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Do You Worry About the Stigma of Seeing a Therapist?

Do You Worry About the Stigma Attached to Seeing a Therapist?

Mad Men's Betty Draper Francis clearly needs someone to talk to. But on last night's episode, the 1960s housewife resisted going to a therapist. It's not that the mother of three on her second marriage doesn't value the help of a trained professional. Happy to have someone, anyone, to listen to her, she'll gladly share her problems with her daughter's therapist. But when that child psychologist nudges Betty toward seeing an adult professional, she puts up a wall of denial, making it clear that it's one thing to talk to a professional about your 10-year-old's problems and a very different thing to admit you need help yourself.

Perhaps Betty's previous experience seeing a psychologist is to blame. Dr. Wayne was happy to talk man-to-man with Don, telling him that Betty had the emotional maturity of a child. In the 1960s, it became more and more popular to work with a therapist, but it must have been hard to trust mental health professionals completely, as at least 50,000 people, including unhappy housewives, were lobotomized in the early 1960s. Even if most housewives were ignorant of extreme cases, the pressure to be perfect was probably enough to keep them from admitting they needed help.

Today, therapy is widely popular, and we don't have to fear that our therapist might talk behind our backs with our husbands or that we'll get lobotomized, but many women still worry about the stigma associated with getting the help of a therapist. Do you?

Photos courtesy of AMC

Join The Conversation
amber512 amber512 6 years
My husband thinks I should. My main worry is cost. I'll get it all figured out.
dexaholic dexaholic 6 years
Amber, I had an aunt who's husband forbid her to see a therapist during/after suffering from postpartum depression. She suffered for 30 years and eventually devised a plan to commit suicide. Thankfully she didn't follow through with it and sought help from her sister and she is now doing extremely well. Don't let that happen to you. If you feel the need, go. Don't let anyone stop you!
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 6 years
No one has ever asked me if I'm in therapy, so I haven't told anyone but close family. If it came up in conversation I wouldn't mind mentioning it, but I could never be one of those people who brags about it. I prefer to keep my medical history as private as possible.
janneth janneth 6 years
In MadMen times, there was a huge stigma. Now it is much better. I know some people who almost brag about it. And I know 3 people who go to "spiritual advisors" instead of therapists.
Studio16 Studio16 6 years
I don't think that Betty balked at seeing an adult therapist because of the stigma, I think she balked because she wanted to keep seeing Dr. Edna. Dr. Edna's a child psychiatrist, and Betty is a very childish woman, so of course she wants to see someone who's going to continue to baby her. I saw a therapist a couple times as a child, once for throwing prolonged tantrums (I was a very high-strung six year old) and for friend drama (I was a very bitchy middle-schooler). They were both minor stints, and nothing like Sally's therapy. Basically I went whenever my mom and dad felt like scheduling an appointment or driving me to the doctor's office! I wouldn't be ashamed for seeing a therapist now, but honestly, there's nothing really bothering me that I have to go see one. I'm at a pretty good place in life now!
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 6 years
Honestly, I think mental health should be treated like physical health. It would be great if you got an annual checkup just to make sure there wasn't anything that needed to be dealt with. I don't see a psychologist currently but I would if I began to feel like something was off.
stephley stephley 6 years
I have several close relatives who generally don't believe in physical illness, much less the need for any emotional doctoring. At least two of them can and often will, offer a laundry list of childhood traumas that they suppose someone might whine to a shrink about but they're too strong for that. So they let their issues fester until they overflow inappropriately on holidays or at family gatherings.
amber512 amber512 6 years
To explain the stigma - at least in my experience - When you break your arm, those around you can and will acknowledge something needs to be done. However, people in my life believe that people fake depression, anxiety, and other "mental issues." They acknowledge the fact that something is wrong but truly believe that "think happy and you'll be happy." And that if that doesn't work, the person is just being melodramatic.
lickety-split lickety-split 6 years
Wasn't aware there was a stigma. Hummm, interesting. I suppose it's like anything medically necessary. Would you not have your arm set if it was broken because other people looked down on that? I've been in therapy -on and off- for about 9 years. Went first when my oldest daughter was diagnosed with autism. Then other things came up. I have to say that the group counseling sessions, support groups, have been much more helpful than the 1:1 sessions. When another woman can look you in the eye and say, "I know what you're going through. I understand. This is how I got through it", it's reassuring. When the therapist says, "that must be hard", it's not that helpful.
amber512 amber512 6 years
Thanks, that's very true.
stephley stephley 6 years
Life's too short Amber - don't let other peoples' fears keep you from doing something that might help you. :)
amber512 amber512 6 years
There are a few people in my life who very much look down upon seeing a therapist and aren't quiet about it. That is one of the reasons I have been a bit hesistant into looking into it further.
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