Feminist Lessons from “The Craft”

At some point during our childhoods, most of us have felt the lure of magic. We see witches and warlocks in our books, movies and television shows, and although we usually harbor some healthy doubt about it all, magic still just seems so possible. I’ve come to understand that this is quite important for our development, and that it nurtures a needed respect for natural forces. We need reminders of the power and cunning of both ourselves and nature. It boosts our willingness to try things, to reflect on our ability to impact others and the world, and to simply enjoy the power of autonomy. Halloween can be an excellent excuse for seeking out such reminders and basking in that playful spookiness.  In keeping with that, let’s take a fun yet serious look at the ’90s cult classic “The Craft.”

Last autumn, I got together with a few friends to re-watch the film for the first time since I was a teen. I was fully prepared to giggle at myself a little for being so very taken by the story. Instead, I was thrilled to find a wealth of metaphors and important feminist life lessons within. I became aware of my incredible luck at being thirteen when the film came out, and how applicable it all still is. So I’ve written up for you what I see as the curriculum of the School of The Craft and its psychotherapeutic components. Not only are these lessons still relevant, many of them are vital to our movement forward out of our current collective psychic crisis. And have you noticed the increase in interest in natural magic? Magic leans heavily on forces that we have largely lost track of as a respected part of culture: intuition, instinct, benevolence, symbolism, and reverence for the earth. “Female” things that we hoped we stamped out, because they were considered dangerous. And they can be.

The Craft tugs at our innate knowing that the feminine is extraordinarily powerful. On their way to perform a ritual, the girls’ bus driver warns them to watch out for weirdos. Their iconic, perfect-for-the-trailer response is, “We are the weirdos, mister.” Though it comes from Nancy who is drunk with power, it speaks to us all the same. One of the damaging effects of patriarchy is the loss of awareness that the feminine is powerful enough to be dangerous if embodied accordingly. I remember well what I felt when I first saw that scene; it was an experience of empowered relief. The assumption that young women are inherently at risk for harm was not only rejected, it was met with a playful threat. My little thirteen-year-old self felt seen and respected and excited.

The Craft is most certainly about witchcraft and a higher understanding of nature, but I invite you to think of it as a guide to autonomy, especially that of anyone who’s experienced standard female socialization. And while I’ll be speaking to the metaphorical components often, let’s take a moment to look at the literal meaning of the term craft. To craft is to create with intention. It is to work at something, refining it over time. It’s a very active term, one that conjures an image of a person and their work before them. And all of the lessons within this film have to do with being active and aware while engaged in a process. I highlight this, because that is also the nature of therapy; it’s the maintaining of free will. We’re sure struggling right now with what that means. We’ve gotten quite mixed up on what power really is, who’s allowed to wield it, and what it’s ultimately for.

The lessons in The Craft are a sweet little guidebook for answering those questions, and they boil down to four elements (of course): the importance of embracing magic, how to hone your skills, what to watch out for, and how to make your craft sustainable. For the sake of brevity, I will only be referring to plot points rather than spending much time describing them, so ideally you’ll know the film well or treat yourself to a viewing soon.

Embracing Magic

Embrace your power with both confidence and humility. Sarah and Nancy are our two stark examples here. When we are introduced to Sarah, we learn that she is being plagued by snakes. Historically, snakes represent both good and evil- creation in all its forms. Lirio the shopkeeper speaks to this later on, “Magic is both, because nature is both.” Sarah’s visions of the snakes represents the fear of her own power. Eventually we learn that she believes herself to be responsible for her mother’s death, and so indeed she would fear her power, wouldn’t she? This struggle results in depression and suicidality, a direct result of the neglect of her unique abilities. Despite this, she begins and ends the most balanced character. When we first see her use magic, she is simply playing with it to amuse herself. That is an excellent way to begin your relationship with just about anything. Curiosity and exploration are fruitful attributes. Sarah  also learns and grows continuously throughout the story, a result of having multiple resources that are very important for any of us: supportive family members and/or friends, mentoring, and consistent practice and reflection with her natural talents/witching power. These things provide a solidity that we see in her often. And as we see later on, it is especially through the healing of her relationship with her mother that she is able to embrace and embody her power. It’s a trope for a reason; our relationship to our origins affects how we are in the world.

In contrast to Sarah’s fear of it, Nancy is desperate for power in order to help herself and her mother escape from their situation. Of course she would struggle with finding humility, because she’s been through years of humiliation. As soon as she is able to embody some power, she clamors for more. We all do this in some way when we finally get our hands on something we’ve been deprived of for a long time. Neglect and desperation do not bring out the best in us, and we’ll look at this a bit more when we explore the warnings.

Surrender to natural forces. The four cardinal directions/ elements thing used to give me the mellow drama shivers, but I’ve come to understand that they are symbolic and that what they symbolize are essential elements for healthy autonomy. Traditions come with intentions, which sometimes just get lost along the way or lose their usefulness. This is part of what makes it important to be interested in what’s come before us- in what we can relate to or what may still apply. So what ever your relationship to this sort of earth-based spirituality, there is wisdom to be gained through looking at these symbols.

Each direction is associated with an element and further so with the attributes of those elements. These associations are not always agreed upon, which works just fine. The intention is simply to embrace and respect what they represent, not the symbol itself. Here’s one structure to feel into:

west/ earth: sunset, downward movement, movement into darkness, cooling, endings, autumn, old age
south/ fire: the sun, forward movement, heat, brightness, fullness, summer, adulthood
east/ air: dawn, upward movement, warming, beginnings, spring, birth and youth
north/ water: darkness, stillness, cold, rest, relaxation, the moon, winter, pre-birth

These qualities show up across cultures and religions (often in sets of threes or fours), because they are inescapable truths. We are living on a planet that has a natural rhythym and cycles, and these cycles affect us. When it’s warm, we feel more energetic. When it’s cold, we slow down. Embracing and utilizing this awareness allows us to experience, explore and make use of different aspects and expressions of ourselves. This is part of how we grow by trying on a variety of ways to be. This is also a part of humility, as it’s a surrendering to your place within the world. And so the girls surrender themselves to Manon in order to tap into their deepest magical abilities. Manon represents an embodiment of nature; a figure symbolizing our wild nature.

