Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Media Portrayals of Psychotherapy, Part II: Last Episode of MASH

MAJ Sidney Freeman. Not the clip I was looking for, but not bad.

"Here's the story: Hawkeye has gone insane and is spending time at a hospital. Throughout the episode, he tells this story about how they were able to go out to a beach and have a great day. Just playing at the beach. They all pile up on a bus to head home. Suddenly, they realize that the enemy is nearby, so they shut off the engine, turned out all the lights and everybody got quiet. Except this woman in the back who has a chicken that won't get quiet."


  1. You sure that's the last episode?

    I use MASH to both justify, and avoid, home improvement projects around here, all the time.

    Don't want all those computers and TVs and such on the back porch? I will get a tent and put them it the middle of the yard. Look at MASH, they did surgery in tents. If the lights went out, Radar would just drive up a jeep and put on the headlights.

    N.B. MASH was absolutely prohibited in my house as a kid. Seen plenty of episodes since, but would have been a whooping back then.

    1. No, I'm not sure it's the last episode. Did your ER doctor father forbid it for medical inaccuracy, inappropriate adult role models, or liberal proselytizing?

  2. Yeah? So how did they do? Was the analysis and result accurate?

    1. That clip, where Hawkeye is hospitalized after ordering a woman to silence her baby and she smothers it to death, is, like almost all the MASH psychiatric stuff, "ripped from the headlines," i.e., based on actual psychiatric cases. Forgetting/repressing critical details of a traumatic experience (e.g., that it was a baby, not a chicken), is pretty common -- so much so that it is part of the official diagnostic criteria (as an associated, but not essential feature). Some folks "forget" parts of firefights, e.g., remembering "suppressing enemy fire" but only later, in therapy, recalling that the enemy machine gun was emplaced behind a crowd of women and children. Or recalling that their friend in the passenger seat was killed by machine gun fire, but only later remembering that they had freaked out that they themselves had been blinded, only to realize, to their great relief/guilt, that they couldn't see because their friend's brains were in their eyes.

      Was the result accurate? Well, considering the nature of the trauma, and the fact that Hawkeye is already clearly an alcoholic -- my guess would be death by suicide within the next 10 years.


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