Okay so not long ago, because it was Batman’s 80th birthday the end of last month, I was able to sign up for 1 months worth of DC Universe for 80 cents. And it was well spent. I LOVE this series. Doom Patrol is based on a group of misfit heroes in the original comic book DC series. Together Robotman (aka Cliff Steele), Cyborg, Elasti-Girl, Negative Man (aka: Larry Trainor) and Jane try save the world and their mentor, The Chief, from Mr. Nobody.
What Is Group Therapy? What Are It’s Benefits?
In the episode, Therapy Patrol, after going back time seeing how the first Doom Patrol was defeated by Mr. Nobody, the quinquennial group fell into a slump. They knew they needed to overcome their fears and weaknesses in order to defeat Mr. Nobody. So, Cliff had an idea: group therapy.
Group therapy is one of many forms of therapy that can be used to develop better thoughts and behaviors, create goals, and have better handle of symptoms, stresses, past experiences. Group therapy can help in many ways! These include (but not limited to):
- Knowing you’re not alone
- Encourages giving and receiving support
- Helps you find your voice
- Helps you relate to others and yourself in healthier ways
- Provides a safety net
- Provides a sounding board
- Helping you move forward
- Provide motivation and leadership
- Developing healthy relationships
In the following paragraphs, I will some of the following examples from above to show how they are used in the show.
Cliff (although not a therapist) tells Rita to go first. At first she hesitates and says it’s because of something she did shameful years ago. Also she was ashamed how blobby on of legs were. She is not yet in tune with her powers, so she uses a blanket (or any other means) to hide her leg. Cliff then tells her she needs to talk about it, because doing so will rob the shame of its power. While she still didn’t reveal to the group what she did (she suffocated a movie executive with her elastic powers who was sexually assaulted), but she did reveal this:
Rita: Rita wasn’t a person at all. Rita was an illusion made of light and celluloid and the best hair and wardrobe in the business. If there is no Rita Fair, then there’s nothing else there. I don’t know what I am, I don’t even know who I am.
The moment she revealed her truth, her leg–as Cliff said–turned into legs again.
The scene displayed here was depiction of providing motivation and leadership (which was Cliff) and encouraging and receiving support (which Rita got from Cliff) (Bockisch, n.d.) . When members of a group and receive support, it allows them to look to each other for support, feedback and connection. The therapist is more of the facilitator. In addition, when members provide motivation and leadership, members surrounded by one another, motivate and cheer each other on (Bockisch, n.d.). This is also a place to develop a strong support system and have members cheer you as you progress in your recovery.
In my experience of group therapy (particularly in Celebrate Recovery), I gotta say, I definitely found it encouraging to know the people in my group were cheering me on. I often feel that I have no one to cheer for me, so when I see my Celebrate Recovery friends or call them, it feels good knowing they have my back and won’t judge me. We cheer each other no matter what problems we may face, whether it’s something like drug addiction or sexual assault or family problems. Nobody is trying to chastise each other or tell each other “There’s someone out there who has it worse than you.” They accept you and your problem.
Negative Man/ Larry Trainor
Next was Larry’s turn. But before Larry could even go on, Cliff rudely interrupted Larry assuming he was going to say he was gay, that however was not what he wanted to say
Larry: It gets lonely not touching anyone for 60 years. The last person I ever touch was John Bowers. I–loved him. And I drove him away.
Cliff: I knew it. I just wanted you to know that you’re loved and accepted.
Cliff reaches out to hug him.
Larry: I’m not done. I’m only sharing this because it’s the thing Mr. Nobody shoved in my face. What’s left of my face.
Larry: That was a joke. These bandages are the death of all nuance. Look, if Mr. Nobody’s goal is to torture me, well, I’ve been doing his work for him. Whipping myself in a prison of my own making. What if I’d trusted John? What if I’d been more brave? And guess what? I’m sick of it. I’m not just hurting myself, I’m hurting this thing inside me, and it’s hurting me back endlessly, until there’s so much self-loathing, I can hardly breathe.
The scene depicts two other benefits of group therapy: finding your voice and providing a sound board (Tartakovsky, 2018). How group therapy helps its members find their voice is by helping them develop their awareness of their needs and feelings (Tartakovsky, 2018). In the scene depicted, Larry revealed he craves intimacy and realizing he’s been his own worst enemy the past 60 years. In providing a sound board, members get different perspectives from one another as a support. This is also a chance for members to develop their own innate wisdom. Larry definitely learned that it doesn’t make sense to punish himself, while Mr. Nobody is trying to punish him. He can’t fight two battle and expect himself to win.
The more I find myself talking in group therapy sessions, I realize I know a lot more about myself and circumstances than I care to realize. That I already know, but I needed a safe place and people I could trust with these revelations. Once I reveal them, I feel at peace and more able to take on my inner battles.