For me this is another extraordinarily important feminist lesson from The Craft. It has always been important for us to befriend and work alongside nature, but we’ve allowed it to become an issue of survival as a species. I like to think of the huge strides we’ve made against the patriarchy as a return of the sacred feminine. While what that term means is quite subjective, it is almost universally accepted the the feminine is deeply connected to nature. I believe that that is exactly what the feminine has to teach the masculine right now- that all of these attributes must be honored collectively. And so, this ritual of invoking Manon represents a union between the masculine and the feminine or more simply put, an embracing of reality. And reality is exactly where we must begin to get anything of lasting value/any good witching done. Those who understand the psychotherapeutic process know this well. We are stagnated by any lack of facing truth.

Allow yourself to be vulnerable. I hope this flows intuitively from the topic of truth and surrender. Vulnerability is a huge part of how good things come into fruition. As they enter the sacred space of their coven, the girls ask of each other, “How do you enter the circle? The only answer that grants them access is, “With perfect trust and perfect love.” I very much enjoy how clear it is to us that this needs to be true. True, honest, full submission/surrender is the doorway to deep connection and intimacy, because it’s an honest presentation of ourselves. It is essential to our ability to feel and enjoy things, because it allows us to be affected. It is how we connect authentically to others by bearing the skin we wish to have touched. And it is only through feeling and connecting that we can wield useful, healthy magic.

Honing Your Skills

Spells are simply the repetition of messages. As a psychotherapist, I’m really keen on spreading awareness of this particular lesson. What we repeat to ourselves is incredibly powerful, and it almost always yields results. Bonnie describes this in so many words when they first take Sarah to the magic shop. She offers Sarah a spellbook in which she can write her most precious thoughts and desires, which she is to share with no one except maybe the coven. That sure sounds like a diary, doesn’t it? A spellbook/diary is quite simply a collection of our most precious and powerful articulations. I’m also reminded of the chanting and singing that happens at protest marches, or the particular words repeated in the news, in entertainment media, or in advertising. Though they begin as symbols, words become truer and realer the more often we encounter them. They can penetrate, unlock, inspire, tear down- they are ultimately capable of doing what ever it is they intend to do. And this is especially true when they are adopted by an increasing number of people, whether it be your coven or your culture.

Seek your elders. I wish there were a way to impart this lesson very early. I suppose there is, as cultures that know this well do a pretty great job of engendering it. And I suspect it’s pretty important for our psychic health to go through a period of rejecting outside knowledge, just as it’s important to know a lesson viscerally rather than simply intellectually. So perhaps it’s better said that I wish we knew better to seek our elders early on in our struggles. Lirio the shopkeeper is a beautiful example of the helpful relationship one can have with an elder. She is strong and solid, she’s available rather than ever-present, and she offers wisdom without advice. She also points Sarah back to her own family, in this case, as a source of wisdom and power. She’d likely have done the same with Nancy (though for different reasons), if given an opening.

Be reflective. This means we must actively seek growth and regularly heed warnings. We need to be curious when others try to warn us about ourselves or how we’re living our lives/ using our magic. It’s not that they’re always exactly right and sometimes they aren’t right at all, but there is often something there of use. The girls have a conversation in the car one night about what they’re noticing in each other. Sarah’s concern about Nancy is especially potent. But as can happen in group dynamics, her warning is won out by the power of willful disinterest. Had Nancy or any of the girls spent some time self-reflecting on what Sarah said, they may have discovered some of their unresolved bits and been able to avoid some or all of the damage that came down the road. In the event that Sarah’s worries had been off and therefore more reflective of her own process, that too would be useful information and not just for her. What’s evoked in a relationship tells us much about its health and maturity, which in turn tells us something of us through clarifying our place in it. And knowing ourselves and having some insight about others is essential to the collective ability to safely be and express ourselves in the world.


Desperation drives greed. Nancy couldn’t be a better example of this, and of the systemically damaging effects of sexual and physical trauma and of low socioeconomic status. Nancy uses her new-found power liberally and violently, which is exactly how she’s experienced others using power with her. Desperation is excellent at causing us to hatch sloppy and too-simple plans, because it causes us to overfocus on ourselves in an attempt at survival. It keeps us looking dead ahead for anything that vaguely matches what we’re searching for. This failure to take in your periphery can cause a lot of damage, and ultimately results in a lack of satisfaction. This point is very common in our stories and myths about power- Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, The Wizard of OZ, etc.- because it speaks to a deep truth. How we use power is dependent on what we’ve been through and how much we’ve grown from it.

Use power for or with, not against. Nancy is a useful character here too, both in the aforementioned ways as well as in the final dramatic scene when she attempts to destroy Sarah. But my favorite iteration of this comes through Rochelle, because it includes more complexity. After being mercilessly bullied by racist mean girl Laura, Rochelle casts a spell on her that causes her to begin losing her hair. It is certainly effective for draining Laura’s power, and has the potential to bring her a healthy dose of humility. But through the strength of the spell, it becomes humiliating and terrifying instead. In witnessing Laura’s experience of this, Rochelle begins to develop empathy for her pain, and finds that her spell was an over-correction. As she allows it to go on, shame grows inside of her, culminating in that perfect scene where she looks in the mirror to find that her reflection refuses to look back. What a useful warning this is, because it really can be terribly tempting to inflict pain on those who have hurt us. But it just never feels the way we want it to. If we do manage to cause pain, we realize that we’ve only continued the trend of violence. And any failure to recognize this over-correction is a strong indication of desperation for power, as with Nancy. As Lirio puts it to her, “It is not for you to judge suffering.”

What you put out comes back times three. We as a species have endless ways of saying this, and I suspect that’s because we have a helluva time living this truth. This particular articulation is drawn from the Wiccan Three-Fold Law, but we also know it as karma, the gospel of Matthew, equilibrium, the Golden Rule, the fourth step, or seven generation stewardship. Ultimately it’s another path to humility, to knowing and accepting our place in the grand scheme. When it comes to nature, you can practically write an equation for it. Fuck with balance, and eventually you will be shoved as strongly as needed back into place. It is in experiencing this natural law that we learn to be acutely aware of the effects of our impact. Ideally we don’t put it to the test often, though our little subconscious tests here and there are also part of our ongoing growth.

