Mahsa A. Lindeman, MS, MFT
Call: (925) 289-9733
Andrew Lindeman, MS, MFT
Call: (925) 322-0793
Location: 190 N Wiget Lane Suite 275 Walnut Creek CA 94598
I want to use this blog as a way to challenge male stereotypes, “man codes”, etc. and what better way to do that than to breakdown a children’s “princess” movie from a male, psychological perspective.
I’m Andrew, I’m a grown man, I watched Moana and I loved every minute of it. I’ll even go beyond that and say I may have gotten choked up several times during the film. Mind you nothing exited the eye and/or streamed down the face but some watering occurred. Maybe just got some sand in my eye though…
Disney movies have made leaps and bounds over the past 5 years. One reason may be that I have a 3 and a 6 year old and anything that brings them joy (and keeps them occupied) is received with extreme gratitude. But the other reason is that movies such as Inside Out, Frozen and Moana have clearly collaborated with mental health professionals to create storylines and characters that are rich in psychological depth. The themes have gone way beyond the old Disney cliches of a prince rescuing a princess and living happily ever after. And Moana may have strayed farther from this model than almost any other. Below are some key points that can assist you in your journey towards healthy psychological development.
1) Find what calls you– Not what you’re good at but what do you love. What can you not get enough of? What would and do you do when there is no obligations in your day. For Moana, it’s the sea. She is “supposed” to become the chief and lead her people but she continues to find herself standing by the shore staring at the ocean. What a worthless, dangerous, needless calling in terms of being responsible and taking care of her people, right? At first maybe. What you’re called to may often make no sense for a long time. That’s ok. Handle your responsibility but keep your dreams alive. These dreams provide the fire that allows you accomplish all of the necessary things in your life.
2) Who are you?– Moana goes on a journey of self-discovery. From learning about the real nature of her ancestors (not actually safe, island dwellers but sea voyagers) to connecting on a more spiritual level with her grandmother, the nature of her self-discovery is partly in connecting with her lineage. Next, is getting to know herself by taking risks. She pursues her calling, against most people’s well-meaning advice, and with a very few trusted supporters. Initially, she tries to get rid of her calling, or ignore it, but it only gets stronger. To continue to avoid it would be completely dis-ingenuous to who she is. It would destroy her spirit. How have you ignored your calling and allowed your spirit to suffer? Along the way she finds, she is extremely competent, powerful, resilient and self-reliant.
3) Connect with nature– The themes are many and powerful throughout the film but some key ones stand out. Ignore the natural balance to your own demise. Connect with nature and have your soul restored. Exercise, adventure and get outside. Don’t ignore your smallness, yet also your great significance, in the grand scheme of it all. Practice powerful kindness and authoritative gentleness. Moana fearlessly confronts the lava monster, Te Ka, initially with aggression and enmity. Yet (spoiler alert!) she finally subdues the monster with compassion, empathy and gentleness.
4) Empowered girls and women are a great, and necessary, thing– It’s not about limiting men, or crippling them at the knees, or anything really about men at all. It’s about raising girls with belief in themselves and their abilities. And not just in their looks. Moana defies the stereotypical “look” of a princess. She is darker skinned, more muscular, has long, dark, wavy, hair and is, most of all, herself. That is true beauty. Another aspect is that her father strives to keep her safe from his own traumatic experience. Not in itself a bad thing. Yet Moana shows that she can actually exceed her father’s own accomplishments in that area. He eventually must admit and accept his daughter’s power to go beyond what he himself could achieve. In part, because of the foundation he provided for her. Essentially without an empowered woman their whole society would be doomed. When everyone in a society is empowered, everyone benefits. Oppress certain members and the whole system suffers.
5) Process and address your traumas– Moana’s father’s unaddressed traumas almost prevented Moana from saving her island from destruction. She defied him and overcame these limitations. But imagine a father that had worked on his traumas and had not passed them on to the next generation. Ideally we don’t want our children to have to “defy” us to achieve their true calling. Yet, parenting with unaddressed, generational traumas, does require that children break away and defy a fear-based and and oppressive parenting style, in order to achieve their calling. The further you can travel down the road to psychological health as a parent, the greater head start you provide your children towards achieving fulfillment in life.