Dying To Spill the Beans

The Sopranos: Season 4 Analyzed; Week 11

Dying To Spill the Beans

The Sopranos: Season 4 Analyzed; Week 11

Dying To Spill the Beans
Talking television.
Nov. 26 2002 11:41 AM

The Sopranos: Season 4 Analyzed; Week 11

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I think Judith is correct that Tony is dying to spill the beans as a way of unloading his guilt. Like many patients who were brought up Catholic, Tony has a tendency to see therapy as a confessional where one seeks redemption and forgiveness as much as insight and understanding. However, Melfi doesn't want to know what Tony has to say about his impulsive act. Since the first session in the first episode of the first season, she has made it clear that she wants Tony to keep his violent acts split off from the therapeutic discourse. Judith asks about a therapist's obligation if Tony did admit that he whacked Ralphie. Actually, Melfi's only obligation would be to keep it confidential. The so-called duty to warn derived from the Tarasoff case applies only to future victims who are at risk because of the patient's intent to harm them. It does not apply to past crimes. Jennifer is highly conflicted about Tony's seamy side. Part of her wants to know the sordid details because of the vicarious excitement she derives from it. The other half of her wants to believe in his potential for goodness and can't bear to hear what he does in his "business."

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Glen

Glen O. Gabbard, M.D., is a professor of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine and author of The Psychology of The Sopranos, inspired by this discussion. Philip A. Ringstrom, Ph.D., Psy.D., is a senior faculty member at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles. Joel Whitebook, Ph.D., is on the faculty of the Columbia Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Margaret Crastnopol, Ph.D., is on the faculty of the Northwest Center for Psychoanalysis. All are practicing therapists as well. Daniel Menaker is the author of The Treatment, a novel about therapy, and is executive editor at HarperCollins. Judith Shulevitz writes the "Close Reader" column for the New York Times Book Review. Jodi Kantor is Slate's New York editor.