Favorite Psychologist in the media?

My Pennsylvania Psychologist came this week and is on psychology in the media. One article talked about the ways psychologists and therapists are portrayed in movies. I guess some are sensitive about the bad portrayal of some therapists and that it might stigmatize or put off the public from using our services.

So, what therapists in the movies or on TV are your favorite? Who is the most lifelike?

My personal favorite is Bob Newhart. Not for accuracy but for comedy.


Filed under Psychology

13 responses to “Favorite Psychologist in the media?

  1. Scott Knapp, MS

    The Asian psychologist on “Law & Order” really irritates me! He gives the impression that psychologists have a better handle on life issues, can always make sense of any pathological behavior, and can go placidly through life with a calm, “therapeutic” demeanor because of their education and training…while the rest of law enforcement must rely on instinct and “trial and error” attempts to make sense of a case. AAAARRRRGGGH! Now, Dr. Sydney Freedman on M*A*S*H was interesting…always the quiet, thoughtful Freudian, who dialogged with Freud in his journals, so as to experience catharsis.

  2. I can’t name a single TV psychologist.

    Though I have noticed that the steriotype for a psychologist seems to be heavily drawn from Freud, and always uses outdated psychoanalysis techniques. With the exception of those attempting to predict the actions of criminals, who are merely given a predictive accuracy that is less psychologist than it is psychic.

  3. judi

    bob newhart was just hysterical!!! i don’t know how much counseling he really did, but he was certainly funny to watch! we saw a great clip from his show at a harvest training time where his famous words of wisdom were ‘JUST STOP IT!’

    the dude on law and order is a bit too stiff for me… he does know his stuff but he shows no emotion and seems detached from the world.

    as for lifelike… i’m not sure i’ve really seen any.

  4. Amy

    Robin Williams in GOOD WILL HUNTING. I liked him because even though he did the “staring” thing (I hate that), he was definitely willing to challenge his counselee.

    I also liked the FBI criminologist on “NUMB3Rs” (Diane Farr) but she left the show. Her character went back to school to get her doctorate so she could counsel female inmates. Plus, she could talk criminals out of shooting people, blowing stuff up, and so on and so forth.

    Oh, yeah, and there is also Dr. Sweets on “Bones”, who’s not a very good psychologist at all. He crosses all sorts of boundaries, but his insecurity cracks me up.

  5. Ryan

    Interestingly, I was reading Moreland’s book “Love Your God With All Your Mind” and in chapter four, he asks what our world would look like if we tried to emulate Christian intellectuals the way we do Christian musicians or athletes. To accentuate his point he asked if we could name the top Christian intellectuals in various fields. You should post something here about that…I wonder if many people would know.

    I can name those I consider the top Christian intellectuals in the the counseling/psychology/soul care fields but I lack pretty heavily in say philosophy or education.

  6. A difficult challenge, Ryan, as Christians often disagree over who gets to be considered Christian – if you were to search for famous christians in the intellectual fields, you would almost certinly find some people challenging your selections on the grounds that some of them are not ‘real’ Christians because they disagree on some theological point major or minor.

  7. Bob Newhart: How can you not love a man who has the courage to wear a burgundy colored cardigan? I personally love Tobias Funke from Arrested Development. Probably the most clueless and screwed up therapist on a sitcom that you can’t help but love. He tries to always offer helpful relational “tips” even though he’s so blind to his own screwed up relationships and personal dysfunction. He illustrates so well how everyone is messed up in this world, even though those we go to help make us better.


  8. Definately Dr. Leo Marvin from What About Bob? 🙂 (because he reminds me of my dad lol)

  9. The reference to Dr Freedman of MASH (a favorite) reminded me of an old film starring Gregory Peck, “Captain Newman, MD.” It centers around a psych hospital during WWII treating individuals for combat related disorders into which a group of Italian POWs are introduced. I haven’t seen it in years, but it must have made an impression, since in remembering the film, some fairly intense counseling scenes come to mind. The comedic nature of the film seems out of place at times, but there’s probably a message in there someplace.

  10. Scott Knapp, MS

    I had a younger neighbor girl for many years, who was obsessed about “Star Trek, the Next Generation” and was a huge fan of Counselor Deanna Troy. Stereotypical characteristics: other-worldly demeanor, insight others don’t have access to, can explain the mysteries of human functions better than humans can, because she’s not human.

  11. Ron

    Ah, I hadn’t considered books as “media”. I read Captain Newman, M.D. (by Leo Rosten) 35 years ago. It left a mark, both the humor (which I still quote) and the sorrow of being successful in your counseling–if your business is getting soldiers fit to go out again, and die.

  12. catherine

    I liked Tyrone Berger in Ordinary People, though Sydney Freedman is also a favorite.

  13. Bob Newhart is especially great as a psychologist because his routines feature him speaking on the phone, and he did it on the show more often than you think. You hear only one side of the conversation, but you can tell what’s really going down.

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