Mental health issues in stories (taken seriously)

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comixminx
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Mental health issues in stories (taken seriously)

Post by comixminx » 17 Jul 2015, 12:03

I have just been thinking about one particular Jinty story, "Waking Nightmare". It is a story that I wasn't ever that interested in at the time, despite being beautifully drawn by Phil Townsend - but looking back on it, it is part of a very small and unusual group of stories which took mental health issues seriously. Can anyone think of other examples? The ones I know of (from Jinty) are:
* Cursed to be a Coward! (1977) - Marnie develops a fear of water because of extreme bullying/abuse by a fortune teller. (More details here.)
* Waking Nightmare (1978) - Phil befriends Carol, a mysterious girl who seems to have been kidnapped and locked away, possibly by her mother. It turns out that the girl is suffering badly with anxiety, memory problems, and irrationality; the mother has effectively had her sectioned for her own good (though the term is not mentioned). It ends with Carol having to overcome her anxiety at least for long enough to get help when Phil has an accident; this brings Carol to the realisation that she needs to cooperate with the doctors in order to get better long-term.
* Waves of Fear (1979) - Clare Harvey suffers from claustrophobia, but she and her friends/family don't realise it for a long time. Everyone thinks she has turned into a coward, especially because she left her best friend alone and drowning in a small cave, because of being overcome by her fear. (More details here.)

I wonder whether these last two stories, in particular, might have been written by the same person? "Waking Nightmare" is quite an unsettling story in many ways - the enemy to be defeated is not a person or an evil object, but the invisible enemy of the girl's illness. I think it is a harder read as a result; it is much less certain as to what is going on and what needs to happen to resolve things, until quite near the end of the story.
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Re: Mental health issues in stories (taken seriously)

Post by Tammyfan » 17 Jul 2015, 12:37

I have wondered if Waves of Fear and Tears of a Clown had the same writer because there are similarities I have noticed between the two stories over the bullying issues. I also wonder if whoever wrote Waves of Fear also wrote The Green People for Jinty because the surname of Marlow was used in both stories (the villain for the former, the heroine for the latter).
Last edited by Tammyfan on 18 Jul 2015, 10:36, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mental health issues in stories (taken seriously)

Post by Tammyfan » 17 Jul 2015, 12:46

There were heaps of stories that dealt with insane villains (such as Mrs Webb and Dr Bracken from Misty) and stories where the girl is thought to be mad/ill when she tries to convince people that something terrible is happening (Village of Fame from Jinty, ET Estate from Tammy).

There have been stories where a medical condition was misconstrued, and realising the truth was key to the resolution of the story. One example is "Rhoda Rides Again" from Tammy, where Rhoda befriends a horse that seems to be badly behaved. But it turns out the problem was a medical condition that was easily cured. And in another Tammy story, "Julie's Jinx", a horse acts strangely when it is in contact with a gypsy corn dolly. The heroine begins to wonder if it is a curse, but it turns out to be an allergic reaction. And there were plenty of stories where a phobia caused misunderstandings and made the heroine unpopular because she just won't explain (such as "Lara the Loner" from Tammy).

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Re: Mental health issues in stories (taken seriously)

Post by Tammyfan » 17 Jul 2015, 13:20

There was a story that featured mental illness in Suzy - I don't remember the title. But it was about a mother who becomes mentally disturbed after the death of her daughter and makes her other children suffer. She inflicts emotional and physical abuse on them, does not bother to pay the bills, and is constantly leaving the house in a tip that her remaining daughter has to clean.

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Re: Mental health issues in stories (taken seriously)

Post by comixminx » 17 Jul 2015, 13:52

Tammyfan wrote:There was a story that featured mental illness in Suzy - I don't remember the title. But it was about a mother who becomes mentally disturbed after the death of her daughter and makes her other children suffer. She inflicts emotional and physical abuse on them, does not bother to pay the bills, and is constantly leaving the house in a tip that her remaining daughter has to clean.
How was it dealt with in the end? Did she come to realise her problems and get help (a reasonable and realistic way of dealing with it) or did she just snap out of it? This could be the sort of story I was meaning, but it does depend on how it is resolved, too, for it to be one that you could say is being taken seriously as a mental health issue.
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Re: Mental health issues in stories (taken seriously)

Post by Tammyfan » 17 Jul 2015, 21:01

comixminx wrote:
Tammyfan wrote:There was a story that featured mental illness in Suzy - I don't remember the title. But it was about a mother who becomes mentally disturbed after the death of her daughter and makes her other children suffer. She inflicts emotional and physical abuse on them, does not bother to pay the bills, and is constantly leaving the house in a tip that her remaining daughter has to clean.
How was it dealt with in the end? Did she come to realise her problems and get help (a reasonable and realistic way of dealing with it) or did she just snap out of it? This could be the sort of story I was meaning, but it does depend on how it is resolved, too, for it to be one that you could say is being taken seriously as a mental health issue.
The girl wore herself out with trying to keep things together and was put in hospital. Seeing this, the mother woke up.

I just remembered a Mandy story, "The Trouble with Mum". After an accident, Mum develops a condition where she tells tall stories and has no memory of it afterwards. Her daughter keeps trying to cover for her, but this causes trouble for her. And there was a picture library - called My Mum's a Stranger I think - where Mum acts so out of character after an accident that her daughter thinks she is an imposter. It turns out it was the shock of the accident and Mum leaving hospital too early.

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Re: Mental health issues in stories (taken seriously)

Post by philcom55 » 17 Jul 2015, 22:19

'Lady in the Looking Glass' was an interesting Bunty story drawn by Cuyas which seemed to touch on the difficult subject of body dysmorphia and eating disorders.

