In this article, we will highlight how the show, South Park portrays anxiety. Before that, we will try and understand what is anxiety? What are the symptoms of anxiety? How is anxiety portrayed by the characters in South Park? We will examine if South Park represented anxiety in an accurate manner and how the characters reacted to it? Was it a proper portrayal of a mental illness? And finally, discuss a few FAQs to get a better understanding of the topic.
South parks portrayal of anxiety
When we talk about South Park anxiety, we mainly want to understand the portrayal of anxiety on the show. It is sensed that this representation isn’t as empathetic as one would hope, because the opening scene describes anxiety as, “An excuse to be lazy and lame to everyone around you.”
When the main character Eric Cartman gets diagnosed with anxiety, his counselor recommends a buddha box that he should wear over his head whenever he feels anxious. Cartman takes this as an opportunity to spend every minute under the cardboard box avoiding every person and responsibility that came his way. If anyone suggests that he engage in the world around him rather than spending all his time under the buddha box, he didn’t hesitate to lash out at them. An anxious person is usually very reserved and scared of conflict, or even asking for help, but all of Cartman’s behaviors were opposite to how a person with anxiety is.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a stress response that our body creates when we get overwhelmed with the feeling of fear or apprehension when we think about the future. Anxiety felt at an extreme, for a period of six months and a disturbance in everyday work is diagnosed as anxiety disorder, also known as neurosis disorder.
Anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive fear, exaggerated use of avoidance behavior (such as not wanting to leave home), or excessive use of defense mechanisms (trying to rationalize a trip by a car is more convenient than confronting the fear of traveling via a plane).
Symptoms of anxiety disorder
- Unrealistic and irrational fears of disabling intensity
- Avoidance behavior
- No gross distortion of reality
- Anxiety disorder is evident in the early stages of life
- Ineffective and self-defeating behaviors
- Threaten and anxious in facing everyday problems
Types of anxiety disorders
- Phobic disorder of the specific type
- Social phobia
- Panic disorder with agoraphobia
- Panic disorder without agoraphobia
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety
- Take some time out to do things you enjoy
- Exercise regularly
- Eat well-balanced meals
- Welcome humor
- Get enough sleep
- Accept that you can’t control everything
- Try maintaining a positive attitudes
- Learn what triggers your anxiety
- Talk to someone about what you feel
How is anxiety portrayed by South Park characters?
The scene opens by showing the main character, Eric cartman’s visit to a counselor talking about how he isn’t able to deal with people anymore. He also mentions that the only thing that makes him happy and the only thing he trusts is his phone, His counselor diagnoses him with “Anxiety”. An article even mentioned saying that this was a “misdiagnosis and builds outward from that false premise”
The reaction towards this particular episode of South Park wasn’t taken very well, as it showed that people who suffer from these “disorders” get a free pass to throw around their disability to get out of situations that they would much rather not be in. when in reality a person suffering from anxiety wouldn’t do half the things that Cartman did whilst having “anxiety”.
This episode of South Park also revolved around the “Buddha Box”, which Cartman decides to wear over his head after his counselor “diagnoses” him with anxiety, he feels that the buddha box helps him relax and he helps him avoid human interaction any kind. Ironically at the same time, Cartman wants to be involved in every social event, whilst wearing the box over his head.
Cartman’s diagnosis mainly seemed like an excuse for him to be on his phone every spent minute, because when confronted with the little inconvenience of any kind he was ready to attack anyone who disagreed with him using his phone all the time, which isn’t usually how an anxious person would react to that situation.
By the end of the episode of South Park, Cartman’s friend Kyle grows more frustrated by his behavior and how he uses his “Anxiety” to get what he wants, finally telling him off by saying “Everyone has anxiety, but they get over it! They stop being a piece of shit!”. This shows that people who suffer from anxiety all feel the same way. When realistically not everyone who has anxiety feels it on the same level as the other person.
