“I sing because I can experience a lot of feelings…” Janis Joplin had no one to hear her feelings. The most chilling part of Amy Berg’s documentary, Janis: Little Girl Blue, is to witness the cold formality of Mother and Father Joplin. No one could miss Janis’ hunger for love. Less obvious were the roots of that hunger: the trauma of a childhood with impenetrable parents. Dorothy and Seth Joplin, in their uncanny similarity to Grant Wood’s "American Gothic” farmer with pitchfork and wife, were emotionally remote and had no warmth. Neither could hear Janis’ feelings of loneliness and hurt. Janis...

There are opportunists in the mind that take over in states of emotional deprivation. Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) in Director George Miller's western style post apocalyptic film, Mad Max:Fury Road, is a good example. As a psychoanalyst who treats severe depressive states, I found this film a fascinating allegorical tale of the conditions under which mental tyrants take over, as well as the kinds of control they exert. We see in the characters of Max (Tom Hardy), Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), and Nux (Nicholas Hoult), what it takes to fight these tyrannical forces and also what causes that fight, in some,...

That self-loathing voice can’t be allowed to take center stage. It makes you believe other people are thinking terrible thoughts about you too. You keep your distance. It’s a lonely place to be. David Foster Wallace's short story, The Depressed Person, shows he knew that struggle well. So does director James Ponsoldt's film about David Lipsky's road trip with him - The End Of The Tour. I left the theater incredibly sad, after witnessing David Foster Wallace’s (Jason Segel) steady stream of self-denigrating apologies. I know from my work as a psychoanalyst it doesn’t have to be that way. Self-loathing is what...

Depression is outwardly a quiet torment. Inside it’s an almost constant implosion of self-deprecating self-doubt. That’s what we witness in director James Ponsoldt’s The End Of The Tour – wrapped around David Foster Wallace like his famous bandana. Woven all-too-frequently into the substance of his conversation with David Lipsky: the ravages of a cruelly oppressive internal voice. I left the theater feeling: “devastating. That’s the only word for it.” It is devastating. I can’t tell you how often I sit in my office helping people struggle against very similar self-loathing voices. These voices can ruin a life. Cast out hope. Create absolute...

Amy Winehouse tragically became the brunt of cruel jokes by comics the likes of Jay Leno. Every symptom of her psychological suffering was up for grabs: her bulimia, her drug addiction, and her state of mind: “She’s like a mad person.” Amy, the sensitive, sad, and revealing documentary by Asif Kapadia, sets those who brutally misunderstood her straight. There’s nothing funny about psychological troubles. In real footage of Amy from her childhood to the end, Kapadia gives us an emotionally raw window into the real Amy Winehouse. Her family and ex-boyfriend may criticize him for getting some things wrong. We’ll...

Never stop a depressed person from talking. Never say, “It’s all in your head.” It’s not. There are reasons for every depression. Including Soso’s, in Season 3 of Orange Is The New Black, if Healy cared to listen. Certainly, never say: “No wonder you don’t have friends. No one wants to be with a sad person who mopes around.” That’s cruel - and only makes the self-loathing voice (in every depressed person’s mind) louder. Therapy should be a safe place to talk about anything – to be listened to without judgment. As Berdie Rogers (Marsha Stephanie Blake) says: "When someone's feeling...

"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...

I am one of those who applauded Graham Moore for his moving and courageous acceptance speech when he won his Imitation Game Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. So, as a psychologist, when I read the critiques, I had to stop and think: Why? Why pick on things like – he isn’t gay? He used the word weird to describe his experience and that of others? That most people won’t be standing on that stage in their lifetimes? This happens for various psychological reasons. Sometimes old personal hurts, like feeling unheard and marginalized, get stirred up – and it’s easy to...

[caption id="attachment_817" align="alignleft" width="500"]eszdx photo credit: Peggy Sirota[/caption]AUGUST 11 — I was shocked and saddened to hear of Robin Williams’ untimely death and tragic suicide. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones in this time of excruciating loss. The rest of us, who loved him in our own ways, have lost a brilliant talent, a comedic master, and a deeply moving dramatic actor whose roles in Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting, Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poet’s Society and one of my personal favorites for sentimental reasons – Flubber – will live on and never be forgotten. Right now, though, it’s hard to get farther than...