The Radical Change in Dr. Melfi via Last Episodes Session

#1
OK. I would like to emphatically state that I was MORE than disappointed with the Melfi scene from this episode, I was devastated. For a very long time Dr. Melfi has been the “moral” center of the show. She is the voice of conscience and reason in a world of sociopaths, liars and opportunists. And now…with no moral qualms at all she is just straight up giving Tony Soprano advice on how to be a more effective gang leader? Her whole “as if” diatribe was VERY unsettling. This is the same women who refused to treat Anthony because of her moral convictions, the same women who refused to tell Tony about her rape because he knew how he would respond, the same women who even uttered the phrase “you wanna be a better gang leader, read the art of war” in an attempt to refocus the direction of their therapy. And now what is she doing? (other than looking progressively sexier each episode) Seriously, I feel like they dumbed down her character for no reason at all.

I don’t know. It bothered me.


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Re: The Radical Change in Dr. Melfi via Last Episodes Sessio

#2
I never really hear anyone mention the transformation of melfi's character since all this began (mostly just about what Tony has become because of Melfi), but ever since last season and the whole putting the hit on Tony B, I've thought Melfi to be losing credibility. I think she's one of those people who buy into the whole "wiseguy" thing, and is perhaps excited by it. She plays to Tony with her provocative outfits, and when he isn't fitting the discussion in this episode she forces him to come out with what she wants to talk about. I imagine T and the Melf are going to be getting down at sometime before the series ends.

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Re: The Radical Change in Dr. Melfi via Last Episodes Sessio

#3
As the hedonistic, murderous Tony shifts towards righteousness, why can't Melfi make motions towards her own Omega?

If she was so "moral," she would not keep on seeing this man, year after year, drama after drama. I think she's shown herself to be no less "evil" than characters like Adrianna, Artie Bucco and some others who don't, themselves, dabble in Tony's business, but have no problem living peripherally off of him.

Melfi has accepted his money all of this time, even as other Doctor's refused Sopranos blood money. She must know where that money comes from. She must know that Tony sits with her for an hour, and then leaves to order a man murdered.

She knows what he does, and she knows that, by helping him improve his life, she's helping him become a better criminal. It's always been that way.

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Re: The Radical Change in Dr. Melfi via Last Episodes Sessio

#4
The character of Melfi, from my perspective, has remained consistent. She continues to offer Tony a maternal "supportive base" while at the same time internally struggling and observably ruminating about the course of his therapy. Her ambivalence in treating Tony has been been brought to light in her supervisory experiences with her ex, with Elliot and in her post-session affect...it is clear that she suffers.

What may have been disconcerting in the Sacrimoni episode was her shift in frame to the Adlerian "as if" technique, and Tony's subsequent corruption of her directive. This is a legitimate intervention espoused also by Postmodern Narrative types who try facilitate a change in their patients/clients by encouraging a "fake it 'til you make it" attitude (this has been picked up by AA, as well). He was resolute in his resistance of any sort of PTSD and/or dynamic processing; therefore, she was willing to try this less probative and more active technique. In that a sense of timing is critical in therapy, her error may not have been to encourage an "as if" posturing but in not anticipating or divining how Tony would corrupt a respectable, albeit somewhat dated, intervention.

Their alliance is taking on the feel of longterm analyses characterized by humor, etc. The "mercy fuckking" facetiously proposed by Tony felt to me to be just that: an inside joke at his expense and their shared knowledge of his libidinous transference.

(This is not to say that I did not cringe when Tony hatched and implemented his "as if" strategy to regain alpha status...painful stuff.)

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Re: The Radical Change in Dr. Melfi via Last Episodes Sessio

#5
OE, thanks, as usual, for your valuable "insider" contributions on the therapy stuff.

This topic was also being discussed in the general thread. But I think it warrants its own thread, so rather than move this stuff there, I'm going to repost something I wrote in that thread:

<blockquote>Quote:<hr>The last Melfi scene was a bit perplexing to me as well. Sometimes she seems incredibly naive about the effect she may be having on him while most times she seems much more savvy. She certainly had no problem telling him she wasn't treating him to make him a better mob boss in season 2 and flat out asked him what his objectives in therapy were. She had no problem reading between the lines in Boca where she reminded him she'd have the obligation of calling the police if he were implying a plan to violently deal with the soccer coach. She knew if she spilled her guts about the rape in a moment of weakness that, without even ASKING him (and possibly even if forbidding it), her rapist would be dead.

Yet in season 5, she counsels him in a moment of frustration to "own his feelings" of shame and guilt in whatever course of action he was considering with his cousin, this AFTER Tony had already told her that his cousin had gotten himself into deep trouble and that he couldn't get into details about it, which makes clear that it involved serious crime. To basically chastise him for purporting to "care about his cousin", discounting what I STILL feel were very genuine feelings for Tony B that went beyond guilt and shame, seemed just very negligent on Melfi's part.

