Psychotherapy as a Plot Device

The Sopranos: Season 4 Analyzed; Week 8

Psychotherapy as a Plot Device

The Sopranos: Season 4 Analyzed; Week 8

Psychotherapy as a Plot Device
Talking television.
Nov. 4 2002 3:16 PM

The Sopranos: Season 4 Analyzed; Week 8

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In response to Peggy's comment that the writers have settled for psychotherapy as a plot device, I would argue that it's always been that way. Historically, psychotherapy appears in so many films for the same reason. It gives the audience a chance to see a hidden side of the protagonist that we otherwise wouldn't see. So it is with Tony's therapy since the first episode. It's true that Dr. Melfi becomes a character in her own right and the therapy itself becomes a subplot, but people don't watch The Sopranos primarily for the psychotherapy scenes.

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I think I have to agree with Peggy's view that the therapy is not helping much. After all of Tony's pangs of conscience about Gloria's suicide, you'd think he might have learned a thing or two. But Valentina is simply a Cuban version of Gloria. At some level, he knows this can't end well, but he can't help himself. His triumph over Ralphie is just as powerful a motivator as his conquest of Valentina.

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.