Jon Hamm Opens Up About Recovery And Therapy

By Dorri Olds 10/17/16

"There’s something to be said for pulling yourself out of the grind for a period of time and concentrating on recalibrating the system."

Jon Hamm Opens Up About Recovery And Therapy

Actor Jon Hamm, 45, is best known for his eight years on AMC’s hit show Mad Men, during which Hamm starred as the deeply flawed ad executive Don Draper, a charming alcoholic and womanizer in a successful ad agency in the 1960s.

Hamm recently gave a candid interview to Mr. Porter’s Journal, during which he talked about his 30-day stay in an alcohol treatment facility. “It has all these connotations, but it’s just an extended period of talking about yourself," said Hamm. "People go for all sorts of reasons, not all of which are chemically related. But there’s something to be said for pulling yourself out of the grind for a period of time and concentrating on recalibrating the system. And it works. It’s great.”

Hamm’s parents had divorced when he was two, and he lived with his mother until she lost her battle with cancer when he was 10 years old. After that, Hamm went to live with his father, who he spoke fondly of. “I was always fascinated by my dad because he could talk to anyone," he said. "He was a great listener and he knew a little bit about a lot of things. I aspired to be like that.”

But tragically, his father died when the actor was only 20. He was suffering terribly, so one of his half-sisters convinced him to go into therapy.

He told the Journal, “After I’d lost my dad, I had this horrible paralyzing inertia—and no one in my family was capable of dealing with it. So what do you do? Go and see a professional. I preach it from the mountaintops.”

The actor is sensitive to the fact that not everyone is as fortunate as he’s been, and said about the high cost of therapy, “I know it’s a luxury and it’s not something everyone can afford. But if you can, do it. It’s like a mental gym.”

As for many stars before him, life in the public eye proved difficult. “It is not easy having immediate and huge-scale fame thrust upon you,” he said. “I’m a pretty shy person. I like talking to people one-on-one, but I do not like people taking pictures of me with 400mm lenses across the street.” 

Society’s hunger for celebrity pics seemed to irk him. “It’s mystifying to me why we give that any time in our culture,” he said.

The actor refrained from discussing the end of his long-term relationship with actor and director Jennifer Westfeldt. The two never married but were committed to each other for 18 years.

About their split Hamm said, “It’s very personal and specific and I think people tend to draw their own conclusions about that anyway.”

Hamm is now promoting his upcoming film, Keeping Up with the Joneses, which opens Oct. 21.

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Dorri Olds is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day and several book anthologies. Find Dorri on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.