Sustaining Your Craft

Be mindful of the entirety of your wishes. Sarah offers some insight here early on, sharing with the other girls a few moments when spells went wrong because she didn’t fully understand how to craft them, like when she wished for quiet and went deaf for days. But let’s look at what we mean when we say, “be careful what you wish for, because it’s not just about semantics or simply recognizing the reality of getting what you want. We covered this a bit in looking at how desperation can cause blindspots for complexity and nuance. Sarah, for instance, did not ask to be understood, accepted, or respected by Chris; she asked to be loved. When her spell works and his love for her is devoid of other attributes, the result is off-putting and even gets dangerous. For me this is one of the most current and important feminist messages within the film. For a relationship to go well, all parties must be acknowledged as distinct, whole, complex, and autonomous. But internalized sexism can cause us to overlook the need for that kind of understanding and respect, because a scarcity of those experiences results in an unlearned lesson about how vital they are for healthy relationships.

Stay humble. We’ve looked at the importance of humility, but I think it bears repeating from a different angle. You have to stay a little afraid of magic/power, because it is exactly that: powerful. If you try to own it, overuse it, or use it for harm, there will be consequences. This too is reflected back to us by nature. If we don’t work with natural rhythms, we’ll be forced to face unintended consequences. I find this to be gut-wrenchingly apparent when dozens of sea creatures wash ashore, and Nancy takes this not as an indication of over-doing it, but as a gift from Manon. The loss of any life deserves consideration and respect. Otherwise we risk entering dangerous hierarchical thinking.

Allow things to play out. This is another way in which we must surrender and remain humble. Autonomy and magic is not about continuously wielding control. It’s about affecting things where you are able, and allowing for a process to unfold. As we’ve seen when we rush things, the results are often messy or incomplete. It simply takes time to see how something will unfold, and that gives us needed space for reflection and adaptation.

Feed your intuition. It is the essence of autonomy/magic. This lesson is delivered and then practiced in an especially delightful way, as the writing plucks at our intuition over and over. Those snakes seem important, Nancy seems dangerous, Lirio is both intimidating and comforting, Sarah’s spell over Chris seems misguided, Laura seems too hurt. The overarching message here is always the same: feed your intuition by listening to it. Insight and empathy are essential sources of information, and we can only hone them as tools by testing them out repeatedly.


If you find yourself thinking of other metaphors within The Craft that I haven’t covered, well, me too! There really are just so many gems. I could say a lot more in particular about Chris as a prototypical misogynist, though I suspect we could get distracted by having too much of a villain. Villains, like predators, will sometimes pick us off the path. We have to remember that they do this when they know they can’t beat us as a group. It is often enough to know that they’re there and equip ourselves appropriately, and to then stay focused on healthy movement forward. So I’ll end with one of my favorite lessons.

We are always stronger together. The necessity of a fourth person to complete the coven is not random; it’s symbolic. There are four elements; we can’t leave any out, just as we can’t leave out anyone when we’re trying to work on the grand scale. As we see with Sarah in the final scene, we can do magic alone. But the less of us there are, the smaller the scale of our work. And it takes four to levitate.

Happy Halloween, readers.

Shame Overload

Shame fills the little hollow cavity that vulnerability creates.
-Kate Sheehan

Kate is my therapist. She said this to me in session when I was struggling to make sense of an emotional reaction I’d had. I think it’s a perfect articulation of the somatic experience of shame, and it was especially useful to me in that moment, because I hadn’t yet become aware that shame is what I was feeling. And that’s the thing about shame. It is so good at its job that you don’t even know it’s there. I think that’s exactly what’s happening in our country right now. It’s an ugly process the way it’s being held within our current political structure, but people are bringing it into the therapy room and it tends to go pretty damn well there. So let’s look at why and how, and get moving on resolving this on the cultural level.

Let’s begin by giving shame a face so that we can keep our eyes right on it, which is what shame both hates and needs. Shame is extreme discomfort caused by the feeling of not being ok with oneself. This discomfort stems from a chasm between how a person is seeing themselves or believing themselves to be seen, and how they believe they are supposed to be according to their own standards or societal ones. I often go to the words of Brené Brown for guidance here, and her distinction between guilt and shame is particularly handy: where guilt is “I did something bad,” shame is, “I am bad.” Somatically-speaking, it is the desire to hide when feeling more than a tolerable amount of discomfort with being seen. When we feel shame, we are often motivated to hide at any cost- sometimes literally, sometimes behind thoughts and words. Most painful and most insidious is that shame can be so good at getting us to hide that we will sometimes hide from ourselves. Typing #metoo into the town hall that is social media has been a way to bring ourselves back out into the light, and into the light we are bringing the shame that forced us into darkness. That affords us an incredible opportunity to face and dispel toxicity. But the gravity around shame is strong.

Allow me to disclaim right here that this article does not contain anything graphic, but I am going to discuss various aspects of sexual trauma and that alone can evoke difficult sensations and emotions. Please go slow in reading, and use your intuition to take care of yourself in what ever way you might need. What I’ll be focused on here is the role shame is playing within the #MeToo Movement and how to manage shame outside of the therapy setting, because we are struggling like crazy with resolving our collective experience of it. And thank goodness, because we are long, long overdue.

Brown writes that “shame gets it power from being unspeakable.” I would bet that that’s hugely why it’s taken us so long to begin to look at these topics that evoke so much shame, and why we’re having such a wretched time with it. Working with shame means regularly walking the line between tolerability and traumatization. That is exactly why trauma work requires a trained and practiced professional. And yet here we are having to work it out within our social-political structure.

So let’s get into what shame needs. In the therapeutic setting, shame surfaces the most often around intimacy and sexuality, and especially around sexual or physical trauma. This is because the body and its contact with others is the most potent medium through which we experience ourselves and the world. When these experiences go poorly, especially if they go poorly many times and/or are traumatic enough, shame begins to take up space within them. If we are quite young when these difficult or traumatic experiences happen, shame is particularly likely to rush in as a way to protect us. It is, in fact, a penultimate resort- the last stop before dissociating entirely. Sometimes it simply becomes a launching pad into exactly that. We can’t avoid feeling, but we can avoid feeling what we’re feeling. It’s a brilliant mechanism when we have nothing else at our disposal, and the protective part is something to keep. The work is in replacing shame with other forms of protection, so that feeling can become safe again.

In somatic work, we work directly with the experience of being seen in the literal sense. When in the therapy space a client and I are onto shame and its sneaky little game, we begin to look at the nature of our eye contact, at how much space is between us in the room, whether I’m facing them directly or I’m at an angle, what sort of physical contact might be helpful, if any- all these ways in which we can contact each other in the room. What we’re doing is finding out together what’s needed in order to have safe, comfortable, authentic connection, which is the antidote to shame. From there we continue to practice listening and responding to the body as we work to stay in contact with ourselves and each other.

