Therapy Is for the Weak

"Ha, therapy is for losers. (Beat) I Made Myself Sad."
Zack, Echo Chamber

In this 'verse, the problem isn't that There Are No Therapists—the characters have just decided they're too cool for therapy. The concept of counseling, therapy, or treatment is discussed or brought up, but it's rejected.

The characters may feel this way originally, but usually slowly realize the value of therapy and come around. If they don't accept therapy, this will probably lead to a Family-Unfriendly Aesop. If they do, this will likely lead to Epiphany Therapy, and further visits are never brought up again. Another very common variation features the characters claiming this, not knowing that they're one Gilligan Cut away from bawling their eyes out on a couch. If it's a Police Procedural or military drama and the protagonist is required to see a psychologist before being returned to "active duty," then they'll demand that the psychologist just "sign the damn paper already."

In major examples, characters might actually say this trope word for word, and reject the idea of counseling despite intense psychological issues or self destruction. In minor examples, the characters will probably just insist that they can handle their problems, a therapist couldn't help with their super special problems, or that they're just too busy.

More prevalent among men than women. See also No Medication for Me and Don't You Dare Pity Me!

Speaking seriously for a moment, if you feel that you are struggling, then it's of paramount importance to remember that therapy is not for the weak. If you are in need of help then trying to obtain the help you need is a sign of courage and maturity, not weakness. If you feel you need to talk to a therapist, then by all means talk to one. If you feel like you have only one final way out, rest assured there is always a better way. There are always people who are able and willing to talk to you and who will do everything in their power to help you if only you seek their help out.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • X-Factor: Doc Samson is a psychologist, and the team members pretty much sneer at seeing him ... but they eventually come around.
  • In 52, Alan Scott refuses counseling after his daughter Jade's death and the Zeta Beam incident, because he thinks he must appear stronger than that for other heroes who have suffered during the same events.
  • This legendarily subtext-ridden comic has Batman telling Superman that using each other for therapy sure beats going to a clock-watching psychiatrist.
  • In Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic watches as Robotnik's psychosis takes hold of him, to the point that he must be put in a straitjacket. Sonic seems deeply troubled by this. He tries talking to Sally about it, but she tells him the equivalent of "Suck it up and quit being such a drag; you're harshing our mellow."
  • Fred Perry's Gold Digger has therapists, or more technically, 'balance councilors,' for helping mages and other magical beings with their problems. The Queen of Dragons T'mat, however, will have no part of them, not even for centuries after the most traumatic experience of her life (that, among other things, caused her to lose a hand, and this is among the least of the scars it left). Eventually her daughter has to go to significant lengths to get help, and deposing her is discussed.
  • In Batwoman, Maggie suggests to Kate that recent events (i.e. Gotham being attacked by mythical creatures), coupled with the lingering effects of seeing her mother killed as a child, have caused her to develop (or at least start manifesting symptoms of) PTSD, making her slip up and make dumb mistakes while out crimefighting. Kate is very resistant to seeing a psychiatrist at first, but ends up making some significant progress through her issues after a few sessions.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Infinite Loops, the Shin Megami Tensei loops are highly damaged. Naoki Kashima, anchor of Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne, had it the worst. Conception was inevitable, and no matter what he did his friends always went insane, died, or went insane and then died. He had no variants, very few other loopers, and few Fused Loops. This, as can be imagined, left him very troubled. In one of his rare fused loops, Shepard offered him therapy, but he refused it. This was a very bad idea.
  • In this fic, Plastic Man refuses help out of a fear of not being believed. It isn't because All Therapists Are Muggles, though.
  • In the fanfic The New Retcons. There are therapists for the now completely insane Elly but her husband John refuses to seek them out, thinking it'd make him look bad.
  • Queen of All Oni: After her encounter with Lung, Blankman suggests Jade see a therapist, but she refuses out of hand. And since she's clearly left with PTSD from the event, it doesn't take long for the Sanity Slippage to set in.

