Jason Segel Gets Inside
Foster Wallace’s Quiet Torment

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 despair. We have it in Wallace’s own words, in, The End of the Tour, after a depressive breakdown in college: “You now see before you, indirectly at least, the real ‘Waller’: an obscurely defective commodity that has also been somewhat damaged in transit.”

Believing that the real “Waller” is a defective commodity – that’s the worst part. At The End of the Tour, Wallace says: “I don’t think we ever change. I’m sure I still have those parts of me. I’m just trying to find a way not to let them drive.” But, tragically, without hope, they did. I find without exception, in my work with depression, the unrelenting conviction that “this is just the way I am.” It’s not. But, convincing a depressed person that what they believe to be facts are not true – is one of the greatest difficulties in turning depression around.

A longer piece on The End Of The Tour will be coming up next week.

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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.