Dr. Melfi disappoints her peers


Therapists are speaking up about Dr. Melfi’s (Lorraine Bracco) behavior in the most recent episode of The Sopranos. [Warning: Spoilers ahead.]

Before we get to that, let’s take a moment to appreciate Bracco’s legs:

I really don’t think I’d be able to concentrate if she were my therapist. I do know I’d never miss an appointment.

Anyway, in the most recent episode (episode 85, The Blue Comet), Dr. Melfi informed Tony that he will no longer be able to avail himself of her services. That’s the nice way of putting it: The truth is, she dumped him. Kicked him out. Sent him and his steak recipe packing.

Can you imagine that? It would really mess me up. I’d need so much more therapy afterward.

The response from real-life therapists is fascinating: First, they’re horrified that Dr. Kupferberg revealed Tony’s name at the dinner party. That does seem like an extreme ethical no-no, not to mention a pretty mean thing to do to a so-called friend. And Melfi’s decision to shoo Tony out of her office is just confusing to many a shrink:

… Melfi had reluctantly read a study, brought to her attention by Kupferberg, claiming that therapy doesn’t actually help sociopaths — it further enables their bad behavior by sharpening their manipulative skills. … A tidbit that had some therapists buzzing this week: it turns out the study is a real one — albeit hardly new — from authors Samuel Yochelson and Stanton Samenow, psychiatrists specializing in the criminal mind. But the way the fictional Melfi shoved aside her patient was anything but real, therapists said. “You don’t just drop a patient like a hot potato, even if you conclude they aren’t responding to therapy,” [Dr. Joseph] Annibali protested. “She should have taken several months to do it.”

Well, now that I know the study is real, I’ll try to stop reading things into the names Yochelson and Samenow. I was spinning a grand theory about Tony and A.J. being the same old sons of yokels who are stuck in the paths their families carved for them. Although I’m a relative newcomer to The Sopranos, it seems like the show can’t end any other way but to say that Tony is cursed, or fated, or whatever you want to call the final states of Macbeth and Hamlet and every other big tragic hero and anti-hero. Ultimately, for everyone, it’s the same as it ever was. "This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife!"

Uh. I’ll have to mention this to my not-so-leggy therapist next week.

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