We can with some confidence say the representation of anxiety in South Park was nowhere near accurate but was not fully disagreeable too. It showed people hiding behind their phones to avoid stress and basic interaction which could be seen by people who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
When we talk to people or spend time with them to unload the stress and anxiety, we feel much better, rather than how in South Park people avoided each other and spent more time on their phones, than they would in reality, which caused them to be more stressed and anxious.
Cartman’s reaction to his diagnosis is what throws us off the rail as his first reaction is “Anxiety? Is that cool?”. All he wanted was to push “needy” people away from his life, friends, and family that wants his constant attention and want him to provide conversation and eye contact. So his solution to this problem is wearing a soundproof box over his head to avoid them, and when confronted his reaction would be “I have anxiety!”
Was it a proper portrayal of mental illness?
No, it wasn’t a proper portrayal of mental illness. Usually, TV shows such as South Park try and humorise the situation so as to not offend anyone who actually suffers from any mental illness such as anxiety. But that’s what actually ends up happening the majority of the time.
South park painted an ironic image in the episode “Buddha Box” because as much as we want to disagree with how they portrayed anxiety, some aspects of it were true.
FAQs: South Park Anxiety
What causes anxiety?
A big event or a buildup of smaller stressful life situations may trigger excessive anxiety — for example, a death in the family, work stress or ongoing worry about finances. Personality. People with certain personality types are more prone to anxiety disorders than others are. Other mental health disorders
What are some coping strategies?
- Take care of yourself,
- Eat healthy, exercise,
- get plenty of sleep,
- Avoid drugs and alcohol,
- give yourself a break if you feel stressed out,
- Talk to others,
- Take a break, and
- Recognize when you need more help.
What does anxiety feel like?
When an individual feels anxious, their body goes on high alert, looking for possible danger and activating their fight or flight responses. As a result, some common symptoms of anxiety include: nervousness, restlessness, or being tense. feelings of anger, panic, or dread, etc.
How does stress affect anxiety?
If a person is constantly under stress, they can have physical symptoms, such as headaches, an upset stomach, high blood pressure, chest pain, and problems with sleep. Stress can also lead to emotional problems, depression, panic attacks, or other forms of anxiety and worry
What are the seven signs of stress?
- Depression or anxiety.
- Feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, or unfocused.
- Racing thoughts or constant worry.
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.
- Anger, irritability, or restlessness.
- Problems with your memory or concentration.
- Making bad decisions.
How do doctors check for anxiety?
A doctor performs a physical exam, asks about the person’s symptoms, and recommends a blood test, which helps the doctor determine if another condition, such as hypothyroidism, may be causing your symptoms.
This article highlighted how the show, South Park portrayed anxiety. we even understood what anxiety is. What the symptoms of anxiety where, How anxiety is portrayed by the characters in South Park. We examined if South Park represented anxiety in an accurate manner and how the characters reacted to it.
As much as we rather spend our time on our phones than worry about the current situations we’re in, or how we would do anything to neglect our emotions than deal with them, We don’t live in South Park or own Buddha boxes to avoid our problems.
In the real world, we find many other ways to avoid our problems, to not feel anxious or stressed, but a healthier way to deal with any emotion is to talk to friends and family about them. If you have any questions regarding stress or anxiety feel free to reach out to us
What we recommend for curbing Anxiety
Below are some of the services and products we recommend for anxiety
- Anxiety Weighted Blankets are by far the number 1 thing every person who suffers from anxiety should at least try. Anxiety Blankets may improve your sleep, allow you to fall asleep faster and you can even carry them around when chilling at home.
- Online therapy is another thing we should all try. We highly recommend Online therapy with a provider who not only provides therapy but a complete mental health toolbox to help your wellness.
- With over 50,000 participants, this anxiety course may be just what you need to regain control of your life.
- Amber light therapy from Amber lights could increase the melatonin production in your body and help you sleep better at night. An Amber light lamp helps reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and increases overall sleep quality.