A Psychotherapist’s Plea to Louis C.K.

Please, tackle your failings with the same courage and honesty that defined your best comedy.

Comments: 203

  1. Maybe don't worry so much about Louis C.K. Im sure he hasn't allocated any headspace for you. Live your life.

  2. @Chris Psychotherapists are like the “cutter” played by Robin Williams who are forever pulled into the lives of others. That movie helped me see how much it was harming my soul and find my way to stop doing it. About a hundred years ago Sherwood Anderson in the story “Seeds” was already noting the destructive effects on the therapist. Much happier now living my life and leaving other people alone to live theirs. Remarkable how hard it is to break the habit of medding once established. It feeds the ego.

  3. @Chris Sure, and if the Buddha were here, he'd say don't bother with just about anything at all, such as reading and commenting on topics in the newspaper.

  4. @Chris Wow. You totally missed the point of the article. The author wasn't talking about Louis CK as a person as much as they were talking about the lessons one can learn from his older comedy acts vs his new acts after he was accused of being sexually inappropriate. How people don't like to face their darker actions, and instead of learning from things they have done that make them ashamed or they regret, they make excuses or run from the shame, as Louis CK seems to have done in the author's view. The author used Louis CK to illustrate a point about people refusing to "own up to" and heal from bad actions and wasn't "worrying" about him. I for one found the article interesting and I only vaguely know who Louis CK is and have never seen one of his acts.

  5. I’m sure if we let others choose what our scars would eventually look like might make us resent the sight of them later on rather than taking solace in realizing we survived what gave them to us.

  6. I very much admired Louis C.K. previously for his understanding and willingness to share himself. I had hoped he could confront the last bit of himself and share his journey. Instead, the reports of his last set was unsettling and disturbing. I hope he gets the help he needs before returning to his art.

  7. @Christin Carney. Why talk about “reports of his last set” when recordings of his entire set are available on YouTube?

  8. So, at this point there are two replies from men who seem deeply uncomfortable with the underlying message. That message is not ALL about Louis C K: it uses Louis CK's insightful past performances to illustrate how you can use therapy to change - and to achieve peace. Or conversely, how using your coping skills to avoid the truth of what you have done leaves you in perpetual anger and dishonor.

  9. Wise words Dr. Klein, thank you. Sadly, throughout the last few tumultuous years learning of the horrible actions of famous and no-so famous men, we have yet to see true self-examination and explanation. We yearn for the Bill Cosbys, Harvey Weinsteins, and Les Moonves of the world to come forward to explain their behavior, express true sorrow, and take action to prevent other women from becoming victims of sexual mistreatment. We need these men to shine a light on why and how these assaults occur and ways they can be prevented.

  10. @Nancy excellent comments and spot on! I look forward to seeing your comments because you have a wonderful take on our world!

  11. @Nancy I agree whole heartedly with this. We can't move forward if everyone just hides acted like it didn't happen. The raw display of authentic emotion from Blasey Ford convinced me there is no turning back. Things have changed but we need all hands on deck to confront this terrible secret underlying our culture.

  12. @Nancy...But they are not going to...They are not capable of it and it is why they did what they did originally.

  13. It's not surprising that a psychotherapist recommends psychotherapy, but I think therapy to improve Louis CK's stage performances is a stretch. Let's not confuse the man with the performance. He's going through a rough patch and his act isn't as good as it used to be. Maybe he just needs time to get his act together to put on a more self reflective show if that's the direction he chooses to go.

  14. @Ken True. As memory serves, George Carlin's act wasn't as good when he got off drugs, but after a while, he found his voice again.

  15. @Ken As a psychotherapist, I find your comment nothing short of typical, defensive man-splaining, and insulting as well. First, the man and his performance, IMO, are inextricable. He IS his performance. Second, therapist don't recommend therapy because they are therapists. They prescribe it for exactly what you think CK needs more of--self reflection and behavior change. Dr. Klein's article, IMO, explains how therapy can facilitate those. Whether or not therapy will help CK's stage work is not the issue (although, my guess is that it would.) The issue is whether or not, and how, ANY man can become aware of how his insensitivity to his own feelings manifests his insensitivity toward women in particular, and others in general. You're right, CK is going through a "rough patch," as you call it, as if it's akin to a stubbed toe. But his is much more than severe than that. I hope, because I always admired CK's work, he employs a process that allows to him to take the time to dig down deep to see what's swimming around in places most of us prefer to ignore. Accessing THAT stuff is the only thing that gives him a chance to feel and behave better as a man, IMO.

  16. I’m not thrilled with what his new set so far is using but ... comedians worn out their material thus way and we still don’t know what Louis will bring. Everyone is so quick to assume and judge if you were a fan then wait give him the chance and respect he deserves. We all have our demons he did apologize he’s working things out who are you to determine what the timing should be ?

  17. @350c8e8t So we can give the same consideration to Al Franken, who did far less than Louis CK and did apologize, but was railroaded out of office anyway? Hope so, I always wanted him to run for president.

  18. Nice article. Louie needs to go on some silent meditation retreats. Love the dude and hope he figures out how to rise to the challenge he’s set for himself.

  19. It reminds me of comedians who shifted to the right after 9/11. There is a whole lot of self-centered talk from these men. Me, me, me all the time. Lots of guy talk which never sat right with me. He's no Lenny Bruce that's for sure!

  20. People are attaching a lot of meaning to the recently leaked comedy set by Louis CK. To me, it simply revealed a professional comedian working out some new material on stage. The content was similar to classic Louis CK: shocking, line-crossing, juvenile, and hilarious. I don’t believe this was ever intended to be Louis’ response to the hurt he caused, nor does it necessarily represent anything about his true feelings, what he has learned, etc.

  21. @Joseph Buggy Curious why you assume anything good about what his intentions are when his behavior is so clearly aligned more with this past than anything one would do to make amends?

  22. I don't think he's assuming anything good or bad. Just that material taken out of context from a stand-up routine isn't a valid litmus test.

  23. Pretty shallow for a psychotherapist. The fact that Louis CK's comedy hasn't changed (it always had a bit of shock value), and that he declined to address his absence, does not mean he "has learned seemingly nothing" from his Me Too moment. Maybe his offstage attitudes and behaviors are completely different, or maybe not. You'd have to ask him or his friends/family. You certainly won't be able to tell from mis-quoting his jokes. For the record, the Parkland joke was part of a larger bit about how we're being scolded by 17 years old kids. Listen for yourself. I'm not going to try and explain a joke. You don't have to laugh, but "mocking survivors" was hardly the point.

  24. @Max Mocking survivors was exactly the point. Wouldn't be surprised if he released this tape himself as a trial balloon and to get (forgive me) exposure...

  25. That joke still mocked those kids, whatever the context. Comedians should get some leeway, especially when working through material in smaller clubs, but that bit was in very poor taste. As a long-time Louis fan, it made me cringe for both how reductive it felt and the sense Louis is grasping for relevance as a stand-up. In my opinion, he should stick to a producer/writer role for the rest of his career.

  26. @Max - In the same standup, he told his audience how his “life is over.” And therefore he doesn’t care. That statement shows us who he feels the most for - himself. I was a huge fan of CK until this scandal and hid ensuing refusal to acknowledge the pain and abuse he inflicted on people with less power. He could have tackled this situation in the same thoughtful way he used to - but he has proven so far to be incapable of that. He could have been a hero if he just owned his actions.

  27. Who is going to see Louis? Socially Conscious Women and men in the areas he appears should stage boycotts at the entrance to the businesses. His rantings are not humorous. Let's put an end to it.

  28. @njglea Your advice is to physically block other people from choosing to see him? What gives you the right to decide what I or anyone else besides you does? Don't go to the show. Don't watch him on Netflix. Don't buy his products. But get lost with the idea that it is ok for you to physically intimidate others to force them to conform to your idea of social justice.

  29. @njglea "Let's put an end to it." How absurd. If he's not funny then no one will need to prevent others from attending his shows. Apply your outrage elsewhere.

  30. @njglea Q) How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? A) Four. It doesn't matter that you call the tail a leg, it's still a tail. Q) What do you call someone who advocates illiberal, repressive, reactionary tactics but wraps them up with terms like "socially conscious"? A) You call them out as illiberal repressive reactionaries!

  31. A very thoughtful and authentic analysis- (pun unintended). It is only partially about Louis CK -it is much more generalizable and really about what we all go through in loving our friends or children, or spouses/lovers, co-workers, community and nation. Growth is hard and profoundly joyful. Confronting our own loses and wounds is critical to reaching the other side where healing and perspective allow us to love well. Thx for sharing your perspective

  32. Some comedy is not - it's just plain hateful. Any comedy that attacks a certain kind of people is not funny. It is hateful. Ellen has forgiven Kevin Hart for his homophobic comedy in the 90s. I haven't. He hasn't really apologized so what comes out of his mouth is in his heart. He shouldn't apologize. However, he should also not have the privilege of hosting the Oscars. It's an affront to human decency. There are plenty of comedians who rely on things that are actually funny - not vulgar language of attacking other human beings. Let's support them and starve the haters.

