Stephanie Newman Ph.D.

Apologies To Freud

An Open Letter to Mad Men's Donald Draper

Don and others on the AMC show Mad Men make a great case for psychotherapy

Posted Apr 08, 2013

 Dear Don:

It was great seeing you again. You seemed to embrace a fresh start: marrying a younger woman, cutting back on the sauce, getting healthy. And we were right there with you: rooting for you, hoping you could overcome that depressing past to find true happiness. Many people thought you had managed to turn it all around.

Some of us knew better.

There’s a word, “character,” that we in the psychology game use to describe the notion of who you are at the core, how your personality has developed, formed, and coalesced over time.  It explains why some people clamp down and try to ignore all feelings or hide behind a killer sense of humor, and offers a theory (though it’s complicated) about why some people grab a drink every time they are stressed out.  Character determines one’s chosen modes of protecting against threatening feelings, and informs the ways in which we make decisions, adapt to adversity, and meet challenges.  Or not.  So Don, you can try as all individuals do to “do anything to alleviate... anxiety,” but women and booze won’t provide the salve you are desperately after.  

Even Roger got a shrink. So, think about it. If you want to have better relationships and understand the effect of the past on your present life, therapy is the ticket. And I have just the couch for you.


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 from Barnes & NobleIndie Bound, and Amazon

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