Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) greatest talent is creating stories that sell. Sometimes his imagination carries him away – for better or worse. His imagination no doubt saved him from an abusive and damaging childhood. There are worse things than to imagine being somewhere else someday. Or a different person than the one you’re made to feel you are. Throughout the Mad Men series, though, Don’s imagination has taken him away from feelings and places he just can’t be. That’s sometimes gotten him into trouble. Where is it taking him now? Lost Horizon finds Don at McCann-Erikson. The self-serving (not to mention controlling, chauvinistic,...

This is the first in a series of 4 Posts. The word OCD is tossed around too casually in our contemporary culture – as in “I’m so OCD” to mean “I’m a perfectionist” or “I like to have things organized and controlled.” Sure, those things can be true of people who actually have OCD. But, real OCD isn’t so benign. OCD involves torturous compulsions that can’t be controlled. In Girl’s Episodes 8 “It’s Back” and 9 “On All Fours” (otherwise known as the Q-Tip episode), we see Hannah’s (Lena Dunham) compulsion to do things in 8’s or multiples of 8’s. Counting is common in...

Right when it seems life is moving along for Don in a more optimistic way, Season 7’s Episode 11 Time and Life comes along. McCann-Erickson plays a manipulative trick, absorbing Sterling Cooper & Partners. The agency’s identity is gone. Does it take away Don’s as well? Although Don says to Roger: “What’s in a name?” - that’s a very complicated question for Don Draper (Jon Hamm). Dick Whitman, Don’s childhood self, didn’t take on a whole new identity for nothing. Not only was he trying to free himself from the trauma of his past – he didn’t want to be that...

No matter how hard Russ (Timothy Hutton) tries or how ingratiating he is, there’s roadblock after roadblock to his attempts to make up for his mistakes. Although American Crime is in search of the person who killed Matt and injured Gwen, Russ acts like a criminal. He’s not a suspect, of course. And, even though he isn’t literally a criminal, his family treats him like one. He feels like one. Guilt can ruin a life. For those who haven’t watched the series – Russ is Russ Skokie, father of Matt the victim of murder. Barb (Felicity Huffman) is his ex-wife who struggles with feelings...

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is finally beginning to face how much his past lives inside him. Plus, all the mistakes he’s made and the ways he’s sabotaged love because of it. At least it sure seems that way. When he says to Johnny Mathis in episode 10, Forecast: “Take responsibility for your failure,” he’s clearly talking to himself. We have a guardedly optimistic Don, who has a “good feeling.” Hope is the first place to start. But, there’s more. What are the other clues that Don’s on the road to a different life? Clue 1: Knowing where he’s been: He’s lying on the couch...

We are on episode 7 of American Crime, with only 4 episodes left, and we have no clue what the truth is. With so many stories unfolding at the same time, it’s impossible to go into much depth as far as the characters go. As a viewer, this leaves me with a lot of unanswered questions. Is this an intentional device on the part of American Crime’s creators? Or is it a limitation in the writer’s capacity to live inside these complicated characters’ minds? T.C. Boyle, who is known for writing character driven fiction, speaks of the role of the writer...

  As a psychoanalyst who treats OCD, I want to chime in here. I certainly don’t think Lena Dunham’s Instagram post intends to give the impression that exercise is the answer to anxiety, OCD, or depression. Not with her years of struggle with disturbing thoughts that lead to OCD. There’s no question that exercise helps the brain and brings relief. Yet, with all the talk about the symptoms of OCD, there’s not enough understanding of what underlies them. Current theories tend toward the genetic and biologic with psychoanalytic understanding falling out of favor - in our culture in general these days. Genetics, individual...

Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) on the chase again in Season 7, Episode 8, New Business, but this time he seems different. So is Diana (Elizabeth Reaser). Don’s more sensitive than he’s been with any woman in the past. But, Diana: she’s like the old Don running from his past, the one we’ve known for 7 Seasons. Then again, she’s also more real, honest and vulnerable than any woman Don’s been with. These are the two sides of Don. Which will win out? What will tip the scale in one direction or the other? If we look at Diana, we see Don. His...

Aubry’s (Caitlin Gerard) alive – but coming back to reality in the throes of withdrawal and without drugs is quite distressing. No one in American Crime wants to face the truth. Except, maybe Aliyah (Regina King), Carter’s sister. Truth can be very difficult to face. Aliyah says it well: “If they hurt Carter now it all goes away; their lies, their mistakes.” The wish to make something painful “go away” is human nature.  More so for those who have something very difficult to face, as the characters in American Crime certainly do. We try to make things “go away” with a variety...

Tomorrow night on American Crime - what’s happened to Aubry?  Stay Tuned. Nothing in Aubry’s (Caitlin Gerard) life is as important or as enticing as drugs.  Not even love.  And, she’ll put her life and Carter (Elvis Nolasko) at great risk to get her fix. What are Aubry and Carter running from in Episode 5 of American Crime? Drug addiction isn’t the real culprit. We could say she’s an addict and Carter’s an enabler. But, that’s not enough. What are the forces that drive them so hard that neither can stop? It’s terror of loss - for both Aubry and Carter. Yet,...