Protest too much, much?

Mental Health
"You're telling me you actually thought 'Johnny Honest' was a good fake name to use?"
       "But, Don Sputa, I felt like it really conveyed the, y'know, fundamental, like, self-concept of the character. How he sees himself. How he longs to be seen by others."
The Boss cradled his tired head in his frustrated hand. "I should never have taken you and the other capos to those improv lessons."
       "It was great, though! Georgie said it was the best birthday he's ever had."


Reverse engineering

Mental Health
"Excuse me, librarian? Could you help me find some books?"
       "Of course. What are you looking for?"
"Where do you keep the books that are right about things?"
       "I'm not sure I understand you."
"This stack of books, here? They're wrong about stuff. I just pulled them off the normal shelves. They all get it wrong. So what I want to know is, where are the books that aren't wrong?"
The library patron leans in close over the counter and whispers. "Look, I get it if you're not supposed to tell normal people. But I figured it out, right? I won't tell anyone. I swear. Just...please, let me into whatever back room has all the books that agree with me."


Can you see my use now?

Mental Health
"I've got a bad feeling about this."
-"I've got a strong set of data gathered with nearly immaculate experimental design from a representative sample, strongly suggesting that you should have a bad feeling about this."
"You just gave me such an overwhelming desire to punch you that I forgot how scared I was for a second." 


The grass is always greener

Mental Health
The next morning, I awoke to find that my dream had come true: I was a tree. I was filled with joy as the breeze rustled past my branches. My roots were really dug down in there, in the ground, and it felt wonderful to know I wasn't going anywhere for any reason. 
My happiness lasted a whole hour, at which point a bunch of squawking, crapping birds landed all over me. Their grasping feet tickled my bark unbearably, but I had no way to move. No way to scream.


Null and what?

Mental Health
Thanks For Nothing
The day after Penny's birthday, a stranger came to the front door of her family's little house. The stranger introduced himself to Penny's mother as Mr. Alder and said he had been sent by Penny's uncle Lewis to deliver her birthday present, with apologies that he (the uncle) had always been overseas and unable to come in person. Mother was a little confused (Penny's father did not, as a rule, discuss his own family, but she thought he must have mentioned a Lewis once or twice) but thanked Mr. Alder, and invited him in for a drink, which he said he regrettably had to decline, having many more errands to run for his employer.
Penny was excited; she had already felt the excitement for the presents from yesterday grow, reach the peak, and begin to decline. But now there was an unexpected gift surrounded by mysterious circumstances and an air of the exotic. She took the box from her mother's hands and ran up the stairs to her bedroom before Mother could stop her and make sure it was alright.
She rushed to tear the paper and open the box, and found a card lying atop the other contents. Penny was seven and very proud of how well she could read inside her head. The card said:
Dear Penny,
Happy birthday! I thought I should give you two presents—something and nothing. Your parents will want to see what you got; show them the something, but keep the nothing for yourself!
Your uncle Lewis
There was one more line, which Penny almost missed in her rush to see what her uncle meant by "something and nothing". It read:
Be careful with the nothing! It is far more fun to look at than to touch. Never pick at it, or it will grow, and it may be hard to stop it from growing very big indeed.
Normally, Penny would have been delighted at the silver necklace that constituted the "something" of the gift, and she did dimly think that it was nice and that she would show it to her mother. But she was positively mesmerized by what sat beside it: not the kind of nothing that just isn't something else, like an otherwise empty box. No, it was different. It was rather like a hole in the box that didn't go anywhere, and that light somehow wasn't shining into. And when she tipped the box to get a better look at it, it rolled down to the corner of the box, but stayed somehow both physically present and real, but also empty and dark.
"More fun to look at than to touch," the card had said. But Penny was so very curious. Surely nothing too bad could happen if she just reached out a single finger to touch it. Surely not. 


The Vandertramp Legacy

Mental Health
The evil Dr. Vandertramp was convinced that truly great villains needed some formative, life-changing experience to turn them away from the natural human inclination for mild goodness (the kind that limply "does the right thing" only when it's not inconvenient and can't be said to truly align with GOOD or EVIL) and toward an existence bent on scheming, sabotage, and wickedness both surreptitious and blatant.
To his enormous disappointment, the children who had once been at least nominally in his care were now grown and were pursuing various forms of lukewarm mediocrity. He felt that he had failed them but wasn't sure what else he could have done for them.
Now Dr. Vandertramp's children were beginning to have children of their own and, bafflingly, were perfectly willing to include the nefarious grandfather in their lives. This meant that the pressure was on: these interactions might be his last chance to corrupt a generation who would carry on the Vandertramp legacy, and he refused to fail the children this time.

And now for a vaguely thematically related comic:


Never give up

Mental Health
The General, who had distinguished himself in battle far more than by book learning, had misheard a common saying as "deception is the better part of valor," and so although he was reasonably certain there were no traitors or spies in his midst, he always briefed his officers with overwhelmingly false information.


Problem solved

Mental Health
Waiting at the plastic folding table that passed for a desk, "Irascible" Ralph Battaglia looked like a grizzled, underfed tiger, the office chair and desk seeming more like a cage than a workspace. But in this case, the cage doors were open wide, and he looked ready to spring from his seat at any moment. 
So it was a surprise when Shelly went in for her appointment, explained her interpersonal difficulties, and Ralph began to discourse on how to deal with unavoidable narcissists, at length and with keen insights, albeit with quite a bit more tooth-baring and fist slamming than she was accustomed to.


Feelings of emptiness

"Yeah. Do you have any idea how much it hurts when people say stuff like 'Nature abhors a vacuum'?"
"It hurts a lot. I can tell you from experience."