Dr. Ben Harmon is a psychiatrist practicing out of his home office. He is a character in the first season (dubbed by fans "Murder House") portrayed by Dylan McDermott. He is the husband of Vivien Harmon and father of Violet Harmon. He also had an affair with a former student of his named Hayden.


Benjamin "Ben" Harmon lived in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife Vivien Harmon and daughter Violet Harmon, working as a psychiatrist. After Vivien had a miscarriage, he and his wife fell into a grieving state. This led to Ben cheating on his wife with his student, Hayden McClaine, and impregnating her. In an attempt to save their marriage, they packed up and moved to Los Angeles to start over.

Ben has said that his childhood was very difficult. He was headed towards a path of destruction and would have never thought it possible to become a psychiatrist.


Ben is calm and controlled for the most part. He is actively trying to repair his relationship with his wife, who he cheated on after she had a miscarriage. However, he can be quick to anger if his reactions toward Moira's advances and Larry Harvey's pestering are any indication.

Although he often screws things up with his family (i.e. cheating on Vivien multiple times, and addiction to sexual thoughts), he cares truly about keeping his family together. Ben is oblivious to the ghostly activities going on around him and doesn't seem to become fully aware until his own entry to the spirit world.


Following a series of misfortunes, Ben relocates his family to Los Angeles, California in the hopes of starting over. He later meets Larry Harvey, a former owner of the house who warns him that his family's lives are in danger and advises him to leave as soon as possible. Ben has long-awaited make-up sex with Vivien followed by some dangerous sleep-walking.

Ben heads over to Boston as his former student and mistress Hayden needs his support in having an abortion, although Ben hurriedly rushes home after learning his home was intruded by R. Franklin Murder Reactors. He is surprised to learn a patient of his named Tate was present during the attack, and feeling he has crossed a line decides to end any further counseling sessions.

Ben continues to black out and awaken with no memory of his actions, which include digging a hole in the front lawn. While running his blood work Ben discovers he has been poisoned with an opiate that causes memory loss and later confronts the maid Moira about this. Ben is surprised to find a frantic Hayden on his doorstep. As he attempts to sooth her she is abruptly killed by Larry. Although Ben is distraught Larry claims he did so out of his best interest, and the two decide getting rid of the body is the best option. Ben decides to bury her body and builds a gazebo over it.

Larry continues to harass Ben, demanding payment for killing Hayden, although Ben rebuffs him. Vivien later confronts Ben with his phone bill. Ben reiterates that his relationship with Hayden is over although she does not believe him and demands that he leave. The two arrive at the hospital whence an ultrasound reveals the baby is more developed than it should be and the doctor collapses after seeing the image on the screen. Ben and Vivien rush home from the hospital and find that Violet is missing. Ben then answers the door to find Hayden standing at his doorstep.

Ben believes Hayden's death was staged, and both she and Larry are trying to extort him. Ben is also forced to reveal he impregnated Hayden months after Vivien discovered their affair and is forced to leave the house.

Ben needs to use the house for his therapy sessions and begins seeing a new patient named Derek, who is terrified by urban legends, most recently the story of Piggy Man, who will slaughter anyone who repeats a specific mantra. Taking Ben's advice to face his fears, Derek repeats the mantra in his bathroom mirror but is ironically shot and killed by an armed robber hiding in the shower.

Ben intends to sell the house to a sleazy developer who will tear it down to build condominiums and learns Vivien is pregnant with twins.

Ben believing Vivien has become mentally unstable allows her to be taken away for a psychiatric evaluation.

Ben begins seeing a new patient, who unbeknownst to him is Elizabeth Short also known as The Black Dahlia. Ben also discovers that one of the twins Vivien carries is not his.

Ben finally concedes that Vivien was raped and is later attacked by Rubber Man who knocks him out with chloroform. However, Ben manages to unmask him before slipping into unconsciousness, discovering the man responsible for impregnating Vivien is Tate.

Ben learns Violet is dead and Vivien goes into labor, giving birth to a still-born and dying during the birth of the second child.

Ben finds it hard to cope with the death of his family and contemplates suicide although, Violet and Vivien convince him to leave the house with the child. As he is preparing to leave Ben is murdered by Hayden, Dallas and Fiona and he and the other 'good' spirits in the house decide to prevent anyone else from moving in and suffering the same fate.

Ben's Patients


  • To Derrick: "The more you fear something, the more power you give it."
  • To Tate: "You're a psychopath, Tate. It's a mental disorder, and therapy can't cure it."
  • To Violet: "Violet..What kind of father have I been? You weren't eating, you weren't going to school. You were already gone. I didn't get it."
  • To Larry: "You see that crazy bitch, you tell her we're done. I'm not playing your games. You come back on this property, and I will kill you. You hear me? I will kill you."


  • He is the first character to be portrayed by Dylan McDermott. The second was Johnny Morgan in American Horror Story:Asylum.
  • American Horror Story starts with two redheaded twins meeting a grisly end, and later introduces a redhead maid who brings trouble to a family living in a very creepy house. She’s played by two separate actresses and inhabits two different ages: Frances Conroy does her as an oddball matron, and Alexandra Breckenridge as a sexed-out seductress. “That’s a plot point,” Ryan Murphy has revealed. The redheads have something to do with Ben's childhood. “It’s something that happened to Dylan’s character as a child that involves redheads,” Murphy said. “It’s a beautiful childhood thing for him that will be explained.”[1] It never was explained. In a recent interview, however, Tim Minear said that Ben's abused childhood was something they were unable to go over.



  1. Malloy, Tim, "TCA: Ryan Murphy's 'American Horror Story' Haunted by Redheads", The Wrap, 6 Aug 2011

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