Psychologists Say Don Draper's Wedding Proposal is Madness


Mommy Effect Is Powerful for Men

Psychologists say the mommy effect is powerful and transcends the 1960s backdrop of "Mad Men," but those relationships rarely work out without some kind of therapy.

"He didn't grow up with a lot of love and tenderness," said New York City clinical sexologist Judith Steinhart. "That is what this woman has to offer. It's not maternal. Don't even go there. It's tenderness. Being in the present. Someone soft and accepting of himself and his children. Someone with an open heart."

"He's a whole package," she said of Don's apparent transformation. "He's not just one person, he's encumbered and that includes kids."

But will it work out?

"I don't know," said Steinhart. "None of us do, it's Hollywood."

Meredith Murray, a 40-year-old fan from Roosevelt, N.J., said the saccharine proposal was "so pathetic and painful to watch."

"Don fell in love with the Disneyland Megan," she said. "She was a one-night stand in the office. But Faye is still reality. It was sort of a fairytale he fell in love with. If he hadn't gotten the ring from Anna, would he really have proposed to her?"

"He wouldn't remember his mother, but it felt like (Megan) physically resembled his mother who died in childbirth," she said. "Megan was so different and has the warmth that neither of the other two had."

But, says Murray, "this is going nowhere good."

"She made some comment about, 'I know who you really are,' and she hasn't even worked for him that long. At some point, the tempers will flair, the infidelity will return and we will hear he broke her heart."

Betty, who has had her own issues with motherhood, overwhelmed by her children, turned to Henry Francis, who tries to temper his new wife's anger. "I think deep, dark things are waiting to happen," said Murray.

Sally, who also struggles with both her parents, may be the toughest cookie of all.

"I see her doing the math on Dick and Anna when she saw what was painted on the wall," she said. "I could see her figure out: 1964, who was that? She obviously has shown no love lost for her mother and at some point in the show she will reach the point where she calls her father on his infidelities and untruthfulness."

Don Draper Is Infant-Like in Love

The episode fades to black with Sonny and Cher's 1964 classic, "I Got You Babe," -- which begs the question of Don, so who's the babe now?

Men are "hugely" attracted to women with maternal instincts, according to Judy Kuriansky, a couples counselor and author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Healthy Relationship."

The draw is largely anthropological.

"That was the role of women," she said. "The male of the species would pick the female who could take care of the children that are his progeny. The male, of course, wants to propagate. He picks females who are the strongest, most mothering and comforting of the kids who take his name and genetics."

The psychodynamics are also powerful for men like Don Draper, whose own mother, a whore, died in childbirth. "The male often projects into the child, re-experiencing, 'This is me, being taken care of by an ideal mother.'"

"For a particular group of men who have not had good mothering, this is very powerful," she said. "But the bad news is this works for a few years, but when the infant monkeys get off their feet, the parents are on to something else."

That's the Madonna-whore syndrome and it "pollutes the entire relationship," according to Kuriansky.

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