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

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....

Jordan Peele’s brilliantly conceived film, Get Out, does its job of shattering the myth that we're living in a post-racial America. My great uncle, Leo Hurwitz’s film, Strange Victory, did the same in 1948 after we won the war against Hitler but came home to racism here. It’s now 72 years later and there’s still too much to be scared of. Peele tells us he made Get Out to face his fears, mostly of: “Human beings. What people can do in conjunction with other people is exponentially worse than what they can do alone. Society is the scariest monster.” Yes....

Holidays are getting close and they’re complicated enough without COVID-19. Now you have to think twice (or, at least for different reasons) whether you can risk going Home for The Holidays. The usual question is: Do you want to go home to family, with all the quirks, neuroses, and old sibling warfare that Jodie Foster’s 1995 film lays bare in its anxiety-ridden yet comedic ways? But what if you can’t go home and you need the love that’s there too, even if it sometimes drives you crazy? We all need a happy ending right now. Home for The Holidays has...

In a dictatorship, human hearts don't matter. Leo Hurwitz shows this frightening reality in his powerful film, Heart of Spain 1937. America is now in a fight similar to that of Spain's democratically elected republic against fascist General Francisco Franco. We fight against Trump's self-serving and cruel inhumanity in a deadly pandemic. And, we need a conduit of empathy similar to Dr. Norman Bethane's blood transfusions to soldiers in 1936 Spain. [Click here to watch Heart of Spain.] Spain’s heart was breaking. It was 1936 and the telephone woke Leo Hurwitz from a deep sleep. He heard a friend’s voice on the other...

Leo Hurwitz’s powerful 1948 WWII documentary, with its ironic title Strange Victory, is just as timely today as it was then because the film explores the inescapable question: “If we won, why do we look as if we lost? And, if Hitler died, why does his voice still pursue us through the spaces of America’s life?” It is a very strange victory - when we successfully fought the violent effects of discrimination and persecution in Germany but came home to open expressions of hate in our own country. That hate is still here, as virulently as before, in 2020. Why...