  33. Oh how I hate the loss of politically incorrect humor. Whites, Blacks, Jews, Muslims, short people, fat people, dopers, alcoholics, sports nuts, liberals, conservatives, etc., were all subject to good-natures numerous attack and we all understood the humor to be proof that these differences weren’t actually important. The new Liberal ultra-sensitivity demonstrates that identity politics and empowerment and advantage based on “victimization”, has done more to divide America than anything the far right could conceive. I’ve instructed my male employees never to be alone in any setting with any female employee, and instructed supervisors never to comment on any subject with any employee not directly related to an employment issue; and fired any employee who had any personal relationship with any other employee. They’re unhappy, but my company isn’t sued anymore for false and outrageous claims. Lighten up ... see yourself as an individual - not a member of any special group victimized by other special groups - and life is great.

  34. @njglea Do you laugh at jokes aimed at Trump?

  35. @njglea I am with you. And given that Hart just said those who pointed to his homophobic comments were out to ‘destroy’ him, I question how much he has grown. My friend Martin once wondered aloud how many people had to die before sticker warnings were required on lighters. And whether he might trade a few deaths for the annoyance of peeling them off. It was a joke, acerbic, and several of us laughed. But if he had joked about an actual specific death—or, say, a mass murder of teenagers a matter of months ago—we would have said, ‘What’s wrong with you, dude? So not funny!’ Please get some therapy, Louis. My meditation teacher would call your act unskillful.

  36. This is a much more thoughtful and fair analysis of Louis than he is getting in other corners of the Internet, and I applaud that. I honestly did not think the jokes that were illegally taped of him were that different from a lot of the stuff he did in the past. Although it is an incredibly touchy subject and something that u cannot say openly, I do not believe the Parkland kids should be offlimits especially the ones who have benefitted from the shooting. Instead of looking at the fact that these kids participated in a culture where one of the students was so badly alienated and without any allies--and clearly just bullied to the point of dehumanization--we have to listen to some of these kids (one in particular--the frosty haired one--who is clearly a bully and who has benefitted from the shooting, had no family that was killed, and clearly was a popular kid who never reached out to stop the incident. The Parkland kids who died, and those who lost best friends and loved ones should be martyrs 100%. But a lot of those who survived and are commended as heroes--is completely ridiculous--if they were heroes --we would never hear their names--because the shooting would not have happened--a hero would have taken a struggling kid under their wing and not let it get to where it got to--none did--and some are clearly not to blame--but they should not be assumed to be heroes--and insofar as Louis was saying that, I agree with him--and I agree with him. He is still a great comic

  37. @nickgregor The ck fellow refused to respect the sense of time needed to recover from violation and death. There are times when a person needs to leave certain situations alone while the people involve grieve. The ck fellow refused to respect something that simple. Let's say you knew a man and his wife. His wife was quite a character and the three of you might chuckle over her escapades. But then the wife dies. Would you laugh at her escapades at the point whenever you and the remaining friend were together? Or would wait for the friend to indicate that his mourning had passed enough that he could remember his wife's escapades without the wound of her death being picked at afresh? If ck was a man of dignity he would have recognized that mass act of violence is something a person leaves alone still soon after the incident. Or is time to start telling jokes about the World Trade Centers? I think most people would shout with a resounding NO. So making jokes about a mass murder of high school students is reprehensible and deserving of condemnation.

  38. @nickgregor Wow. Please explain how a child who survives a school shooting "benefits" from the experience. Your thesis is a little like Trump saying John McCain wasn't a hero because he only was only tortured for years and lost the full use of his arms - not killed. The kids who survived have to live with the trauma they experienced for the rest of their lives. Some of them pulled their dead friends onto their bodies to try to survive. Why wouldn't they and their parents speak out? You're really exacting in the high price you demand of your "heroes" from the comfort of you armchair, aren't you, Nick?

  39. "This was a man who seemed able to connect deeply and authentically with his own messy experiences" It's really confusing when I read sentiments like this about Louis C.K. I always found his humor pretty base - his themes, to me, always revolved around desecration, lust, filth, and gluttony. I never thought he was very positive about the human race or the world in general, even if he delivered his views with "humor". Perhaps I never understood the man.

  40. @Chris Banks His own sit-com had so many beautiful moments, especially about parenting, dating, struggling with weight. It had real depth and introspection and authenticity. Yes, his stand-up had a vulgar side, but there were so many more aspects to it, that were brilliantly observed takes on modern life. His self-funded TV series, Horace and Pete was equally risky and brilliant. I for one hope he takes the advice in this article and heals and returns to offer up his best, because his best is very, very good.

  41. @Chris Banks "always revolved around desecration, lust, filth, and gluttony." but it appeared that he was calling that stuff out in himself...and that is what made it so deeply funny...but just maybe that was not the case

  42. @Chris Banks. I agree. Never cared for the man or his attempts at humor. Even less so after his admissions of sexual perversions and treatment.

  43. Louis was a revered comic because he was so self-effacing and authentic. It certainly helped his comedic presence that he never sought to get fit or deviate from “relatable” schlub. His actions did not surprise me because he referenced similarly troubling acts in his show: he once described exposing himself to a girl with Down syndrome behind a dumpster as a child. The crowd roared with laughter. His actions are obviously terrible. Yet in a way, it’s hard not to have a conflicted admiration for someone not bending to the Twitter mob. He refuses to do the performative apology and beg for us to take him in again. Americans love to tear down people we build up and then have them come back contrite. But Americans also have a deep aversion to mob justice and I wonder if we’re nearing an inflection point where we’ll turn anti-heros into stars for their defiance....time will tell.

  44. @Arturo You're "wondering it we're nearing and inflection point where we' turn anti-heros (heroes) into stars for their defiance"?? Where have you been since November 2016? Time has told - past tense. And we are most certainly not better off since it did. Not sure how you interpret the majority of Americans appropriate expression of deep consternation and foreboding over the repeated revelations of repulsive behavior of so many public figures as "mob justice" but it's very likely that the passive assent your comments reveal has contributed to the diminution of civil behavior.

  45. @Arturo "he once described exposing himself to a girl with Down syndrome behind a dumpster as a child. The crowd roared with laughter." Well, it would help to know the demographics of that audience. I imagine that plenty of Germans laughed at Jews, but was that really funny?

  46. We all have the right to avoid/banish/deride people who have offended us and we have the right condemn them but please don't think that we all have to feel that way. Louis is a funny man and I think that he did some terrible things but he is a funny comedian. If someone is not offended by a comedic routine, it's probably not funny. Freedom of speech, freedom to hate, freedom to avoid. If you don't like Louis, don't watch and tell your friends/enemies why but don't expect a universal reaction to your gripes.

  47. I guess we all are flawed, and wish we could erase what we did wrong, and wronged our fellow human beings, women in Louis C.K. case, or at least show contrition after the rage needed to beat out what's evil within our soul. Not learning from our mistakes or lack of scruples may be an 'invitation' to repeat them. But, once an effective and heartfelt apology is on offer (the victim doesn't have to accept it), and true affection controlling it, a time may come when we ought to be able to laugh at ourselves, as nobody is that important to be placed in a rigid and cold pedestal, a deadly cult of personality, were the lack of flexibility will break us. Who knew that being a comedian can be such a lonely place, especially if he/she knows not fact from fiction, a joke celebrating our shared humanity instead of destroying our common bind?

  48. @manfred marcus Everybody knows that being a comedian is such a lonely place. It is almost synonymous with the job. So many performers have talked about it and illustrated it in fact and fiction that it has become a prerequisite in literary and theatrical/cinematic portrayals.

  49. If it were me, I would leave the profession that caused me to even act so callously and seek a newer avenue of not just expression of my ingrained talent but also one that evokes my own repentance. Not easy to do but linking this new path to charity perhaps. Such as a percentage of volunteer time with the homeless, or a contribution monetary or through civic minded community shows without the sexist vulgarity so common that made him a celebrity. Such a change in paths can be self healing as well as helpful in building a lasting legacy. One based on evolving empathy to the needs of others.

  50. @Rodrian Roadeye Providing altruistic service to others is a good suggestion, period, for everyone. But I don't think that someone who has a specific calling or talent must reject it. And I think there has to be understanding that mistakes or bad behavior doesn't condemn anyone for life. Whatever the job - the career - even among good hearted volunteers, there are occasions when we are faced with challenges to our decency and values. If anyone manages to get through life without ever saying or doing something that is disrespectful to someone else - well, they're up for sainthood. I'd so much rather seem a Louis CK keep doing what he does well, with even more insight.

  51. @cheryl up for sainthood. I nominate my Catholic God Fearing 85 year old mother who raised five kids under the most grueling of economic circumstances without losing her faith or love of God. This despite leaving the convent at 17. I think she repented enough because I'm sure it bothers her to this day with undeserved guilt pangs.

