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Royal Flush

The Perils of Charisma

Frank Pittman • 1/1/2007

This fall, at a time when competent, sensible leadership seems in especially short supply around the globe, three films appeared almost simultaneously to explore the nature of both leadership and celebrity, especially their pitfalls.

Magazine Article

A Matter of Life and Death

When the Therapist Becomes the Survivor

Frank Pittman • 11/1/2000

I've been in full-time private practice for almost 30 years. I've seen maybe 10,000 families. In that time, three patients in my practice killed themselves. Strangely enough, the three suicides were eerily similar. Each suicide has left me shell-shocked and questioning my therapeutic attitudes and methods.

Magazine Article

Turning Tragedy into Comedy

Bearing All the Reality Life Has to Offer

Frank Pittman • 11/1/1995

A young man named Jeff, who was dying from cancer, was a patient of mine 30 years ago. His family cried and prayed over him and pretended he would recover, though they knew he knew better. I was initially called in to relieve Jeff's pain through hypnosis. That worked fine, but he was still lying in bed out of breath, bored, angry and resentful of the fact that his life was being cut short. He demanded to know why God was punishing him in this way.

Magazine Article

No Hiding Place

Understanding the Liberating Power of Honesty

Frank Pittman • 5/1/1993

What people don't know can hurt them—and what they don't reveal can hurt them even more. Secrets can destroy lives and relationships. When something is kept secret, it can grow in power and significance until it becomes the center of one's identity.

Magazine Article

It's Not My Fault!

Political Correctness v Therapeutic Correctness

Frank Pittman • 1/16/1992

When Networker film critic and in-house provocateur Frank Pittman wrote this piece 25 years ago, the concept of “political correctness” was just beginning to seep into our national consciousness. With an iconoclast’s passion and a dash of dry wit, he cataloged the hazards of PC thinking for the field of psychotherapy—and for the souls of therapists themselves.

Magazine Article

What Price Camelot?

Modern Day Myths of Infidelity

Frank Pittman • 5/1/1989

What is infidelity? This question of just what is an infidelity, and what isn't, is a surprisingly touchy one, as I discover each time I talk to either professional or nonprofessional audiences. I try to define infidelity, and describe it as best I can, and somebody will invariably come up to me anxiously and sheepishly and tell me about some experience, and ask for reassurance that this act was not an infidelity.

Magazine Article

Bringing Up Father

How My Children Taught Me the Secret of Fatherhood

Frank Pittman • 5/16/1988

When author Frank Pittman became a father, he discovered that the childhood absence of his own father left him with no idea how to relate to his kids. This piece plumbs many men’s difficulties in connecting with their kids, and suggests how therapists can best help “amateur dads” learn the vital lessons for raising their children.

Magazine Article
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Life Without Father

A Son Looks for Answers from a Stoic Parent Back from War

Frank Pittman • 2/7/2019

By Frank Pittman - Even though I knew I wanted to be a father when I grew up, I didn’t know exactly what skills were required. We of the ’40s and ’50s grew up with fathers who were off at war or at work, and who weren’t part of the family even when they were at home. We were essentially fatherless.

Daily Blog

Six Ways to Find Comedy in Even the Darkest Moments

Shaking Your Clients Loose from Their Tragic Stances

Frank Pittman • 4/4/2018

By Frank Pittman - Therapy, in order to shake people loose from their tragic stances and bounce them into the human comedy, is at its best when it is funny, when the tragic family story being acted out is rewritten to provide a happy ending. I urge therapists to keep these simple guidelines in mind as they go through their day.

Daily Blog

The Liberating Power of Honesty

What People Don't Know Can Hurt Them. What They Don't Reveal Can Hurt Even More

Frank Pittman • 11/23/2017

By Frank Pittman - When we therapists believe a secret's revelations would be dangerous, the client receives a frightening message about him- or herself and about the world. We may accept our patients and make psychodynamic, systemic or sociological excuses for them, while still conveying that their secret is unacceptable. Thus, while explicitly "supporting" them, we implicitly undermine their sense that they are fundamentally decent, acceptable people.

Daily Blog

Coping and Learning After a Client's Suicide

A Therapist Reflects on What He Might Have Done Differently

Frank Pittman • 9/7/2017

By Frank Pittman - I've been in full-time private practice for almost 30 years. In that time, three patients in my practice killed themselves. Each suicide has left me shell-shocked and questioning my therapeutic attitudes and methods. I did not expect Adam to be one of my casualties.

