On "Blue Bloods," police commissioner Frank Reagan is suffering with a sustained bout of insomnia. In the middle of the work day, he sneaks out of his office, puts on sunglasses and enters a high-end building. In there is the typical objective and lacking warm shrink.
From the get-go, Frank tells him that Reagans don't do those sorts of things. Then he does try to connect. The subject is his feelings about the long-ago 9/11. He survived. His former partner on that day is dying. Abruptly, Frank tells the shrink this isn't working and leaves.
He begins to get relief from baring his survivor guilt to first his father during the night, then in the hospital room of his former partner who is in coma. Later Frank delivers an eloquent eulogy at the hero's funeral.
So, again, shrinks get a bad rap in a cop show. The shrink-like profiling in "Criminal Minds" is straight science, none of the fuzzy stuff usually associated with letting the psychotherapist in to supposedly heal. The members of that elite FBI team take good emotional care of each other, especially on the plane ride back to headquarters.
Where a shrink ethos is welcomed is on "Law & Order SVU." After a rocky start, Dr. George Huang becomes a trusted member of the department. He gives unique insight on cases. Also, he assesses the ability of the detectives to function after a trauma. Played by B.D. Wong, Dr. Huang provides the right balance of science and compassion.
Sure, psychiatrists will always be used in the court system to determine fitness to stand trial and the insanity defense. But, increasingly, our culture seems to be moving far away from its 1970s confidence in psychotherapy. The meme then was that a personality could be reconfigured. In university circles, it became a fad like the hula hoop. Of course, those with common sense, did roll their eyes.
Multiple times a week, I shared my psychic pain at the University of Michigan Medical Center with David Harder. He is now a full professor of psychology at Tufts University. Over the years I went to him for more enlightenment. When I had my Greenwich, Connecticut lawyer request the clinical records, it was obvious that we weren't on the same page. I felt like the Beatles character Father McKenzie who had put there sermons that no one was hearing. Shame on me.
Fortunately, sustained hard economic times have sucked the life out of those kinds of excesses. That's a primary reason the cop shows are so popular. There is clarity. The bad guys are caught. The detectives, like all of us, are flawed but manage to stay centered. The world moves on to another. day.
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