As jayduck said, the misstep in 6.05 was far more light-spirited and non-chalant and may indeed have been totally a result of Melfi getting carried away with her warm feelings for Tony now that he's back in her life and recovered from near death. But I agree that it was unusually naive on her part.<hr></blockquote>

OE, how do you reconcile her obvious intellect and sophistication with this kind of naivete? Was it just a pure lapse in judgment resulting from being seduced anew by the charming, vulnerable side of Tony? And do you get the feeling that Melfi will, at some point, learn of an instance (previous or future) of Tony subverting her counsel and using it for some corrupt end she never imagined?

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Re: The Radical Change in Dr. Melfi via Last Episodes Sessio

#6
This is why the vast majority of ethical psychologists and psychiatrists never would have taken Tony on as a client. The ethical dilemas in a case like Tony are very challenging. Melfi's mistake as a therapist is much broader than the advice she gave him (which is a technique also used by behaviorists). Melfi really should not be advising Tony on anything that has to do with his business. In this case, this was a severe lack of judgement. Melfi should be focusing his treatment on issues that are important to the client that do not risk ethical boundaries. Family issues, marital troubles, existentialism etc. are all free game. But, counseling him on how to show strength is too ethically dangerous as others have already mentioned.

On to the question of motive. Why did she give this advice? This is hard to answer since we see so little of Melfi's introspection. However, I do feel that Melfi, by repeatedly blurring her ethical boundaries, has allowed their relationship to become less of a doctor-patient relationship a more of a friendship. I agree with OE that Tony's therapy does feel like long-term psychoanalysis. But, in long-term psychoanalysis therapeutic boundaries are still very important. Therefore, IMO, her decision to counsel Tony on this issue was more of an emotional decision rather than an intellectual one. Her genuine caring for Tony's well being coupled with very blurred therapeutic boundaries has resulted in a very poor lapse in her judgement. One that ultimately led to more violence and perhaps a regression in her patient.

Jtod

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Re: The Radical Change in Dr. Melfi via Last Episodes Sessio

#8
My thinking is that Melfi is in a way protecting Tony from the "jackals" around him.

Melfi IS a mother figure to Tony and has shown time and time again that she truly cares for Tony and his well-being. I'm sorry, but it is very very important for Tony to remain strong and "bad ass" in front of his Family and also to become a better person for the benefit of the family and himself.

Melfi truly yearns for Tony to become "happy" but Tony's situation is unique and extremely complex. I believe she did and said the right thing.

If it wasn't for Melfi, Tony would have been a dead 4 seasons ago.

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Re: The Radical Change in Dr. Melfi via Last Episodes Sessio

#9
I agree with chicoxl. If Melfi was so moral, why would she continue to treat Tony? Clearly there isn't going to be a revelation where he gives up being a mobster, so what is she trying to accomplish? A nice gangster that kills fewer people?

Melfi is a very smart woman and is one of the few people on the show that is an intellectual match for Tony. I think she is well aware of the futility of treating him. Perhaps she took him on as a client because of the challenge. Perhaps it was the allure of the darker side of life to a straight-arrow person. Regardless of what the original reason is, she's had ample time to see the error of her ways and refuse his blood money. But she hasn't, despite Elliot's urging.

The fact is that she's an enabler. She makes him better and therefore he committs crime more efficiently. She is painted in a rosy light and is a very likeable character. (As was Tony, in the beginning.) Her reasons for helping him vary: attraction, maternal concern, etc. But she is a part of this thing, just like Carmela. They all have a darker side and I think we're finally seeing hers. Granted, I think she'll backtrack in the next episode and realize her comment was inappropriate. Because she is a nice person. But she is just as culpable as any other character. Is she a psychicatrist or a consigliere of sorts?

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Re: The Radical Change in Dr. Melfi via Last Episodes Sessio

#10
Chicoxyl and Bella:

On the one hand I can see where you are coming from when questioning Melfi's morality. She is a bright woman and must realize, as you've said, that Tony pays for her services with blood money. The morality problem, IMO, is not that she treats Tony. Tony has a medical problem - panic disorder and depression - and deserves to be treated. I'm sure we are not questioning the moraility of the surgeons who operated on him or the nurses who monitored his status and consoled him in the hospital. Medical problems deserve appropriate treatment regardless of whether the inflicted are criminals or not.

The morality problem, however, is that Melfi has allowed Tony's mob life to seep into their therapy sessions when it should have been "checked at the door." Moreover, she has also provided Tony with advice about how to deal with his "employees." This is unethical and not appropriate. In this long-term therapy, the boundaries between doctor and patient have gotten blurred and Melfi has lost her objectivity. She needs to go back into peer supervision with Elliot and get back on track. Her lack of objectivity in this instance may have provided Tony with support that led him to regain his status within the mafia family, but it also contributed to Tony moving backwards on his journey towards a better Tony - a less conflicted Tony. That therapy session was couterprodcutive and facilitated Tony's regression. Let's see if she gets back on track next week...

Jtod




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