Thank you Hollywood
This essay, is an offering of gratitude to Hollywood’s fascination with therapy. When one takes a moment to reflect upon the big screen or television portrayals of psychotherapy you may be quick to realize that this kind of therapy is often found under the context of an ultra-masculine male client reaching out for counseling services. From cinema to sitcom, we all know that viewers are influenced by the shows that they watch, and it is not often enough that television is accredited with making positive contributions to humanity. Here is one therapist’s heartfelt and humble thank you to the producers and actors of some of the following shows that have portrayed therapists and therapy and most importantly have done so in such a way that men receive the message that they need to explore the various unexamined parts of the self!
Movies such as, the hilarious “Analyze This” with Billy Crystal who plays a therapist to an Italian American with criminal tendencies. It appears that viewers really enjoy this theme as who could forget “The Sopranos” Tony Soprano, he with his boisterous and memorable bravado, his tough guy persona imbibing implicitly to a nation of admirers. Both of these portrayals carry a poignant message. “Men have a vast network of feelings, the best of us are actively working towards enhanced relationships with ourselves and significant others of the past, present, and future!” In most all cinematic representations of psychotherapy, for example in the case of The Sopranos, there are some serious ethical and moral breaches between therapist and client but hey, it’s Hollywood!
Interestingly, the characters that sought treatment looking to depart from symptoms are ultimately given something else in the process. Perhaps that is part of the Hollywood obsession, everywhere we turn it seems that humans are wanting to experience something a little deeper in relation to themselves and others. One of my favorite movie portrayals of therapy at work is within the tear jerker movie, “Good Will Hunting.” Yet there are many other more light hearted examples such as “What about Bob?” Among the modern and vaguely based on realism is the series, called “In treatment” which showcases weekly cases in one mans practice.
Some of you may be wondering but what is the thanks about? Mostly I have cited a bunch of male therapists working with other men. Yet, in reality, women are more likely to enter therapy then men, although both sexes do experience issues which could benefit from the therapeutic encounter. Think of those men who were raised by positive intentions bespoken phrases to small ears which internalized such explicit messages as “big boys don’t cry like a girls!” “Don’t be a sissy.” As a clinician, this causes an internal cringe. I know that there were and are whole generations of men and even women with grossly neglected parts of the self! This equates to a myriad of sufferings from symptoms to vaguely definable human malaise, or simply put, a life that could be lived in a much richer manner. Formerly, those men who were unidentifiably searching for a safe place to iron out these grander mysteries may have stifled their quest as to not encroach upon the cultural taboos of betraying the earlier defined meaning of masculinity. Curtain call, in walks a character like Soprano, who has the persona of aggressive and dominant male, yet also dealing with anxiety for all of those disavowed parts of the self. When someone like that turns to therapy and discovers some things in the process, the viewing men are then too given permission to examine those emotive parts of their selves. This is not to say that all men are cut off from their emotions, there are certainly those men among us who develop into the well balanced kind of gent that enjoys the abundance of the human experience but for those who have not been so lucky, well you can just tune in to your favorite show and see, there are indeed a myriad of other options.
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Ave Pittsburgh Pa 15233