Cyborg: I killed my mom. My dad and I don’t talk about this. I was having an argument with my mom at school. It seemed like everything at the time, but it’s so small now. Anyway, I got pissed and lashed out about some B.S. the thing is my guilt, it used to be the well of my strength. It took me so long to accept what happened and who I became. But, man, I thought Cyborg was a way to make it all right again. Something’s changed. Mr. Nobody, he put this bug in my ear: If my brain and operating system are seamless, then how do I know if my memories are real? The thing I can’t shake is, what the hell could be worse than me killing my own mother? And there is this tiny voice in my head that believes Mr. Nobody when he says that my memories aren’t real. Is that the human part or is that my logic board running game on my brain? As far as I can remember, I’ve never really trusted my father. So that’s not new, but suddenly I’m starting to question why doesn’t he trust me?
Again this also shows how group therapy is a safe place. Unfortunately, the only one he’s ever trusted, his mom, has passed away and he finds his dad an untrustworthy figure in his life. Sometimes, therapy can give us the support we can’t get at home. I know for me, I don’t feel like I get the support and understanding, so going to group therapy is helpful. I get to dispel my doubts, my fears, and my sorrows in front of people who in turn support me and accept me without judgement.
Next, was Jane’s turn, but she tried to deflect by showing a grotesque picture that she painted that (when she was captured by Mr. Nobody) depicted the team’s fate.
Cliff: Group isn’t over until you share.
Jane: Who are you all of a sudden?
Cliff: You don’t get to throw a grenade into our therapy session and pretend that’s happening
Jane: This isn’t therapy!
Cliff: May be it’s okay if it’s just talking. Out of all people, you need someone to talk to. Not sharing is a form of self-isolation. Your mind a beautiful strange place full of mystery. Come one just say it! It’s a safe place.
Jane: You’ll never be a father because you aren’t even a man.
Cliff: I’m the only one who can stand you and I only like one 64th of you.
Other forms of therapy (as depicted in this scene) is it helps you relate to others and yourself in healthier ways and provides a safety net (Tartakovsky, 2018). Group therapy provides a safety net by allowing people to be themselves, learn to take risk and reduce isolation. How group therapy helps you relate with others and yourself in healthier ways is by having a safe place for members to get feed back from each other (Tartakovsky, 2018). Cliff took a risk by having Jane (as defensive as she was) realize that he and members of their group have her back. And I have to agree with Cliff. She does need the social interaction, especially after being in a psych ward for so long and interacting with the other 64 personalities. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if she has social anxiety after seeing her response (or lack thereof) with the team. And by being with them, she will get to practice socializing. For me, that’s what group therapy did for me. It wasn’t what I was there for initially, but it helped. I’m not as timid as I have been in the past and by taking the time to call others or for others call me, made me not feel so alone. Not to mention, I realized people would accept me for who I was without judging me. I was practicing how to relate with people without knowing it. I think if Jane had team, especially Cliff accept her…condition… not only will she learn how to relate to the team, but I think she’d learn to love herself too. Speaking of which…
The Final Reason Why Group Therapy is Beneficial
Lastly group therapy is beneficial because it helps you realize you’re not alone (Tartakovsky, 2018) and you get a chance to develop healthy friendships (Bockisch, n.d.). Sometimes when we look at one another it may appear that we’re alone, because we look differently, have different lifestyles…heck even different struggles, but we are not only in our struggles (Tartakovsky, 2018). Rita, Cliff (daddy-daughter issues), Vic, Larry, and Jane all come from different walks of life, but each of them revealed they insecurities, shame, fear, and other forms of struggle that they were all dealing with. So it helps to bring the walls down a bit. Also, it helps to develop friendships, because it’s the perfect place to meet like minded individuals who may have faced similar circumstances and understand what it’s like to fall in their journey to recover. While the Doom Patrol team is taking a while to be a team (much less friends) I wouldn’t be surprised that they will build a bond strong enough to defeat Mr. Nobody. Besides that’s how friendships–even romantic ones— form…by being vulnerable. It’s like the quote below says:
We all need somebody to talk to. It would be good if we talked…not just pitter-patter, but real talk. We shouldn’t be so afraid, because most people really like this contact; that you show you are vulnerable makes them free to be vulnerable. —Liv Ullmann
I remember in a previous post I wrote titled, “Crazy Jane” I was wondering if Doom Patrol was going to put a dent in the mental health community and in mental health awareness, but after watching these last 10 episodes, I am very confident it will do justice in everything mental health. I like its weirdness, the blossoming comradery, but most of all I’ve enjoy its reverence toward mental health awareness. I hope it will continue to do so in future seasons (I’m banking that there will be ).
Find “Doom Patrol” on DC Universe.
Bockisch, C. (n.d) 4 Advantages of Group Therapy. Retrieved from:https://www.orlandorecovery.com/blog/4-advantages-group-therapy/#gref
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). 5 Benefits of Group Therapy. Retrieved from: https://psychcentral.com/lib/5-benefits-of-group-therapy/