Apple TV+’s ‘Shrinking’ tackles compassion, therapy, and grief fatigue

shrinkbrainchild of Ted Lasso creator Brett Goldstein and Bill Lawrence, so far a gripping comedy, shedding light on darker themes in an unusual, familial way. Starring Jason Segel, Harrison Ford and Jessica Williams, the film AppleTV+ The series sees Jimmy (Segel) grappling with grief following the death of his wife, ironically the setting of his profession: a psychotherapist, practicing the art of helping others. daily.

This premise naturally aligns with the show’s larger questions. How does someone who is grieving – in mostly unhealthy, hedonistic ways – give guidance to others? What happens when your personal life often brings you into conflict with your professional background?

There are many possibilities for these questions, which shrink explored in the first four seasons of 10 pending episodes. In the first episode “Coin Flip”, the emotional flow of Jimmy’s home life permeates the office, leading to an important discussion around tired compassionor the psychological and physical impact of helping others.

After a night of drinking and drugs with women he can’t remember the names of (all while his daughter tries to sleep in their house), Jimmy finds himself hungover, bleary-eyed, and off to work. late. He sits with his longtime patients, one after another, reluctantly dealing with the woes of their lives. Finally, he rages at a patient who rolls his eyes at an emotionally abusive husband: a source of criticism – “He’s not that great”, “He’s a runaway man, from inside out,” – dripping to the epic end, “Just an asshole.” give it away.”

The encounter caused him to nervously confess to his colleagues Gaby (Williams) and Paul (Ford), who the latter simply said, “Compassion fatigue. All of us. all hit those walls.”

What Paul, as the more seasoned therapist, refers to is a long-standing phenomenon for caregivers of any kind. EQUAL I wrote to Mashable, compassion fatigue is the set of consequences that come from supporting others. Symptoms can be similar to those of burnout, such as burnout from job demands, and other reactions such as decreased empathy, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Many therapists, some of whom I have spoken to, have faced this particular condition throughout their careers.

“Compassion is tired. We all hit those walls.”

– Paul (Harrison Ford), ‘Miniature’

The conversation around this is an important one that needs to be different. Lynne Hughes, founder of the funeral camp Comfort zone(Opens in a new tab)told me, “Compassion fatigue doesn’t mean you’re not good at helping or caring, it just means that the balance between caring for others and caring for yourself is gone. balance.”

Jimmy is a prime example of what compassion fatigue can look like, as the episode points out. His emotional outbursts towards his clients demonstrate a lack of boundaries and language that most would consider unprofessional; however, his behavior during the session did not reflect a lack of interest. His own lack of compassion for himself, after an unimaginable loss, has consequences he could not have foreseen. This infiltrates his workspace after what we can assume is a significant build-up.

shrink is trying to pull back the curtain on the challenges of caregiving, seriously (albeit sometimes repressed). So far, this applies not only to Jimmy but also to his fellow psychotherapists (one is getting divorced, the other is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease), and even to his neighbor. Liz (Christa Miller), who adopts a maternal approach to Jimmy’s daughter Alice (Lukita Maxwell).

As Ford’s character, tells Alice in episode 2, “Nobody gets through this life unscathed. But then you have to choose.” Ultimately, the message seems to be compassion: for yourself, for your loved ones, for those around you. It’s also a choice, and it’s a choice shrink is proposing with the help of its amazing human characters.

shrink currently streaming on Apple TV+.(Opens in a new tab)


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