Listen. It is 1941 in Bergen-Belson concentration camp, a non-extermination camp where many prisoners died nonetheless of starvation. Francine Christophe is 8 years old, bearing a large Star of David (Juif) on her chest, imprisoned there with her mother, the barracks head. A strong and reassuring mother, keeping chocolate for the moment her daughter needed it the most. Listen. As now-83-year-old Francine Christophe - holocaust survivor, writer, and poet - tells you how her mother and she and her piece of chocolate saved an emaciated woman giving birth in the camp. Not only that – how years later, she was given that chocolate back. Hers...

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...

I just watched the trailer for Jake Gyllenhaal's upcoming 2016 film, Demolition, about the aftermath of his character, Davis’s, sudden loss of his wife, Julia. Loss can take many forms. As the trailer shows, Davis unravels. He can’t pull himself together. His father-in-law tries to encourage him to rebuild his life. To do so, he demolishes the house he lived in with his wife – in an attempt to move past his old life and go on.  Grieving really doesn’t work well that way. It’s an interesting premise. Yet, as a psychologist who works with grief, I can’t agree that dealing...

A good mother can make a bad situation better. I just read Valentina Valentini’s piece in Indie Wire, Mark Webber Wants Your Money – But He Can’t Tell You Why, about actor/director Mark Webber's Kick Starter Campaign. He’s raising money for a movie he’s making about his mother. It’s a secret, but he did give his mother’s name. So I googled Cheri Lynn Honkala and was blown away. Good mothers do a lot to help a child through all kinds of adversities. Children rely on a parent’s resilience, reassurance, optimism, and love. Homelessness and economic poverty are terribly difficult conditions to...

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...

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...

Date rape is a confusing thing. You know the guy. You went out with him. You consented to kissing him. Maybe even more. But, when it came right down to it, you said “No “and he didn’t listen. Is it your fault for having gone that far? It’s not. No is No. There’s no reason to feel guilty or take on the blame. That can interfere with your life. Look at Loretta Young. Look at her daughter, Judy, who wrote in her memoir (Uncommon Knowledge): “My life has been filled with hypocrisy and deception from the moment I was born.” Loretta...

Amy Schumer just might be the most vocal supporter and spokeswoman for twenty and thirty-something women’s all-too-common struggles with self-esteem, body image, sexuality, and doubts about their lovability. Thankfully, Amy likes "tackling the stuff nobody else talks about, like the darkest, most serious thing about yourself.” Someone’s got to do it. It’s what I do, as a psychotherapist, if women make it into my office. Many don’t seek therapy, though, and these self-doubts and insecurities can seriously get in the way of satisfying relationships. Not to mention – happiness. Bravo to Amy for standing up for a woman’s right to...

Getting there at 34 is no small thing. BuzzFeed’s piece, “11 Quotes From Natalie Portman that prove she just gets it,” in honor of her birthday, makes it clear Natalie has her fears. She seems to have a lot of them. But, somehow she’s overcome something really important. She isn’t afraid of what other people think. That’s not easy for many people, old or young. I see, every day in my office, just how hard it is to let go of what you think others are thinking. There’s a conviction you’ll be judged if you say what you really think. Hiding...