saw a shrink named Anya whom she adored. Therapy has also been a Running Gag throughout the strip, referencing how near-obligatory therapy seems to be for lesbians, and Sparrow in particular was a full fledged therapy junkie for about the first 10 years (even showing her entering couple therapy with her girlfriend of three months. There was also a character appearing on the calendars (but not in the strip, aside from her initial appearance in a really early strip) named Cleo Baldshein, a "guerrilla therapist".
  • Dr. Gardevoir serves as the only psychiatrist to a world inhabited by video game characters. She's seen to be calmly dealing with a Creeper repeatedly exploding but dreads being in the same room as Ellis. She also seems to have given herself a Split Personality when trying self therapy.
  • Doctor Angstrom in Broodhollow mostly seems to be the sensible, intelligent, good-advice variety, though he has been known to rename psychology terms so he can say he discovered them.
  • Doctor Lovetalk from Sexy Losers would be a good radio sex therapist if her advice actually reflected the needs of her callers. As it is, they're either dishonest about their problems, or have interests too strange and disgusting even for her.

Western Animation

Video Games
  • Dr. Penelope Young from Batman: Arkham Asylum sits at a nebulous point between types 1 and 2. Her intentions are good, but the experiments she performs — and which Fridge Horror indicates she intends to perform, given she thinks that her subjects would need a Psycho Serum like TITAN to survive them — are clearly less than benevolent. She is cool-headed and rational, yet her effects at treating or even diagnosing the patients at Arkham are absolutely useless. This is compounded by the fact she has a rather egregious case of Arbitrary Skepticism, which means she refuses to believe that, say, Killer Croc is a cannibal (despite this being a well-documented aspect of his behavior by the police- and him being a 15 feet tall crocodile man) or that the Ratcatcher does have a borderline psychic ability to communicate with rats (then later demanding he remove the rats from the interview room). Admittedly, in this last case, metahumans are a rarity in Gotham, but at least three well-known cases — Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Clayface — are not only famous, but actually kept in Arkham. Summing up just how terrible she is at performing even a basic diagnosis; Dr. Young actually comes to the conclusion that Jonathon Crane, aka The Scarecrow, is harmless and would be a great asset to the TITAN project... as a researcher. Oh, and she later finds out that the whole project was funded by The Joker.
    • For that matter, she thought Batman's "multiple disorders" were driven by, as detailed from bonus material in the collector's edition of the first game, genetic predisposition and substance abuse. It doesn't help she's getting her info from the inmates themselves. Although, she's wondering if the inmates are his real peer group, something Joker, Riddler, and Scarecrow believe as well.
  • Mass Effect 2 brings us Yeoman Kelly Chambers, the de-facto ship's shrink on the Normandy. She has all the training and background to be a psychologist, and is very compassionate towards just about everyone. Her actual position aboard the ship is closer to The Profiler, giving Shepard advice on how to best deal with his varied teammates, and she is also assigned as Shepard's personnal assistant.
    • Mass Effect 3 reveals that while she was aboard the Normandy, she was keeping her boss, The Illusive Man, informed with updated psychological profiles on Shepard to better allow Cerberus to manipulate him/her towards their goals. She is in such a bad emotional state after the events of the second game, that if you get angry at her over it, she will be Driven to Suicide.
  • Isiah "Pube Head" Friedlander, Michael's shrink in Grand Theft Auto V is a cross between Types 1 and 2. He gets paid (increasingly large sums) by Mike to listen to his problems, cuts him off mid-breakthrough, and attributes everything to denial or sociopathy. Friedlander's idea of group therapy is letting the parents scream at each other while the kids sit there awkwardly, and during his final session with Michael, he reveals that he's getting his own TV show. Luckily enough, he dies before he gets to sell Mike's secrets.
    • Though he couldn't really care less about Michael, in therapy Michael can come to personal revelations about himself and how he is acting. Or not, it's your choice.