What One Quality Makes a Good Cartoon Better?

doctor explains suspicious x-rays of skeleton to patient

I posted this cartoon on my own website recently, with a little explanation, but I kept thinking about it afterwards. I realized I wasn’t finished with it. I wondered if Psychology Today readers might appreciate the subtext and alternative meanings behind this idea…

A cartoon is both the writer and the reader

A good cartoon brings not only a surprise, or juxtaposes two disparate elements, but reveals something that the reader brings with him or her: anxiety.

Similar to how bug extermination companies post pictures of gross looking insects eating your house, and car insurance companiies produce commericials of horrifying car accidents, a good cartoon taps into worries, too. In this case,  one of them is fear of doctors.

Some of the other uncomfortable thoughts it might arouse:

  • Do x-rays cause any bodily harm?
  • Does the doctor know how to interpret them?
  • Will the physician suggest treatment the patient doesn’t want to do?
  • Is there something wrong with me?

And last, but the reason I wanted to post this on PT, is, Can the doctor see something inside me that I don’t want him to? Can she see that maybe I’m worth nothing inside? Or that I need a complete makeover to be a “new me”?

Have I forgotten any other concerns or anxieties this cartoon might bring up? Please let me know!




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