Super Mario Goes to Therapy

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Super Mario Goes to Therapy | Written by: Bradley Meyers
Created & Directed by: Jared Bauer
Starring: Tessa Goss
Animations by: Brodie Rush
Illustrations by: Nanci Ayala Rush
Opening Music by: David Krystal (
Academic Consultant: Angela Belden
Edited by: Ryan Hailey
Opening Animation by: Luis Vega
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon

Super Mario Goes To Therapy – Pop Psych!

Note to self: next time your toilet breaks, fix it yourself. I needed a plumber and I ended up with a patient.
Mario is an Italian-American immigrant/walking stereotype who came to America with nothing Despite living together with his brother in what appears to be a bit of a “Bert and Ernie” situation Mario spends most of his free time rescuing his lady love. Navigating various mazes, pouncing on enemies that would make Freud blush and breaking blocks in hopes of finding coins and power- ups. And it never seems to end.
Collect stuff. Break stuff. Navigate levels. Save the princess. And whether it be Peach, Pauline or Daisy…none of these girls stay committed to their tireless rescuer. But why is it that Mario not only continues to repeat this premise over and over, but actually seems eager to jump in to each new adventure?

B.F. Skinner, was also the father of a psychological theory he called “Operant Conditioning” Skinner would suggest that Mario doesn’t simply go through adventure after adventure blindly. But that he’s actually learning to love this repeating behavior using Operant Conditioning. Mario loves breaking blocks. It’s his thing. Let’s look at Mario’s block obsession through the lens of the first part of Operative Conditioning – Positive Reinforcement.Breaking a block results in three things for Mario: either a coin, a power-up or nothing. All of these things are positive. The coin gives Mario points. The completely phallic mushroom gives Mario the growing and destructive powers of a penis. And the empty blocks are still really satisfying to break. Therefore, Mario learns that breaking blocks is rewarding, and is more likely to continue breaking blocks when he seems them. Mario’s behavior is also influenced by Negative Reinforcement, or the removal of unpleasant stimuli to encourage certain behavior. Look at the Hammer Brothers.There’s negative stimuli in that Mario is hassled by two asshole brothers who are throwing fucking HAMMERS at his FACE. But, over time,Mario has learned that a mushroom = not having his face caved in by a flying hammer. So he is conditioned to always seek a mushroom power-up.But Mario isn’t just learning what to do. They’re also teaching him what not to do.

Mario is punished every time he runs into a Spiny. Eventually, he learned to avoid Spinys all together, just like Mel Gibson finally learned to avoid speaking to the press or other living people. So what’s the result of all this learned behavior? Mario has become a prime example of Partial Reinforcement Effect. This is why Mario continues to bound into adventure after adventure. And even though he’s never able to save the Princess for good. He’s been conditioned so fully that even though the princess is always in another castle… Mario simply doesn’t realize that the reinforcement has stopped. So he just does it all over again. In my professional opinion, if
Mario truly wishes to change he needs some behavioral therapy. I think establishing a Token Economy System would be best; I’ll reward Mario with those coins he thinks are viable currency when he displays the desired behavior. Oh, and in our next session, we should probably tackle his obvious drug problem. Princess Peach? More like Princess Molly.

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