Let’s deepen this a bit further with an example of how shame typically shows up around sexuality, since it’s sexual content we’re dealing with in our cultural struggle right now. In the therapy room, the experience usually goes something like this: a person realizes that naming something sexual is necessary within what we’re exploring (that is in itself a feat to be celebrated since shame will keep us quiet for a long time). This might be a fantasy or desire, a masturbatory habit, a frightening encounter, or even just a casual remark with sexual content. Even if there’s conscious awareness of how it could help, the disclosure might be followed by sensations of shame. Shame needs no invitation from us. So a person might begin to feel things like: a sinking sensation, pressure in the chest, closing one’s eyes, covering the face, feeling cold, feeling numb, feeling floaty or fuzzy, feeling confused. These sensations overlap heavily with the symptoms of dissociation, and that makes sense, right? Shame is about hiding, and dissociating is a very effective way to hide by hiding from what you’re feeling. For that same reason, anger has a high chance of surfacing in this space. It will sometimes surface when shame is being evoked, and sometimes it will rush in to replace the experience of shame after it’s begun to be felt. Feeling angry is especially common for people who were raised not to show any vulnerability. They don’t know what to do the feeling when it surfaces, so they feel angry at whoever or whatever made them aware of feeling it. I find it really helpful to know how common this is, because it helps me to respond appropriately. Let’s spend another moment on that.

One of the aspects of shame that seems to me to be the least understood is that it will surface entirely on its own. It doesn’t need to be drawn out or added to. Because it’s a protective mechanism of the autonomic nervous system, it pops up automatically. So what’s needed most for the experience of shame to become useful is for it to be safe to become vulnerable. I like to think of shame, and guilt too, like an alarm bell; it lets us know that there’s something to pay attention to. The struggle almost always comes in the response. We have to know how to pay the right sort of attention to shame to create a proper holding environment for resolving what ever is being highlighted by the shame. This is exactly what makes it so incredible when a person who has been a victim of sexual violence is able to speak up for themselves despite a high likelihood of being shamed. They are doing for themselves in that moment something that very few of us can do: create the space to be vulnerable, open up our chests, and keep them open by shrouding them with respect, kindness, and acceptance as we are pummeled with anything but.

I wanted to get this piece of writing out and into your inboxes and feeds, so I’m publishing it in its current form. I keep starting into other components of this dynamic we have around shame, but it’s getting too big for one article. I know what that drive is in me, which also motivates me to stop here for now: I want to help you create a safe holding space for yourself right this very moment, so that you can get on with the beautiful experience of being free to feel. But shame can’t be rushed out the door too quickly, or it comes back louder. The work is only done well at a steady pace. So I’ll keep at it and give you more pieces as soon as I am able to paint them, but I’ll leave you with the name of one particular portrait.

It is incredibly important to this process that we end the stigma around mental health, which contributes to the perpetuation of a hierarchical structure. Right now we’re working with an especially ugly version of patriarchy, but any hierarchical structure is problematic unless (or probably even if) we know how to be truly fair with anyone who we encounter. And this is not to diminish the agonizingly harmful effects of Patriarchy in itself; the problem is cyclical. Patriarchy perpetuates mental illness and the failure to address mental illness serves to maintain Patriarchal structures. If you want to dive further into understanding this in its complexity, I highly recommend the writing of James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, and Laurie Penny. They will show you how necessary it is to understand not just basic but complex principles of psychology and sociology. Low emotional intelligence is a severe hindrance to critical thinking. I happen to believe that emotional intelligence should be a core curriculum subject beginning in the first grade. Naturally there are many people out there teaching children how to notice and make use of their sensations and emotions. Yet what we’re seeing right now is in part an effect of a collectively low ability to address our intrapsychic worlds, so we know that we have to keep working at this. It’s a skill that needs to be more widespread and practiced far earlier in life, so as you move back out into the world after reading this, know that you can have an immediate, steady impact on all of this by being a proponent of mental health literacy.


I believe that this is a hugely important show. Whenever a population is under-represented in popular culture, the stakes are really high for how their characters are portrayed. So while Sam can only be one representation of someone on the spectrum, I think the show does a very good job at making one extremely important point: autism brings with it many gifts, and they should absolutely be understood and honored.

I think it was a great writing move to give us a bunch of information about Sam by allowing us to hear what he says both in therapy and to himself in thought. Therapy is intended for the express purpose of allowing someone to be exactly who they are. That makes it a great place for us to gain insight into a character, and I often wish writers would take advantage of this more often. But while we do get to learn a lot about Sam in this way, what actually happens in Sam’s therapy sessions is the stuff of my actual nightmares.

If the aim was to show what it’s like to have an empathic break between therapist and client, I understand. That most definitely happens sometimes in therapy, and it can have an enormous impact on our lives. However, I worry that much of the audience will walk away without knowing that what they just saw was a very unskilled therapist. It’s a bummer and a missed opportunity, because solid therapists are also a population that’s grossly under-represented in our entertainment. But beyond just my own disappointment as a professional, I worry that any lack of insight into Julia’s mistakes will work against the message of the show. So let’s unpack a whole bunch of moments.


We’re introduced to Sam while he’s in session with his therapist, Julia. After a rich and meaningful sharing on Sam’s part, the first thing we hear from Julia is a misattuned, “Great. Well time’s almost up. Good session today, Sam.” How confusing for us. What was good? Is she addressing one of the many things he just said? Which one? And by the way, a pretty safe test for realistic writing about a therapist is whether or not they have the therapist comment on how well the session went, state that the time is up, or disclose information about themselves with no awareness of the impact.

When Sam comments that he can see Julia’s bra and that it’s purple, she looks surprised and uncomfortable. She tucks in her bra strap, raises her eyebrows for a moment, and says nothing. I was ready to forgive this until we find out that she specializes in autism. She should be used to that sort of blunt honesty, and she should definitely be comfortable with it, or willing to process it. If she doesn’t want Sam to comment in such a way, she can tell him that and they can work it out together. That’s kick ass practice for communication in relationships, which is a huge part of anyone’s therapy. Personally, I really enjoy those moments. One of my favorite things about being a therapist is that it keeps me on my toes about what I’m bringing into the room. Sometimes it’s an emotion; sometimes it’s a wardrobe malfunction. Isn’t she kind of amused by that moment? Ok, but so now we know that Julia isn’t all that insightful into how she impacts her clients and maybe she’s not so comfortable with herself either. Was that on purpose?

