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...

Mad Men’s finale takes Don Draper (Jon Hamm) to the ultimate darkness of the soul, only to end up … Where? It seems a tragic cosmic joke to leave the Draper – Francis family the only ones with loose ends. Don might be back on his game, conjuring up the world’s greatest Coca Cola ad. But, why would he write a jingle about the real thing instead of doing it? It starts with two very difficult phone calls. First, Don talks to Sally (Kiernan Shipka). He’s jolted back into reality when convinced Betty’s (January Jones) dying of lung cancer: “What?! I’m...

  Hannah needs help. But Dr. Rice’s failure leaves her alone to manage feelings that are confusing, hated, and at odds with what she believes is normal. She doesn’t have any methods but counting 8’s to get troubling thoughts out of her head. And, then in Season 2, Episode 9, On All Fours, there’s the Q-tip … At the beginning of On All Fours, Hannah’s (Lena Dunham) in an elevator on her way to meet her publisher. She’s pulling and prodding at herself – poking her ear in series of 8’s. Her counting is going full force. She’s obviously very anxious. She must...

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...

Right when it seems life is moving along for Don in a more optimistic way, Season 7’s Episode 11 Time and Life comes along. McCann-Erickson plays a manipulative trick, absorbing Sterling Cooper & Partners. The agency’s identity is gone. Does it take away Don’s as well? Although Don says to Roger: “What’s in a name?” - that’s a very complicated question for Don Draper (Jon Hamm). Dick Whitman, Don’s childhood self, didn’t take on a whole new identity for nothing. Not only was he trying to free himself from the trauma of his past – he didn’t want to be that...

No matter how hard Russ (Timothy Hutton) tries or how ingratiating he is, there’s roadblock after roadblock to his attempts to make up for his mistakes. Although American Crime is in search of the person who killed Matt and injured Gwen, Russ acts like a criminal. He’s not a suspect, of course. And, even though he isn’t literally a criminal, his family treats him like one. He feels like one. Guilt can ruin a life. For those who haven’t watched the series – Russ is Russ Skokie, father of Matt the victim of murder. Barb (Felicity Huffman) is his ex-wife who struggles with feelings...

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is finally beginning to face how much his past lives inside him. Plus, all the mistakes he’s made and the ways he’s sabotaged love because of it. At least it sure seems that way. When he says to Johnny Mathis in episode 10, Forecast: “Take responsibility for your failure,” he’s clearly talking to himself. We have a guardedly optimistic Don, who has a “good feeling.” Hope is the first place to start. But, there’s more. What are the other clues that Don’s on the road to a different life? Clue 1: Knowing where he’s been: He’s lying on the couch...