I’ve been rooting for Jon Hamm. As a Mad Men enthusiast and psychoanalyst, I’ve written a number of pieces on the effects of Don Draper’s early trauma. Not only that, I’ve long-admired the way Hamm brings Don’s very real struggles to life. Little did I know that his own early history, in some critical ways, mirrors Don’s.  At least as far as losing a mother at a young age goes, and then being orphaned at 20.  Jon, too, was hit with difficult early losses. Working with actors in my practice, I know how hard it is to enter into and come...

Jon Hamm deserves an Emmy for Don Draper. I agree with Variety’s Debra Birnbaum about that. But, I find it unfortunate that voters would only now consider awarding him that Emmy. As Birnbaum wrote, Hamm likely hasn’t won in the past since “Don Draper … was a cheating husband, a neglectful father, an unapologetic alcoholic … it’s hard to root for someone seemingly so unredeeming.” So now since, at the end of the brilliant Mad Men series, Don Draper apparently finds his “good self” it might be OK? In my opinion, they’ve mistakenly diminished the complex demands on an actor...

We’re left to wonder: what will become of Don Draper (Jon Hamm)? As Coca Cola’s hilltop jingle ends 7 seasons of Mad Men – we have questions that don’t have answers. Has Don changed? Or, is he just the quintessential ad man - a man who escapes into his stories because they’re better than his personal reality? Don’s early trauma has had some devastating effects.  If Don has changed, there’d be some very specific signs. First, though, to understand how he’d change, the crushing effects of his childhood trauma must be highlighted: Don doesn’t trust love He was neglected, abused, and abandoned....

We’re all still talking about Mad Men. And, yes, I agree - the characters often hit close to home with many of life’s painful realities. Yet, I have to say that the tongue in cheek jingle at Mad Men’s finale was a bit too disturbing. Leaving Sally (Kiernan Shipka) doing dishes in the kitchen with a dying mother and no father walking through the door is almost unbearably sad. We’re faced with the fact that one cry, a few encounter groups in an Esalen kind of therapy, just aren't enough to change the effects of Don's (Jon Hamm) traumatic childhood. His children are left to repeat...

Mad Men’s finale takes Don Draper (Jon Hamm) to the ultimate darkness of the soul, only to end up … Where? It seems a tragic cosmic joke to leave the Draper – Francis family the only ones with loose ends. Don might be back on his game, conjuring up the world’s greatest Coca Cola ad. But, why would he write a jingle about the real thing instead of doing it? It starts with two very difficult phone calls. First, Don talks to Sally (Kiernan Shipka). He’s jolted back into reality when convinced Betty’s (January Jones) dying of lung cancer: “What?! I’m...

Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) at a crossroad. He seems to be on the run again, but it’s not that simple. He’s searching for something. Trying to put together the pieces of Dick, the boy he left behind - pieces that include his mistakes. While he’s roaming the Milk and Honey Route in Season 7, Episode 13, there’s tragedy brewing back home for the Draper-Francis family. Betty is dying. As Betty faces death, Don faces what’s interfered with living. He wakes up to a dream: A cop pulls him over, “We’ve been looking for you. Knew we’d catch up to you eventually.” It’s...

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,...

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...

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...

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...