August 27, 2007

The Other Soprano Psychiatrist


 

(Finally watching the series on DVD.) 

Carmela Soprano, wife of mobster Tony Soprano, is so unhappy in her marriage that she goes to see an old, Jewish, psychiatrist, which is a leap for her as she is not too keen on psychiatrists-- or Jews, for that matter.  She describes her ambivalence about her husband:

 


 

Carmela (crying): He's a good man, a good father.

Dr. Krakower: You tell me he's a depressed criminal, prone to anger, serially unfaithful. Is that your definition of a good man?

Carmela: I thought psychiatrists weren’t supposed to be judgmental.

Dr. Krakower: Many patients want to be excused for their current predicament because of events that occurred in their childhood. That’s what psychiatry has become in America. Visit any shopping mall or ethnic pride parade and witness the results.

...You'll never be able to feel good about yourself. You'll never be able to quell the feelings of guilt and shame that you talked about, so long as you're his accomplice.

Carmela: You're wrong about the accomplice part, though.

Dr. Krakower: You sure?

Carmela: All I did was make sure he's got clean clothes in his closet and dinner on his table.

Dr. Krakower: So "enable" would be a more accurate job description for what you do than "accomplice". My apologies...

Take only the children--what's left of them--and go.

Carmela: My priest said I should work with him, help him to become a better man.

Dr. Krakower: How's that going?

Carmela: I would have to get a lawyer, find an apartment, arrange for child support...

Dr. Krakower: You're not listening. I'm not charging you because I won't take blood money. You can't either...

Let's pretend that this isn't TV, and that this old psychoanalyst knows something about the therapeutic process.  Why say this?  What defense mechanism is so prominent in her?  What's the single sentence Dr. Krakower can say that changes this conversation from an irresponsible breaking of therapeutic neutrality to a means of overcoming a powerful defense that allows for life decisions based on insight?  He says it at the end:

Dr. Krakower: One thing you can never say: You haven't been told.

Therapy isn't about being happy, it's about honestly knowing who you are, and then picking a suitable life.  Every day you must consciously choose who you are.  Choose.






Comments

You might be interested in ... (Below threshold)

August 27, 2007 6:31 PM | Posted by Shalmanese: | Reply

You might be interested in this slate article: http://www.slate.com/id/2000249/entry/1007461/ where 4 psychoanalysts examine that particular episode.

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Excellent post. I have this... (Below threshold)

August 28, 2007 4:18 PM | Posted by Sally: | Reply

Excellent post. I have this theory that the reason analysis/therapy whatever never worked for Tony is because he was never honest with Dr. Melfi and she was never honest with him. The first episode of the Sopranos I watched involved Tony choking a guy to death in a motel parking lot while his daughter innocently waited in their room. He then went to Melfi and said something like "I ran into an associate who died in an unfortunate manner and I had another attack." So instead of saying "I seem to have panic attacks every time I murder somebody with my bare hands," he says, can I have that med prescription now and the antidepressant robs him of his conscience. And society is harmed.

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"Therapy isn't about bei... (Below threshold)

August 28, 2007 7:25 PM | Posted by Stephany: | Reply

"Therapy isn't about being happy, it's about honestly knowing who you are, and then picking a suitable life. Every day you must consciously choose who you are. Choose."
Case of rum time.Cheers.

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Decades ago, I read a book ... (Below threshold)

August 29, 2007 9:57 PM | Posted by AK: | Reply

Decades ago, I read a book about life in Soviet Russia--unfortunately, I cannot recall the title. The author, an American journalist, had a conversation with a dissident who kept a collection of banned books at home.

The Russian described how the boy had been provocative, baiting his father, teasingly asking why they had those books at home.

His father had told the kid that he was a member of a family where the choice had been made to read literature banned by the state and to take the risks.

The Russian told the journalist, "My son will never be happy, because he will understand too much."

Then came the punchline.

The father said, "I love my son. But I refuse to let him grow up like a stupid ass."

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wow u have so many good pos... (Below threshold)

February 2, 2010 11:19 PM | Posted by terri: | Reply

wow u have so many good posts.

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Next time I read about a "m... (Below threshold)

May 23, 2013 10:37 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Next time I read about a "must" forgive (without explanations, not even mentioned in the referenced papers, about "why", or about the "or what" implied part), or see an attempt to make light (and invite you to not take seriously) an important/hurtful/dramatic fact that might as well change everything, in the evaluation, in the opinion one has of a person, etc., I will come back to this:

"""
Therapy isn't about being happy, it's about honestly knowing who you are, and then picking a suitable life. Every day you must consciously choose who you are. Choose.
"""

George Orwell would have called it "A power of facing" unpleasant facts: looking reality in the face, and draw the necessary conclusions, if you have to go, go and don't turn back, etc., but mainly focus on never lying to yourself. You wouldn't know how rare such a non hypocritical comment would be.

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