Psychological Well being on ‘Succession’: Why the HBO Sequence is Extra Relatable Than We Assume

The favored tragedy-satire HBO present “Succession” — which not too long ago received three Golden Globes — facilities on a power-hungry household crammed with deceit and pettiness. The dysfunctional household fights over energy dynamics whereas managing uncertainties with the well being of patriarch Logan Roy, who leads a world media and leisure conglomerate. Whereas the household could also be fictional and lots of the present’s plot strains unrelatable to anybody who isn’t a billionaire, the psychological well being points lots of the characters face could also be much more resonant.

Tim Overton, PsyD, is a person and {couples} therapist for The Steven A. Cohen Army Household Clinic on the College of Pennsylvania — and an avid fan of “Succession.” Though the present is dramatized, Overton has famous two frequent patterns of psychological well being points which ring true for a lot of people.

For many who haven’t caught as much as all three seasons of the present, please notice there are some spoilers forward for season three.

Psychological Well being Patterns

The present facilities across the formidable chief and father Logan Roy, who got here from a humble background as an immigrant from Scotland and raised in Quebec, Canada. His drive to succeed was to create a greater life for himself and his household. However when Logan is launched on display screen, viewers see him unwilling to specific feelings apart from anger whereas orchestrating manipulative habits in the direction of his kids and others.

“We see Logan as somebody who has misplaced all sight of what actually makes his life extra fulfilling. He typically confuses cash and energy with success,” stated Overton.

Overton explains that it is very important be capable of periodically step again and ask your self, “why am I doing what I’m doing?” as a result of in any other case we get trapped in habits that now not serve us. Most therapists will ask their sufferers to redefine what’s fulfilling to them and the way they’ll adapt that to their present surroundings. Whereas Logan isn’t in the identical place he was when he began the corporate and first outlined what’s most necessary to him in life, he has not tailored properly nor modified how he interacts and handles conditions. 

One other sample famous on the present is an avoidance perspective. Each primary character shows this otherwise with making an attempt to keep away from going through and feeling their true feelings. Viewers see Logan’s son Kendall battle with habit to masks his feelings, and his lone daughter, Shiv, refusing to permit herself to be weak along with her husband, Tom, resulting in a pressure of their marriage. His youngest son, Roman, makes use of humor at inappropriate instances to deflect from having critical conversations, and the viewers see Logan’s eldest, Connor, search fixed validation of his profession and companion, Willa.

“These deflective behaviors are frequent,” Overton explains. “Lots of people come into remedy considering that having an emotion is an issue, however a whole lot of instances making an attempt to not have that emotion causes an even bigger problem.”

Specialists with the Cohen Army Household Clinic at Penn use a selected remedy referred to as Acceptance and Dedication Remedy (ACT) to assist sufferers expertise and handle feelings. ACT makes use of acceptance and mindfulness methods, along with dedication and habits change methods, to extend being current within the second and feeling  troublesome feelings.

“Therapists typically say to sufferers that we aren’t essentially simply making an attempt to assist them really feel higher, however are attempting to get them higher at feeling — it’s one thing many within the Roy household may seemingly profit from,” Overton famous.

Breach of an Unstated Contract

Tim Overton
Tim Overton, PsyD

The wedding between Shiv Roy and Tom Wambsgans will be outlined as an unstated contract of comfort, each with some understanding on how their union can principally solely profit their careers. It’s straightforward to determine this dynamic by simply watching the characters work together, neither of them overtly displaying indicators of affection. Even when Tom does attempt to talk about issues akin to his nervousness about (spoiler alert) probably going to jail or his needs to start out a household, Shiv shuts the dialog down. It’s primarily a “no fly zone” for the couple.

Most {couples} don’t get to the extremes of Tom and Shiv, Overton explains, however issues can come up between {couples} when there are sudden shifts in these unstated contracts. As an illustration, a army partner could know that lengthy deployments or frequent strikes are a part of the “contract,” however these occasions are nonetheless typically overwhelming after they happen. It is vital for a relationship {that a} partner feels secure mentioning their emotions about any challenges they’re going through. And on this instance, that the service member is aware of that they’re nonetheless supported and that their companion mentioning these emotions doesn’t imply they’re reneging on the contract.

Overton encourages people in a lot of these conditions to talk up and specific their emotions to their companions: “It helps each companions perceive that generally you count on one factor however feelings can come up and help can nonetheless be proven, even when nothing can change.”

Uncovering the Root of Psychological Well being Points

Throughout the world of “Succession,” it’s arduous to pinpoint the place these complicated characters’ psychological well being points got here into play— maybe they stem from rising up privileged with immense wealth or Logan’s manipulative parenting. However Overton explains that you simply don’t want to repair the previous with the intention to repair the long run. Individuals typically wish to know why they reacted a sure method to issues or what made them really feel upset or glad about one thing, but it surely’s not essential to get to the root-cause of a problem to type a more healthy mindset.

Overton notes the Cohen Army Household Clinic at Penn typically makes use of Cognitive Course of Remedy (CPT) to assist people who could also be caught on making an attempt to determine why a trauma occurred or who’s responsible. CPT, which can be utilized to deal with PTSD or different trauma-related issues, is a selected sort of cognitive behavioral remedy that helps sufferers discover ways to modify and problem unhelpful beliefs associated to the trauma. In CPT, purchasers can study {that a} traumatic incident doesn’t outline them. Blaming themselves, others, or the world for what occurred previously typically distracts from the fact that the current is a a lot completely different context than the place the trauma occurred. So whether or not the Roy household can blame their upbringing, their father, or their limitless cash provide, they’ll step again, have a look at their values and reevaluate what sort of individuals they wish to be going ahead.

On the finish of the day, Overton needs to remind everybody that though we’d discover parallels with the Roy household with regard to frequent psychological well being points, the characters of “Succession” are fictional and it’s a tv present for leisure.

“I wish to remind everybody that most individuals who expertise points with psychological well being are not often as imply as these we see within the collection,” Overton stated.

But when individuals determine with the dynamics and character storylines displayed within the present, it is perhaps an indication to speak to somebody or search assist earlier than it will get to these extremes.

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