Sunday, March 12, 2006
He's been in therapy for years, but is Tony Soprano really getting any better?
If not, then why does he still go? For that matter, if he is better, why does he still go?
"I don't know," shrugs Lorraine Bracco, the actress who, in the guise of Dr. Jennifer Melfi, has sat across the room, dispensing Prozac and listening to Tony vent, for five long years.
"Do you think Tony got better? I mean, it's job security (for me) that he doesn't, but ..."
She's being glib, but it's a legitimate question. [actually a lot of psychotherapists have no problem with breaching ethics in that respect]
From the beginning, The Sopranos' defining dramatic device has been its use of psychotherapy as an emotional and psychological context.
Over the years, it has often transcended the traditional doctor-patient relationship — for example, in the first season, an incredulous Melfi was briefly forced into hiding (or "out on the lam," as she was later aghast to hear herself say) when their association threatened her life.
And though, for a time, she refused to see him — and later, a time where he refused to see her — they always seem to somehow resolve their issues, and get back to dealing and healing.
But has it done him any good?
"Well, he's not having panic attacks any more," Bracco offers, meekly.
Her boss, David Chase, is typically blunt: "We're trying to depict real psychotherapy. So of course he gets nothing out of it."
Then the article writer goes on to interview a real therapist about what they think of the kind of therapy Tony Soprano is getting. And she is quoted as saying:
Would she herself have treated him differently?
More like, not at all.
"I wouldn't," she says, "because of what he does. I'm not a moralistic person, but on principle, from an ethical perspective, I just couldn't do it."
"I am not a moralist person" - right there the problem with a lot of therapy. The objective of many therapists, aside from getting (a lot) of green, is to make the person feel better, not to have their client acquire character (or ethics), because people who don't have character most of the time don't want to have it, and they don't feel good by being called on it. And this complete unethical circus is what therapists disguise as their "lofty ethics."