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Therapy Backfire

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Alice has convinced Bob to attend a therapy session with her for some reason or another (whether it's a group session, Bob seeing the shrink on his own, or with Alice varies). She's doing this because, in her mind, Alice believes the doctor will tell Bob that he's wrong, and Alice is right.

Most of the time, the therapist will side with Bob's beliefs, maybe even pointing out that Alice is at fault. Naturally, Hilarity Ensues as Alice can't STAND the idea that she's wrong.


Some of the possible results that could occur:

  • Group Session: The rest of the group sides with Bob, pointing out that Bob's a brave man for putting up with Alice for so long.
  • Bob and Alice together: Alice will go on a Motive Rant, usually along the lines of "How dare you side with Bob, you quack? Did you get your degree out of a cereal box? You were supposed to say It's not Alice's fault; you're wrong, Bob, so do whatever she says?!"
  • Bob solo: Similar to the Together example, except it'll be revealed (often by the door swinging open) that Alice has been listening in on the session via door leaning, and the same type of rant as above.

In other words, Alice's attempt to railroad Bob into a "better" man has crashed and burned.

Not to be confused with Critical Psychoanalysis Failure, where the attempt at therapy backfires so badly that the therapist ends up mentally broken.



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     Anime and Manga 
  • D-Frag!: Kudanshita's attempt at getting Saginuma to return back to school after having her former 1st-place title of "Biggest Breasts in School" stripped by Takao... It didn't end favorably (with Saginuma being completely brushed off and Kusshi herself fainting due to working too hard for it.)

     Fan Fic 

  • While not therapy-related, a similar situation happened with two girls in Nancy Drew, The Movie Of The Books, when Inga takes Nancy into a clothes boutique to update her "retro" look:
    Inga: Hi? Obviously, someone here needs a little help with their look.
    Boutique Clerk: Oh. It's not that bad.
    Inga: Oh, please. It's a fashion teardown.
    Boutique Clerk: You have some nice pieces. They're just not really working together.
    Inga: Me? I was talking about her! (points to Nancy)
    Boutique Clerk: (to Inga) Oh, sorry. (to Nancy) Wow! Where did you get that dress?
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: Dr. Wolper. His "help" drove Dent to be consumed by his dark side. The doctor then gets gruesomely killed by the Joker, another patient under his care.
  • The Ruling Class: In the second half, the Gurneys try to get the Earl committed. Instead, the psychiatrist JOINS HIM IN SONG and gives him a clean bill of mental health.