Then she dives into asking if he’d be willing to donate his brain to research after he dies. While that is theoretically acceptable, she doesn’t process with him the impact of being asked such a huge question. We find out later that he doesn’t care, but it was her ethical responsibility to ask. Autistic folk get a wealth of disparaging comments about their brains and they also get a lot of odd fascination about them. Sam could easily have felt like Julia was more fascinated by than dedicated to him. After all, she seemingly ignored most of what he just said.

Clearly the interaction between them was intended primarily to plant the seed of awareness that it’s completely possible for Sam to date, which is the premise of the show. She did well to let him know that it’s not only doable, but is being done by others, and that it’s his choice. We could have gotten that without the mess if, at the end of his sentence, she’d immediately inquired about his statement that he can’t have a girlfriend, and then planted that seed. Perhaps she’d even get to learn where that a big part of that belief came from, and she’d have been more prepared for the protest of Sam’s mother (Elsa) later on. A therapist specializing in autism, with Sam as her client, should also know not to drop a colloquialism on him about a new topic. “You just have to get out there,” is pretty meaningless for anyone hearing it for the first time, let alone someone who just said that he can’t always infer meaning. I’m glad that Sam asked where, and I wish we knew how she answered, but she didn’t even seem ready to explain. Explaining slang and colloquialisms is a swell part of therapy with autistic folk. It makes you realize how often we make assumptions in our communications. It’s a barrier to understanding that is highlighted in communication with a lot of autistic people, but it affects absolutely everyone. One of my earliest supervisors would constantly remind us to ensure that we understood our clients’ definition of non-literal words and phrases. This negotiation of meaning is some of the richest work we do in therapy, as it’s an excellent vehicle for self-understanding and interpersonal connection.

Oof, we’re only at minute two of this episode and my word count is over 1,000! You might want to refresh your beverage.

So, when Elsa goes to speak with Julia regarding her concerns about Sam and dating, I went from worried to very worried. We overhear Julia teaching an introductory course on the autism spectrum, and she offers an example of “persistent preoccupations” from one of her clients. “I have a client who came up with 95 different ways to cook an egg,” she says. We can assume that she got permission to disclose this, but I’m still left very concerned about the way she said it. It seemed to have an undertone of, “Isn’t that crazy?” when I’d really like to hear an autism specialist have the sentiment, “Isn’t that wonderful?” behind their words. Is it not wonderful? The next time you wonder who came up with some incredibly unique and intricate way of doing something, allow yourself to consider that the answer might very well be an autistic person. The way that Julia spoke to her class so stood out to me that I assumed Elsa was about to lay into her for it and find a new therapist for Sam. But ok, the intention was not to make a comment on the availability of good therapists, but for us to see that Elsa’s struggling with protectiveness over Sam.

On to the conversation between Elsa and Julia, which may have been a problem in and of itself. We know at this point that Sam is 18, so Julia might not have needed signed consent from Sam’s parents and she therefore may not be permitted disclose anything about their work together. But we can assume that, as Sam’s in high school, his parents are probably paying for his sessions and thus would have signed the consent form. Were that the case, she still should have checked with Sam because he’s more than mature enough to make that decision on his own. This is extra important when a teenage client is about to embark on something as adult as dating. As Julia mentioned, it can be really hard on parents, so it’s typical to ready everyone before these unannounced visits occur. What Julia did handle ok here was to offer support to Elsa through a referral. I liked the way she said, too. It really is about having a space that’s just for you, and that’s why it can be so great. But her suggestion would have gone a lot better if she’d begun by meeting Elsa where she was instead of trying to fix it through a statement of what commonly happens. It’s pretty much Therapy 101 to begin an interaction with someone by ensuring that you understand where they’re coming from. It’s then that they can hear you in return. No one likes a, “Yeah, but…”

The second of Sam’s sessions that we see is one of the ones I find the most upsetting. Sam wants to go over his tactics for dating, and again Julia seems surprised and uncomfortable by the content. When he hands her his notebook and she spies the phrase “insults = chick on dick,” she’s certainly right to bookmark it to come back to later, but she seems so unsettled. Knowing Sam as we do, it makes sense that he might not have a red flag go up for him about this particular piece of dating advice. When most social tactics aren’t very relatable, it can be easy for them to be indistinguishable from each other. The only part of this I don’t quite buy is that Sam would trust a non-scientific source. But that’s mostly dealt with by his commentary on how unscientific dating seems to be in the first place.

The worst part of this session is the “smile training.” When Julia inquires about how Sam scared a girl away, he demonstrates for her the smile he used. Again, she looks surprised. I suppose it could be that she’s managed to never meet an autistic person who’s been told to mimic common facial expressions, but it would very likely have been included in her education and training. But even if we extend her all the possible flexibility here, her approach to supporting Sam with his smile is just plain offensive. She calls him creepy, for goodness’ sake. And then she goes on to walk him through what to do with his mouth, and offers her own very unnatural example of intermittent eye contact. No one effectively learns how to smile by being coached through how to hold their face. It’s that sort of “Show your teeth, honey” advice that results in a rash of second graders bearing their teeth like they’re at the dentist. A smile comes from the inside out. And it’s not as though Sam never smiles. We’ve seen him smile already at this point in the show. If he truly wishes to practice, Julia can support him by pointing out when he’s smiling about something so that he can really notice the sensation. But even this walks a fine line. There are a whole bunch of ways that people who struggle with social communication can find a way to express themselves and connect. Faking a smile can be disingenuous at best, but at worst, it sends a message to the client that they need to be something other than themselves in order to be attractive. Fuck that noise. If Sam genuinely wants to learn how to smile more spontaneously, he can practice by tapping into an emotion that makes him smile. That’s what’s actually happening when we smile at each other. Impulse, signals to the muscles, and bam: natural smile.

This same principal goes for all supportive approaches, especially when it comes to dating. There are no tactics; there are only ways to find authentic expression and connection. Any good dating advice isn’t advice at all, but rather information on interpersonal dynamics. From there, it’s up to each of us to find our place within a social setting. The factors that are at play in a dating scenario are often relatable to just about everyone. That initial smile, for instance, communicates something specific. It’s generally something like interest, pleasure, and safety. Everyone is out to feel comfortable being themselves, and to experience intimacy. Beginning with that awareness helpfully informs us as we figure out how to do that, because intention acts as a guide.


