Monday, May 18, 2009

In Treatment: Rethinking Family


Mia is no longer pregnant (oh, soon we find out she never was). She's tired and she wants to go home or maybe have the session in the waiting room. This troubles Paul, but he sits down anyway.

Mia's mom came to visit her when she thought she was miscarrying--- suddenly mom is repainted in a more sympathetic light. She feeds Mia and she tells her about her own severe post-partum depression after Mia's birth. The events of the family's past-- where mom was always horrible and dad was always wonderful-- are now cast differently. Mia is angry-- her mom is just re-writing history in a way that makes her look better and makes her idealized father villainous. But Paul-- coming from his own father's funeral where he learned that his own evil, abandoning, philandering father had some virtues-- encourages Mia to be open to the possibility that mom wasn't all bad.
Paul tells Mia he knows from experience.

So what did I think? I often feel that when people paint another person as all evil with evil motives, that they may be missing something--- most people don't seem to want to willfully injure others. So I understood that Paul jumped on the opportunity to point out that some of Mia's mother's persona may have been something other than all bad---here she's the sympathetic mom with a tray full of food, confessing all sorts of family secrets, taking her daughter to the doctor. But when Mia doesn't want to see it all this way, Paul pushes the reinterpretation on her a little more strongly than I'm comfortable with. It's as though he's talking to himself, and not considering his patient's story.
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April is angry with Paul. She was feverish and delerious and he called her mother and had mom come to the hospital. Paul points out to April that she has high standards and people let her down. She's quick to write them off for a single mistake, Paul included, even though his intent was for her wellbeing. They bicker. April talks about her childhood, about being the perfect child, about hiding her accomplishments from her mother. Paul wonders if she's repeating a pattern with him. She doesn't like this, but somehow, they come to a place of peace. The session ends and he helps her up. There's something vaguely tragic about it all.