Let's face it: cable and Netflix are A LOT cheaper than therapy. Here's how to get your head vicariously shrunk from the comfort of your own couch.
Dr. Stanley Keyworth, "The West Wing"
Background: Psychotherapist Dr. Stanley Keyworth (Adam Arkin) is brought to the White House when a recently-shot Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) shows signs of PTSD. When the no-nonsense doc is later summoned to address the President's insomnia, he audaciously prompts President Bartlet to open up about his father's abusive tendencies. Talk about speaking truth to power.
Dr. Stanley Keyworth: I'll be the only person in the world, other than your family, who doesn't care that you're the president. Time is up.
President Jed Bartlet: It's not good for a person to keep setting goals?
Dr. Stanley Keyworth: It probably is, but it's tricky for somebody who's still trying to get his father to stop hitting him.
The Lesson: It's ok if you're still pining for parental approval. No one, not even the Nobel Prize-winning President Bartlet, is immune to daddy issues.
Dr. Frasier Crane, "Frasier"
Background: Dr. Frasier Crane, originally of "Cheers" fame, is a Harvard-educated psychiatrist and radio personality who moves to Seattle to repair his life after a devastating divorce. Ever consumed with one-upping his brother Niles, pursuing women (often unsuccessfully), and maintaining his "elegant" lifestyle, Frasier revels in the power trip of doling out advice to his desperate listeners.
Dr. Frasier Crane: If you act like a barbarian, you will become a barbarian.”
Dr. Frasier Crane: Though washing one's hands twenty to thirty times a day would be considered obsessive/compulsive, please bear in mind that your husband is a coroner. Thank you for your call, Jeanine. Roz, whom do we have next?
The Lesson: Even as our unconscious minds threaten to derail rational decision-making, sometimes Freudian models have nothing to do with the ridiculous things we do. (In other words, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.)
Dr. Marvin Monroe, "The Simpsons"
Background: Dr. Marvin Monroe first appears in the episode "There's No Disgrace Like Home," in which Homer pawns the family television to pay for some much needed family counseling. When talk therapy fails, Dr. Monroe enacts a bizarre simulation of the infamous Milgram experiment. The Simpsons are encouraged to use electroshock therapy on one another to release their rage towards one another, and wind up creating a town-wide power outage.
Dr. Monroe: This is what's known as aversion therapy. When someone hurts you emotionally, you will hurt them physically, and gradually you will learn not to hurt each other at all! And won't that be wonderful Homer?
The Lesson: While potentially effective for various psychopathologies, electroshock therapy is not a viable treatment for intrafamilial frustrations. Just buy a new television instead!
Dr. Jennifer Melfi, "The Sopranos"
Background: Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) is the psychoanalyst-psychiatrist who attempts to help Mafia boss Tony Soprano manage his crippling panic attacks and depression. Not surprisingly, their tumultuous relationship drives her deep into alcoholism, and she ultimately deems Tony a sociopath only enabled — not aided — by therapy.
Tony Soprano: We've got bigger things to talk about than Jean Cusamano's ass.
Dr. Jennifer Melfi: Like feelings of worthlessness sparked by your mother's plot to have you killed?
The Takeaway: Murder, theft, and grudge-holding does a number on one's self-esteem (in case moral qualms and fear of punishment weren't enough to keep you out of organized crime). Also, if duck migrations inspire sadness, your subconscious could be expressing deeper fears of loss. Check yourself!