  • In Analyze This, mob boss Paul Vitti thinks that therapy is for pussies and homosexuals, but due to extenuating circumstances he goes to see a therapist. He has this exchange with his therapist, Ben.
    Paul: "If I talk to you and you turn me into a fag, I'm gonna kill ya, you understand?"
    Ben: "Can we define 'fag'? Because some feelings may come up—"
    Paul: "I go fag, you die. Got it?"
    Ben: "Got it."
  • Will from Good Will Hunting is forced to see a therapist as part of a deal allowing him to forgo jail time for an assault. A troubled genius, Will treats the first few therapists he meets with contempt, but eventually begins to open up once Sean Maguire pushes back against his attitude.
  • In The Elite Squad Nascimento is sent to see a psychiatrist, but he can't or won't open up to her about his problems. Admittedly, she failed to recognise when he tried to use I Have This Friend....

  • Flowers in the Attic: This recurs.
  • Black Dagger Brotherhood: At first Zsadist steadfastly refuses to talk about his abuse, owing at least partly to the shame and unresolved guilt and horror, but not long before his daughter is born he begins talking privately to Mary—a trained therapist—and seems to be benefiting greatly from their sessions.
  • In the Stephen King short story The Boogeyman (something of a spiritual predecessor to IT), the principal character is indeed seeing a therapist. And yet, he insists that he doesn't actually need therapy and sneers disdainfully at what he imagines the doctor's other patients are like (gays, crossdressers, and people who "strut around thinking they're Napoleon").
  • Heralds of Valdemar:
    • Kestra'chern in The Black Gryphon counsel armies who are in a war that has been raging for over a generation. Unfortunately many people in said armies consider them to be nothing more than very pricy prostitutes - in fairness, they do some of that too, as part of helping people feel that there is more to their lives than endless fighting.
    • Chief counselor Amberdrake, who is becoming increasingly messed up as a result of losing his family and more and more friends to the war, states in the narration that he can't go talk to another kestra'chern about it, because he's their leader, and they'd be demoralized. Some of his patients-turned-friends end up being the ones to console him when he breaks down.
  • In Worm, Grue has this attitude.
  • In Fifty Shades of Grey, Christian seems to think so. So does his adoptive family, probably, seeing as they adopted a deeply traumatized child and never bothered to seek professional help for him, despite his being selectively mute for two years. There is a psychiatrist, but he is only there to deliver exposition and to flatter Ana.

