MENTAL HEALTH

Brad Pitt's turn to therapy after Angelina Jolie was most important move of his life

Keith Ablow

Brad Pitt has revealed to GQ magazine that he began psychotherapy following his split from Angelina Jolie, back in September, 2016.  Since then, he has stopped using alcohol and other ways of burying his feelings and says he has dramatically improved  his life.  In the interview, he sounds smart and sensitive, serious and self-possessed.

This comes as no surprise to me. The most important choice in life that anyone will ever make is whether to unearth and understand his or her life story and "own" it, or whether to run away from it--to anesthetizing amounts of alcohol or cocaine or marijuana or sex or power.  

Brad Pitt may well have saved his life--metaphorically or literally--when he decided to let another human being listen to him, encourage him,  challenge him and insist he start looking at himself, honestly, which is the only way to start truly loving oneself.

How do I know?  It literally saved my life, too, when depression struck me, and the late, great Dr. George Weinberg helped me wrestle it to the ground.  I am not exaggerating a bit when I tell you that I am not sure I could have won that war, without him.

I intend to repay that favor, in service to my own patients, for the rest of my life.

Myths about psychotherapy abound--that it is self-indulgent, that it is a way of pinning the blame on others for one's problems, that it takes many years and hundreds of hours to achieve any real results.  They're all falsehoods fueled by the fear of self-examination, which actually requires no small measure of personal courage and integrity.  

Here's the truth:  Psychotherapy, properly practiced by a professional with real skill, is one of the most powerful forms of healing that has ever existed.  It can defeat major depression, paralyzing anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, even psychosis. And its benefits can begin after just one hour, then continue to build and build.  

If a person were to commit to just a dozen hours with a determined therapist, in fact, I believe that that time could very well turn out to be some of the most important that he or she will ever spend. Ever.  Period.

Psychotherapy can not only defeat illness, but can also unleash a person's God-given potential to be clear-thinking, capable, creative, compassionate and courageous.

You don't have to be ill or weakened to decide to get therapy.  You just have to decide you want to be stronger.  Because psychotherapy can revolutionize your existence.

That's how powerful human empathy, properly harnessed, actually is.  And that's a miracle.

Here's another miracle:  You don't have to be a movie star to reach out for the kind of healing that helped Brad Pitt turn his life around.  I have treated actors and CEOs and US Senators, but I have also treated store clerks and salesmen and engineers and longshoremen. 

There are talented psychotherapists in every city in America--including yours.  You owe it to yourself and everyone you will interact with, for the rest of your life, to schedule your first hour with one of them, today.

Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team.