What Happened To Healy's Mom On 'Orange Is The New Black'? The Show Sheds Light On His Childhood
Everyone has a past. The same is true for the residents of Litchfield, the prisoners and prison workers alike. In the first season of Orange is the New Black, Litchfield Counselor Sam Healy was introduced as a helpful face until his ingrained sexism, homophobia, and fetishisation of prisoners started to reveal itself in disturbing ways. While there is no excuse for much of Healy's behavior, the show utilizes Healy's backstory not as to create a one-dimensional victim but as an exploration to what attitudes and life experiences can shape someone into the troubled, misogynistic man that Healy is. Spoilers ahead for OITNB Season 4, Episode 4. "Doctor Psycho" explores the counselor's relationship with women by showing what happened to Sam Healy's mother.
Sam "Lesbians can be very dangerous" Healy is shown as a young boy in a car asking his father what lesbianism is. His father tells the young Sam that it's an illness, not quite the one his mother has, but an illness nonetheless. It's easy to see how his homophobia started early once viewers get the details on his childhood. As for what mental illness his mother suffers from, it appears to be some form of schizophrenia, though it's never explicitly labeled.
In the Season 3 episode "Mother's Day" Sam's mother is shown throwing an ashtray at him angrily before snapping to being a loving, cheerful mother. Sam's mother also speaks to "angels" and hears things that aren't always there. His mother goes to the hospital for what seems to be electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, to be treated for the illness, but growing up with a mentally ill mother still had a strong effect on how Healy perceives women. After his mother abandons him in the middle of the night, simply walking away from their home and never returning, Sam grew up to be the man we all know today. It appears his anger is rooted in an inability to trust the only maternal figure in his life, which seems to extend to other women as well.
It seems that he's also scared of inheriting the illness his mother had. Later in life, after going on a date with a patient of his (yikes), Healy sees an old, haggard woman sitting on a stoop with a medical wristband on. Assuming it's his mother, Healy takes the woman to dinner and starts talking about his achievements, hoping to bask in his mother's pride. Unfortunately for Healy, not every older woman you find sitting on stoops is your mother, and this is just a random woman. And yet, despite not being related, Healy pleads for her to stay so that he can have a maternal figure for just a moment. Healy's scared look after she leaves could hint that he may be scared that he's beginning to see things as well and not be able to not trust his own mind.
Healy did not grow his unhealthy views about women and lesbians in a vacuum. Healy's relationship with his mother and father is just one of many factors that contributed to Healy's attitude towards women and lesbians. And, while it certainly doesn't excuse his behavior, it does shed some light on it.Image: JoJo Whilden/Netflix