  52. @Rodrian Roadeye Amen though I think his current behavior attests to how far away he is from doing just that :(

  53. Louis C.K. wrote, directed and starred in a film called "I Love You, Daddy" which was set for release in the Fall of 2017 but shelved as a consequence of his personal situation. Regardless of how one feels about the man and his comedy, that film should have been made available to the public by now, whether in theaters or on Pay Per View. The movie had other actors in its cast, a cinematographer, an editor, a production designer and so on. Their work should be exhibited, even if they choose to disassociate themselves from it (as the actress Chloe Grace Moretz has done). If members of the public don't wish to see it that's fine. The rest of us should be permitted to make our own decisions.

  54. I’m thinking the movie’s shelving is strictly a money decision. They hope to make more at a later date.

  55. @stu freeman I believe LCK bought back the rights. He'll release it soon enough. People are downloading the torrent for it actively.

  56. @stu freeman In the past two years, we, the public, have become excruciatingly aware of the predatory behavior involved when a much older man "dates", "hits on" a much younger woman, a girl of the generation of his children. This was the content of the movie. This is what Woodie Allen did in Manhattan with Mariel Hemmingway. This is Lolita all over again. The public did not have the appetite for such a movie.

  57. Great article. It helps highlight the narrow but significant line between how those who hurt or abuse others do so because they themselves have suffered as such. Nevertheless they must still be held accountable for what they’ve down. I think ultimately the case with Louis C.K is one that runs deep with many men and if they are ever to genuinely repent for the hurt they’ve caused towards women, they will also need to confront their own life’s pain too.

  58. @Bill H and Avi--Yes yes yes AND as famed psychotherapist Terry Real says, a distinction must be made between those who are simply grandiose/narcissistic and those who are shame based. Not every rude/crude/abusive gesture is shame sourced. As someone who is compassionate by nature and grew up in an emotionally abusive family, I tend toward compassion for everyone, yet I think it's crucial that we make the distinction between those who truly are just malignant at the core yes?

  59. A reader’s plea to a psychotherapist....focus your analysis on your actual patients whose lives you actually know with any depth and can exercise any helpful opinion on. Not a comedian working out material while being a comedian. If you don’t find it funny, that’s fine. It’s not meant for everyone to find funny. But you don’t get to back your not finding this funny into an intellectual psychoanalytic medical diagnosis. I’m a woman, I have always found Louis funny, some bits more successful than others. I listened to this leaked recording and I found it funny overall. It’s not worth getting into why I think you don’t get the jokes. It doesn’t matter. What does matter, I think, is that his jokes (good or bad) don’t make his bad behavior ok but his bad behavior also does not make him not funny.

  60. The recent trend by licensed Mental Healthcare Providers to publicly evaluate and diagnose those they have never met, let alone treated, is direct violation of the code of ethics allegedly enforced by their professional organizations. It’s also blatantly silly, as the “expert” cannot consider context or intent when contemplating the statements which form the basis of their evaluations. As long as these ethically challenged “therapists” are criticizing politically incorrect statements - they’ll never suffer the sanctions otherwise due.

  61. @Bill Taylor I did not read any diagnosis in this piece.

  62. @MM Yeah i see your point, but that's also really reductive. I've liked different comedians for different reasons, but I would agree that C.K. appeared to have a humanity that suggested it wasn't just all about the joke. Otherwise why write a letter saying please don't vote for Trump? He could confront the shame and a lot of us men could try and learn something from it. He still might.

  63. This article was good because it used the example of Louis C.K. to shine the light on self-transformation and healing. But, judging the extent he has done this during his hiatus by some clips from his "comeback" act seems unfair to me. We don't really know what he has done to understand why he hurt those women in the past. At least not yet.

  64. I was an avid fan of Louis CK. Perhaps I am still, given the palpable sadness that comes over me whenever I see him, or he otherwise comes to mind. He had the rare ability to see the absurdity of racial animus, and because of his piercing analysis, he demonstrated wondrous insight -- so lacking in most white people. Dr. Klein's essay leads me to acknowledge that, like the ordinary or typical patient in psychotherapy, Louis CK is merely human. Perhaps his recent unfortunate "comic" rants are his means of coming to terms with his anger -- at himself and with others from whom he gets hostility -- rightly or not. It's too bad that he cannot enjoy the luxury of privacy to work out these truly flawed, but eminently human, resentments. He is a performer who maybe needs the stage and audience to manage his human challenges. Maybe we can give him the space to evolve, and to work himself back to some point of stasis. Years from now, we may say of these times in his creative life that this was his vividly rageful period. He's a gifted artist and he works hard. He earns our empathy.

  65. @Riley Temple I liked almost all of what you wrote very much, which is to say I think it is insightful and that I agree with it. I am, however, puzzled by one phrase: ‘...wondrous insight— so lacking in most white people.” Huh? I don’t think white people are alone in lacking insight; it seems rather to be a trait shared by humans in general. Could you clarify? It stood out to me as an odd thing to introduce in this context.

  66. @Riley Temple Perhaps. But the stage is his job, where his public persona is out front. It's not his only place to be in the world. If anyone can afford the privacy of treatment, it's someone with the financial resources and freedom to drop out of day to day moneymaking that CK has. He didn't have to spend the last year nursing his resentments and working up a nasty, retrograde set. Instead of going to France and complaining they take their temperature anally, he could have quietly engaged a psychoanalyst who worked with him 4 - 5 times a week. That's a move that requires great courage and curiosity, in addition to money. As a fan, I had hoped he would take that route. But it seems that, instead, he made a calculated choice to remake his career, not as a fully human chastened and wiser funnyman but as a vehicle for the gripes of the rightwing. It seems beneath him.

  67. Excellent article. I also used to share that clip from Conan to people because I felt it spoke profoundly to something most people are in denial about today: That life is painful at times and that it's only by experiencing that pain (not avoiding it) that we can live a truly happy, satisfying life. Pain is the best teacher. We learn few things of importance without it. I hope Louis deals with the pain his actions have caused for other people -- no matter how much pain that reckoning causes him.

  68. Just curious as to what training Mr. Klein has. It's worth noting that in a number of states anyone can call oneself a "psychotherapist" without have a day's worth of training so it's essentially meaningless without identifying further credentials. The fact that he has "clients" and not patients makes me highly suspicious. When was the last time you heard of a surgeon referring to his patients as clients?

  69. @Steve I'm a social worker and psychotherapist with 25 years experience, we use the term "client" regularly. It's supposed to mitigate the hierarchical whiff of "patient."

  70. @Jill When I go to a professional for treatment, I'm interested in someone who is higher in the medical hierarchy than I am. I'm not looking for a friendly exchange of views with someone on my own level of expertise.

  71. @Steve. If you Google the author’s name, you will see that he is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, which requires a Master’s degree in social work. He has also had additional training in various therapeutic techniques, many therapists have this training/certification. These days, psychiatrists (who have a medical degree plus a psychiatric residency) typically do not do therapy, they just prescribe medications for those seeing a therapist. Psychiatrists usually use the term “patient”; psychotherapists often use the term “client”.

  72. The problem with only ever performing a masquerade of oneself is that, should the mask come off, there’s nothing underneath. Louis C.K. does not appear to be navigating this stretch of his life quite as adeptly as he did when the mask was still there. It’s also probably worth noting that Louis’ behavior barely even qualified as an “open secret.” It was openly talked about, to one degree or another, his status just prevented him from incurring the wrath of public scorn earlier than ultimately did. “I struggle with how to work with men like this. In spite of their actions, I often find them likable. Paradoxically, I would not be able to work with them if I didn’t like and care about them.” I think it’s called ‘transference’, Mr. Klein.

  73. @ubique I think you may mean "counter-transference." However, caring for and about one's patient does not qualify unless it is unrecognized and interferes with treatment,

  74. @ubique I think you mean countertransference—and, after almost 26 years of licensed practice, I can attest that the amalgam of objective countertx. and subjective countertx. varies significantly from one case to another

  75. Dr. Klein: I wonder what Mr. CK's diagnosis is and whether he might benefit from medication as well as therapy. As abhorrent as his recent statements have been, they are symptoms of a real disease and a cry for help. I suspect he might be suffering from a delusional disorder and needs urgent help.

  76. @Famdoc. He’s not a doctor.

  77. @Famdoc There's a reason why therapists rightly refuse to diagnose anyone from a distance.

  78. Talk therapy isn't particularly effective, but the advice to be honest with oneself is common sense enough.

  79. @sedanchair Talk therapy, especially CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is VERY beneficial. It has been proven to be more beneficial than medication for treating depression, PTSD, anxiety, and several other difficult to treat mental health issues. I learned CBT. With this method of therapy, you retrain your brain. For example, I have depression. Depression, for a lot of people, begins with repetitive negative thoughts, called ruminating. You learn to listen to your thoughts. You catch those negative thoughts when they start and STOP them. Think positive thoughts, call a friend, play music, exercise, whatever works for you. STOP that depressive spiral. It WORKS. You learn to control your thoughts, so they don't control YOU. I've been on the way to work, had the spiral start, and STOPPED it before I got to work. I've been at this a long time. You also said being honest with yourself is common sense. I would say the average person isn't insightful enough to know what they think or feel. They're completely out of touch with themselves. So, how would they be "honest with themselves" if they don't know who they are? Human beings and their psyches are a whole lot more complicated than you seem to imply.

