In the TV series Mad Men, even though Don appears to have everything, internally he’s deeply flawed and controlled by the pain of his childhood. The core pain that drives him is the feeling that he’s alone and lacks a family. Growing up, his mother died in labor, and his father was killed from a kick by a spooked horse. When he became old enough, he enlisted in the army. He served in a war until his comrade is killed on duty. Wanting out and to start a new life, he secretly traded dog-tags. He sacrificed the last traces of his family name and took on the name of the fallen comrade: Don Draper.

Throughout the series, Don is driven by this need to not feel alone. It drives his mistakes, his emotions, and his drinking. He just wants to be known for who he is, which is impossible behind the name that isn’t his and celebrating birthdays that aren’t his to celebrate.

He marries into a beautiful family, but behind his facade, the marriage falls apart after his wife learns of his secret and his true identity. Feeling betrayed, she tries to accept and love him, tries to give him what he really needs, but the deception is too great and she leaves him. Don is alone and just paid a huge price for allowing someone to see his past.

In the episode “The Good News,” season 4 episode 3, there’s a heart-wrenching moment. Out on the east coast, Don is visiting his friend Anna. Anna Draper, that is, but she isn’t his name, rather, she’s the widow of Don’s fallen comrade. After Don had deserted the war and took on Anna’s late husband’s name, he explained the situation to her and said he’ll take care of her. Anna is the only person who truly knows who Don is.

While Don visits her, he hears from her niece that Anna has cancer and the family decided not to tell her. Don, angry, demands that someone tells her or he will. Excluding his children, Anna is the only person Don cares about. Anna’s sister says no. “Don, you have no choice in what happens within my family.”

I still hoped Don would stay with Anna, would take care of her, and spend some time with her to express his endearment. But driven the by pain of learning he has no say in this family, reading into that that he’s not family, and has no family, he pretends work called, hugs her, and leaves. He never talks to her again.

Pain makes us go mad.