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 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...

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...

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...

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,...

MAD MEN REVIEW: Season 7 Episode 6 — Doing it her way has never been easy for Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss). For subtle but understandable reasons to me as a psychoanalyst, Peggy needs Don and yet hates herself (and him) for it. She’s just not as self-assured as she thinks she should be. Then, again, neither is Don Draper (Jon Hamm). They share this. Especially, where love comes into the picture. Episode 5 ended with Don triumphantly flagging down a cab … the line “everybody knows you’ve been stepping on my toes” from Waylon Jennings’s song, “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line,” playing...

  MAD MEN REVIEW: Season 7 Episode 4 — The 60’s were the era of re-defining what tells us who we are. The country was at war in more ways than Vietnam. Women fought stereotypes at home and in the workplace. The Black Panther movement empowered marginalized citizens. This country’s cultural revolution was a sign of just how much oppressive status quos would be challenged. People like Don Draper (Jon Hamm) live under similar but internal oppressive beliefs originating from childhood trauma. Don’s is the dark specter of “the unwanted boy”, now being repeated at Sterling Cooper and Partners. Will Don survive being...

  MAD MEN REVIEW: Season 7 Episode 3 — It could have been the perfect day. For the first time in his young life, Bobby has his mom along for a field trip and he couldn’t be more excited.  It’s all going so well, too. “Me and my mom are having a conversation,” Bobby tells his teacher on the bus. He’s a very happy little boy. He’s staking out a special spot for just the two of them (“No you can’t sit here. That’s my mom’s spot.”). All Bobby wants is a special place in Betty’s heart and today he thinks he just...

  MAD MEN REVIEW: Season 7 Episode 5 — Could there be a more gruesomely horrifying image than Ginsberg (Ben Feldman) presenting his severed and bloodied nipple in a box as a gift to Peggy? As the paramedics are carting him off, he yells: “Get out while you can!” What’s gotten into Ginsberg? The new computer isn’t what’s really driving him crazy. But, his fantasies about it are certainly a place to start. In Ginsberg’s mind, the computer is imbued with special humanoid qualities; anthropomorphized, we could say. The computer is making people do things. For example – trying to make men turn homosexual and...