Therapists fill from ‘A Place in the Sun’ to books and streaming – 03/18/2022 – Illustrated

“And out of the story, are you okay?” The question that took Brazilian profiles on Instagram in recent months was just a meme. However, like all jokes, it has a kernel of truth.

It’s just that, behind the meme, there’s a question that has worried many people and, now, it even spreads through the cultural industry, with a wave of books, movies, series and even a Globo soap opera that are populated by therapists and sessions of therapy.

The most recent is the work “Kim Jiyoung, Born in 1982”, by South Korea’s Cho Nam-Joo, which hits bookstores in the country next week after selling 1 million copies in almost 20 countries, which established it as South Korea’s best-selling book in the world for the past five years and made him win over stars from K-pop groups like BTS.

The narrative follows Jiyoung, a young woman from Seoul in her 20s who has just resigned from the marketing agency where she worked to take care of her newborn daughter. Suddenly, she starts to incorporate her mother, grandmother and other women in her life, imitating their voices and taunts.

It is then that, worried, her husband makes an appointment with a psychiatrist. The doctor first suspects that Jiyoung suffers from dissociative disorder. Then, from a postpartum depression that would have progressed to a maternal depression. Finally, without being able to make a diagnosis, he comes to the conclusion that, although no psychiatrist would say the same, the patient suffers from the machismo that structures Korea.

Maybe he’s right. Jiyoung lives in a society where, until the 1990s, it was common for women to suffer reprisals when they discovered that the fetus they were carrying was female and were encouraged to have an abortion, which is why the protagonist herself did not meet her younger sister.

The author uses an extensive bibliography, scattered with footnotes, to describe a society that forces Jiyoung to give her brother her lunch when the fridge isn’t full, to work to pay for the boy’s education and, as an adult, to ignore the sexism at university and at work.

This only begins to change, says the author, from the moment the discussion spreads, mainly through culture. “Until recently, we believed that we should face postpartum depression, menopause, without questioning suffering, as it is natural and improves with time. Today, women are encouraged to be inquisitive and to be healthier.”

Proof of this is that journeys of quest for self-improvement like Jiyoung’s are also seen in other stories.

This is the case with “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone”, by American therapist Lori Gottlieb, which is being adapted into a series. In the book, which has sold 163,000 copies in Brazil since the beginning of the pandemic, when it was released, the author narrates, in the form of fictional tales, therapy sessions inspired by her patients, such as that of a young newlywed who discovers an incurable cancer.

“Imersão”, by the gaucho psychiatrist Diogo Lara, has a similar proposal. He follows an endocrinologist who discovers that she was cheated on while she was pregnant and decides to go to an intensive therapeutic seminar in a castle in Scotland.

Although it was published nearly two years before Covid hit, most of the 18,000 copies the book sold were bought during the pandemic, according to HarperCollins.

Keeping an eye on the trend, the publisher will republish the novels by American psychiatrist Irvin D. Yalom in the coming months. “O Carrasco do Amor”, one of the main ones, follows the therapeutic process of ten characters, such as a 70-year-old woman who falls in love with her therapist and an obese young woman who can’t relate to anyone.

In cinemas, among the releases, there is “Matrix: Resurrections”, in which the protagonist, played by Keanu Reeves, resorts to the help of his therapist, played by Neil Patrick Harris, to elaborate the traumas he lived trapped in the simulacrum.

This is what the characters of Globo’s soap opera “Um Lugar ao Sol” do, even more frequently, which is coming to an end in the coming weeks. Through the office of psychoanalyst Ana Virgínia, played by Regina Braga, young people, adults, couples and families pass by in search of help.

All of them are “emotional illiterates”, says Lícia Manzo, the author of the serial, paraphrasing the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, director of classics such as “Scenes of a Marriage”. When creating the character, her objective was to warn that “we all, even if to a different extent, suffer from this evil that is the lack of vocabulary to explore our intimate life”.

It seems to have worked. The therapist’s arrival, said many viewers on social media, helped to save the plot, which recorded the worst audience for a nine o’clock soap opera in Globo’s history.

“The love game is a democratic game. It has to be good for both of them. The woman was used to giving in, but now times are different”, said the therapist, in one of her many sessions, while the delighted spectators stated in the Twitter that it was like they were in therapy too.

“I received many messages from friends saying that they had hitched a ride with Ana Virgínia and started therapy. She brought an example that a therapist is not a healer and that you don’t need to go to church to purge your demons. It was educational.” says Braga, who was inspired by his therapist and read “Letters to a Young Therapist” by Contardo Calligaris, a columnist for this newspaper who died last year, to prepare for the role.

Therapy is not a new element in fiction. Braga remembers that, at Globo, she had already appeared in productions such as “Dancin’ Days”, which Gilberto Braga wrote in the late 1970s, and abroad in “Os Sopranos”, from 1999. But she never appeared so often or with so much relevance within the narratives.

In the 2000s, it was so rare that the Israeli series “Be’tipul”, one of the few stories about therapists, was so successful that it won dozens of adaptations around the world, including in Brazil, with Selton Mello, in “Sessão de Terapia”.

In the opinion of the editorial director of HarperCollins, Raquel Cozer, the writers’ interest in sending their characters to therapy stems from a concern with well-being. In Brazil, it has grown 74% in the last two years, according to McKinsey & Company, a business consultancy. It is the country that registered the biggest increase among the six that participated in the survey.

The report looked at elements like nutrition, sleep and appearance, but the findings could extend to entertainment, says Cozer. That’s what HarperCollins does when it bets on books laced with mental health discussions, including nonfiction ones like “I Can’t Take It Anymore,” which reflects why burnout threatens to define the lives of millennials.

These are different stories from “The Sopranos”, as the show’s protagonist does not go to therapy in search of comfort, but to discuss issues such as his obsession with the ducks that invaded his swimming pool. “In ‘The Sopranos,’ we have the perfect example of what therapy is all about, about very small things that say a lot about our lives. It’s the best I’ve ever seen, but when therapy is at the center of the story, it’s hard to make the difference. same way”, says the editor.

Another element behind the trend is people’s sadness, says psychoanalyst Lucas Liedke, who discusses mental health online. His view is supported by the UN’s World Happiness Report. In 2020, Brazil dropped 12 positions in the ranking. In 2021, the country recovered two positions, but it remains far from the best level, registered in 2013, when it occupied the 24th position.

“In addition to portraying society, these works help to deconstruct the idea of ​​therapy as something elitist, which is partly true, but in part is not only a lie but is even prejudice, because many people think that therapy is only for those who are suffering. a lot or for those who have a lot of money and time”, says Liedke.

Critical to those who are concerned with mental health without reflecting on the precariousness of life, the psychoanalyst emphasizes that “therapy will not solve the world’s problems, such as poverty, racism, machismo, but it can help those who suffer from it to face the problem in the best way”. “If we take care of our bodies, why shouldn’t we take care of our heads? We deserve to go to therapy.”

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