The Sopranos: Season 4 Analyzed; Week 11
Yes, I'm feeling like giving up, but I know that Tony has to come back to Jennifer because we have a fifth season next year. He may or may not be able to work through the negative transference. As you point out, Peggy, he is still under the influence of a powerful internal representation of his mother, the evil magna mater. One way to look at the two dreams is that the women were interchangeable: Gloria morphed into Svetlana; Carmela was in the front seat of his parents' car, where his mother should have been; the shadowy figure on the staircase was faceless. The blackness of the figure reminded me of when Tony told Gloria she was just like his mother—a "black hole." One other possible interpretation of the two dreams is that Ralphie is also in the front seat and represents Tony's father, who Tony killed off. Don't forget there was an oedipal triangle of Ralphie/Valentina/Tony, so anxieties about having whacked "father" may haunt Tony's unconscious. Maybe he feels he doesn't deserve to get better and is undermining his therapy as a way of punishing himself.
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.