Ways To Make It “All Go Away”

Aubry’s (Caitlin Gerard) alive in American Crime Episode 6. But coming back to reality in the throes of withdrawal and without drugs is quite distressing. No one in American Crime wants to face the truth. Except, maybe Aliyah (Regina King), Carter’s sister. Truth can be very difficult to face. Aliyah says it well: “If they hurt Carter now it all goes away; their lies, their mistakes.”

Ways To Make It “All Go Away”

The wish to make something painful “go away” is human nature.  More so for those who have something very difficult to face, as the characters in American Crime certainly do. We try to make things “go away” with a variety of different methods. Psychologically, these are called defenses. Some are healthier than others. And, sometimes, as we see in Hector (Richard Cabral), the escape is downright self-serving lies. Blatant lies aside – let’s look at how various characters use their particular brand of psychological defense. In general, defenses serve the purpose of managing unpleasant feelings by making it seem as though they don’t exist.

Changing Reality

Barb (Felicity Huffman) changes reality. She more than softens it, doesn’t want to face her racism for what it is or her mistakes in parenting. She exists in denial. So does Alonzo (Benito Martinez). If they did their best (and therefore nothing wrong), there’s no reason for guilt or shame. Guilt is one thing. We see it in American Crime Episode 6. There are others.

Changing Identity

Aliyah changes her identity to escape something in her past; she disowns her family ties; she doesn’t want to be who she was. Aubry too rejects her family and her past – and escapes with her addiction to drugs. She constructs reality-altering fantasies, too, and uses unrealistic convictions to drastically minimize her actions as well as potential consequences. Gwen (Kira Pozehl) has an extreme reaction common to psychological trauma, not only to brain injury. She can’t remember what is too horrifying to know.

Running or Facing Truth?

None of these characters want to know some truth about themselves, their pasts, or their feelings. Carter (Elvis Nolasco) isn’t immune to this either – but right now, in American Crime Episode 6, he’s caught in the middle of it all. His story we still don’t completely know. Except that doing what he needed to do to make Aubry happy (his psychological defense against losing her) has gotten him into serious, serious trouble.

How will it end? Aliya is doing the right thing. She’s facing up to her contribution to Carter’s unstoppable impulse to run. But, can she single-handedly fight to make truth prevail? Questions need to be asked. The real answers found. But, only if there are others who can also face their truths will the outcome be anything less than tragic.

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Dr. Sandra E. Cohen

I’m Dr. Sandra Cohen, a psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in Beverly Hills, CA. I work with creatives in therapy, story/character development, and entertainment consulting. If you are a writer, actor, or director and want help with a character – or a chance to do some of your own personal work - call at 310.273.4827 or email me at to schedule a confidential discussion to explore working together.