Therapy for Star Wars: The Force Awakens
My husband is a Star Wars geek.
I knew this fact before we married and I accepted this about him. When we moved in together, I became acutely aware of the degree of his geekiness as I was exposed to the Star Wars games, books, DVDs, VHS tapes, audio recordings and three huge bins filled with toys that accompanied him. I was able to push aside his childhood obsession with the movies because it never really affected me directly. His things were quietly shuffled to the attic where they took up residence for about eight years. Yes, he would try to talk about Star Wars quite a bit, but the glazed look in my eyes usually cut these conversations short. His Star Wars obsession lay dormant until the day when he realized that our son was old enough to pass on his legacy.
From that day forward, not one day of the collective life in our household has passed without the mention of Star Wars on some level. The topics could include repeating movie lines, dialogue during play with the ten thousand Star Wars item we own, debates over who is a stronger Jedi and even the use of the Force to motivate my son to complete a task. With all of this Star Wars activity, it became impossible for me to not become part of its culture. Somehow over the past two or three years, I have been so inundated with Star Wars information that I am actually able to provide my son with Star Wars trivia off the top of my head (which he requests at night instead of a bedtime story).
As a therapist, I naturally tend to see the characters of the movie through an analytical lens and my husband indulges me in this.
The story line is not as simple as good versus evil, as we know real life is not. My husband tells all of us that Darth Vader isn't bad, he is misunderstood. So after viewing The Force Awakens (on opening night, of course!), I began to consider the issues that each character possesses and how I might be able to help resolve them.
Here are my top 4:
Rey: She is a young girl who lives alone in an abandoned AT-AT Walker, scrounging for food, waiting for parents who will never return and dreaming of becoming a pilot one day. In therapy, we might discover that Rey has social anxiety and panics when she has to interact with others or ask for help. She might also find that because she never had a positive adult role model, she never gained the self esteem to believe that she can achieve her dreams. Do you think they have group therapy on Tatooine?
Finn: An ex stormtrooper with a conscience. As he matures into adulthood, he realizes that he is not the mindless, bloodthirsty and callous soldier that he was raised to be. In therapy, I can help Finn develop his own identity based on his own belief system. We can process his anger towards the First Order that forced him into becoming a stormtrooper at a young age. Finn can learn to be a leader, and maybe to use the Force? I don't know if I'm qualified for that last skill.
Han and Leia: Their 40 year relationship seems to be unstable for several reasons. Han is always in and out of legal trouble and his sarcasm and one liners are no longer charming. Leia, a princess, is used to a certain level of respect and admiration that Han cannot and should not have to provide in a romantic relationship. In addition to their interpersonal issues, they have both suffered a major loss when their son turned against them and everything they believe in by going to the dark side. I really think I could have helped them with these issues by improving communication and understanding, but their son Kylo killed Han, so there goes that.
Kylo Ren: Oh Kylo, from the outside he appears very imposing with a scary mask, triple bladed light saber and black hooded robe. But on the inside he is just Ben Solo, an emotional, angry and insecure young man with some major grandpa issues. Kylo fixates on his grandfather, Darth Vader, who once ruled the galaxy and held ultimate power. Kylo's misguided idolization has contributed to some extremely poor decisions, including ruining control panels in fits of rage and also killing his father. But, as my husband told me, Darth Vader was misunderstood. Perhaps I can help Kylo see that Darth's evil actions originally had a good purpose. In doing so, he might choose the light side of the Force, that lived even within his grandfather and make better decisions. I would probably also be a little inappropriate and ask him what products he uses because his hair is FABULOUS!
I know it may seem odd that I have put this much thought into fictitious characters, but in a household like mine they often seem like they are real. Maybe one day Star Wars will put a new spin on a sequel and call it Star Wars: The Issues of the Jedi. In the meantime, may the force be with you!