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...

Loss can be a dead place. If you move forward, you’ll know the person you love is gone. As I sat spell bound in the Majestic Theater watching the brilliant performances of James Barbour as Phantom and Julia Udine as Christine Daad, I knew that The Phantom Of The Opera isn’t only the story of a bitter, jealous, love-starved freak that believes he can only get love by possession and threat. At a much deeper level, it’s the story of an orphaned girl in the grips of a phantom father. A father she can’t grieve. When a loved one dies, mourning...

  Alert: Possible Spoilers How can someone do exactly to other people what’s been done to him? That’s the big psychological question in Ramin Bahrani’s new film, 99 Homes. How can Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) become right hand man to the very real estate developer (Michael Shannon) who callously uses the housing market collapse to repossess and evict him (and countless others) from his foreclosed home? In these men, we find two disparate answers to how someone becomes exactly what he starts out hating. As the film begins, there’s a bloody bathroom and dead body – a man who couldn’t face losing his home. To developer...

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...

Spoiler Alert: Some Plot Details Revealed Cruelty comes in different forms. We can’t escape the obvious in BENT: the unimaginable inhumane cruelty of The Nazi Party towards Gays and Jews. Yet, we see more than the Nazi’s cruelty in this brilliantly acted, honest, heart wrenching, and inspiring play (written by Martin Sherman and directed by Moises Kaufman >now playing at the Mark Taper Forum ). We see other kinds of cruelty as well. Cruelty directed towards someone else when you’re scared to love. Cruelty aimed at yourself when you can’t accept who you are. BENT, set in 1934 Berlin where many were...

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...

The Good: We see exactly who he is – since Donald Trump has only contempt for any kind of political correctness. Most of us are politically correct because it reflects what we believe. Yet, political correctness for political correctness’ sake could hide what someone really thinks. The Donald isn’t self-aware enough to hide. He’s also completely incapable of putting himself in anyone else’s shoes or knowing how they feel. He’s a narcissist and narcissists see no one but themselves. Megyn Kelly was right to ask – is his tactless and misogynistic behavior presidential? We should shudder to think that as...

Paula Hawkins’ New York Times bestselling novel, The Girl On The Train, gives us Rachel – a girl obsessed. There’s no question this novel is a mind bending murder mystery par excellence. But, for me as a psychoanalyst it poses a more interesting question. What’s behind Rachel’s obsession? Rachel Watson rides the train every day. She rides - as if she has a purpose. She used to have a life. Now she has nothing. She rides past her old neighborhood where the life she lost took place – the only happy life she ever had. She watches Jason and Jess; at...

That self-loathing voice can’t be allowed to take center stage. It makes you believe other people are thinking terrible thoughts about you too. You keep your distance. It’s a lonely place to be. David Foster Wallace's short story, The Depressed Person, shows he knew that struggle well. So does director James Ponsoldt's film about David Lipsky's road trip with him - The End Of The Tour. I left the theater incredibly sad, after witnessing David Foster Wallace’s (Jason Segel) steady stream of self-denigrating apologies. I know from my work as a psychoanalyst it doesn’t have to be that way. Self-loathing is what...

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...