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The head is where the brain is, and the brain controls all conscious and unconscious functions. So when there's some external, intangible assault on the brain, cranium or ears, it's only natural to seek to protect the head. Gotta Get Your Head Together is the resulting trope, most frequently seen in comics, sci-fi, games, and animation.
If a mind control power is used, the character(s) attempting to resist it will clutch their heads.
If a sonic assault has been unleashed, the victims will clutch their heads to protect their ears.
Variations on the headclutch include huddling into a ball on the floor, falling to the knees, or doubling over as if attempting to shake off the intruding influence.
This pose, often seen in tandem with The Scream, can also be encountered in situations where a powered character is reaching the upper limit of their concentration and ability; which makes this trope a relative of the Pstandard Psychic Pstance. It often precedes Your Head Asplode.
As mind manipuation technology has not yet been perfected, we cannot ascertain whether or not the psychic variant is Truth in Television. The sonic version is, though.
- Vegeta does this in Dragon Ball Z when Babidi is taking over his mind and amplifying the lingering evil within him.
- Same goes for Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion when she gets Mind Raped.
- In Chrono Crusade, Joshua often clutches his head and screams when the power of the horns on his head overwhelms him. (The picture above is just one example of many.)
- Also, the manga shows Aion clutching his head after discovering horrible secrets about his society, including that Pandaemonium was once a human woman, pregnant with him and Chrono, before she was turned into the Hive Queen of the demons.
- Child!Lucy from Elfen Lied does this whenever her "killer instinct" is talking to her.
- Ryouga from Ranma ½ does this every chance he gets, whether he's succumbing to despair, embarrassment, or simply has gotten lost yet again. It even became his "Lose" pose in the Super Famicom fighting games.
- In Saint Seiya, Musical Assassin Siren Sorento is assaulting God Warrior Siegfried's mind with the melody from his flute. Desperate to ward off the attack, Siegfried first covers his ears, then ruptures his own eardrums... but the sound still reaches directly into his brain, causing him to clutch his head in madness.
- Constantly happening to and around Tetsuo in Akira. Apparently, being psychic really, really hurts. And you know what they say about misery...
- Dan from Bakugan grew fond of this trope during the first part of the fourth season due to constant mind raping from the Big Bad.
- Almost anyone in the Marvel Universe being attacked by a psi will do this.
- And any with psi-based powers hit with psychic backlash. Also happens to anyone attempting to use Cerebro to scan world-wide, from Professor Xavier to the mildest psychic, so often that you wonder why they still trust the thing.
- Susan Storm-Richards tends to do this when she's pushing her force field power to its upper limit.
- The first villain in Requiem for a Rogue is confronted by a more powerful villain, who uses his blaster to burn off his own hand, telekinetically uses it to choke the first guy, then makes the first guy's head explode. Because just shooting, choking, or head-exploding him would be too simple, apparently, and Death Traps aren't personal enough. There's a Gory Discretion Shot, and the first bad guy's silhouette is seen clutching its head before exploding.
- In Cry for Justice when the heroes seek justice. Welcome to pain!
- Both Ringo and John in With Strings Attached employ this trope.
- Ringo uses it when he uses his mindsight for the first time, and the power nearly makes his brain explode. He also uses it several times in the Hunter's world when he is caught in a sudden psychic scream.
- John also uses it in the Hunter's world on the occasions when the shrieking Blackfire is drawn. The last time this happens, his ears start to bleed.
- The Truman Show when the actors' earpieces emit a grating whistle.
- In X2: X-Men United when Evil Cerebro goes off all the mutants in the world (except for Magneto, because of his helmet) start going like this. "Erik, hurry!"
- Galvatron suffers from this trope in Transformers: The Movie at Unicron's hands.
- Various Hogwarts students in Deathly Hallows Part 2 when Voldemort speaks in their heads.
- Harry Potter does this a lot throughout the series because of the scar that connects he and Voldemort. In The Deathly Hallows specifically, he would clutch at his forehead in an attempt to resist the visions that came whenever Voldemort was at his most powerful, so as to stay within the present.
- Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Way To Eden". Dr. Sevrin uses ultrasonics to stun the Enterprise crew. Watch it on YouTube starting at around 5:00.
- If one has a bad headache, it's a natural response to clutch and rub at the temples - sometimes the more bearable pain of the pressure on the head can override the sharp pain of the headache.
- Stock pose in City of Heroes for anyone caught by a psionic Hold power.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, head clutching is a Stock Motion, which also gets used when someone is afflicted with the Fear/Panic/Insanity line of offensive Force abilities.
- Cloud from Final Fantasy VII ends up doing this quite a bit...
- During the first half of Shadow Hearts, Yuri does this as part of his Painful Transformation.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court chapter 19, Zimmy--the girl with static in her head and Imaginary Enemies--was seen clutching her head just before Bad Things started happening.
- In El Goonish Shive, Tedd and Ellen both clutch at their heads after being subject to having their emotions magically amplified by Magus because of the headache that ensues after a successful use of the ability.
- Around 0:33, in Andrew Dickman's Rockman Neo trailer.
- "It's just a little makeup! Draco, WAKE UP!"
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003: Back To The Sewer--The bad guy strikes a Mind Control gong.
- Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
- In "The Fantastic Frump", Doom unleashes a sonic attack that not only causes the clutching of the head and doubling over, but drives Firestar to her knees.
- In "The X-Men Adventure", a sonic attack causes Sprite to clutch her head and huddle in a fetal position.
- In Justice League: The New Frontier: The Martian Manhunter does it in response to a telepathic assault.
- Ma-Ti on Captain Planet and the Planeteers frequently suffered from this, too.
- In the 1990s Fox animated X-Men, young Charles exhibited the head clutch when his powers began kicking in.
- Invader Zim had two of these, although both assaults are tangible:
- "NanoZim", in which Zim shrinks himself and attacks Dib's brain to make him forget where he hid a disc containing evidence of Zim's otherworldliness.
- In the Halloween special, magical demon-things living inside Dib's head suck Dib into their world and open a portal in his head to get to the real world and take it over.
- I guess "Dark Harvest" counts too, although brains are just one of the multiple organs Zim was collecting to shove inside himself in case of an autopsy.
- One episode of South Park shows that simply the concept of altruism causes Cartman to feel mental anguish.
- Phineas and Ferb: "Ask a Foolish Question" When the supercomputer scans all of the Tri-State area, the laser passing over town gets several reactions, including Norm the robot's. He clutches his head with both hands and cheerfully says, "Get out of my mind!"