Humans Playing Humans on “Mad Men”

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Josh Fischel talks to Hilary Beth Hendel, a psychotherapist who worked as a "mental health consultant" on the first four seasons of Mad Men, about why the show feels so real:

One of their early discussions focused on an idea Weiner had in mind for Don Draper’s ex-wife Betty in the first season: her hands going numb. Hendel recalled a Freudian case of hysterical numbness. “One way to understand that is through the suppression of anger. If Betty’s anger was so strong as to lead to unconscious violent fantasies, Freud posited that Betty could develop or induce a numbness in her hands to prevent her from actually hurting or killing someone,” she said. Keeping things in check seems to be a hallmark for many of Mad Men’s characters: The biggest things that happen are more often internal and hidden than outward and concrete.