    Live Action TV 
  • On Becker, the title character feels this way, and only speaks in his mandatory therapy session after being told that he's "almost" broken the record for prolonged silence.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Barney refuses to go to therapy and instead sneaks into Lilly's kindergarten class to participate in "Feelings Hour".
  • NUMB3RS: Don wants to the therapist to just sign the paper and get on with it. He has no interest in actually engaging. Eventually, the shrink brings him around.
  • Bones:
    • Similar to the above example. The macho man Booth decides that Gordon Gordon Wyatt should just get him back on active duty and Sweets should just leave him alone. They both bring him around.
    • His partner Brennan is a "hard" scientist (forensic anthropology) with contempt for "soft" science like psychology. Not to mention her own passel of serious emotional issues.
  • NCIS: Also similar to the NUMB3RS example. The team finally gets some long overdue therapy. It . . . seems to help. A little.
  • The Mentalist: It is implied that Patrick Jane believes that from the pilot. However, it later transpires that he actually saw one for a lengthy period after shutting down once he came across the corpses of his family, and benefitted from it.
  • Perception: Kate claims this. Bonus points for reciting the "just sign the damn papers so I can get better at work" line.
  • Jack from 30 Rock, good God. One of his most famous lines:
    I believe that when you have a problem you talk it over with your priest, or your tailor, or the mute elevator porter at your men's club. Then you take that problem and you crush it with your mind-vise. But for lesser beings, like curly-haired men, or people who need glasses, therapy can help.
  • On Psych, Lassiter has to grit out the word therapist. Shawn also cracks a joke about how he's proud never to have seen a therapist.
  • Gilmore Girls features the mild humourous version. Lorelai/Rory have both dismissed therapy as unnecessary, only to end up talking for hours or bursting into to tears and spilling their guts, respectively.
  • House: House has very little faith in mental health.
  • In Scrubs, Turk concedes to Carla as far as attending their couples therapy, but refuses to actually say anything.
    • Carla later has this attitude about getting help for her postpartum depression. Jordan, however, emphatically denies it:
    Jordan: You can't solve this through willpower, or positive thinking, or taking advice from a Hollywood actor and the dead science fiction writer he worships. You need some help.
  • Battlestar Galactica: There are at least two therapists in the fleet, but only Bulldog and Hera are sent to see them. Starbuck declines therapy, saying that those doctors are more messed up than their patients.
  • JAG: Lieutenant Colonel Sarah Mackenzie is ordered to see a psychiatrist in season 9, and remains reluctant until the next season.
  • Lydecker is once shown attending an AA meeting in Dark Angel. He apparently does that solely to tell everyone that he recovered from his alcoholism by simply taking a good hard look at himself and deciding that he has to change, and everyone who needs to go to AA and take things one step at a time and so on are weaklings.
  • Played with on ER; the doctors and nurses work closely with the staff of the hospital's psych unit, but most of them seem to view psychiatric intervention as something that other people need, not they themselves. Of all the main characters, many of whom at some point in the show's run suffer traumas that are shown to have destructive effects on their lives, only a handful ever enter therapy, and most of them drag their feet about it and only go because a concerned third party coaxed them into it. That said, therapy and counseling services are generally portrayed as a good and necessary resource, and the psych staff are genuinely interested in their clients' well-being.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "The Sound of Her Voice", Miles O'Brien was speaking to a starship captain about a range of subjects, and when he got to the area of ships counselors explained that he did not see a need for them. She agreed, and they spoke about how you can deal with these issues by talking to friends and loved ones....except for the things that you cannot talk to your friends and loved ones about, and Miles laughed as he realized that he had been lead back to saying that the only people you can talk about these things with is a ships counselor. This is apparently a recurring theme in Miles' life, as when a ship's counselor joined the cast in season 7, Miles O'Brien stated his distaste for the profession to Julian Bashir. Their conversation started as a Therapy Is for the Weak discussion, but eventually implied that Miles had nothing against therapy, he just felt it should be done naturally and with loved ones, and not a disconnected professional. In other words, he hates therapists, but not therapy.
  • One of the recurring discussed themes of The Sopranos. Tony considers that therapy is for the meek and has to keep his a secret, because if a guy in his line of work is known to be talkative, he may very well end up dead.
    Tony: Let me tell ya something. Nowadays, everybody's gotta go to shrinks, and counselors, and go on "Sally Jessy Raphael" and talk about their problems. What happened to Gary Cooper? The strong, silent type. That was an American. He wasn't in touch with his feelings. He just did what he had to do. See, what they didn't know was once they got Gary Cooper in touch with his feelings that they wouldn't be able to shut him up! And then it's dysfunction this, and dysfunction that, and dysfunction vaffancul!
  • The Night Shift: Averted in season two. After starting therapy for his PTSD, TC brings up how great therapy is on multiple occasions.
  • Jessica Jones:
    • Jessica emphatically states that she neither needs nor wants therapy, instead relying on self-medication with alcohol and internal repression. Her coping technique when under stress is to recite the street names of her childhood homenote , but she at one point angrily laments how little it actually does.
    • Several of the Kilgrave survivors who go to the discussion group become disillusioned as time goes on, and are easily stirred by Robyn to abandon their talking in favor of retribution. They point out that sharing their stories over and over again is not fixing anything.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Chaos influence Warhammer 40,000 causes a lot of people to go crazy... which is considered a sign of weakness so no one generally cares enough to do anything about it save for shooting them when they snap.

    Video Games 
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, Corporal Betsy, one of a group of snipers, got caught and raped by a raider, and after escaping she went back to work like nothing happened. She didn't want to show any weakness to her battle buddies, so she didn't seek therapy, but convincing her that she does indeed need to seek therapy is one of the side-missions in the game.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fuminori believes this in Saya no Uta. He lies to his doctor and pretends his condition doesn't exist because he's afraid of being institutionalised, instead relying on his doting girlfriend for support. Unsurprisingly, this doesn't end well.


