Psychiatrist Meme Day

… at King Features Syndicate, or so it seems. In my feed today, three cartoons (of my five regulars from King) with a psychoanalyst and his couch: a Bizarro/Wayno with an empty couch; a Zippy with Zippy on the couch; and a Mother Goose and Grimm with the dog Grimm on the couch.

(#1) Generic psychiatrist, empty couch (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 7 in this strip — see this Page.)

(#2) Zippy-World’s God as psychiatrist, Zippy on the couch

(#3) Freud-like psychiatrist, Oscar Mayer Grimm on the couch

#1: The Beautiful Couch is Empty. A turn-about cartoon that’s paradox-funny and also touching.

My title here plays on the title of a novel of homosexual reminiscence, a combination of themes that would take you to a psychoanalyst’s couch, if of course you existed. From Wikipedia:

The Beautiful Room Is Empty is a 1988 semi-autobiographical novel by Edmund White.

It is the second of a trilogy of novels, being preceded by A Boy’s Own Story (1982)and followed byThe Farewell Symphony (1997). It depicts the adolescence and early adulthood of its protagonist, and documents his experience of homosexuality in the 1950s and 1960s, ending with the Stonewall Riots of 1969.

#2: Grant me this one wish, and I’ll grant you eternal life. Genies can grant you wishes (see below). Priests can grant you absolution. Psychiatrists can, sometimes,  grant you relief from unhappiness:

[Freud’s 1935 letter to a mother:] What analysis can do for your son runs in a different line. If he is unhappy, neurotic, torn by conflicts, inhibited in his social life, analysis may bring him harmony, peace of mind, full efficiency, whether he remains homosexual or gets changed.

But the Christian God can grant you eternal life — and so, apparently, can Zippy-World’s God. Zippy-God is willing to do that, but only if you’ll stop annoying him by coming to your therapy appointments. (Zippy-God is a testy fellow.)

(I’ll get to the Fenwick in the third panel of this cartoon in a separate posting.)

#3: Be careful what you sing for. This one won’t work at all unless you know both about genies and their fabled ability to grant (three) wishes — the basis for a family of jokes — and also a crucial bit of American popular culture: the Oscar Mayer Wiener Song.

On this blog, the 8/11/12 posting “Annals of phallicity: Wienermobile, banana slug split” sets some background, but what’s key in #3 is the song that trails the Wienermobile:

I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner
That is what I truly wish to be
Cause if I were a oscar mayer weiner
Everyone would be in love with me

(You can watch the 1965 version of the Oscar Mayer commercial here. And experience a wonderful barbershop-quartet version of it here, with Julien Neel singing all four parts.)

What could be more fitting for a patient on a psychiatrist’s couch than to express a heartfelt desire to be loved?

Then of course there’s the wish to be incarnated as a symbolic penis, how Freudian is that?

(Note on English morphosyntax. The original version of the OMW song has counterfactual if-clauses using a special CFT inflectional verb form (with I were), but a great many people recall the song as having the more modern, now essentially standard, PST form in counterfactual if-clauses: I wish I was an Oscar Mayer wiener.)

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