''The Prince of Tides'' ethics -- There are a few doctor-patient relationship issues in the Barbra Streisand film

Talk about lending new meaning to the doctor-patient relationship! Though Prince of Tides‘ Susan Lowenstein (Barbra Streisand) is not technically the psychiatrist of Tom Wingo (Nick Nolte), she does conduct sessions with him in her Manhattan office. ”He’s certainly looking like her patient,” says Jeremy Lazarus, M.D., the American Psychiatric Association’s chairman of ethics.

Viewed in that light, Streisand makes a few, um, dubious moves. Among them: (1) She asks Wingo to coach her son in football. (2) While in her office she (a) throws a book at Wingo and (b) holds him while he cries on her couch. (3) She sleeps with him in the apartment of his sister, Savannah (her real patient), then dons Savannah’s robe in the morning.

”There are aspects of the portrayal that make psychiatrists look better than Hannibal Lecter,” says Lazarus, ”but if there were a complaint, she’d be investigated and probably expelled or suspended.” One thing that Tides did manage to get in the reality ballpark was Lowenstein’s fee: $150 per session. It should at least cover her manicures.

The Prince of Tides
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