Sending Me to Therapy.
HBO’s In Treatment, the drama about talk therapy, is scaring the hell out of me. Why? Because parents and the damage they inflicted on their children when they were young seem to be the root cause of almost all the patients’ problems. Like I need one more TV show to make me fret about whether I’m doing this parenting thing right and if I’m inadvertently creating long-term mommy issues for my kids.
Take a gander at the issues the patients are facing during the therapy sessions we see each week on the show:
There’s a college student named April (Alison Pill) who can’t bring herself to tell her mother that she has lymphoma which requires immediate chemotherapy, which she’s reluctant to start. Her mother’s so overwhelmed by the fact that her teenaged son is autistic that she passes the burden of his care to April, who doesn’t seem to have a presence in her family except as her brother’s caretaker.
April’s dad appears to be a non-factor.
Then there’s a fortysomething lawyer, Mia (Hope Davis), who angrily regrets never having children or getting married. She was told by the therapist that she’s drawn to married men and makes herself emotionally inaccessible because she’s got unresolved daddy issues. The therapist asserted that Mia’s way too close to her father -- the only person who made her feel safe, cared for and favored -- with whom she keep secrets from his wife/her mother, the woman who’s fond of blaming Mia for “ruining her modeling career.”
A stressed out sixtysomething CEO Walter (John Mahoney) has had insomnia and panic attacks. He’s basically a wreck as his only child is living in war-torn Rwanda helping families and refused to come home to “safety” with him. In therapy, he reluctantly discovered that he’s still walking around with crushing childhood guilt on his shoulders, bearing the responsibility of his brother’s accidental death and for extinguishing the light in his parents’ lives when his brother was a teen and Walter was 6 years old.
A couple in the middle of a divorce is clueless to the fact that their 11-year-old son Oliver (Aaron Shaw) is being bullied at school, is seriously sleep deprived (pretends to be asleep when they check on him), has been intermittently starving himself so he can lose weight and not be called “piggy” by the mean kids, and secretly wishes he could be put up for adoption. Oliver won’t tell his parents about any of this because he thinks that he’s the cause of their marital difficulties.