Throughout Mad Men’s extended run, our favorite antihero – Don Draper – has become an utter disappointment. What began as collective hero worship has ultimately devolved into pity, discontent, and, for many of us, a great deal of self-reflection. Much of the disquiet surrounding Mr. Don Draper and his downward spiral comes from watching a character with so much (wasted) potential. A living, breathing car wreck.
The Dunes East Hampton’s Executive Director, Dr. Kardaras States:
“Don definitely meets the clinical description of narcissistic personality disorder – grandiosity, lack of empathy, and obsession with one’s own power,” Dr. Nicholas Kardaras told Esquire Magazine. “It’s an extreme form of egocentrism. And is he an alcoholic? Obviously heavy drinking was part of the culture of the time, so it’s not that atypical, but we start to think someone has an issue with there are negative consequences. It does begin to look like alcohol dependency for Don. Usually alcoholism is a sign of other underlying issues. It’s hard to do a lot of growth when you’re self medicating by getting high. He also has identity issues, coming from his background and the false identity he’s assumed.”
Flashbacks of childhood abuse and the Korean War paint a picture of a man deeply troubled by demons past. Though the imagery may explain Don Draper and his behavior, it does little to excuse his actions. Just when you think you’ve got the guy figured out – when you’ve crossed back to his side – it blows up in your face. The same rules appear to apply in reverse as well, making Donald Draper one of the more enigmatic and exciting characters in television history.
What’s most interesting, perhaps, is the ease in which we – the viewing audience – are able to relate to Mr. Draper – No doubt Scotch sales soar at the foot of every season. Whether by demons, decadence, or desire, we would be hard-pressed to locate someone devoid of Mad Men maladies. The series showcases an honest, and many times uncomfortable take on humanity, complete with a dash of hope.
How do you relate to Don Draper? What can we learn from his story and the actions of those surrounding him? Do you think he’d benefit from substance abuse treatment? Netflix binge, anyone?
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