- Purchase/rental options available:
This essay explores how the episode "Data's Day" from the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation functions allegorically as a drama of human psychic development and also a commentary on psychoanalytic treatment and the anxiety it can evoke. Drawing on the work of Winnicott and concepts such as "holding," "primary maternal preoccupation," and the "false self," among others, the author argues that the android Data's efforts to learn different dances, specifically tap and ballroom, represent stages of infantile development and the progression from narcissistically oriented desires and needs toward a sense of relatedness and the capacity for self-object connections. As various impingements interfere with Data's attempts to feel more authentic and alive, the episode emerges as a sophisticated reflection on the creation of the "false self" personality. After exploring parallels between Data's quest to become human and other incarnations of the false self in literature and dance, including Pinocchio, Petrushka, and Franz from Delibes's Coppélia, the essay reveals how the episode implicitly comments on the differences between psychoanalytic and cognitive behavioral approaches to treating psychic distress, on the rise of managed care and its effect on modes of therapy, and on the anxiety provoked in many patients by the very idea of being analyzed or "taken apart."