The first session we see in this episode will make an excellent tutorial called “What Not to Do With Self-Disclosure.” Sam realizes that he’s attracted to Julia, so he begins to ask her personal questions. If you’ve ever asked your therapist a personal question, you probably know what to expect next. (S)he should invite you to explore what exactly you’re asking to learn, why, and what it might be like to hear the different possible answers. That can be an annoyingly long process for the client, but it’s some of the most important work a therapist and client can do on their relationship. This is largely because it’s excellent practice for all the rest of our relationships. Other people affect us, and can really understand how and why when we get to have a process with it. If you’ve had your therapist actually answer a personal question, you might know what a big impact even a little bit of information can have. In Sam’s case, when he asks Julia what her favorite winter sports are, he learns in one fell and unprocessed swoop that she has a boyfriend. Mind you, this is after three other personal questions that she answered with a shortage of thought but a wealth of exasperation. If she’d gotten interested in his questions, she could have helped him to understand their professional boundaries, and to process his feelings about them. She wouldn’t even have had to answer his questions in order to do this, because nearly all the important pieces are in exploring the whys and what-ifs. That is exactly why it’s so important to not immediately answer a client’s questions. Once you do, you’re necessarily moved on to processing the impact. But Julia didn’t do that either.

Fortunately, Sam gets a lot of what Julia ought to have provided in that session from conversations with his dad. He knows how to navigate literalness in communication, which we see when he asks Sam, “Do want to talk about it? [Sam says yes] Now?” Doug’s approach to Sam is pretty darn lovely in general, and I love that we get to witness some really sweet and important moments between them.  Not only does he fully support Sam’s desire to date, he does a lot to encourage Sam to be himself and to focus not on Julia, but on “girls who are going to like you, too.” It’s important to note here that it isn’t actually a conflict of interest for Sam to have romantic feelings for Julia, even if he tells her about them. It’s very common and perfectly healthy to develop romantic feelings for your therapist. I mean, what could be more appealing than a person who allows you to be completely yourself when you’re around them? Good therapy means experiencing a lot of intimacy and connection. Even without unconditional positive regard coming from Julia, Sam gets to have a lot of sustained attention from a beautiful and intelligent woman. That alone could be pretty appealing. But what else might he like about her? Why? Where else might he able to have those feelings? When you explore these aspects of attraction, you can learn a whole lot about yourself, what you need, and how to get it.

We can give Julia a quick break while we look at Elsa’s group therapy experience. There aren’t a whole lot of red flags that go up for me with this until Doug joins in later. I want to include it, because whenever a client seems to get “dropped” in a therapy setting, I’m compelled to let people know that that shouldn’t happen. Being dropped is when you express something and you either can’t tell if it was heard or don’t know what impact it had on the listener. When Elsa finishes sharing something very vulnerable, she’s responded to with an automatic round of applause. I suppose this could be a rule in some groups, especially if they are support rather than process-focused. But know that a support group therapist would at least be giving Elsa a warm and supportive look, or she’d approach her after group to ensure that she’s getting enough one on one support (as Julia suggested).


It was useful that Julia immediately supported Sam in his desire to attend to his wardrobe. As before, it was what seemed to be behind her words that I found troublesome. It struck me as pretty infantilizing. When he asked why clothes seem to matter to girls, her feedback was fair, but she lost me with her manner of response when he made a comparison to iguanas flaring their dewlaps. She said, “Exactly like that,” and then frowned and murmured, “I think.” If she isn’t sure, she shouldn’t have said so, or she should have explained her backpedaling. Therapeutically, it’s not a huge deal, because the comparison he made was indeed a helpful one. Clothes can be a social cue that others are attracted to or not. Her advice to “pick something that feels like you” is so-so, but she said, “just pick something that feels like you,” as though that’s a straightforward task. Just like with colloquialisms, these things sometimes need to be explained. And while Sam’s mom has been picking his clothes, we learned that Sam has had a role in that, because she buys him shirts that he finds physically comfortable. This is very common for people on the spectrum, and it’s a very important desire to honor. Frankly, couldn’t a lot of people do with putting a heavier focus on comfort than style? An uncomfortable piece of clothing can affect your whole day. Without attending to all these important aspects of choosing one’s clothes, Julia’s attempt at cheerleading with her “stylish dude” comment is pretty unhelpful. Had this gone differently, maybe Sam could have avoided that future baloney with the leather jacket.


The main concept I’d like to focus on here is the phrase “higher functioning.” For many years now, our field has been trying to do away with that term and its counterpart, “lower functioning.”  Like any of the terms one can find in the DSM, the aim is to point to an experience. I get that. What gets sticky is the suggestion that something like being nonverbal is somehow a lower level of functioning. Who the hell decided that? Nonverbal communication almost always holds more information than words. If we’re really going to place one above the other, I vote for nonverbals. I know, I’m biased as a somaticist, but look at us with our emoji use these days. We very much crave all that information that is offered in between and outside of words. So why are we so focused on their importance? One of the superpowers of autism that some people possess is the shutdown of verbal communication in situations of extreme stress. Can you imagine how much better some situations would be if, when someone’s reasoning skills have gone kaput, they just stopped talking? It’s like a social seismic shutoff valve. So we need something that more effectively points to what ever it is that we really mean to express when we speak of functioning. That these terms continue to be used so frequently tells us that we have much work left to do on how much neuropsychological diversity we are able to hold in high esteem.

Next I’ll cover episdoes 5-8, which will be a bit less dense with commentary, as many of the problems I’ve covered are repeated (though holy cow, not all!). I’ll also say a few more things about what I really like about this show, because there are a lot of gems to highlight, too. I want to make it clear that alongside all of my disappointment, I am very grateful to everyone involved in the making of this show. I don’t expect just anyone to be able to write a skilled therapist into a show. Like any profession, it takes expertise to portray it accurately. Any attorney, for instance, will tell you that they really don’t have that much tufted leather in their office. I do expect a television series to consult with and listen to an expert when it comes to writing for a main character whose profession is a central focus of the show. There are actual autism specialists out there, and better yet, some of them are autistic themselves. If the intention was to show how some therapists can be really sloppy in their work, I’d like to have seen some acknowledgment that other sorts exist.

