On a cold Sydney winter weekend watching old reruns of the Sopranos seemed just a treat. Especially when other’s in my life are too busy contemplating their future address. Who would have thought I’d be prompted to work. I must have missed the episode where Tony Soprano’s therapist Dr. Melfi finds out that that studies show talk therapy doesn’t help psychopaths and that it may only give them an opportunity to test their manipulative skills on someone else and in some ways reinforce their psychopathic behaviour.
The Sopranos are after all make believe characters, albeit very well developed characters. As an aside The Sopranos, which focuses on the trials and tribulations of a fictional New Jersey crime boss and his families. For the most part, real-life “wise-guys” not only like the show, some believe they’ve been the inspiration for a few of the characters and plots. Art imitates life, and sometimes life is flattered.
So back to talk therapy – can it actually somehow enable psychopaths? A quick Google search did turn up that the study that is quoted on the show is real.
It’s generally regarded that there are no medicinal treatments for psychopathy, and talk therapy only serves to further the ability to mimic emotions. There is believed to be a genetic propensity in the cases of psychopathy, as the trait appears to run in families. As a possible genetic disorder, there may never be an effective treatment. It must be observed that one possible common cause of psychopathy is abuse.
Tony to his credit has done more work in therapy than most people. He shows regret, he feels pain, he expresses concern for others and when he isn’t being the “captain of enterprise” (read mob boss) he even breaks down.
Tony’s past isn’t much different from a kid raised by an abusive father who knows no more than the power of exacting pain.