  • In the backstory of Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, when the Commander's spacefuture superiors tell him that all his siblings are dead (they aren't).
    Commander: [crying] I-I think I'm gonna need to talk t' a professional about this.
    Admiral: Why are you crying, you pansy? You're supposed to be a brooding anti-hero! Like Batman! Why aren't you Batman?
    Commander: I'M GETTING A LAWYER!
    Admiral: God damnit that's even lamer than a therapist!
  • In S.S.D.D Tessa refuses to see anyone about the rat with glowing eyes that only she can see or hear, after one incident where she zones out and sees horrific images that make her visibly freak out her boyfriend, Julian, makes her see a doctor. Grudgingly she visits the researcher who designed her implants and he suggests that her ocular implants are miscalibrated, after they're re-aligned she mentions the "hallucinations" to Julian who berates her for not mentioning that sooner. She reminds him that he once attempted to kill himself and asks if he sought any professional help before that. Granted Tessa's visions are actually due to a sadistic AI hacking her implants.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of King of the Hill, Bill tries to kill himself. Peggy suggests sending him to a therapist, but Hank only responds "He's not crazy, he's just suicidal".
  • It seems like Mr. Pataki thinks like this in "Helga On the Couch". Since he's a proud man, it's no surprise that he would think this.

    Real Life 
  • A serious problem for pilots: commercial, private, and military pilots will lose their certifications if diagnosed with a mental illness (no matter how mild) or if they take medication for one (even an antidepressant or sleeping medication) - losing their career and ability to work likely permanently. This leads to pilots refusing help and therapy because the consequences of seeking it are being punished and stigmatized, and therefore often self-medicating and/or being more, not less, prone to act out in ways that risk the life of the public/their passengers. Several murder-suicide crashes have resulted, and the usual outcry is for more testing and more stigma of the mentally ill - never mind that will increase lack of treatment.
  • One reason the suicidal often don't seek help or, if they do, refuse to acknowledge having suicidal thoughts is that in many places, confessing to suicidal thoughts or especially planning/attempts - even if no one but the individual would be harmed - is seen as a sign the person is so mentally weak and untrustworthy they need to be involuntarily incarcerated.
  • Also a serious problem among emergency services workers and doctors (including therapists themselves sometimes), because they often, despite training and knowledge, inherently believe some variant of this trope, or are more interested in saving others/giving to others than taking care of themselves and their own emotions, especially in disaster situations or the like.
  • General Patton publicly called PTSD sufferers "weaklings." It was a . . . different era.
    • Even at the time, he got called out on this when he beat up a soldier for perceived weakness when the latter had just returned from combat and had severe stress. It led to a rather large public outcry against him though the soldier himself played it down and Patton apologized later.
    • Since World War One it has been commonplace to treat combat troops with PTSD and shellshock, even TBI, by offering brief, focal counseling and then sending the men back to the front as quickly as possible.
    • Even now, the military has a rather...interesting relationship with therapy. On the one hand, modern armies are much better at screening out the mentally unfit and helping soldiers who've been through traumatic experiences. On the other hand, there's still a prevailing attitude of hostility towards the mental health profession, especially among the combat arms troops. The fact that visiting a shrink or taking anti-depressants is a good way to get one's security clearance called into question — not to mention being accused of gayness by one's fellow troops — doesn't help matters.
  • Legendary aversion: Audie Murphy became a public speaker to raise awareness of PTSD after his battle with it, at a time up when "man up" was the usual reaction to such problems.
  • This is a common attitude for people living in Asia, where those who seek professional psychological treatment are perceived as weak and thusly stigmatized.
  • Comes up in a lot of dysfunctional families, especially when one partner attends therapy but the other does not. The one who does not go WILL throw it in the face of the one who does. "You go to a therapist, and I don't. That proves you're the one with the issues."
    • To this day, mental illness (even treated or managed) and/or seeking health care for it is often seen as enough to deny a parent custody or unsupervised custody, even if the illness has never led to child neglect or violence.