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The Solitary Man is a Sad Man
Written By: Mark Smith



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I was surprised that we ended up in the first row when we arrived on time for Michael Douglas' new film. I'm 51 years old and I might have been the second youngest person in the theatre...old folks love Michael Douglas evidently. This was a sad movie about an addictive and pathetic fellow. It is a parable about middle-age male Counterdependency which means a grandiose, know it all, arrogant, unaccountable, oblivious, self-absorbed, addictive and controlling guy. In his mid fifties, Douglas' Ben Kalmen can't deal with the prospect of vulnerability brought on by some potentially serious heart problems. Rather than face up to the scary human feelings associated with mortality Ben goes on a six and a half year binge of lying, cheating, sexual addiction and self-absorption that destroys his business career and relationships with everyone he once loved. It is painful to watch. Think Jeff Bridges' alcoholic in Crazy Heart but like 10 times more self destructive.

Sexual addiction is rampant in our society. For millions of men it is a coping strategy that medicates feelings of fear and vulnerability. It is amazingly destructive. For many men the road to life destruction is a path that they have been destined for their whole lives. They were either abandoned or abused as a child and then they cover up their wounds with the all American macho defenses of supposed strength, workaholism, arrogance, materialism and pride. It is just a matter of time until such a man is humbled and brought down by his own doing. The movie had a frustrating ending. Sitting on a bench at his old college where he had met his wife, played by Susan Serandon, Ben either returns home to his loving, forgiving, understanding ex-wife or he rejects love and maturity and continues to chase college aged women. You provide your own ending. I hate that. I saw him getting in the car with his ex-wife and returning to some measure of sanity and humanity. Addictions result in utter and supreme self-centeredness, hurting the people that you love and negative consequences to your career, reputation and finances. They isolate. Many mornings in the movie started with Ben arising looking pathetically alone and lost while chewing on baby aspirin for his ailing heart.



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Learn from this parable men. Nothing is worth losing your integrity, your self-respect, your reputation, your marriage or your family for. Men are people too. We are not supermen. We will get sick, broken bone and some day die. If you have an addiction get some help immediately. You won't be able to wind back the hands of time to undo the damage that your addictions can and will cause. Michael Douglas is more fun as the bullet proof Gordan Gecko of 'Wall Street' fame. Solitary Man was tortuous to watch. Not just because of the self-destruction but because of the complete lack of humility and self-awareness. There was a killer Johnny Cash sound track of the same name that rocked the movie and resonated with the character...Johnny Cash - A Solitary Man


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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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