Monday, March 24, 2014

Film Series: Children and Trauma: Pan’s (the Faun’s) Labyrinth (2006)

Director Guillermo Del Toro commented on Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) as “a girl who needs to disobey anything except her soul.”  Our discussant Adriana Novoa, PhD (Dept. History, USF) elaborated the theme of disobedience: Not simply the anti-Franco fighters against the fascists; Ofelia repeatedly disobeying her stepfather Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez) and ultimately the faun (Doug Jones) –which leads to redemption and the restoration of her family. At the end of the film we see clearly through the fantasy when the stepfather finds Ofelia talking to the faun but sees her talking to no one, and Novoa notes here that the audience is posed with the question of whether to obey reality or to choose fantasy which allows the narrative creation to resurrect Ofelia. If the audience chooses reality, Ofelia is dead; Disobey reality and Ofelia is restored to her kingly family and lives on in the underworld.

Novoa also speaks to the question of authority: is it from the control of others, or an understanding (partly through narrative) of knowing oneself? She noted how the sadistic Vidal did not know his own father, and worse, was unknown by his father.  Vidal knew of his father’s famous military bravery, particularly through legend of the father having stopped his watch at the time of his death in battle. Novoa saw this as symbolically cutting off time (and connection) to the future (his son), and Vidal is assiduous about keeping the watch running. When Vidal knows he is about to be killed, he hands his infant son over and instructs the rebels to tell his son of the time of his death. Mercedes (Maribel Verdu) tells Vidal that the baby will never know of his father. And so the transgenerational transmission of trauma is illustrated for each father in turn will not know his son, nor the son the father.

Paulina Robalina, LCSW discussed the dissociation engendered by trauma where a child creates a fantasy world to cope with the untenable reality of (in this film, a mis-attuned mother and a sadistic and murderous stepfather). The ‘Pale Man’ ravenously eats children and fairies alike just like the stepfather tortures and murders rebels and any disobedient sympathizers. The toad is killing the flowering tree just like the stepfather is responsible for the mother’s death (impregnating her, killing the doctor, burning the healing mandrake). Ofelia must make choices not only that obey her soul, but be willing— like any hero or Christ figure— to sacrifice herself to save the innocent.

Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Screenplay (del Toro), Pan’s Labyrinth won three Academy Awards: Best Achievement in Cinematography (Guillermo Navarro), and Best Achievement in Make-up (David Marti, Montse Ribe)and Best Art Direction (Eugenio Caballero-art and Pilar Revuelta-set).

Continuing with the “Children and Trauma” Film Series, next month is The Virgin Suicides on April 13, 2014 at 200pm at 13919 Carrollwood Village Run.

Monday, March 3, 2014


Paper dolls

Paper dolls linked hand in hand, stretched out in a row
Me standing between me, looking to and fro
Hard to see all of me when stretched from here to there
if I try to bend and flex, I easily rip and tear
And when the wind blows
The doll follows like a waif
Some almost letting go, not feeling safe

Better pull together, better pull in close and tight
Now we hold together,
what a lovely site
Fold one over the other,
like an accordion to play
Now there’s strength in numbers,
all here to stay

Each doll important, each make the other strong
All of me’s are different, but none of me’s are wrong
Hugging each other close, now we all belong
Not so easily ripped now, not so easily torn

And when the wind blows, now we flex and bend
Now there’s strength in numbers, now we don’t pretend

Holding tight together it’s much easier to be,
Now I see all of you standing in between me

by Stacie Lauro, MD
Psychiatrist, Psychoanalytic Candidate at TBIPS

co-created with and with much gratitude to:
Heather Pyle, PhD; Bruce Reis, PhD; Alice Bartlett, PhD; Lycia Alexander-Guerra, MD:

Bruce Gilberg, PhD; and, of course, Phillip Bromberg, PhD;  and to patients to whom I am very privileged, honored and grateful to be a part of ... and many others