    Live Action TV 
  • It happened in an episode of Home Improvement, during a group session. Jill brings Tim to one and vents about her frustrations with his inability to understand her feelings. To her surprise, instead of sympathizing with her, the therapist and all the other couples tell her that she clearly isn't communicating with him properly, it's ridiculous for her to expect Tim to be able to read her mind and see how she's feeling all the time, and she's being way too critical and demanding of him. Of course, Jill is pissed that the whole group sided with Tim, and not her before a talk with Wilson sets her straight.
  • In the Monty Python's Flying Circus "Marriage Counselor" sketch, a man brings his wife to a marriage counselor; the counselor then seduces her right in front of him.
  • Happened in Swedish sketch show Gabba Gabba, (though the details are a bit fuzzy). In short, The Siblings are recurring characters, trying to get their stuff back after a fire. Once, they went to therapy, and the therapist kept agreeing with The Brother, who was always the cheerful fool of the two, whereas The Sister was a bit more overbearing, yet with an angry streak. The therapist agreeing with The Brother caused The Sister to freak, which led to the therapist agreeing more with the Brother, and so on...
  • A bizarre variation, In Community, the Big Bad has a fake psychologist attempt to convince the study group that they are insane, in order to prevent them from discovering his plots. It's because of the therapy that they even realize that Genre Savvy Abed was right and the Dean was replaced with an imposter.
  • In Arrested Development, Lindsay and Tobias attempt counseling after Tobias quits his job to become an actor. A simple role-playing exercise leads to Tobias and the therapist nearly kissing and the therapist not only siding with Tobias, but also quitting his job to become an actor as well. This is something of a subversion as it's the therapist and Tobias who are portrayed as crazy.
  • Smart Guy: Happens in "From A to Double D," when T.J. uses his knowledge of psychology to get to the root of why Tucker has been bullying him about his ears, after T.J.'s crack about his father being so ugly he got arrested for mooning touches a nerve (since Tucker's dad really did go to jail). Tucker starts bullying another student just after their session is over, though T.J. sees it as a compromise since he's not the subject of Tucker's bullying anymore.
  • Played with in an episode of The Big Bang Theory, where Penny (as a pharma rep) is trying to sell a drug to a therapist who refuses to see her. The gang suggests Leonard make an appointment and use it to talk up Penny so that she can use it as her opening, and he reluctantly agrees. He comes out of his session feeling better and with an invitation for Penny to talk to the therapist, but when Penny gets there, the therapist isn't interested in hearing her sales pitch. She wants to talk about why Penny thinks it's okay to manipulate her boyfriend like that. Then, after some awkward attempts at justification, Penny winds up opening up to the therapist, which does pave the way for some introspection, and at no point is Leonard framed as the bad guy in the episode. But if you consider the point being "sell this drug to this therapist" rather than "make my boyfriend do what I want him to," then it was a failure, because Penny admits to the unpleasant side-effects at the end of her session, basically guaranteeing she doesn't get the sale.
  • Cheers: As an engagement gift, Frasier gives Sam and Diane a therapy session with a friend of his. He comes to the conclusion that the two have a completely unhealthy relationship, there's no trust between them and they should never see one another again. Diane utterly refuses to accept this, and spends the entire evening badgering the man (who notes nothing about this is helping Diane's case), until he finally has a screaming breakdown as only John Cleese can deliver.

  • In the webcomic Venus Envy, Zoe's mother tries to find therapists to convince Zoe that she is indeed male. The therapists instead agree that Zoe has GID and a couple recommend therapy for her mother.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • "There's No Disgrace Like Home": The episode has Homer insist the family go to a therapy session. They all blame him (although this might have been annoyance at him having sold their TV to pay for it) and when the doctor escalates to electroconvulsive aversion therapy to force them to be nice to each other, the Simpsons instead shock each other until the clinic and the city blocks surrounding it start to brown out.
    • "Margical History Tour": During the story of King Henry VIII, Margerine takes Henry to marriage counseling in the hopes of stopping the king from marrying someone else. However the therapist (Hibbert) is all for Henry kicking his wife to the curb. Having four men push axes against his neck threatening to kill him the second he tried to talk about saving the marriage might have something to do with it.
    • "The War of the Simpsons": Homer and Marge attend couples counseling with Reverend Lovejoy. After they state why they're having problems (which involves Homer saying just one thing he dislikes about Marge and Marge belting out a Long List several hours long, which she doesn't ends so much as pauses because she can't recall any more things she dislikes of Homer at the moment), Lovejoy admits it's the first time he's ever agreed completely with one side (that side being Marge).
    • "Fear Of Flying": A Running Gag throughout the episode is Homer believing that the therapist will turn Marge against him by trying to put the blame of all of Marge's problems onto him (not that he isn't to blame for a lot of Marge's problems, but he assumes that the therapist will somehow brainwash Marge into getting a divorce after apparently seeing it happen many times before with other men). After a pretty bad first impression and Marge getting her fear of flying fixed, the therapist does tries to talk to Marge about "the big problem" that is Homer... and Homer barges into the office to take Marge away.
  • Family Guy: In Doctor C & The Women, Peter takes Lois to see Cleveland, who is currently an Unlicensed Therapist, after Lois gets fed up with Peter not listening to her. Cleveland ultimately sides with Lois and considers Peter the problem.