So here’s the thing… I read an EC comic book Psychoanalysis #1. And it was a doozy.
The first client this psychiatrist analyzes is Freddy Carter, which seems to be a tale of toxic masculinity and over-bearing parents. It takes both the reader and the psychiatrist about 4 seconds to realize that the parents are the true cause of Freddy’s issues. They never leave him alone, they treat him like “Dresden China,” sounds healthy, right? Then we get into the toxic masculinity coming from his father who says, “I’m a man and I want my son to be a man… Not some effeminate drip, writing sonnets about ladies’ eyebrows or soaking up poetic atmosphere in a daisy field…” Charming, isn’t he?
I would like to begin by saying 1) People should feel free to write sonnets about eyebrows, because sometimes they just look amazing and should be appreciated accordingly. 2) If I didn’t have allergies I would adore going to a daisy field to get inspired, that sounds like a lovely Sunday afternoon to me. Anyway, as for the father’s accusations, just reading these from a modern perspective made me roll my eyes continually. This comic represents a time when this was a common mindset for men, but even with that said, it can’t help but make someone angry that people genuinely believed the arts were “sissy” pursuits. It’s stories like this that we are fighting so hard to force into oblivion, because we know how harmful this mindset is and representing it just gives it a voice to wedge itself in people’s minds.
The second story in this comic revolves around Ellen Lyman. She is tormented by a dream and the psychiatrist analyzes it with her. I think this story is interesting, because it brings up how mental health can affect physical health, since Ellen suffers from migraines and sleeplessness. That could be extremely helpful for younger readers to learn about so that they know how interconnected their mind and body are. One must value mental health as much as physical health and if we can teach that to younger generations, it could help them tremendously as they go through life.
The final story is of Mark Stone, who seems to be suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. I also found this piece to be beneficial in a modern context as it deals with not only anxiety and panic attacks, but also the feeling of not succeeding or doing something meaningful in your chosen career path. Many people struggle with a form of anxiety or suffer from panic attacks, and honestly, it was refreshing to see a story where a man was suffering from those things, especially considering when this was written. At that time, if this had been a woman fainting and being anxious, some could have written it off as her just being a “fragile woman.” By focusing on a man suffering from these things, it gives it more of an urgency that I think people then would have paid more attention to. Plus, representation! It was needed just as much then as it is now.
It can be a lingering fear for many people that their work isn’t “meaningful.” There is so much pressure to succeed in today’s world. You have to be the best, be the smartest and even if you are, there’s no guarantee you will be financially secure ever. Even if it wasn’t about the money, people often want to make their mark on the world, and that internal pressure to create a legacy or do something substantial can break people. You know what’s lasting? What carries on after someone is long gone? A legacy of love. If they love what they do, then it isn’t only about what’s left behind, it’s about how fully someone lived.