Dr. Rice didn’t get Hannah at all. Season 2, It’s Back, leaves Hannah obsessively counting in 8’s. She needs a different kind of help. If Hannah was in therapy with me, I’d listen closely to her conflicting and ever-shifting feelings; her “I need your help. No, I’m fine.” “I’m sad. No, I’m not.” This is the torment behind OCD. When something feels one way, doubt sets in; or the feeling is flatly denied. Hannah doesn’t like to need anything, especially when she does: At lunch with her parents, before they insist she see Dr. Rice (Bob Balaban), Hannah (Lena Dunham) taps her...

  Hannah needs help. But Dr. Rice’s failure leaves her alone to manage feelings that are confusing, hated, and at odds with what she believes is normal. She doesn’t have any methods but counting 8’s to get troubling thoughts out of her head. And, then in Season 2, Episode 9, On All Fours, there’s the Q-tip … At the beginning of On All Fours, Hannah’s (Lena Dunham) in an elevator on her way to meet her publisher. She’s pulling and prodding at herself – poking her ear in series of 8’s. Her counting is going full force. She’s obviously very anxious. She must...

Have you ever wondered what’s on a psychologist’s “don’t do” list for a session with a patient? Go to Season 2, episode 8, “It’s Back”, and re-watch Hannah’s (Lena Dunham) consultation with Dr. Rice (Bob Balaban). I know this is a comedy. But, there’s absolutely nothing funny about Hannah’s recurrence of OCD symptoms, her counting 8’s, and the torment she’s trying to fight off. As a psychologist who takes very seriously the close listening and sensitive responses my work requires, I found Dr. Rice’s behavior cringe-worthy. Here’s what went wrong: 1.  Don’t Be Detached And Cold An anxious Hannah sits across from...

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...

  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...