  80. @Elle I said talk therapy meaning all modalities, not a very specific talk therapy that has enjoyed somewhat better results in studies (albeit only the ones researchers thought could get published--because they demonstrate effectiveness). All that aside, my question to you is how did people come to know themselves before psychotherapy? Have we just been stumbling in the dark for millennia, and then some time in the last hundred years (but definitely after Freud) we figured out the one true path to self-knowledge?

  81. @sedanchair. I think for many, in the past, it was through their religious beliefs. They learned a lot about the human condition when they read their Bible, which most people did every single day. Today, we talk about “mindfulness “ and have people teach us how to use this. Living ones religious beliefs and prayer are quite similar and often have far more lasting results. Through prayer, people things are revealed, just as they are in psychotherapy. God is our therapist! A St Louis psychoanalyst wrote a book about psychiatry and religion are entertwined. Also, when one worked from daun to dusk, often at grueling physical labor, one had very little time for introspection. We have learned from this that exercise is a very good treatment for depression!

  82. As someone who once admired Louis CK's brand of humor, I'm also dismayed by what I've heard about his return to performing. So be it. Some people are unable to move beyond their mistakes and have empathy for the hurt they've caused others. Instead let's celebrate a comedian like Patton Oswalt - who's equally funny and inventive, and who's used his gifts to talk about the sudden and profound loss of his wife, Michelle McNamara. I can't recommend his Netflix special, Annihilation, highly enough. That he manages to talk about being a widower and single parent - with humor, no less - had me totally absorbed and alternating between laughter and tears. I know these are totally different things to Louis CK's behavior, but the opportunity was there for him to dig deep and come clean. Oswalt accomplished that kind of reflection beautifully. Let's celebrate that.

  83. So, having yet to cure anyone of the ills of mortality, biology and consciousness -- you know, like, the human condition? -- shrinks are now preaching to comedians? This should be funny, but isn't.

  84. @jrd When has psychotherapy ever claimed to be able to, or even tried, to "cure" people of mortality and biology? As to the ills of consciousness, psychotherapy has helped many, many people to live fuller, more productive and happier lives. A "cure" is never in the cards.

  85. @Ralphie Would you care to provide evidence that "many people" live "fuller, more productive and happier lives" -- other than in the estimation of their shrinks and their marks? I ask, because the few independent studies which have been done don't support your claim.

  86. @jrd My visit to the shrink was so successful, I've been back a thousand times.

  87. Based on my reading of the article and watching the 4 minute video referred by the author, I can see that C.K. was able, in the video, to articulate a relevant and compelling analysis of emotional dynamics in American culture related to cell phones, kids and adults. He's deeply clued in on an emotional level to certain stuff. But so is Donald Trump. So was Jesus. Every saint and right wing demagogue alike -- as well as more ordinary persons -- and even the author herself are, by nature of their human experiences of living, experts in certain aspects of the emotional side of being human. Comedians, in particular, are renowned for having a dark side because of the job requirement that they emit humor 24/7. Note the satisfaction C.K. shows in the Conan show when talking about how sad he feels. Accumulated sadness is often the counterbalance to any job which has a high joviality requirement, which is why to stay balanced, even very funny people like Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert make sure they talk about serious issues now and again. I have no idea what C.K. should or shouldn't do regarding his wellness plan. I consider that his own private decision. Since he's a public comedian, glimpses of his inner life will be out in the open on public display, a situation most of us would not relish.

  88. @Kip Leitner Re: "Comedians, in particular, are renowned for having a dark side because of the job requirement that they emit humor 24/7." I've always seen the causality the other way around. Most comedians see the darkness and spend lots of time way below the surface of things and come back up with a humorous take on many things few of us want to look at.

  89. It is much easier to maintain a facade than to step off one's personal pedestal and stand without illusion, equal to everyone else. Just as taking shortcuts paved with deception and lies is much easier to reach wrong goals than following the straight and narrow roads of honesty. But that's because honest roads lead to destinations that dishonest people don't want to reach. I was on the board of a local non-profit. It turned out that the president was a person who was successful on the outside but who also relied upon lies and deception to control and manage others. That was revealed when with new board members people started to express opinions the president disliked. That's when the you know what hit the fan. It is amazing how much energy is spent in maintaining subterfuge, false faces, personal illusions, hiding the willingness to enact revenge, playing favorites and mistreating others without conscience. Sad thing is that a friendship was lost over this. The former friend also lives with a face to the public that hides the person inside; I was lucky enough to sometimes see that person. But when push came to shove he ran behind his defenses, even if the meant joining a cabal of liars. It's easier to maintain one's false faces when everyone around does the same.

  90. This is an excellent article. All the trolling about talk therapy and credentials miss the essence of the message Klein is offering, not just to Louis C.K. but to anyone who is locked in an emotional conflict. Self- examination and honesty create the space for sadness to be crowded out by hopefulness, gratitude and joy. Making amends to those we have hurt is the kindness we owe to our victims and to our self. Take Louis C.K. out of the reading and it is still an important perspective for healing and recovery. Thanks for the viewpoint, Avi Klein.

  91. Is not part of our pain, that we are so incomplete? That there is so much we do not see? That we know, somehow, we are failing ourselves and others, and always have? Is not our failure to be good not a big part of why any decent human being feels bad? I see no contradiction between an individuals brilliance and their failures. it is what it means to be human. This is a transcendent insight. If we stay at the level of practical law humans are more often than not sorry individuals who can be nailed for being creeps, losers, or villains. But the marvel is we rise above that at all. Our challenge seems to be, how can we hold accountable the sordid side of human behavior while still applauding the good side. I recall, for example, Hitchens' brutal evaluation of Mother Teresa. Hitchens was unable to see beyond the human bondage that even a saint can be trapped in. We face this same problem. It is a mental leap that is requird of us, I feel. Otherwise, we shall continue on apace, finding victims for our stakes.

  92. Avi Klein might spend some time with the professional organizations who counsel their mental health practitioners that: "There is no precedent in the mental health field for diagnosing an individual without receiving direct information from that individual. Standard practice involves using a range of sources of information, but almost always involves direct information from the patient, preferably in the form of clinical interview. "

  93. @SteveRR Where was the diagnosis here?

  94. @Sarah D. No diagnosis here, but plenty of judgement and shaming. Yikes, I never knew that's what psychotherapy is aiming for.

  95. @SteveRR Avi did not diagnose Louis C.K. She expressed disappointment in his actions. Drawing parallels to her patients is not diagnosing.

  96. Louie C.K. at his best worked the intersections of troubling trajectories, upending so much. It would be fascinating if he unearthed the comic truthfulness of having big problems while working to be a good, honorable father. Nothing in his comedy, interviews, etc. was more solid and true than his desire to parent and empower his daughters. That would be the most painful and productive starting point. Maybe that's why Louie was interested in how and why and whether or not there's something funny but painfully true when teenagers scold adults.

  97. @Susan Marie I suspect you didn't listen to his full 48-minute set, during part of which he said crude and angry things about his daughters. Missing was his sense of connection with exasperated parents -- the "amirite?" collective -- and its associated assumption that beneath the usual gripes is a real, unchanging love. In its place were real, snide, and damaging attacks by CK on his kids. I hope they never hear them.

  98. Dr Klein, your essay brought tears to my eyes, so did the comments. What a bunch of shallow men, placing humor above the imperative of treating other humans with dignity. All of us, men and women, make mistakes in our lives, hurt people we care about. All of us seek to run from the truth of our weakness. We will never be whole until we confront our own weakness and address the pain we have caused. I know nothing of Louis CK, never listened to him, never will. Still I understand that comedy should be a way of alleviating pain, not inflicting it. Thank you for insisting on more, not accepting the cheap out. "It was just a joke." Those five word demean both the subject and the object.

  99. @ML, You say, “What a bunch of shallow men,” while admitting that you haven’t any knowledge of the subject of this piece, have not seen his work, and have expressed no desire to do so. Which may strike others as shallow in itself. I encourage you to investigate a bit before reacting with tears. And, perhaps, allow for a broader definition of comedy, which in addition to alleviating pain, can also point out hypocrisy, for example.

  100. Many comedians tell jokes about tragic and taboo subjects that are meant to be provocative(which, of course, can be offensive to some people). If they are talented enough, they can use humor to shed light on subjects that many people have trouble discussing openly. In order to get the jokes to work, they usually have to test them out in front of live audiences and make adjustments as needed. It seems like in the leaked comedy set, Louis CK is doing the work of a professional comedian and testing out new material.

  101. I've noticed the media's repeated use of the term "mock" to describe Louis C.K.'s bit about the outspoken, prominent Parkland students. It's an interesting choice of words, because I think most people immediately think of the definition "to laugh at or make fun..." or "to laugh at (someone or something) for being bad, worthless...". However, I've read what he said and, while not my kind of humor, I think the term "mock" applies in the sense of "to defy, challenge". I think the media's use of the term is intentional - it is meant to make people reflexively believe that he laughed at the tragedy and its impact on students who directly witnessed it. In fact, he challenged the notion that being a victim - or being associated with a tragedy - gives a person the right to an unassailable opinion. More generally, he challenged the youth fetish in certain quarters that heaps praise upon any child who "speaks truth to power", regardless of the child's knowledge or experience.

