Wednesday, March 12, 2008

HBO In Treatment....Parents & Children...Week 7 begins



No Laura this week. Her session is filled with Paul's attempts to talk to his teenage kids about....their romantic lives, his marriage. It's like he's never spoken to these people before. His teeny bopper daughter asks, "Are you worried that I'm sleeping with him?" Right, this is what Dads and their teen girls call casual conversation. And then Rosie pops on him that she knows her mom's been to Italy with another man. "Fix it" she cries.

Son Ian drops by in search of his pillow. He's slept with 5 girls. Cool with Dad. And so Paul tells him that he's been thinking of another woman, but he hasn't slept with her and he lies and says she's not a patient. Ian understands, Mom's a martyr, and after 23 years Dad/Paul must need a change. Not a prob for Ian. Oh, but Paul gets angry that Ian is critical of Kate-- she's cared for Ian, put her career on hold to raise him for 15 years, taken him to baseball and guitar, Ian should appreciate this, and he tells Ian how he empathizes with his distress over his parent's marital problems. Paul, I seem to remember, is the child of a divorce after his own doctor dad cheated on his mom with a patient and his mother died when he was 15; he lives feeling he didn't do enough for her. So, Ian doesn't feel his father's empathy, he feels patronized. It's never quite clear in these exchanges who's talking about who.

Next day, enter patient Alex, back to his fighter pilot life now. He talks about his father and his son and power and humiliation. He can out do all the other fighter pilots but he can't beat his son at chess and his own father calls him pathetic, leaving him as the outsider at his son's birthday party.

Sophie is next. She talks about her telepathic bond with her absent father who loves her and is always there for her, her hatred of her mother, the one who remains with her through thick and thin. Funny, she has this dream that she's in a hotel room chatting with Paul, except that he's not her shrink, he's a serial killer waiting to kill her father. And Dad, of course, was unfaithful to her mom, which Sophie discovered when she found him in bed with one of his many nude photography models. We're back to the issue of boundaries, and of course we hear Paul tell teen patient Sophie of his dreams of being stuck in a chair and unable to help his own mother.

So everyone's lives-- doctor and patients-- play out in this ongoing cycle of abandonment, infidelity, failed expectations.

Will they all live happily ever after?