How a psychologist thinks about your favorite

Film & TV characters.

Welcome to Characters On The Couch, my Film & Television site, where I delve into character psychology and character development. If you’re just plain interested in psychology and film or are a writer, actor, or director, I bring you my insights into your favorite contemporary and classic characters. By doing so, I hope to help you understand their deeper (and deepest) psychological motivations.

When you think about truly iconic films, what is it that gives them such staying power? Is it the time of your life when you watched it? Could it be that one or more characters aligned with your own deepest struggles or painful experiences? Is it the costumes or images that seemed unforgettable? Or maybe, it’s simply that it pulled at your heart and caused you to explore emotions in a new and profound way?

I say it’s all of it. And, equally, when these meaningful elements are missing, a story becomes, well, forgettable. This is what I hope this site will encourage you to do. To transform your story, personal or in writing, into magic by finding the human thread that links it and you to a universal experience.

Everything in life ties back to complex emotions as well as the rhythm and language of feelings and psychology. On my blog and in what I’ve written in Psychology & Story, are thoughts I hope will help.

For more than 40 years as a psychoanalyst, I have listened to my patients tell their stories and I find words that speak to what is going on deep inside them. The heart of good character development, too, is in the character’s psychology. Using movies and their characters, I’ll talk about a character’s deepest motivations, agonies, and breakthroughs to apply to your movie-watching, writing, or yourself.

Breaking Out Of Someone Else’s Box

Who chooses what’s “right” for you? In the best of worlds, you do. But, if you’re afraid to trust your own voice, it can be very hard to believe that. Especially when there are people in your life, and other voices inside, who tell you they know the right answers. And, so, in Everything Everywhere…

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A Lonely Nomad’s Land of Loss

Loss can feel like a nowhere land of moving aimlessly from feeling to feeling, from place to place, inside your mind. Loss can make you feel like a lonely nomad. You’ve lost the home you know, with a person that you love. There is sadness, anger, and memories – as you grapple with the challenges…

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Phil Burbank’s Cruelty
What He Hates in Himself

Jane Campion’s chilling new film, The Power of the Dog, has much to say about the adage that what we hate in others is what we can’t accept in ourselves. And, wow, does the character of Phil Burbank spell that axiom out in spades. Sure, he embodies everything there is about toxic masculinity. Yet, what…

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