  102. @tew I don’t know whether I agree yet, but your comment is responsible and thoughtful, circumspect and multi-angled. I have to think about what you’ve said here before I can conclude Yes or No or How Much...while saying thanks for bothering and daring to present a view that isn’t self-indulgent in the ways both ‘sides’ tend to be

  103. @tewn that was my perception as well. Whenever I see these kids talking on TV, they appear comical to me (despite that I strongly AGREE with them!) Parts of our society heap praise upon these activist students, when instead of becoming actual agents of political change, they have simply joined the ranks of the talking head pundits.

  104. @tew Thank you! You have articulated something that I also felt, but had trouble articulating.

  105. I don't think we Americans realize just how over the top we are as a culture. Everything nowadays has to be out in the open. It is a culture that views introversion as a disease and assumes that only way to be honest or real is to work all your issues out in a public forum. Contrary to Avi Klein, I thought Louis CK's essay apology prompt and sincere. Furthermore, he promised to say no more but to listen. Why is this bad? What is the problem with acknowledging wrongdoing and then keeping quiet for a while? Does it help the women he hurt if he just goes on and on and on about it in a public forum? Louis CK may be a public figure, but I am guessing he is probably quite the introvert. Many performers are. If he is anything like the introverts I am close to, he has been mulling this over incessantly inside his head, replaying and replaying and probably beating himself up about it far more than we realized. Courage can be quiet. Self-knowledge need not be public. Of course, this is speculation. I do not know at all what is going on in his head, and neither does Avi Klein. The NY Times ought to know better than promote this kind of celebrity diagnoses from a distance. Maybe living in New Zealand for the last 14 years has had more of an effect on me, than I realized. Here, constantly drawing attention to yourself is frowned upon. We could learn a bit from a culture that puts more of premium on just shutting up once in a while.

  106. @Bill Appreciated the comment. I totally agree that we are only guessing and judging what he's feeling.

  107. @Bill Well stated. This article is laughable in some respect. Louis apologized years before to several of the female comics he exposed himself to. This is in addition to the sincere apology he wrote after the NYT article came out. So clearly the guy's been dealing with issues for a while... he's just better than the rest of us at turning those issues into comedy. Louis CK owes the public nothing. I hope he sorts out whatever he needs to sort out and continues being funny.

  108. I agree that his apology essay was thoughtful and showed some empathy and introspection. It was certainly better than the denial or non-apology that has been the typical response from the people who have been faced with public complaints about their sexual behavior. I’m glad he’s back.

  109. Thank you for taking the time to write Dr. Klein. We need to hear more from people in your profession about those who harm others. It is very hard to understand but is so important that we do.

  110. @Kim. why do we need to "hear more from people in his profession?" Is it to reinforce what you already believe? How about this, pick a person, any person. Write them the jokes that you find funny and then pay them to get on stage and tell them back to you. That way, you can guarantee you will never be bothered or made to experience any discomfort. This was properly seal you in the bubble you long for.

  111. @Kim. He’s not a doctor. He’s a social worker.

  112. I'm torn between caring about this comedian's material and the other comedian not hosting the strategically important Academy Awards. If we can't straighten out our comedian crisis we are finished as a nation in the Age of Trump.

  113. @Ed L. this is by far the most egregious comment I have ever seen on a comedian's craft. A comedian is not a thing to be "straightened out." No one should be safe in the presence of a great comic. Your viewpoint is precisely why Mr. Trump ascended to the presidency. His election was a virulent backlash against political correctness. Your comment preaches more of the same. No, we are finished as a nation when comics start being censored and silenced.

  114. I think the author has conflated two separate issues. For the sake of the women he hurt, I hope he reached out to them to ask forgiveness and make amends. The way to personally heal from inflicting hurt on another is to acknowledge their pain and feel it, and make a commitment to not inflict hurt again. But this is a private matter. I have no way of knowing what goes on in his mind and heart, or what he has done. This is is not subject to a self-serving confessional on stage. Make amends, unless making amends makes things worse. What I always appreciated about Louis C.K. was how he dealt with the absurdity of life. He's brilliant. I never thought of him as a comic - he's our Lenny Bruce. He was pretty open about his complexity. But on the topic of the school children who spoke up, and how they were used as sympathetic victims - this was the height of absurdity. I was in the New York march and thought "These kids are really brave and hope they go into politics, but where are the outraged lawmakers and others who can actually effect change?" They are no where to be found now as we waste time talking about a useless and distracting wall. This is absurd, and we need people like Louis C.K. to remind us of this. We live in weird times and we need people like him to voice this. If I were an absurdist like him I would find a way to talk about how absurd and paradoxical it is to be perceptive, caring, and articulate - and crazy.

  115. @Tony Errichetti What women did he "hurt"? What did he "do" to them? He asked, and they assented. He didn't touch them. He didn't imprison them or prevent them from leaving. He didn't threaten them to keep their silence. He didn't take retribution against them for speaking out against him.

  116. Or perhaps, Louis C. K. could just go away.

  117. Ouch! And exactly where could he go, in his unhealed state, that he would not continue to harm others and himself? Taking Avi’s advice would be so much better all the way around.

  118. "It is always tempting to give in to that impulse, to absolve them of their guilt, to reassure them that they are still good men in spite of what they have done. But that would be morally unconscionable — and more important, it would not bring them healing." Yes! As a therapist who has worked extensively with the men you describe, all too often I have encountered therapists, clergy, and others, i e family and friends, who with good intentions comfort the offender, rather than holding him accountable and expecting him to feel real remorse, shame and pain.. so necessary to real change and healing. Thank you for a good article Avi Klein.

  119. Louie reaffirms his pre-eminence as a comedian with this performance while at the same time not, as the writer says, coming to terms with whatever it was he caused with his privileged behavior. The bottom line is that, as funny as he is, he won’t be invited back to main line tv until he does come to terms and bring it into his act. At least he’s made a start: reports of an earlier impromptu performance indicated there was no mention at all of his troubles. So Louie lives on for the time being as an explosive underground comic, very reminiscent of Lenny Bruce. Personally, I think he will come to terms. He’s too smart not to.

  120. Thanks, NYT for a profound take on the matter. While going thru cancer and a divorce, my psychotherapist memorably suggested "be willing to feel, aware of your feelings, and paradoxically, aware of awareness" which corresponds nicely to the state of calm Avi Klein refers to when we claim disowned aspects of ourselves. As to Mr. C.K., perhaps his best work is still ahead of him. Let's hope so.

  121. As a writer and an actor with ample personal material, I can attest that it's easy to mine one's own experience from a comfortable distance. Even when it gives the impression that one is mining painful truths. I love Louis' work. Horace and Pete is brilliant. But don't be fooled. He's an artist making artifice.

  122. While I agree with the therapist’s comments, what he fails to understand is that as a public figure who arguably committed either a civil or criminal offense against the victims, Louis CK will not publicly acknowledge his conduct. Not because he might reject the therapeutic value, but because of his legal exposure.

  123. @MM -- "Louis CK will not publicly acknowledge his conduct." Yes, he did. Now you don't want him to move on. You insist he wallow in just that one thing forever.

  124. Someone gave me a postcard once, it read "Other people ruin everything!" The problem is we can't control what people like Louis C.K. does, or anyone who lashes out/acts out and causes people harm. I was almost destroyed by a group of women years back (stole my company of twenty years). The "ringleader" never admitted she was wrong. I kept waiting but she still shows no remorse whatsoever. The company soon went bankrupt and she continues to take no responsibility for what she's done and the many people she hurt. It's great and an important first step to convince people like Mr. C.K. into therapy, but what if they refuse? Louis C.K. really doesn't think he needs to evolve or make amends for anything he's done. And as far as his comments about the Parkland students, I'm all for free speech and comics are expected to push the boundaries but they are also expected to be funny. His comments just weren't funny. Nothing innovative or insightful. When Tina Fey and Amy Pohler made the joke about Sleeping Beauty and Bill Cosby people gasped but it was funny. It was a well written, well-orchestrated joke. "He should just get lost at this point - just beat it! But then that's what got him into trouble in the first place, folks." See what I did there? I made fun of a difficult topic but my joke was funny (alluding to his bouts of public self-gratification). Work on your emotional development, Mr. C.K. - and your material!

  125. @Marzipan work on your own lame material. Louie’s Parkland joke was a pretty near perfect riff on kids lecturing parents. I think in person he’d defend what those kids are doing. It is an astonishing joke. Everybody’s got to be ready to take a little heat in this world and the Parkland kids are not above the law.

