WHAT'S WRONG WITH DR. PAUL WESTON? "IN TREATMENT" IS BACK!

Yep. "IN TREATMENT" is back, in a shorter more compressed season and format, but still with the same intensity and intelligence it demonstrated in the first season last year.

This time around, though, Gabriel Byrne's character, psychologist Paul Weston, is really unraveling, and with good reason. No, not the provocations of his patients, or his recent divorce or even the death of his father. Paul is breaking down for two main reasons apart from his outer circumstances - one, he is an empathetically connected therapist who feels his patients' pain, and two, he is fifty three and hasn't done anywhere near enough work on his own inner life. As a result, he is over-involved emotionally with many of his patients, desperate to save them from their fates, and as such, in conflict because he also knows that he must observe the "prime directive" of good therapy - do not interfere directly in a patient's choices.

But... is Paul a "good" therapist?

Well, yes and no.

Unlike the stereotypical psychoanalytic shrink who remains aloof, the proverbial blank screen, while the patient lies passive on the couch, not even allowed to look at the God-like therapist, Paul Weston is feeling, involved and directive at times with his patients. In other words, he is actively human with them. As such, he makes mistakes, but like a real-life human being, he admits those mistakes and even - Woah! - apologizes for them. All of this is helpful to his patients, because above all else, the only real deep healing that can occur in therapy is in the context of a real relationship between the people involved. In traditional therapy, inner conflicts are only analyzed intellectually, resulting in more awareness, yes, but not in deep personal change or lasting emotional freedom.

The problem is, if you're going to be the kind of therapist Byrne portrays, it means that you are going to be bombarded with feelings from within and without on a daily basis, and to survive such an onslaught, you must be an open system whose inner conflicts are easily accessible to your conscious mind and whose emotions are not blocked in your body. That's where Paul falls short. He is not fully open and he is not freed-up enough emotionally to sustain any kind of balance in his practice. So, he acts out impulsively at times, unable to process what his patients are stirring up in him.

That being said, if I had to choose between the lesser of two evils - an aloof, emotionally detached analyst or a sloppy, emotionally connected and empathetic therapist - I'd go with the latter.

Carry on, Paul, but please, get serious about your work with Gina!

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