Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon), Secret Service agent, apparently made a mistake and let someone suspicious go. Apparently, 621 people died. This weighs heavily on his conscience. Other mistakes weigh heavily, too. Such as having an affair with his partner, Kate Hewson (Carla Gugino) and hurting his wife and son. Yet, as four episodes of M. Night Shyamalan’s disturbingly strange world of Wayward Pines unfold, we begin to wonder if it’s all a hallucination in Ethan Burke’s mind - or something else. We can expect a surprise ending from Shyamalan. But, from my vantage point as a psychoanalyst, let’s take it as...

We’re left to wonder: what will become of Don Draper (Jon Hamm)? As Coca Cola’s hilltop jingle ends 7 seasons of Mad Men – we have questions that don’t have answers. Has Don changed? Or, is he just the quintessential ad man - a man who escapes into his stories because they’re better than his personal reality? Don’s early trauma has had some devastating effects.  If Don has changed, there’d be some very specific signs. First, though, to understand how he’d change, the crushing effects of his childhood trauma must be highlighted: Don doesn’t trust love He was neglected, abused, and abandoned....

We’re all still talking about Mad Men. And, yes, I agree - the characters often hit close to home with many of life’s painful realities. Yet, I have to say that the tongue in cheek jingle at Mad Men’s finale was a bit too disturbing. Leaving Sally (Kiernan Shipka) doing dishes in the kitchen with a dying mother and no father walking through the door is almost unbearably sad. We’re faced with the fact that one cry, a few encounter groups in an Esalen kind of therapy, just aren't enough to change the effects of Don's (Jon Hamm) traumatic childhood. His children are left to repeat...

Dr. Rice didn’t get Hannah at all. Season 2, It’s Back, leaves Hannah obsessively counting in 8’s. She needs a different kind of help. If Hannah was in therapy with me, I’d listen closely to her conflicting and ever-shifting feelings; her “I need your help. No, I’m fine.” “I’m sad. No, I’m not.” This is the torment behind OCD. When something feels one way, doubt sets in; or the feeling is flatly denied. Hannah doesn’t like to need anything, especially when she does: At lunch with her parents, before they insist she see Dr. Rice (Bob Balaban), Hannah (Lena Dunham) taps her...

Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young is much more than a look at how youth wants to outdo the old, how the older envy youth, and how a mid-life crisis leads to all kinds of desperate shenanigans. It’s also the story of 40-something Josh (Ben Stiller) who can’t move forward for complex psychological reasons. And, of 20-something Jamie (Adam Driver) who gives us a pretty good clue about what Josh is afraid of. Josh, a documentary filmmaker, has had some success, but nothing like his father-in law, Leslie Breitbart (Charles Grodin). Leslie’s famous. This makes Josh feel small in comparison. He can’t...

When a male reporter told Melissa McCarthy that she’s only a good actress when she looks attractive and that she, in fact, looked “really bad” in her role as Tammy, she was angry. But, she took the time to make it a teaching moment. He listened. He heard what she had to say. First, McCarthy asked the critic if he would want someone to deny his own daughter a job because of her physical appearance: He said: “No, I would never want that to happen! Never in a million years want that to happen.” Then, she said, “Just know every...

Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) at a crossroad. He seems to be on the run again, but it’s not that simple. He’s searching for something. Trying to put together the pieces of Dick, the boy he left behind - pieces that include his mistakes. While he’s roaming the Milk and Honey Route in Season 7, Episode 13, there’s tragedy brewing back home for the Draper-Francis family. Betty is dying. As Betty faces death, Don faces what’s interfered with living. He wakes up to a dream: A cop pulls him over, “We’ve been looking for you. Knew we’d catch up to you eventually.” It’s...

Have you ever wondered what’s on a psychologist’s “don’t do” list for a session with a patient? Go to Season 2, episode 8, “It’s Back”, and re-watch Hannah’s (Lena Dunham) consultation with Dr. Rice (Bob Balaban). I know this is a comedy. But, there’s absolutely nothing funny about Hannah’s recurrence of OCD symptoms, her counting 8’s, and the torment she’s trying to fight off. As a psychologist who takes very seriously the close listening and sensitive responses my work requires, I found Dr. Rice’s behavior cringe-worthy. Here’s what went wrong: 1.  Don’t Be Detached And Cold An anxious Hannah sits across from...

Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) greatest talent is creating stories that sell. Sometimes his imagination carries him away – for better or worse. His imagination no doubt saved him from an abusive and damaging childhood. There are worse things than to imagine being somewhere else someday. Or a different person than the one you’re made to feel you are. Throughout the Mad Men series, though, Don’s imagination has taken him away from feelings and places he just can’t be. That’s sometimes gotten him into trouble. Where is it taking him now? Lost Horizon finds Don at McCann-Erikson. The self-serving (not to mention controlling, chauvinistic,...

This is the first in a series of 4 Posts. The word OCD is tossed around too casually in our contemporary culture – as in “I’m so OCD” to mean “I’m a perfectionist” or “I like to have things organized and controlled.” Sure, those things can be true of people who actually have OCD. But, real OCD isn’t so benign. OCD involves torturous compulsions that can’t be controlled. In Girl’s Episodes 8 “It’s Back” and 9 “On All Fours” (otherwise known as the Q-Tip episode), we see Hannah’s (Lena Dunham) compulsion to do things in 8’s or multiples of 8’s. Counting is common in...