We already posted about In Treatment Season Premiere on HBO Monday October 25th.
And since at least for me, the show is the most realistic I´ve seen about therapy, I thought the best thing to do was to ask an expert about it. That´s why we contacted best selling author Dr Gary Small, with his New York Times best seller The Memory Bible. Recently he launched his new book, cowritten with Gigi Vorgan, called “The Naked Lady who Stood on Her Head“.
I asked him to tell us his opinion about In Treatment and wether it was TV Hype or the Real Deal.
Dr Gary Small wrote this piece for Series And TV about HBO show In Treatment.
In Treatment: TV Hype or the Real Deal?
As a psychiatrist, I watch this show with mixed feelings. I’m drawn to the drama of some of the characters. I empathize with the therapist, knowing first-hand the emotional challenges and rewards of treating difficult patients. Sometimes I’m appalled when he crosses the line and let’s his own feelings and conflicts interfere with the treatment. The good doctor is supposed to understand his own emotional reactions to his patients and not act on them to serve his own needs. In the series, we’re led to believe that talking to his own therapist at the end of the week makes it all okay. But this is therapy, not Confession, and all is not okay.
What I find most intriguing about the show, which parallels my own new book, The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: A Psychiatrist’s Stories of His Most Bizarre Cases, is that it gets inside the doctors head. The viewer has a sense of what the therapist is thinking and going through. Some people view therapists as wizards who can magically peer into their minds and know their deepest thoughts and mental anguish. But that is not the case, as shown in both this series and my book. Therapists are just people with their own emotional struggles, and part of their job is to put aside their own emotional needs in order to help their patients.
The realization that a psychiatrist or psychologist might have personal issues frightens many patients. That’s part of the patient’s transference – they are transferring feelings they have toward other people in their lives onto the therapist. As children, we often have this kind of magical thinking about our parents – that they are all powerful and can fix everything. What often heals patients in therapy is gaining insight on their transference feelings. They learn how they distort their perception of the therapist and gain perspective on how they distort their other relationships.
So is In Treatment the real deal or just TV hype? In many ways, it is as close to the real deal as scripted TV can get, which is one reason so many people are drawn to it. But most therapists don’t cross the line and enter their patient’s personal lives. In television and film, this has become a stereotype. The patient often falls in love with the therapist, and the recently divorced therapist responds in kind. The therapist meets is own needs and temporarily gratifies the patient. The patient gains a temporary lover, but loses their doctor and the opportunity to resolve his or her conflicts.
The therapists I respect the most are those who have had personal conflicts and resolved them. They don’t get personally involved in their patients’ transference reactions, but help them understand them. They are often the most empathic psychotherapists because they know the pain and anguish that their patients experience.
So I am eager to see what happens this season on In Treatment. In many ways, it is the real deal. Sometimes it makes us squirm; other times it’s a little boring. TV, and therapy, often get that way.
Who is Dr Gary Small?
Dr. Gary Small is a professor of psychiatry and director of the UCLA Center on Aging at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior. His research, supported by the National Institute of Health, has made headlines in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today. Scientific American magazine named him one of the world’s leading innovators in science and technology. Dr. Small lectures throughout the world and frequently appears on The Today Show, Good Morning American, PBS, and CNN. He has written five books, including The New York Times best seller, The Memory Bible.
How to buy The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head?
More Information about In Treatment Season 3 Premiere on HBO
Multi award HBO show In Treatment is coming back Monday October 25th with back to back episodes, followed by two more back to back episodes on Tuesday October 26th. (9 and 9:30 PM)