What makes someone greedy; heartless; manipulative; and corrupt? So hungry for power that anything goes; even law; morality; & a daughter? Adam McCay’s Vice doesn’t answer questions of what or why. Vice tells the story of who and how. Yet, let’s for a moment think about Dick and Lynne Cheney as two parts of one person’s mind. I can show you how childhood trauma creates a tyrannical mental bully; waiting to steal every bit of power it can. “He did it like a ghost,” the film’s narrator tells us. And, that’s how a mental tyrant invisibly takes over when, watching...

The Big Short, directed by Adam McKay, starring Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, and Brad Pitt, tells more than the story of the U.S. housing bubble from 2001 to 2005 and the risky advantages taken by mortgage companies, hedge funds, and investment bankers to profit from it. I’m a psychoanalyst not an economist. The housing bubble is one thing. Living in psychological bubbles leads to dangerous behaviors and disastrous consequences, not unlike the 2008 U.S. economic crash. Selina Gomez, at the blackjack table, says it well: “I’m on a winning streak … how could I lose, right?” Believing Things That “Just...

AMERICAN HUSTLE — David O. Russell’s American Hustle is a cinematic treatise on the complexities of survival. Irving Rosenfeld, Sydney Prosser (AKA Lady Edith Greensley), Richie DiMaso, and Rosalyn Rosenfeld are each, in their own uniquely perverse and destructive ways, just trying to survive. But, are they? If we remove ourselves from the intrigue of the hustle itself (based upon the FBI Abscam operation of 1980), what exactly can we learn about this particular brand of self-serving (or should I say, rather desperate) psychological survival? Each member of this troubled cast of characters is trying to “survive” the limits of their real identities. As Irving...