In Session with “Step Brothers”

This is a podcast of learned doctors! But unlike Dale and Brennan, we actually mean it. That’s right, this week Dr. Fran and Dr. Sam take on the comedy cult classic, Step Brothers.

They discuss “failure to launch”—not an actual diagnosis, but another great movie—and the sometimes precarious nature of transitioning to adulthood. How common is it for adult children to live at home with their parents? 

Then like Dale’s fist into Derek’s face, they dive right into the explosive family dynamics. What level of sibling rivalry is considered “normal?” And is Derek’s narcissism clinical? (Pow!) Plus, is the portrayal of sleepwalking accurate?

Finally, Dale and Brennan go to therapy. We assess Dr. Angel Face’s clinical performance and how to ward off romantic interest from your patient. Plus, some PhDonts like maybe don’t fantasize your patient is a lumberjack who traveled 500 miles to give you his seed.

Come for the laughs. Stay for a way-more-in-depth psychological analysis of Step Brothers than you ever thought was possible. And at the end of this episode, you just might be asking yourself, “Did we just become best friends?” Yup!

Glossary of Terms

Failure to launch –  when an adult has not made the transition into adulthood (not a real diagnosis)

In-group/out-group bias – showing favoritism towards individuals in your perceived group and bias against individuals not perceived to be in your group

Realistic conflict theory – belief that negative interactions and conflict develop when two groups are competing for limited resources

Narcissistic traits – characteristics including having an inflated sense of self-importance, being preoccupied with or exaggerating their own achievements, and often times exhibiting a lack of empathy 

Parasomnias – sleep disorders characterized by unusual or unwanted events and experiences during sleep (e.g., sleepwalking)

Release of information – a document that a client/patient (or their parent if working with a minor) needs to sign before a therapist can speak to someone else about the client/patient


Learn more about emerging adulthood, or the transition period between adolescence and adulthood.

More information on ingroup bias, its history, and the psychology behind it.

Read more about parasomnias (including sleepwalking) here. And if you really want to get into the science behind sleepwalking, check out this article.

Find out more about Non-REM (dreamless) sleep and other stages of sleep.

Dr. Sam mentions that she might use S.M.A.R.T goals in her hypothetical treatment with Brennan and Dale. Learn how to develop your own S.M.A.R.T goals here!

Read the American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code to learn more about guidelines and standards of professional conduct for psychologists (including rules about having sexual relationships with patients).  Note that other disciplines (e.g., physicians, social workers, licensed counselors) have their own code of conduct and/or ethics codes.