  126. If you want to go after the people who mock the Parkland survivors: Go after the NRA; Go after Alex Jones; Go after the President; Go after the Congress; Go after the people who not only won't make us safer, but demand that we not be safe. Don't go after comedians. Don't go after Louis CK. Know what comedy is? Comedy is "I don't really mean it." Did Don Rickles actually insult people for decades? Did you laugh at Don Rickles? You did. Why? Because you knew Rickles didn't mean it. The people who Rickles insulted knew he didn't mean it. They were flattered to be insulted by Rickles. Louis CK was not really mocking the Parkland survivors. He was making fun of us. And from the responses of many of us, maybe we really need to be made fun of. If we think we're going to make ourselves safer wasting time castigating Louis CK, then we are going to fail. Focus on the real bad guys.

  127. @Robert Henry Eller -- Go after your own targets. Or watch the people who do; there are plenty of them. No joking except at people you don't like? I don't have to like the jokes or subject either to be put off by that thought police approach. In NYT v Sullivan, the Supreme Court's concern about free speech was for not just the stories written, but for the stories that would never be investigated or written due to the "chilling effect" of staying far away from the line of enforcement. Though police behavior costs far more than just what is visible on the surface.

  128. Yes, absolutely agree with everything Avi Klein has written here. - a 51 year old woman who made it through her divorce by watching Louis C.K.

  129. Even before Louis CK's tweaked behavior with women surfaced I had problems with his "humor." I specifically refer to his SNL monologue where he kept harping on why pederasts keep molesting children because it must just be sooo good. You could see members of the band in the background shaking their heads in disagreement. Repeated again, gave me pause as to what sort of person he really is. He is not funny, and that is the least of it.

  130. Even before the revelations that knocked him off the stage, his shows were becoming darker, more shock than laughs.

  131. This is becoming insane. The last thing we need are psychotherapists weighing in on comedians. Think Goldwater Rule for comedians as well as politicians. I find this psychotherapist's article blatantly unethical. He is using his status as a psychotherapist to quasi diagnose problems with a person that is not his patient. If he wrote this article as a writer with no mention of his status as a psychotherapist, I would have no problem. The fact that he hinges his reasoning on his status as a psychotherapist is extremely problematic. I find it equally problematic that the Times now gives voice to stuff like this. Although the Times lists this under "opinion," this article is presented as though it is an experts opinion on a person who is not his patient. Thus, a journalism outfit giving a platform for a psychotherapist running afoul of ethical norms of his profession is itself unethical. It is these type of articles that supports the conservative charge that the Times expresses journalistic bias by the type of opinion pieces it allows on its platform. There now needs to be a reputable member of Mr. Klein's profession allowed equal time to express precisely why Mr. Klein's piece is unethical by his profession' standards. Allowing the psychologically trained to enter spaces like this is deeply problematic especially when they echo certain sectors of the sociopolitical spectrum and use their credentials as validation for that endeavor.

  132. Looks like Dr. Klein is attempting to psycho-analyze a comedian here? Hillarious. Really. While contemporary topics such as systemic racism against blacks and other minorities, equality for women and a healthy debate on gun rights merit attention, using these as cudgels to "civilize" powerful 'white' men is really going too far. A recent survey showed how sour a majority of Americans are with political correctness. Leaving the details of his behavior with those women that came to light months ago, his poking fun at these 16 year olds acting like adults and creating careers for themselves when they is really no way they can have a grasp of the complexity of this issue is hilarious indeed. If you wipe out the allegations against Louis CK from memory, which btw are completely unrelated to his current jokes (aka rants to the madding crowds) this would have been seen as a classic and funny joke from the comedian.

  133. Judge not, that ye be not judged.

  134. I question a psychotherapist's motives for writing this article. To think you can gain some sort of insight on a comedians state of mind from rough, unfinished material is hilariously naive. Also incredibly narcissistic to feel the need to share these obviously biased opinions on a platform this large. I have a question, when did it become ethical for a therapist to pile on an individual publicly? Guess I misunderstood the purpose of therapy.

  135. Looking for one man, of many, credibly called out as a sexual predator, to come really clean. One example of genuine remorse for what they did, followed by redeeming actions. Instead we get a feeble non-apology, a PR defense, a desire to get back in the game. Especially now that these men realize it is not only bad behavior on every level, but also potentially criminal. Then begins the weasel words. "It was consensual, I did not have sexual relations with that woman" etc etc etc. Please share a sincere apology in case I missed it.

  136. I always did have trouble listening to (or reading) someone opine on the 'failings' of another. Avi Klein writes about when 'real healing emerges' among her clients, where they are accompanied to the place they worked so hard to avoid. This of course assumes that her patients want to avoid the place where hurt was caused, and that they believe they were the cause of any hurt. Perhaps C.K. doesn't need to avoid the place where Klein thinks the hurt was caused, since he doesn't think he did anything wrong. He may say that it was all consensual among the people involved. Perhaps C.K. doesn't believe he needs to be healed. But that possible scenario doesn't fit the thrust of the article. It is not for me to know, but I sense this is armchair analysis at its worst.

  137. Everyone is worth more than the worst thing they ever did. While it's perhaps frustrating to think Louis C. K. didn't learn the lessons you think he should've learned, he gets to deal with his own feelings about all that happened. Just like the abusive men who are quick to minimize and deflect blame, perhaps Louis C.K. was doing the same thing.

  138. Love this. I hope Louis CK can rise to the task.

  139. Reacting to one out-of-context sound clip with a lengthy think piece and armchair diagnosis is so 2018.

  140. I can see how one might be turned off by an artist's behavior and lose all interest in his/her works because of a variety of misdeeds. At the same time one should at least make an effort to distinguish between artists and their art. We impoverish ourselves by an overzealous insistence on eliminating moral failing from the world of art. If Louis C.K. is henceforth a non-person for his failings, we are inching closer to the kind of bonfires that absolutists in virtue so like to set. What are we going to with their paintings if we acknowledge that Caravaggio was a murderer or Edgar Degas was a disgusting antisemite? What should we do with Picasso's art if we factor in his abusive behavior towards women? I am not saying that we must make a choice between morality and art, but we must realize that we are in a gray zone and insisting on absolutes is wrong.

  141. If he was that good, he should be forgiven. He's not.

  142. I love Louis CK. I often fall asleep to his comedy specials. I’m a middle aged white woman. Maybe I shouldn’t continue to like him but I do. I thought his recent leaked performance was also funny. He’s not for everyone. I hope he comes back and continues going to those dark and shameful places that us socially appropriate folks can’t, at least not out loud.

  143. I am grateful for transgressive humor and think it helps us think about the world more clearly. While Louis CK's sexual behavior is repugnant, so too is the idea that he must now subject his material to a wall of thought police.

  144. I'm sorry, but Louis C.K. is a comedian, not a psychotherapy assistant. Of course I don't approve of what he did, but is he supposed to spend the rest of his life in purgatory and only be allowed to make politically correct jokes for the rest of his career? I am vehemently anti-gun, but have no problem with a comedian making politically incorrect jokes about Parkland or anything else.

  145. It's not much of a measure of a psychotherapist's insight if he does not understand that wrestling with personal demons is at least 75% of a comedian's stock in trade. I wonder if Mr. Klein--okay, Dr. Klein--is old enough to remember George Carlin and Richard Pryor, or has ever seen a cartoon by Jules Feiffer or the late John Callahan (heck, even "Peanuts" was inspired by its creator's myriad neuroses, albeit of a more benign nature). It's a bit like the old story about the boy who giggled during a funeral. An old woman in the pew in front turned around, gave the boy a disgusted look, and said, "I hope someone laughs at your funeral!" The boy thinks it but doesn't have the nerve to say it: "Honey, I hope everybody laughs at my funeral."

  146. I once had a manager that used videos, particularly Ted Talks, to try and communicate and inspire. I couldn't fire him for phoning it in, but your clients should definitely punt you for outsourcing therapy to comedians, regardless of their predilections. Hopefully in lecturing Louis CK on his failings, you can see your own.

  147. Self-protection is like a survival instinct. Even in a spiritual school to see the teachers round up the wagons to protect one of their own from the actual spiritual work they espouse to their students is, well disheartening. Underneath anger is sadness, but to get there is really difficult. It is obvious that Louis C. K. is not there. I have always thought he was one of many, angry comedians. To get a laugh at someone else's expense has never appealed to me. Only laughing with people is true humor. Laughing at them is not.

  148. To the extent that this is a reveal of how this psychotherapist interacts w/ patients, it's worrisome. He writes: "Paradoxically, I would not be able to work with them if I didn’t like and care about them." Really? The therapist has to personally like Jeffrey Dahmer? The therapist's job may involve understanding what might be likeable about Jeffrey D, but understanding and liking are different things, doctor !

  149. @Atheologian -- The comparison to Jeffrey Dahmer touches on what bothers me in all this. Masturbating in front of people is wrong. It is not the same as killing them and then eating them. It is not cutting them up and keeping their body parts in the fridge. There are degrees.

  150. It's painful when someone you view as a champion of your ideals turn out to be a bitter disappointment. Maybe, for you, that person is Louis. or Obama. or Trump. The most important lesson I've learned over the past few years is that there are no gods here on earth. Take from that what you will.

  151. @MP Trump? Ever a god? None so blind as those who won't see.

