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...

Asif Kapadia's deeply truthful,Amy, makes clear to me, as a psychoanalyst, that although Amy Winehouse predicted fame would “drive her mad,” it was more her psychological troubles that set her on a fatal downward course. The lyrics to What Is It About Men - “my Freudian fate. History repeats itself. It fails to die,” touch the surface of those troubles. Yet, it’s not so simply that she “emulated all the shit her mother hated” or her animal aggression or taking someone else’s guy. Her real Freudian fate was hidden in her bulimic struggle. It’s what eclipsed the real Amy –...

Woody Allen's new film, The Irrational Man, gives us a troubled philosophy professor, Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix), in an existential crisis. Although Abe is an expert in Existentialism, he can’t live its system of belief. He’d have to find meaning in his life and live it to its fullest, in spite of its limits (or his past). Abe can’t. He lives in despair, and this despair leads him to an irrational act. Yet, the clues to why he does what he does are lost in an imbalanced amount of philosophizing. The character of Abe Lucas could have used a script...

Albert Camus, best known for his masterpiece novel The Stranger, wrote an entire book (believe it or not) on The Myth Of Sisyphus. Camus’ point is that Sisyphus is happy because he’s accepted his life. This is exactly what Woody Allen's existential philosophy professor in The Irrational Man can’t find a way to do. He lives in despair until he commits an irrational act. Is his act an existential one? I don’t think so. Camus’ Sisyphus is the true existential man. Woody Allen’s Abe Lucas is not. For those of you who don’t know the myth, Sisyphus is a man condemned...

The people of Wayward Pines can’t watch out now. It’s too late. But, it’s important to distinguish between an arrogant person and someone who wants to help. Arrogance gives you no Choices. There couldn’t be a more ironic title for Episode 6 of Wayward Pines. No one who ended up in Wayward Pines really had a choice. Did they? As Episode 6 unfolds, we see that everyone in Wayward Pines is a casualty of scientist David Pilcher’s (Toby Jones) arrogance. Either his grandiose ideas about a new “extraordinary life” seduced them. Or, they were strong-armed because they had no other options. Mostly,...

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...

What do we talk about when we talk about someone losing his grip on reality? When it comes to that question, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s brilliant film, Birdman, is meaty stuff for a psychoanalyst like me. Riggan Thompson, former action hero, has-been, failed husband and father, is struggling to change his life - against a Voice in his head that swings back and forth between the old allure of grandiose self acclaim or ripping self criticism. That Voice – who at first is unidentifiable, turns out to be Birdman, his claim to stardom in the movie business. That Voice is the teetering...