The Desert Island Psychiatrist

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro combo is also a cartoon meme combo: Desert Island + Psychiatrist:

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

You notice the empty clinical couch, with its colorful pillow, because it’s the biggest thing in the drawing, and it’s right in the middle of it. You notice the psychiatrist, because he’s a human figure, of some size, with a significant face (our attention is drawn powerfully to faces).

Only then do you follow the therapist’s gaze and take in the little figure in the lower righthand corner: the tiny castaway under a miniature palm tree, on a desert island — charmingly presented as being in a colorful planter, so that it’s also one of the plants in routine office decor, matched by the ornamental foliage in the planter in the opposite corner.

We are both in a Desert Island cartoon and also in a Psychiatrist cartoon (where the therapist is doing shrink-talk), set in a stereotypical psychiatrist’s office (notably medical, down to the framed diplomas on the wall).

Another take on Desert Island + Psychiatrist. On this blog on 6/11/18, in “In case of cartoons, see therapist”, a John Deering Strange Brew cartoon:

(#2) This time the whole physical setting of the desert island, palm tree and all, has been transported onto the therapist’s couch

Talk therapy is popularly presented as having the psychiatrist proceed entirely by drawing the patient out through questions, which are often covertly highly directive, not merely exploratory at all. In #1 the therapist’s question indirectly conveys an order to him to stop waiting to be rescued (and face up to his plight); in #2 the therapist’s question indirectly conveys his judgment that the patient is suffering from survivor’s guilt (by asking, “Ted, are you familiar with a syndrome called survivor’s guilt?”).

Another desert therapist combo: Desert Crawl + Psychiatrist. In my 5/1/16 posting “Between the desert and the couch”, a Bizarro combining Psychiatrist with another desert cartoon meme, involving a man (or, more generally, people) crawling, parched and hallucinatory, across a seemingly endless desert — call it Desert Crawl:


From that posting, this passage from Dan Piraro’s Bizarro blog:

Crawling Through Cliches: As I’ve said before on this blog, I enjoy doing cartoons within the canon of popular cartoon tropes like the desert island, the shrink’s couch, the man crawling through a desert, etc. Here I combine two of them and use another trope: the self-referential cartoon. Self-referential cartoons can be dangerous because if they’re too easy –– a character simply noticing he is in a cartoon without anything more substantial to say about it –– it can elicit a groan. I hope not too many people groaned at this one. I thought it was fun.

Although Desert Crawl is a very popular cartoon meme, the New Yorker seems to be especially fond of it. Four examples from New Yorker artists I’ve written about earlier on this blog, in chronological order:

(#4) Jack Ziegler, 7/11/11

(#5) Joe Dator, 2/2/15

(#6) Liana Finck, 3/14/16

(#7) JAK (Jason Adam Katzenstein), 4/4/16


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