We badly more emotional intelligence in our world. Weaving role models of it into our entertainment is a great way to bring that about. And the necessity of understanding, insight, and empathy is such a big part of this show.

So it’s fortunate that running throughout the series is that message I mentioned before: autism is beautiful in a great many ways, we have autistic minds to thank for a wealth of our art and science, and we absolutely must honor people on the spectrum. And anyone who is learning this for the first time gets to apply that knowledge to future portrayals of autistic people. I think people will be talking about autism more often and more in depth because of “Atypical,” and that is long overdue.

A huge thank you to one of my clients who put this show on my radar right away. I sure am a lucky therapist to have such incredible people as clients.

Therapy in the Media: “Amélie”

Beginning my series with a movie in which there is no therapist? Yep. I’m starting with the French film, “Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain” by Jean Pierre Jeunet, because it is beautifully rich with psychotherapeutic concepts. It has long been a favorite film of mine, but the first time that I watched it sans sous-titres, my heavier focus on the nonverbals helped me to really see what it has to offer. I suspect that that was no coincidence. As with much of what I will cover in this series, this work is full of what-to-dos and what-not-to-dos.

Let’s start out with the lovely introductions to the characters. We are invited to know each one of them through these little distilled moments about how they experience themselves and the world. These are the little things that tell us far more about a person than most anything else. Jeunet uses these richly sensory-based moments to give us years of history in one fell swoop. These peeks into such private moments quickly build intimacy between us and the characters. For me, this is reminiscent of the rapport-building that occurs between therapist and client over the first few sessions, and the understanding that deepens between us over time. As with any relationship, it is witnessing each other which draws us closer. And one of the fastest ways to do that is through learning about how someone experiences their body. This is the essence of somatic work. Amélie’s mother experiences the creases in her cheek from her pillow as unpleasant. We relate or we do not, but we also begin to decide what this might mean about her. Amélie surreptitiously dips her fingers into a sack of beans. We relate or not (many of us super do), and again, we have ideas about what this means. It is also these yummy little sensory moments that are why I have called this film very autism-friendly. (If you didn’t know, autism often comes with the superpower of heightened senses. Just like Catwoman.)The film’s visual style is also very important. It seems to give reverence to everything, which affects us throughout the film by keeping us very present and thus tuned into every part of an experience. This mindfulness which Jeunet so easily induces is a large part of the therapeutic process. In order to move through anything, we must be present for it. That makes it very important to have plenty of lovely things to tune into. And for the love of the accordion, is that soundtrack magical. Someone once said to me that it’s as though it makes everything feel important. This too is a quality of the therapy space. Everything is (or is aimed to be) treated with importance, because it often is. During grad school, we learn to become therapists by practicing the therapeutic process on each other. Because the environment is intended primarily as educational, we are encouraged to pick real, but relatively surface-level vignettes to share from our lives. Regardless, things inevitably deepen. You realize that the way the bus driver spoke to you irked you because she sounded like a critical voice from your past. You find that the soft touch of the person who gave you your change at the coffee shop brought you into the present moment. And it is all these snapshots of the Self and of experience that I am after as a therapist.

One of the aspects I most appreciate about this film is the therapeutic relationship between Amélie and Dufayel. It is the nearest to an accurate portrayal of the therapist-client relationship that I have ever seen. It even demonstrates a specific modality in art therapy. Dufayel invites Amélie’s interpretation of the girl with the cup, asking gently investigative questions along the way. This pulls from her more deeply articulated thoughts, making her own process of relating to others a more conscious one. When he offers an accurate but risky interpretation, “You mean she’d rather imagine herself relating to someone who’s absent? ” she’s a bit miffed, as any client might be. But the seed is planted, she considers it moving forward, and it later blossoms into a deeper understanding of herself. This happens constantly in the therapy room. Dufayel is also a therapist to Lucian. He beautifully demonstrates somatic work by having Lucian express his anger at Colignon through a little rhyming. putting his body behind his thoughts. What’s more, he helps him to contain it. He cuts it off when Lucian begins to spiral, for catharsis without a holding space is nearly useless. We also get to see what happens when Dufayel pushes his agenda a little too hard- something we therapists work hard to avoid. When Lucian won’t stop talking about Lady Di, rather than following that thread, Dufayel explodes with frustration. Luckily their relationship is strong enough that Lucian returns to it, as does Amélie. Therein lies most of the healing in therapy- the experience of repair after a rupture in a relationship.

Amélie shows us how others are sometimes unable to join us on a new path. Inspired by the discovery of the cigar box, she tries to engage her father in a conversation about it, but she’s met with the same ol’ clueless reaction he always seems to have to her. Just as we all feel when a parent disappoints us in a familiar way, Amélie’s enthusiasm wanes a bit. Fortunately, she trusts her gut and moves forward with her idea regardless.

As we grow, we often become bolder and welcome new experiences. Amélie demonstrates how we sometimes we misuse our strengths as this is happening. This can occur pretty easily if we haven’t yet become aware of our go-to defense mechanisms. When she is pushed over the edge with anger, she uses her cleverness, creativity, and insight to cause Colignon distress. We even got to see her do this as a child. Powerless, and without her parents to step in, she found a way to defend herself. That was pretty ok for her as a kid, but as an adult, its passive aggressivity is not very appropriate. A child meddling with someone’s cable connection is one thing, but an adult meddling with all sorts of things in another person’s apartment is straight up illegal and unethical. Now, perhaps it was a catalyst for change for him, but I never advocate for abusing someone. And inadvertently causing pain is the sort of thing that happens when we try to use the defenses we learned as kids on an adult scale. Rather than scaring someone out of their comfort zone, in therapy we aim to invite them out. This can happen through various means, and I’ll share a tried and true experience articulated by psychoanalytic theory.

With Mr. Poulain, we see the concept of a “transitional object” in action through the well-crafted little lawn gnome strategy Amélie uses on him. In short, a transitional object is something that links us with the external world in a safe way. We can use it for both comfort and fantasy, and it helps us to move through a difficulty and develop some part of ourselves. We learn early on that Raphaël feels an affinity with the gnome, and we surmise that there may be something to the timing of his pulling it out of the garage. Knowing this and that he wishes but fears to travel, Amélie makes use of the connection and shows him what’s possible. Through this and at this own pace, he is able to come to traveling himself.