  152. I am grateful that Louis CK, I would bet, values a random psychotherapist’s opinion as much as he does a broken umbrella. My guess is Avi’s elaborate expression of “disappointment” means infinitely more to Avi than to Louis, or me for that matter. Louis CK’s talent is extraordinary. His offense was ugly. As a result, he lost a lot of money and fans. His recent performances had me laughing, however, and I can’t wait to hear more.

  153. Avi Klein is a deeply insightful therapist and human being. Were I Louis C.K., I would immediately call for an appointment.

  154. When me too can't discriminate between inappropriate behaviour and sexual assault it dilutes it's own strength. Inappropriate behaviour doesn't have to be OK to be detached from zero tolerance: Louie was wrong to engage in sexual power-play with admiring, aspiring comedians. But he is not Weinstein, public shamers. And I disagree about this "unreformed" outrage, Louie has always chosen taboo issues to make us laugh despite ourselves.

  155. When I read about his bit about scolding teens and Parkland survivors I thought, oh, he's leaning into the horrible person comedian. Unfortunately, too many people will enjoy his act.

  156. People should really listen to Louis C.K.'s entire Parkland bit, not just the two sentence snippet, before condemning him. He was making a point about how serious young people are and he went too far. He could edit that bit in about 10 seconds if he chose to. There is hardly an episode of any "classic" sitcom: Seinfeld, Friends, 30 Rock, The Office, Modern Family, Veep, etc., you couldn't bash endlessly if you chose to. "Not that there's anything wrong with it" is gay-bashing. Monica in a fat suit is fat-shaming. The pilot of 30 Rock has about 25 racial stereotypes in it. The Modern Family pilot plays off the trope that gay men are drama queens. Michael Scott is disappointed when a black character he chooses for his basketball team is terrible. Veep makes the same joke. Every one of these shows won the Emmy for best comedy. It appears we're very selective about who we choose to go after, and who we choose to leave alone, the line between funny and offensive is impossible to discern. I was appalled to learn about Louis C.K. harassment of women, but I don't think he deserves the public skewering here. And public psychoanalysis seems a fool's game. And it is highly instructive to realize we pick on some and give others a free pass. I

  157. I enjoyed this thoughtful piece and it sounds like good mental health advice to me. I loved Louie’s work and was shocked by the revelations of what he had done. I was prepared to forgive him and resume my status as a fan despite his disgusting behavior; assuming he was actually willing to apologize thoughtfully. I felt he had done so. But then word of his last set attacking the Parkland shooting victims leaked. What I heard fills me with rage. I doubt I can ever resume supporting his work now. Trolling wasn’t his style in the past but that’s how I would characterize this garbage. I don’t know what to think anymore. He has worn out his welcome with me at least for quite some time. It’s sad to see him stoop to trolling the genuine young victims of gun violence. Their voice is important and legitimate in the gun violence debate, and anyone who suggests otherwise is a hateful creep. I never thought of him that way until now.

  158. Not the point, but i never found the bloke funny in the first place. Irritating, yeah, funny, no. I am not sure that watching Conan itself was not a kind of pathology, just another sophmoric late night white frat boy with sophmoric frat humor...not too clever or well informed ever, Harvard degree or not. Compare even to Johnny, who had opera singers and scientist intellectuals on, or even better, Cavett, who had actual discussions on actual topics. The national "conversation" that needs having in reference to the USA opiate epidemic is the USA cultural-social epidemic that's just gotten worse and worse from the valium-numbed 50's to the marijuana numbed 60's and onward to the smart-phone numbed present--as Cervantes put it, as quoted by Cyrano, "the windmill that soars into the sky has to trudge through the mud first." Go tell that to the new age anti-negativity lot. Or to the geek-capitalists that want you on FB and Tweeter, etc, etc. Yup. Its pretty obvious to the majority of the rest of the world that "life is painful at times and that the capacity for joy is inverse to the capacity for feeling so called "negative" emotions. But then the rest of the world has not displaced their neg feelings into bombing and invading the rest of the world as we have....

  159. A psychotherapist doesn't like the political statements of a public figure. Psychotherapist declares that public figure says these things only because he's got some serious psychological problem. Who could see that coming?

  160. There is something all so phoney about drawing conclusions about life from "my patients." You can bet that "psychotherapists" do not have that many patients to begin with. Each patient has a unique story. They themselves would be appalled to see their therapist applying that story to a platitudinous pontification directed to an entertainer. BTW, when you read that details about patients have been changed (for privacy), that is a code for "this stuff is made up."

  161. Based on C.K.’s recent sets, it seems clear that an honest effort to listen and be better has not taken place. I am very grateful to you for having written this piece, Mr. Klein, and have wished for exactly the same thing – for Mr. C.K. to truly do the work to address whatever underlies his abhorrent behavior, make real amends to his victims, and then bring it into his work. He’s one of the few who might dare such an unprecedented artistic feat and also have the emotional depth and deft touch to pull it off. His gifts are rare, and to see him go deep on himself on these topics and then share his reflections with the world could be utterly brilliant and healing for all involved. Maybe stand-up isn't the medium for self-reflection of this kind - maybe it's a book – but the medium exists, and his genuine efforts toward redemption are something many of us would welcome.

  162. I believe that I understand your point of fully accepting one's responsibility. I wonder, though, if you have a clear expectation of how we would KNOW when that is achieved. Should Louis C.K. ever be allowed to move on?

  163. I might be in the minority view but I never liked LCK’s humor that much. Yes he played a chracter with relatable foibles and flaws, but I felt his standup belied a pretty serious bullying streak. The revelations about his behavior were pretty much deal breakers for me. It signaled to me at least that it was all or mostly just an act. He may not have full blown narcissist personality disorder but he seems to have narcissist tendencies. Who knows if he will get better. I’m looking for new voices.

  164. The leaked routine is very funny. Comedy is supposed to be transgressive and push boundaries, like all art. If you don't stop with the political correctness and scolding you're going to kill art. Isnt it awful to think that archie bunker couldn't get made today ? Our bravery as a society peaked in the 70s.

  165. Dear Mr. Psychotherapist, This is how comedy works, its funny or its not. The bits hold together better if they're also saying something that may be a part of humanity or society or some other larger picture. But if Louis CK says something that's funny, clap. If it's not then get up and leave. That's what it all boils down to.

  166. Louis C.K.'s comedy used to be complex, cerebral, insightful, unique, and exceedingly funny. It was excellent, and worth repeated viewings. Recently, as he himself has admitted, his persona has changed into being more of a shock jock than anything else. Some people maintain that it is OK, even necessary, to be able to laugh at anything. I'm glad that formerly taboo topics can now be discussed and joked about, but personally, I don't find anything associated with the murders of 14-year old children amusing. Attempting to profit from it is just heartless.

  167. Louis CK has often demonstrated through his comedy what at least appeared to be genuine insight and empathy for his fellow human beings; for comedy to have any depth, it must in some way show human frailty, weakness or absurdity, but do so with an underlying sense of forgiveness, empathy and hope. Like all those who have so harshly condemned him, Louis CK is a fallible and flawed person, but unlike most of his critics, he is acutely aware of it. It seems that many of his detractors simply want Lois CK to remain in a state of perpetual and public guilt, probably because this would allow them to feel marginally better about their own misdeeds.

  168. I can't help but see it all as a sad shtick. Is it that he is truly courting those on the redneck comedy circut who want to feel good sneering at school shooting victims? Or will it be that he goes through a short period of self-betrayal as a prelude to a very public breakdown and eventual redemption which can lead us only to accept him back onto the stage and in our hearts? Now either way may end up seeming just as contrived. Perhaps this isn't strictly performative and lucrative and is really just a guy who needs attention so much that he can't distinguish between the good and bad kind. If so, confronting that may really get at why he felt the need to expose himself to women. Either way, it's just not at all good. His comedy was a winner because his personal reflection made it art. Without that it's just bad observational humor that is just a living and a grind and really not worth the money or time. Who wants to hang with malignant Seinfeld? I hope he can find his way back to himself somehow, but his recent set is an indication that it'll be a long time coming. I hope his loathing doesn't poison the well so much that he can never come back. No one wants to see someone so brittle that they can no longer laugh at themselves. Depression is really rough but so is watching it on stage.

  169. "He will always have to live with his shame." He doesn't seem ashamed at all. But he should be. If anyone did what he did to any of my friends I would be furious. Unforgivable.

  170. I've never listened to Louis C.K., but he has to be funnier than Ellen DeGeneres' "Relatable". Unless political correctness makes you laugh.

  171. He's not ashamed that's why. His behavior is the rule in Hollywood not the exception. He's still hilarious but telling others they need to be responsible is a lot different than holding yourself accountable.

  172. It doesn't take a mental health professional to conclude that Louis C.K. craves attention and will behave outrageously to get it. Whether he will take that long, painful journey into himself to become a better and compassionate person is up to him. But anyone who can't stand his offensiveness can always just not give him the attention that he seeks.

