Racism is a symptom - a troubling and destructive one, to be sure. But, like any symptom, it has its personal roots. As a psychoanalyst, my work is to find the roots of any symptom brought into my office. And, with the multi-storied American Crime unfolding each week, the roots of Matt’s mother, Barb’s (Felicity Huffman) racism are starting to be exposed. What’s made her how she is? It’s not people of color that Barb hates or looks down upon – even though she treats them that way. What she hates is her own humiliation; circumstances that left her out of control....

We all need love. Age doesn’t lessen that. Yet, sometimes it’s hard to trust love, for complicated reasons, even though you want it. John Madden’s The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel gives us a bird’s eye view into 6 serious obstacles to love. In my experience as a psychologist, the reasons for putting love off are often not conscious. That’s where help comes in handy - especially if you keep coming up against the same problem again and again. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel illustrates some of these emotional roadblocks quite well: Expecting not to be wanted  Evelyn (Judi Dench) and...

"Women are strong as hell.” This opening credits statement to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is more than feminism. It’s a reminder of something that isn’t always easy to keep in mind. That is - knowing you’re strong when you feel as though your world’s just come to a screeching halt. When women (or men) begin therapy with me in the throes of depression, it’s often impossible to believe their chance at life isn’t over. Staying optimistic? That’s even harder than finding some bit of strength to merely soldier on. I haven’t had a chance to watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt yet, but...

We’re left with more questions than answers at the end of the premiere of John Ridley’s American Crime. Of course - we’ve only just begun. Yet, we start to realize that each main character has complicated secrets that must be uncovered in order to make sense of what’s happened. For me, as not just a viewer but also a psychologist, meeting these characters for the first time is a lot like having a first session with a new patient in therapy. There are relationships gone wrong  - similar to Russ (Timothy Hutton) and Barb (Felicity Huffman). There are things like Carter’s (Elvis...

With The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opening on Friday, March 6th, I thought I’d review what the first heartfelt and hopeful film tells us about change at any age. Change is hard. Especially if you’re discouraged by losses, disappointments, stale marriages, difficult parents, and unresolved fears. Yet, this film gives us some important pointers about what allows for change – whether you’re in your senior years or still young. Here are 6 I’ve found helpful in my work as a psychologist and psychoanalyst. 1. Let Go of Old Grievances: Muriel (Maggie Smith) Carrying around grievances shuts you down. Isolates you. Can...

I find it pretty shocking that the well-respected SNL would vet a skit that pokes fun at something that’s spreading terror across the globe. “Take care of my daughter…. death to America?”  Come on. Not funny at all in the face of the recent attacks, beheadings, and immolation, as well as the missing UK and Canadian teenage girls who seem to have disappeared to join ISIS. Can’t most of us too well imagine what the parents and loved ones of those who’ve been killed or gone missing must be going through?  I think we can.  So, why, SNL? The only possible...

I am one of those who applauded Graham Moore for his moving and courageous acceptance speech when he won his Imitation Game Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. So, as a psychologist, when I read the critiques, I had to stop and think: Why? Why pick on things like – he isn’t gay? He used the word weird to describe his experience and that of others? That most people won’t be standing on that stage in their lifetimes? This happens for various psychological reasons. Sometimes old personal hurts, like feeling unheard and marginalized, get stirred up – and it’s easy to...

Amy Elliot Dunne is a seriously troubled young woman. Rosamund Pike’s nuanced and chilling performance, in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, does her troubles justice. Yet, can we merely write her off as an unredeemable sociopath? If we follow some clues to what drove her to do what she did - is it even remotely possible to find a bit of sympathy? Clue 1: Traumatic Childhood Trauma comes in many forms. Amy’s trauma is this: she’s never as good as Amazing Amy, her parent’s fictional daughter. “Never as good as.” That’s crushing to a child. Now, she watches for this everywhere. Expecting it. Hiding...