What it's about.
A complex microcosm about people who receive therapy from a mental health center, ultimately exploring their own pain and suffering while the system they’re stuck in suffocates them and labels them as 'crazy'.
Sometimes things just walk into your life at the right time. I’m convinced this show imposed itself on over to my corner of the world and was like, “BAM BITCH! This will bring you some answers.”
Lately, I’ve been tug-o-waring with the accurate definition of 'humanity'. What does it mean to really be human? The answer shifts from one person to the next, scrambling for a clean cut explanation only causing more confusion. Here's how this show helped me with my non stop racing mind:
Dr. Michael (the protagonist's main therapist) struggled with carrying the weight of each of his patients stories, and not being able to bring them immediate peace. Each of them would visit his dreams and remind him of his inability to crack their cases. He juggled with solutions, with stories, with himself and his own demons- but the heaviest of all was his patients' pain, it was worse than his own, especially because sometimes the only way to help them was to listen. He felt he wasn’t doing enough, that he couldn’t do enough.
When I was younger, I wanted to be a therapist. I knew I’d be good at it. I loved listening, observing, analyzing, interpreting, and most importantly I loved helping people find solutions and solace in their pain. But in my youth I was constantly told I was overly sensitive, taking everything too seriously. This caused me to develop a defensive wall that would counteract anyone’s claim that I was ‘emotional’. It was a hideous word to me: emotional. Cringe-worthy. This defense wall was called: humor. Have you heard of it? Wait, now that I think of it maybe it was just sarcasm… ok ok... sarcastic humor, are you happy?
The universal known tactic for making logical decisions or professional observations is to leave emotion to the side, since it is a blinding force and only harms your rationale. Therefore when I would tell people close to me about my desire to one day be a therapist, I was met with laughter.
“Therapists have to leave their emotions out of their sessions, you would never be able to do that.” They all would say the same thing.
Infuriated, that humor wall only gained depth - edging my emotions to take a jump out of my being. And in turn, I long forgot that dream.
Many years later, as a sophomore in my Managerial and Organizational Concepts class (yes that is a class, what it teaches? I am not sure, I’ll get back to you on that) there was an entire discussion on the process Managers go through when making decisions. And without question or anything: the lesson taught was when making decisions, you must ignore all emotion. If you can do that, then you’re making rational decisions and observations.
But that only got me thinking about when I was told to leave emotions aside previously.
Why are emotions looked at as a weakness? Why are we forced to leave our emotions to the side? Why are we taught the most logical solution to helping people is to not get blind sighted, to not ruin your perception with your emotions? What if these people need your emotions to know they’re normal, to know they’re not crazy? What if emotions and empathy was the one thing missing from the equation?
While working this equation out in my head, I saw Good For Otto. It just walked into my life and showed me when Dr. Michael’s opened up about his past and connected to the little girl who had “storms” brewing inside of her, she calmed down and listened. She saw she wasn’t crazy, that she wasn’t just spouting information to a doctor in a chair who was analyzing her every move, she was understood, because he connected with her.
That just shocked me. I was like oh my god, here is the answer- I was practically jumping in my seat in this very intense moment. He got yelled at for disclosing personal information about himself, but it worked.
He used empathy to make an effort and see her hurt, and in turn related and used his power to help. His power of empathy.
Suddenly I saw my sensitivity, my emotions, my empathy as a tool, as a way to help. What I had known to be a weakness became power. My power.
I know no one will believe there must be a balance of reason and empathy until I have built up evidence of success, and so I will search for this proof, to help humanity.
Find logic in your emotions and find emotions in your logic. There should be no one or the other. It’s a balance of understanding everyone has different circumstances that have brought them to where they are. You can’t assume all homeless people are addicts, you can’t assume all people in a psych ward have gone insane, you can’t assume all poor people are lazy— you have to adapt your guidelines to all situations. But leaving emotions out of it will only serve as something holding you back from the truth.
I had started to wonder if humanity’s definition is now to be inhumane. Nowadays, it's so rare to find someone with empathy, with sympathy, with the ability to access their own emotions and understand what’s going on in their heads. It’s hard to find kindness in this world. But this show gave me hope and it gave me power in my weaknesses. Find yours.
(P.S) F. MURRAY ABRAHAM WAS THE MOST AMAZING ACTOR I HAVE EVER SEEN ONSTAGE IN MY LIFETIME. IT WAS SUCH AN HONOR TO EXPERIENCE HIS PERFORMANCE SO CLOSE. HE REALLY MADE ME CRY. THAT PERFORMANCE IS ONE THAT WILL STICK WITH ME FOREVER. Also found out my Dad worked with him on Star Trek in the past, what a small world.
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