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Re: Mental health issues in stories (taken seriously)

Post by comixminx » 18 Jul 2015, 09:29

Tammyfan wrote:
comixminx wrote:
Tammyfan wrote:There was a story that featured mental illness in Suzy - I don't remember the title. But it was about a mother who becomes mentally disturbed after the death of her daughter and makes her other children suffer. She inflicts emotional and physical abuse on them, does not bother to pay the bills, and is constantly leaving the house in a tip that her remaining daughter has to clean.
How was it dealt with in the end? Did she come to realise her problems and get help (a reasonable and realistic way of dealing with it) or did she just snap out of it? This could be the sort of story I was meaning, but it does depend on how it is resolved, too, for it to be one that you could say is being taken seriously as a mental health issue.
The girl wore herself out with trying to keep things together and was put in hospital. Seeing this, the mother woke up.

I just remembered a Mandy story, "The Trouble with Mum". After an accident, Mum develops a condition where she tells tall stories and has no memory of it afterwards. Her daughter keeps trying to cover for her, but this causes trouble for her. And there was a picture library - called My Mum's a Stranger I think - where Mum acts so out of character after an accident that her daughter thinks she is an imposter. It turns out it was the shock of the accident and Mum leaving hospital too early.
Some interesting examples there. The mother just waking up in Suzy is a bit of a glib answer it seems to me. I quite like the sound of the other two, unusual!
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Re: Mental health issues in stories (taken seriously)

Post by Tammyfan » 18 Jul 2015, 09:54

Some interesting examples there. The mother just waking up in Suzy is a bit of a glib answer it seems to me. I quite like the sound of the other two, unusual!
And in both cases it is resolved the same way - the two mothers having another accident that cures them. Kind of like bumping your head, getting amnesia, then getting your memory back after another bump.

There was also a Molly Mills story where Lady Stanton starts acting nasty and out of character after an accident.

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Re: Mental health issues in stories (taken seriously)

Post by comixminx » 18 Jul 2015, 14:41

Tammyfan wrote:
Some interesting examples there. The mother just waking up in Suzy is a bit of a glib answer it seems to me. I quite like the sound of the other two, unusual!
And in both cases it is resolved the same way - the two mothers having another accident that cures them. Kind of like bumping your head, getting amnesia, then getting your memory back after another bump.

There was also a Molly Mills story where Lady Stanton starts acting nasty and out of character after an accident.
Hmm. Well in that case I don't think that sounds very much like it's being treated seriously! Another accident that cures them, forsooth.
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Re: Mental health issues in stories (taken seriously)

Post by comixminx » 18 Jul 2015, 14:43

philcom55 wrote:'Lady in the Looking Glass' was an interesting Bunty story drawn by Cuyas which seemed to touch on the difficult subject of body dysmorphia and eating disorders.
Interesting, Phil! I have seen those pages linked to before within the forum, but you're right to point out the body issue problems which I hadn't thought of. I think dieting (or even trying to put on weight, on rarer occasions) is not a very unusual plot point, but the way she seems to see an entirely different person in the mirror is quite suggestive. How did the story develop?
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Re: Mental health issues in stories (taken seriously)

Post by philcom55 » 18 Jul 2015, 15:30

I'll have to check but I think it ends with Pam living happily ever after by becoming pretty, slim and successful through her own efforts. It always disturbed me that such 'ugly duckling' stories invariably ended in this way, and never with the heroine becoming reconciled to her appearance...unless you count Bessie Bunter of course!

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Re: Mental health issues in stories (taken seriously)

Post by comixminx » 18 Jul 2015, 18:13

philcom55 wrote:I'll have to check but I think it ends with Pam living happily ever after by becoming pretty, slim and successful through her own efforts. It always disturbed me that such 'ugly duckling' stories invariably ended in this way, and never with the heroine becoming reconciled to her appearance...unless you count Bessie Bunter of course!
In "Tears of a Clown", the protagonist does change/improve her appearance but only once she has become more confident and accepted by her school peers, but not radically - quite a lot of the story is about her accepting herself and making the most of the talent she does have. The change in appearance isn't radical or unrealistic, and she doesn't suddenly look conventionally pretty or glam, so there's that.
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Re: Mental health issues in stories (taken seriously)

Post by Tammyfan » 18 Jul 2015, 21:36

There have been plenty of unhinged housekeepers, mothers and weird types. Some examples:

In Jackie's Two Lives from Jinty there was a mentally disturbed mother whose mind has been unhinged by obsession and grief. She rather glibly wakes up to the consequences of her actions but is not cured. She ends up in a nursing home, and the doctors say she will recover one day.

Their Darling Daughter from Princess 2 also had a deranged mother who is more of a villain. She switches her baby daughter with her employer's daughter so her daughter will enjoy a rich life. Then when her own daughter dies and the real one adopted in the household she tries to get rid of her. It climaxes with her tying the girl up and trying to burn down the house with herself and the girl in it. She ends up in psychiatric care.

A nutty housekeeper also appears in The House of Broken Mirrors from Suzy. She also burns the place down, only to end up perishing in the flames.

A deranged fortune teller also appears in Jinty's Cursed to be a Coward! She persecuted a girl who resembled the one she blamed for her sister's death. She ends up arrested but her ultimate fate is not recorded. Presumably it was some sort of psychiatric care.

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Re: Mental health issues in stories (taken seriously)

Post by Tammyfan » 18 Jul 2015, 21:44

Waves of Fear had one of the most realistic treatments of the illness. Clare goes through a long, hard struggle to recover. Presumably it was an outpatient course of treatment. But she had already taken the first and hardest step - without realising it - in facing up to her fear, when she forces herself into the cave to save Rachel.

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