Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Conan: A Psychoanalytic Perspective

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on July 7, 2011

   Conan, in this movie (‘Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop) , is a sad man. I do not mean that he feels sad; I mean it feels sad to watch him live his life. The story is a simple one. The network paid him a large sum of money not to work. He had to agree to a six month period in which he was not on television. Conan, painfully restless and hurt from being kicked off his show, decided to do a cross-country tour of stand-up comedy and music during his television ban. He assembled his group of managers, writers, assistants and producers, and he created a team which shuffled across the country like an old and tired rock group. Meanwhile, his wife and two young children, were living their lives in Santa Monica. As the movie unfolded, I, like I imagine so many other people, kept asking myself, why. Why did Conan not take his winnings and relax for six months? Why did he put himself through the misery of constant travel, constant pressure, and loneliness? The speculative answer to those questions is the sadness. It seemed that Conan did not feel worthwhile unless he had the reassurance from a large audience that he was funny, talented, engaging or just plain entertaining. This need for this type of affirmation pointed to a person with such low self-worth, that standing still, and appreciating his children, his wife, the weather, was inconceivable and intolerable. That is what I call a “sad self”.

4 Responses to “Conan: A Psychoanalytic Perspective”

  1. G2 said

    I did not see this movie, but I am speculating that this ‘sad movie’ was a failed attempt of a modern day Truman Show. Now don’t get me wrong, the plots are different, however maybe Conan wanted to ‘drum up’ sympathy. I wonder if he had an overactive ego. Could you talk more about this in future posts? I wonder what Freud what say about the psyche of a modern day celebrity.

    • I don’t think Conan wanted to ‘drum up’ sympathy. It seems to me that he has this terrible sense of emptiness, which is partially filled when in front of an audience. Thanks for your comments.

  2. Shelly said

    Gee, if someone paid me not to work, I think I could find plenty to do! I wouldn’t need any outside affirmation that I was still valuable and loveable. I’d go out and play.

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