Season 7, Episode 8, Severance, shows us just how much Don Draper needs therapy. With his traumatic history, analysis would be even better. He’s needed therapy for a long time. But, now, with Meagan gone and finally opening up about the secrets of his past – he’d be prime to get some help. If - he could. It was very common for people to seek psychoanalysis in the late 1960’s and 70’s, even Roger Sterling. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) – with his proclivity to turn to women and booze? It’s a pretty big If. Let’s say he did, though. Here’s how...

Living under someone else’s thumb is damaging to the spirit. There are different ways the parents in American Crime have tried to control their kids. In my office, I see the effects of the shoulds. The have tos. The chain of believing the only way to be loved is to please. To be what they want – and deep inside, hating it. Really hating it. But seeing no way out. Not being accepted for who you are is a devastating thing. It eats away inside. Subtle or not so subtle revolts set in. In the form of drugs, desperate actions, getting...

As secrets continue to unfold in Episode 3 of American Crime, drugs, sex, and complicated family histories are increasingly implicated in the crime against Matt and Gwen. Drugs and sex are not infrequently turned to as ‘answers’ to various kinds of desperate circumstances and pasts. Gwen turned to sex. Matt turned to drugs. Aubrey Taylor (Caitlin Gerard) turns to both. What kind of escape is she desperately clinging to?  What role does calling her foster dad serve?  Does she want his help or something else? “With this life sometimes bad things come your way. That’s when you get a little desperate,”...

SPOILER ALERT: You might not want to read this post until you’ve watched the entire series. It’s terribly difficult to write a comedy about something as traumatic as kidnapping, sexual exploitation, and brainwashing. Netflix’s The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock) tries to do just that. Does it work? Is there a message within the lighthearted bandying about of these serious topics? As a psychologist, I don’t see one. Kimmy’s (Ellie Kemper) story: kidnapped in eighth grade by a preacher who claimed to be saving her and 3 other women from the apocalypse. Held in an...

In her Human Rights Campaign award speech on 3/14/15, Shonda Rhimes said that writing as a child saved her. I’m sure it did. Yet, I think her ability to create a world of people who served as placeholders until she could find her “people in the real world” is the most important thing. Shonda was able to persevere through a lonely childhood of feeling marginalized, erased, and judged and to believe her loneliness wasn’t forever. Knowing that there are people out there to find is the real solution to loneliness. Some lonely people lose faith very early and retreat into...

Racism is a symptom - a troubling and destructive one, to be sure. But, like any symptom, it has its personal roots. As a psychoanalyst, my work is to find the roots of any symptom brought into my office. And, with the multi-storied American Crime unfolding each week, the roots of Matt’s mother, Barb’s (Felicity Huffman) racism are starting to be exposed. What’s made her how she is? It’s not people of color that Barb hates or looks down upon – even though she treats them that way. What she hates is her own humiliation; circumstances that left her out of control....

"Women are strong as hell.” This opening credits statement to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is more than feminism. It’s a reminder of something that isn’t always easy to keep in mind. That is - knowing you’re strong when you feel as though your world’s just come to a screeching halt. When women (or men) begin therapy with me in the throes of depression, it’s often impossible to believe their chance at life isn’t over. Staying optimistic? That’s even harder than finding some bit of strength to merely soldier on. I haven’t had a chance to watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt yet, but...

We’re left with more questions than answers at the end of the premiere of John Ridley’s American Crime. Of course - we’ve only just begun. Yet, we start to realize that each main character has complicated secrets that must be uncovered in order to make sense of what’s happened. For me, as not just a viewer but also a psychologist, meeting these characters for the first time is a lot like having a first session with a new patient in therapy. There are relationships gone wrong  - similar to Russ (Timothy Hutton) and Barb (Felicity Huffman). There are things like Carter’s (Elvis...

I find it pretty shocking that the well-respected SNL would vet a skit that pokes fun at something that’s spreading terror across the globe. “Take care of my daughter…. death to America?”  Come on. Not funny at all in the face of the recent attacks, beheadings, and immolation, as well as the missing UK and Canadian teenage girls who seem to have disappeared to join ISIS. Can’t most of us too well imagine what the parents and loved ones of those who’ve been killed or gone missing must be going through?  I think we can.  So, why, SNL? The only possible...

MAD MEN REVIEW: Season 7 Episode 7 — Jim Cutler (Harry Hamlin) is a mad man full of envy. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be so bent on getting rid of Don Draper. And, he wouldn’t be making unilateral decisions to be sure no one gets in his way. Contrary to what the soon-to-be-deceased Bert Cooper suggests, Cutler’s not a leader, a team player, or anything like that.  Ultimately, he wants to be the very thing he accuses Roger of when he announces the McCann merger: King.  Anyone who gets in the way of a King? Well, it’s “off with their head”, so to speak. Like a ruthless dictator,...