Stephanie Newman Ph.D.

Apologies To Freud

Psychologists Join the Pop Culture Conversation

What therapists have to say about your favorite TV show

Posted Nov 26, 2012

Pop culture commentary is no longer about creating headlines--it has become the headline. Television and radio stations offer a dizzying array of talk shows, news magazines, and reality show wrap-ups. Social media sites provide podcasts and endless discussion. Bloggers weigh in 24/7. And everyone seems to have an opinion about everything.

But what happens when psychologists join the conversation? Those of us who make our living trying to understand and counsel individuals have been known to get philosophical. We are frequently accused of over-analyzing in a dry, humorless way, of being “out of touch.”

And then there’s Dr. Nancy Berk, the Pittsburgh psychologist, professor, author, radio talk show host, and stand- up comic who recently invited me on her show, “Whine at 9,” to discuss all things Mad Men. Dr. Berk knows her psychology. And her manner is anything but dry and humorless. She and I compared notes on the psyches of Don Draper's current and ex-wives, Megan and Betty, his daughter, Sally, and his protégé, Peggy.

Mad Men inspires deep psychological commentary. Its characters are richly drawn and continue to behave in strange and complex ways that fascinate both armchair psychologists and serious practitioners of the field.

Here’s what happens when two psychologists go behind Don’s drapes:

Stephanie Newman, Ph.D., is the author of Mad Men on the Couch: Analyzing the Minds of the Men and Women of the Hit TV Show, which can be purchased fromBarnes & NobleIndie Bound, andAmazon

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