Daily Blog
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Turns in the Road

Highlights from the Networker Journey

Mary Sykes Wylie, Dusty Miller, Esther Perel, Frank Pittman, Fred Wistow, Gary Greenberg, Katy Butler, Laura Markowitz, Molly Layton, Rich Simon, Ron Taffel • 1/1/2017

Out of all the hundreds and hundreds of articles that have appeared in the Networker over the past four decades, we’ve chosen a small sampling that captures the magazine’s most journalistic side, conveying not so much the eternal verities of our profession, but the sense of reading a first draft of the field’s history. Among other things, you’ll find therapeutic methods that, as exciting as they seemed at the moment, didn’t stand the test of time as well as initial forays into discussing complex issues we’re still struggling with today. We’ve also added in a few examples of writing so immediate and compelling that they have an air of timelessness. Prepare yourself for an interesting journey.

Magazine Article

Voices of Truth

Frank Pittman • 9/24/2009

By Frank Pittman - When TV finally came, in the early '50s, the world it brought into our living rooms was black and white, and dumbed way down. Newsmen now had faces, and, as eyewitnesses, we could now determine who had an honest face and who didn't. The most honest of the talking heads seemed to be the revered war correspondent Edward R. Murrow. Now the actor George Clooney has put together a reenactment of the public clash between Murrow and the rabid senator Joe McCarthy. It's called Good Night and Good Luck.

Magazine Article

Screening Room

Move Over, Meryl: Kate Winslet Ascends to Center Stage

Frank Pittman • 5/5/2009

What separates screen actors who remain enshrined in our memory from those who just momentarily catch our eye?

Magazine Article

Screening Room

Inside Out: Frost/Nixon and Milk Hold a Mirror to Our Fears

Frank Pittman • 3/1/2009

Movies are about giving us outsiders in the audience the illusion of being inside the charmed circle of real experience.

Magazine Article

Screening Room

Tell Me a Story: As Hollywood Goes Postmodern, Has Narrative Become Passé?

Frank Pittman • 1/1/2009

If you're like me, you've noticed that movies don't make as much sense as they used to. Nevertheless, I suspect that there's still an audience somewhere out there with an old-fashioned appetite for narrative coherence—an audience that wants a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end; a story that inspires, instructs, and offers insights into the human condition.

Magazine Article

Screening Room

More than Just Frivolity: Joel and Ethan Coen Give Us the Antidote to the Happy Ending

Frank Pittman • 11/1/2008

The Coen brothers specialize in redefining the rules of whatever movie genre they happen to be subverting.

Magazine Article

Blood and Guts

Violence is Central to Some of the Year's Best Films

Frank Pittman • 10/18/2008

By Frank Pittman - While lions and sharks go into frenzy at the smell of blood, at the sight of blood, moviegoers seem to experience a heightening of all emotions, sometimes recoiling from the horror, but more often anticipating the danger to follow. Violence and blood on the screen, even more than naked people coupling, grabs our attention and makes us perk up our ears and feel our own vulnerability, like rabbits sensing danger.

Magazine Article

Screening Room

Darkness and Light: Evoking the Flip Sides of the Hollywood Dream Machine

Frank Pittman • 9/1/2008

Two hugely successful films, released on the same weekend this summer, revealed the flip side of the Hollywood experience.

Magazine Article

Screening Room

No Country for Old Men * Indiana Jones and the Temple of Youth

Frank Pittman • 7/1/2008

Part of the magic of Hollywood movies is that the larger-than-life heroes and heroines up there on the screen don't age and wither and deteriorate like the rest of us do. In fact, it may be that one of the reasons we go to the movies, at least in youth-obsessed America, is to bathe in a cinematic fountain of perpetual youth. If they're not getting older and flabbier, maybe we won't either.

Magazine Article

Screening Room

Hollywood and the Unwed Mother: Comedy is a Window on Our Social Mores

Frank Pittman • 5/1/2008

Some comedies about unwed motherhood reveal deeper truths about those subjects we can laugh about and those we can't.

Magazine Article
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Frank Pittman, M.D., is a contributing editor to The Family Therapy Networker and is in private practice.