Onto a big one. Sometimes we can’t yet handle what we ask for, and this can leave us feeling like a shell of a person. We do a bunch of work to get something, and then find that we don’t know how to move forward from there. Amelie’s “strategies” work for Nino. He’s intrigued, and he comes to see her. But she finds she doesn’t know how to be seen, and she loses herself a bit. In psychotherapeutic terms, we call this fracturing. It’s the experience preceding what we call “pulling ourselves together.” One of the reasons that this fractured feeling occurs is that our strategies often do not extend from our true selves. We aren’t actually being authentic, and sometimes even we don’t realize this. So when our attempts to connect with others work to draw someone in, there can be a real sense of having tricked them. We worry about what will happen if we ditch those strategies. Do they love us for us? Or because of only what we show them? It cheats us out of getting to actually experience what we need even if it’s right in front of us. So we often choose to go on wearing a mask of sorts. And Amélie even wears actual masks! When Nino asks, “Is this you?” it doesn’t feel right to say yes, because it isn’t her. Not really. When he tries to call her on it, it’s worse. She can’t know yet that he doesn’t need her to wear the mask. Frankly, he might not know yet himself. But we suspect this to be the case, because like Amélie, Nino has a deep appreciation for uniqueness and authenticity. So we feel for her all the more when having rejected being seen by Nino, Amélie melts into a puddle. We’ve all been there.

Even with all the empathy we have for her, notice how even we begin to tire of her strategies. We want her to find love, so watching her use the same old technique becomes upsetting for us and everyone else who loves her, because we know it won’t work.

That brings us to a really big one about relationships. Having similar childhood wounds help us to bond to each other. I find it to be one of the most beautiful aspects of a healthy partnership, though sometimes it can cause a lot of strife. But we get to see a heartening example of it in Amélie and Nino, who are known to have similar childhoods. The line is, “When Amélie had no friends, Nino had too many.” Both of their experiences are versions of being unseen. Amelie is somewhat invisible while Nino is seen inauthentically. Both experiences can leave a person preferring solitude, or to be an outside observer of others. They can also cause a person to be tuned in to the unique expressions of others. Their coming together has so much to do with their respective recognition of the need to be seen and known by another person. And just as it is with real live people, one of them (Nino) is willing and able first, which can helpfully pull the other in as well.These last two pieces- the masks we wear and wounds we share with our loved ones- are two of the central points of focus in therapy. It is eloquently outlined by just what my favorite Rumi quote describes: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

I could go on about this brilliant film. There’s the metaphor of Dufayel’s fragile bones, Nino’s externalized inner monologues, and the projection onto the photo booth repairman. There are examples of stimming, splitting, somaticizing, agency, and all sorts of other goodies. It truly is a rich layering of allegories within an allegory. But watching it is far more fun than my covering every aspect of what I believe it has to offer. If you have questions or further interest, I welcome your comments.

New Series: Therapy in Entertainment Media

For a few years, I’ve been itching to write about the portrayal of therapy and therapists in movies and television. This was initially fueled by the desire to correct a lot of what I see. More recently, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing therapy get some solid representation and airtime, particularly within a few of the newer television shows. We seem to have self-funded studios to thank for that. Isn’t it cool what happens with more creative freedom? We get more depth and authenticity. So now I have the pleasure of beginning my series with plenty of great examples to highlight.

Also, it has come to my attention that while psychoanalysis has long since been replaced as the primary form of therapy we use, it remains pretty firmly rooted as what most of us think of when we hear the word “therapy.” This misunderstanding is often reflected in media therapists’ choice of interventions and/or the setup of the therapy room. So it’s no wonder! This will be a particularly important part of my commentary, because it’s often the portrayals of psychoanalysis that are the most off-putting. (If you ever thought, “What an asshole!” while watching something, it was probably a portrayal of psychoanalysis… and probably a shitty one, at that.) There are reasons that analysis was a building block, and reasons that we kept building.

Also and of course, I’m irked at seeing the work I am so passionate about be so poorly represented. The field in which I work was born out of our need to be ourselves, and to love and connect and produce and play. Therapy helps us to do that by helping us to know ourselves and to act accordingly. We are served so well by being honest with ourselves. It takes a whole lot of practice, and that’s why it’s worth it. But the timescale of the work is a big part of why it’s often clumsily depicted. A dear colleague of mine resignedly called it “too quiet” for the entertainment industry. And here is where I get heated about the industry, because it is art, isn’t it? Shouldn’t our art push and prod and delight and frighten and uplift us? In an elegant and paced way, art pushes us to expand our experience of the world. And if it isn’t art, then what are we doing making or watching it?

Entertainment media is often a primary way that we get to see someone else have an experience. It’s a place outside of our own environments where options are modeled for us. It ought to include plenty of healthy ones.

It is my belief that emotional intelligence should be a subject in school. While this would not negate the need for therapy- the work is an experience, not an exercise- we would be afforded earlier opportunities to know ourselves and to choose useful and rich paths. As a therapist and as a client of therapy, I have experienced so much that I use every day that sometimes I can’t believe anyone would deny themselves such a thing. So, I’m here to interject your own daily experiences with some of these psychotherapeutic concepts. Many of them are blessedly simple and universally applicable. Wherever you are in your personal process, you can learn to recognize emotional intelligence (or lack thereof) in what you encounter everyday. Let this awareness always bring you back to yourself and your internal experience. That is always where all the best work is done.

I absolutely take requests, but know that I mostly write about what I watch of my own volition and whims. Below is the current list of requests. Feel free to comment with your own desires, or with any comments or questions. If your interpretations differ from my own, I would especially like to hear from you. Then we both get to know more about how we perceive the world.

  • “Ordinary People”
  • “In Treatment”
  • “Grosse Point Blank”
  • “The Sopranos” (Dr. Melfi)
  • “What About Bob?”
  • “Law and Order SVU” (Dr. Huang)
  • “Prince of Tides”
  • “The Bob Newhart Show”
  • “Good Will Hunting”
  • “Running with Scissors”
  • “Shrink”
  • “Friends” (Phoebe’s boyfriend, Roger)
  • “The Royal Tenenbaums”
  • “Analyze This”
  • “Hannibal”
  • Woody Allen’s many references
  • Feiffer cartoons (depicting Rogerian work)
  • “Hope Springs”
  • “Meet the Fockers”
  • “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”
  • “Girl, Interrupted”