Sunday, April 19, 2009

Psychiatry on Broadway


The world is so weird. This morning, I looked out my back window and wondered if the neighbor behind me was pregnant. You can't really ask someone this-- it could just be 15 unwanted pounds, kind of concentrated in one place. I went to her Facebook page, and there was a comment on her wall, "Congratulations on the Pregnancy!" Okay, so it's official.

So today's New York Times mental health Shrink-Rappable article comes from the Arts & Leisure section. Patricia Cohen writes in "Mental Health, the Musical, Aims for Truth" about Broadway plays where mental illness is the focus of attention. She talks about a new Broadway play, Next to Normal, as well as about Proof and Equus. Cohen writes:


Mental illness on the stage and screen is often portrayed in extreme ways, and not just for dramatic effect. In Western culture psychic pain has tended to be seen as the territory of the artist, visionary, rebel and genius, from Emily Dickinson to Sylvia Plath and Friedrich Nietzsche to John Forbes Nash Jr. So it should be no surprise that madness is often used to signify creativity, sensitivity or spiritual and intellectual depth.

She goes on to write:

The musical now presents a much more subtle and complex view of psychotherapy. In “My Psychopharmacologist and I,” Diana catalogs the side effects of her drugs — nausea, drowsiness, sexual dysfunction, headaches, seizures — until she finally says, “I don’t feel anything.”

The doctor pronounces, “Patient stable.”

Will I see it? No...sounds too much like going to the office.

8 comments:

Rinto said...

hi...I'm new in the psychiatric. It's about 5 month ago I'm start working in mental hospital. Acctually I'm an OT's, nice to found you site.

Anonymous said...

Too bad you didn't get to the Book Review, page 20. " ..a surgeon with bipolar disorder stops taking his medications and loses his mind during a routine gallbladder operation,cutting wildly, lopping out part of the stomach, lacerating the aorta....."
Reminds me of the post on whether politicians with mental illness can/should be elected.

michreneeg said...

I saw Equus and am curious to hear psychiatrist's opinion of the play. It was a litle much for me!

This is a show that is currently playing off-Broadway. http://www.sessionsthemusical.com/ I kind of want to see it just because of the absurdity.

Tawny said...

I saw next to normal at the recommendation of my psychiatrist at Arena Stage. He loved it and I loved it. It really spoke to me in so many places. Although I did leave feeling unsettled, I was able to leverage that in therapy. I would recommend this musical to everyone.

violetdaisy said...

"next to normal" is AMAZING. Simply AMAZING. The score is brilliant, the performances are brilliant. It's the best reviews show of the season.

"Sessions" on the other hand sucks. I saw it in the first off-Broadway run and was given a ticket to this version because of the "changes". I saw no changes ~ or possibly ones that made it worse.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should mention your pregnant neighbor, Dinah. I'm 99.9% sure my Dr. is pregnant. Once I'm 100% sure, is it alright if I congratulate her and ask her the typical baby questions (When are you due?, Is it a boy or a girl?, etc.) I've never asked her any personal questions in the past because I know it's not appropriate but this seems different. It's such an obvious change & such an exciting event in someone's life. It seems strange, if not rude, to not to say something. So, what is okay to say? I'm really excited to talk to her about it but I don't want to cross any boundries.

FooFoo5 said...

I'm thinking Ms. Cohen saw the version of Equus starring Harry Potter (nude, no less), if she could even imagine a musical could be "more complex." I remember really wanting to see Richard Burton as Dr. Dysart in the mid-70's, but I better remember my mother saying, "You are not going to see Equus, I don't care if your father is Dr. Dysart." I suspect some Oedipal remnants...

Dinah said...

Anon: thanks for the book review reference, I enjoyed the read, was blogged out by that point.

Anon with the pregnant doc: hmmm... I'm not sure I want to go there with when it's okay to ask if someone is pregnant (if they aren't the answer is Never)..this is why I checked neighbor's facebook before I said anything!

FooFoo: you should have been raised in my family...my mother took me to see Richard Burton in Equus, we sat in the front row of the mezzanine, tickets that day from scalpers cost $12 (the things I remember and how old this makes me feel)... I was much too young, neither of us knew about the naked man running around on stage...scarred me for life (I became a psychiatrist)