Dr. Sandra Cohen, a Beverly Hills psychoanalyst, writes about your favorite film, TV, and book characters
and their real human problems.

The horror of Bobby Seale’s gagging by Judge Julius Hoffman in Aaron Sorkin’s timely film, The Trial of the Chicago 7 is an image of what Black Lives Matter is fighting against. It’s an image of how being silenced provokes rage. The history and trial speak for themselves. But, as a psychoanalyst, I can talk about how personal historical forces in your mind sometimes create violent opposition to speaking out, thinking for yourself, and being who you are. You, any of us, can feel we’re “on trial” for our thoughts if we go against what we’ve been taught we “should”...

Loss can feel like a nowhere land of moving aimlessly from feeling to feeling, from place to place inside your mind. You’ve lost the home you know, with a person that you love. There's sadness, anger, memories – as you grapple with the challenges of an uprooted life. Chloé Zhao’s Best Picture nominee, Nomadland, takes us there, with Frances McDormand’s Fern leading the way through the open expanses of loss. Loss is a journey, not unlike the one Fern takes in her trusty van, Vanguard. And, in the film’s hopeful story of Fern and other nomads she meets, what do...

Herman Mankiewicz was a tragic figure - in 1940’s Hollywood and in David Fincher’s film Mank. Sure. he had his principles. Mank stood up for what was right and against what was wrong at MGM and in the political world of the times – but too often in self-destructive ways. He was equally hurtful towards those who loved him. In fact, he turned away from love as he drank himself to death. Why couldn’t Mank get out of his “self-created trap?” And, especially, why does such a talented man not love himself? Because when he doesn’t, he can’t love anyone...

When attachments go wrong in early life, you have to toughen up. But is feeling nothing "The Way?" If you thought it was, what does it take to break free and allow love? This was the question for Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars and it’s the question for Mando, The Mandalorian, who also lost his beloved parents when he was a small child: Is love safe? Love isn’t safe when your early attachments go wrong. And Jon Favreau’s continuation of the Star Wars saga in his Disney+ series, The Mandalorian, tells this story once again. Yet, the series leaves us having to question if feelings like...

Feeling trapped in the quarantine of COVID-19? That’s why you should watch Shawshank Redemption more today than ever. Yes, I mean today, January 20, 2021, the day of the Inauguration, and all the days ahead. Because this virus has seemed like a prison sentence, as much as the one Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) and Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding (Morgan Freeman) found themselves in at Shawshank prison. Especially Andy, as innocent of any wrong-doing as we are. Even if you see no clear way out (but perhaps there is one now), don’t think it’s dangerous to hope. It’s not. Hope is...

The Queen's Gambit is a tale of chess and childhood tragedy. This riveting series shows us clearly that when traumatized children try to survive adulthood, they may have questionable ways of coping. But there's a big difference in how these children survive and the ways that actually help them. It’s important to know that difference. Beth Harmon from Netflix's The Queen’s Gambit learned how to cope. And no, drugs weren’t the answer. Read Article (Written for and published on YourTango.com)...

Are you having trouble making love work? If you can’t seem to go with the flow in your relationships, Chuck Lorre’s two-season Netflix series The Kominsky Method offers some lessons in love that can help. These love lessons have two basic rules, so here's where you begin: 1. be totally present, and 2. pay close attention to the person in front of you. That’s The Kominsky Method, in a nutshell. Is it easy? No. But with some effort, you can learn these lessons and improve your relationships for the better. Fears about love are universal. (Written exclusively for YourTango.com. Read...

Richard Curtis' 2003 film classic, Love Actually, is the ultimate Christmas ROM-COM. After all, the Christmas holiday-time is the season of love, romance, and family. But, what if you couldn't be with family because of the pandemic? Or love isn’t working very well with the stresses of quarantine? Or maybe you've run into love's inevitable stumbling blocks trying to navigate a most difficult 2020. Worse, what if you couldn't find love and you’ve just spent another lonely holiday? The biggest question is: how do you hold onto hope after a year that's shattered so much? “Christmas is about telling the...

Lonesome Rhodes, a brashly-charming-drunken-drifter, is turned radio personality by Marcia Jeffries in Elia Kazan’s 1957 film, A Face in The Crowd. The film explores the climb to power of a rabble-rousing anti-social con man, as well as Lonesome’s ultimate tantruming downfall. Sound familiar? But perhaps the real question lies in why a woman like Marcia falls for such a man. Yes, “sexy sells” to some women (the sex appeal, that is, of narcissistic bad boys). But why does Marcia fall so hard? What draws her in? And what 6 fateful mistakes does she make in loving the wrong man? What’s the...

Why return to the same place over and over? It’s healing. How? Craig Foster says it best in his moving, life-altering, love-story, My Octopus Teacher: “That’s when you see the subtle differences. That’s when you get to know the wild.” It’s true, too, of going through a wildly tumultuous emotional time, not so different than the Cape of Storms where My Octopus Teacher takes place. The more you go deep inside, over and over, to look at the tangled underwater terrain of your feelings, the more you see the nuances that can set you free. This is what psychoanalysis does....