  173. This is a good read, but it does leave me wondering: do we really know that Louis C.K. isn't privately beating himself up out of guilt, just as you describe your patients doing? His professional comedy act does not necessarily reflect his inner feelings - and he has always used shock value in his bits, even if we used to read it as open honesty rather than trolling. Maybe he has learned nothing, but I don't think we can assume we know everything about what's going in Louis C.K.'s head just from his public-facing side. We've already been proven wrong about that in a big way. I personally think he should address the issue in his act - and try to make it right as an activist - but I think we've come to expect too much out of our faux connections with celebrities. It's not normal to assume we know what is going on in a distant person's head, or to think it is actually any of our business.

  174. It seems that any professional barriers mental health professionals might have had about diagnosing strangers and blathering about it in the press have fallen by the wayside.

  175. I admire Klein's approach to sitting with people whose suffering leads them to hurt others, and helping them gain insight and the ability to tolerate looking at themselves honestly as a precursor to change. It's a therapist's job to create a safe therapeutic space for the client to take risks that might never otherwise be taken. I try to share the idea with people I work with that the strength to be accountable and humble will take you a long way. But with a comedian standing up under the warm spotlight, with people laughing at intentionally offensive comments about traumatized kids, it's hard to see where Louis C.K. gets the experience needed to look beyond his own narcissistic suffering to the hurt he is inflicting on others.

  176. Of course he's acting, he's a comedian people. He owned it and apologized, so if you like him then watch him. If you can't forgive him,then don't watch him. I guess he will have to apologize every time he steps out in public for the rest of his life .If he doesn't he'll just be trolled forever, unfortunately in today's day and age this is our reality. (And once again it's Trump's fault LOL)

  177. This is a man in the throes of the grief process, having suffered the loss of his life as he knew it. Obviously he has hit the anger phase.

  178. As an advocate for gun control, I had to hear the latest offense of Louis C.K. mocking the heroic Parkland, FL survivor-activists. I must have something wrong with me, too, because his riff was genuinely hilarious. Only the maladjusted would hear something actually offensive in that comedic set.

  179. Comedy is courageous and honest? That's a laugh.

  180. I was once a fan of Louis. I saw him in standup (not very good) and religiously watched his FX show "Louie" - which was brilliant. Since the revelation Louis sexually harassed multiple women and then tried to ruin some of them professionally, I'm done with him. Nobody is funny enough to put up with that. Not to mention Louis isn't sorry. Recent reports of his current standup act, which include ugly putdowns and even some comments which could have come from the Donald Trump playbook, surprise me. I didn't expect Louis to explode in bitterness and decide to get back at literally everyone for his own misfortune in ruining his career. Louis did this to himself. He's not a wise or good enough person to own his mistakes, apologize and try to do better. Louis had a chance to try to redeem himself. He threw it away. For a second time.

  181. Everything about this article is what is wrong with most "therapists". The arrogance, the passive aggression, the judgment... The Parkland bit was not offensive or insulting or mocking. It was classic Louis CK mocking us, himself and all of us. It was not funny because he had just tried it for the first time. I'm disappointed by his absence for 10 months and the lack of any mention of how what he did and admitted to in public has affected his daughters. I'm disappointed that he has not made any efforts at work with helping women in general by openly confronting himself about what made him do that. I see in his history of self revelation not a phony but a man who is a rather common kind of person, that used a mild character defect or two to hide the character defects and other things he is really ashamed of behind. He no longer has that veil but still wants to hide those things as the shame is still stronger than any impulse to do otherwise might be.

  182. This male therapist is awfully sympathetic to Louis C.K. Fine if he wants to get therapy, and I hope for his children’s sake he does. But more than ever, I don’t want him out anywhere on a stage, particularly with the disgusting new turn in what he’s saying out there, particularly since every new twist in it is being reported in the media. I liked his comedy before the truth about him as a person came out, because I felt he was trying to be honest about what creeps men can be. But discovering that he was actually living the life of a creep changed everything, and now he’s reveling in it. I just want him to slink away. Ideally I wish he’d take some lowly job where he could be of service to others, like working as a kindly janitor in a men’s prison. And just do it, not brag about how it’s redeemed him. And donate tons of money anonymously to appropriate women’s causes. I never want to hear his name again.

  183. @SJW "I never want to hear his name again." So then why do you take the time to read an article about him?

  184. @SJW None of us have any say as to how he spends the remainder of his life.

  185. "Failings" What's normal anyway? What's fashionable, institutional, and the political/social consensus of the day? Isn't art all about breaking through all that? Aren't most artist viewed by the common people as eccentric?

  186. Louis C.K. is very bright and talented. And of course has made severe mistakes. He can make you almost roll on the floor laughing with his absurd juxtapositions of behavior and thought; the secret to good humor. But he certainly makes regular attacks on "classes" of people. If he can find the salvation that this psychotherapist finds necessary, I hope he can try it again with less apparent hate. That "hate" by itself must be analyzed. But his fantastic pieces where he discusses his love for cinnabuns,and generalizations about human temptations and human foibles are precious, and I hope he can give it another try and show us he understands his problem. I suspect the psychotherapist has told him he must put his horrid mistakes toward woman in a separate compartment in his mind but must go back and look and cry occasionally at his sins. I hope he can do it and still come back and give us some good laughs. If he does that, we will all have a sense of him being a representative of all of us with all of our sins.

  187. The leaked material seems to indicate that CK has concluded that he will never be forgiven by the liberal establishment, and his path forward is to align with the anti-PC folks. The reaction that this has garnered seems to confirm that; even in this forum, most comments defending him are from men presumably of libertarian bent.

  188. This is why I could never do this kind of work. Louis C.K. always made me uncomfortable, and not in a good way. I'm not surprised that he hasn't changed.

  189. An Attorney and Comedy Fan's Plea to Avi Klein On November 9, 2017 NYT published a piece containing accusations that LCK had masturbated in front of female comics. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/09/arts/television/louis-ck-sexual-misconduct.html The next day NYT published an open letter from LCK admitting the accusations. The first two sentences read: "I want to address the stories told to The New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not. These stories are true." https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/10/arts/television/louis-ck-statement.html Mr. Klein, my advice to you as a human being, as an adult, and as a fan of comedy, is to keep in mind that LCK is a comic. If he doesn't tickle your funny bone, don't watch him. Otherwise, move on. The attorney-client privilege does not apply to this communication. Rich Young is an attorney who likes comedy.

  190. I personally would like to hear Louis C.K. address what he is so angry about right now -- it would be therapeutic for him and especially for us.

  191. "Inappropriate behavior" is picking your nose in public. "Masterbating in front of women," without their consent, getting what you want at their expense, using your power to get your sexaul proclivities a go? That is sexual ASSAULT. Call it what it is, then maybe I'll read the rest of your article.

  192. What I can't believe is how he got away with his "happy he's not black" bit? What courage that took!

  193. Mr. Klein, Although Louis C.K. behavior is a slap on the face of the women and Parkland survivors, your plea would be better served to Trump.

  194. I read what Louis C.K. said about the Parkdale survivors and thought at first that it was pretty stupid of him to use them as fodder for a joke. But Louis C.K. isn't stupid. He does certainly like controversy and has used it throughout his career to get publicity, and clearly nothing has changed there. He knew his routine would cause consternation and condemnation and did it just for that purpose. Mission accomplished as far as he's concerned.

  195. To me the Parkland joke makes a valid point. The doing of such a joke, makes a really important point. Louis C.K. Is saying to the PC thought police -- I will not give in to your faschstic censorship. I applaud his insights (the joke) and,most of all, his courage and integrity (the doing of it).

  196. Isn’t Louis C.K. lucky to get free advice because he’s an entertainer? Wish we were all so lucky. How about instead of worrying about a rich comedian, Louis C.K.’s enablers work to ensure that the women he harassed get the same career opportunities and support that he has? That would be real compensation and justice for the victims, yes?

  197. If you find comedians helpful in your practice, maybe you should refer your patients to The Three Stooges. They only abused each other and had the utmost respect for women, especially the strong ones.

  198. I'd have thought it was better to at least meet your patients before you prescribe for them.

  199. So if everyone was well adjusted......No Artists???

  200. To me, Louis C.K.’s recent bits sounded like somebody audition for the headliner spot at the Republican national convention. Based on the knee-jerk comments from the right, he will get that gig.

  201. Mr. Klein, please have the ethical standard not to express opinions on the mental health of patients you have not examined.

  202. Since when do comedians have to carry the cross of political correctness? If you don't like him, his actions, or his comedy, then don't go to his shows, or pay any attention to him! I'm not excusing his behavior, but dragging a few bad characters all over the media publically has gone overboard. Many great comedians have done inappropriate to horrible things! Where is the anger towards Bill Cosby? Eddie Murphy made plenty of gay jokes, but Kevin Hart is being crucified for his? Richard Pryor smoked crack, etc..How about all the other celeberties who slept with underage girls ( R Kelly for example )?

  203. I never liked Louis CK, ever since the bit early on where he explained why he doesn’t date women his own age. At best he was slightly more self-aware than the average sociopath. It surprises me less than people are rushing to his defense than that they should be shocked at all now that his selfish, predatory behavior is officially exposed.