Talking To Soso About Depression
Healy Gets It 100% Wrong

Never stop a depressed person from talking. Healy gets it 100% wrong in Orange Is The New Black. Never say, “It’s all in your head.” It’s not. Or that no one wants to be around you because of your feelings. There are reasons for every depression. Including Soso’s, in Season 3 of Orange Is The New Black, if Healy cared to listen. Certainly, never say: “No wonder you don’t have friends. No one wants to be with a sad person who mopes around.” That’s cruel and only makes the self-loathing voice (in every depressed person’s mind) louder. Therapy Should be a safe place to talk about anything. Healy makes nothing safe.

Talk therapy helps depression

Medication can be a useful adjunct if it’s necessary. But Soso (Kimiko Glenn) doesn’t want medication. She wants to talk. She’s hungry for talking, there’s so much bottled up inside her. But, she doesn’t know how to connect. She talks and talks and talks to other inmates at Litchfield who don’t have any idea what to do with her or her feelings. They aren’t equipped to listen. Healy should be.  He’s not.

Soso needs a therapist who listens

Soso’s various protests clearly originate in not wanting to comply with her mother’s demands. Yet she is also fighting a voice inside her that tells her she’ll never be liked unless she gives people what they want. Healy only reinforces that feeling. A good therapist would help Soso figure out ways to express her feelings and needs without alienating people or getting in trouble. Healy’s too intent on doing things his way to understand.

A therapist should put Soso first

Healy’s preoccupied with his own feelings. So preoccupied in fact that it gets in the way of his job. Sure, Healy has his hurt. His mother was troubled. He has difficulties with his wife. And, Healy’s entitled to his feelings – but they don’t belong at work. Especially when he’s Soso’s therapist in Orange Is The New Black.

A good therapist is self-aware

Healy’s not. Soso’s feelings must remind Healy of his own unhappiness. That’s why he shuts her up. He’d like to think his feelings are all in his head, and easy to control. He loathes the part of himself that also needs to talk. That’s why he demeans Soso.  If he worked these things out in his therapy, he’d be empathic and much more able to help those entrusted to his care.

Berdie is a therapist who gets it right

She listens. Wants to help. Has empathy. She knows Soso and the other inmates need to talk. And, she makes that possible in various ways. Soso wants to change counselors. Who wouldn’t want to talk to someone who takes her feelings seriously? Yet, Healy ruins that too in Orange Is the New Black. He can’t stand for anyone to have something he doesn’t. Especially when it comes to being a better therapist.

When the self-hating voice gets louder without help, it can lead to despair. Suicide attempts can happen if the anguish of depression goes on too long. Especially when there’s no one to turn to and the self-hate is reinforced by cruel, demeaning comments from others. Soso didn’t see any way out. That’s because Healy didn’t listen. And, at a crucial time for Soso, he managed to get rid of Berdie, the one person who did know how to listen in Orange Is The New Black Season 3.

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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.