Foundational Issues Explored In Metaphor by Encanto - A Therapist's Analysis ***SPOILER ALERT***
Let me start by saying that, I, along with much of the rest of the world, am finding that I am seriously enchanted by Disney's latest hit, Encanto! I've only watched it 5-6 times 🥴
I'm very excited that my children get to grow up in a world where Disney movies will not be riddled with damsel-in-distress princesses waiting to be saved by princes, but with REAL, soulful experiences doused with stories celebrating multiculturalism, highlighting family dynamics, and shared human experiences!
I felt so sparked to sound off about the underlying magic of this movie, not only as a therapist, but as a human being!
Let me just SAY --
I'm so happy for the Latinx community and Afro-Latinas everywhere! I am also happy for people of color, because I believe in many ways, there are shared dynamic that show up for many os us.
Here is my take on a few of the Madrigals -
Abuela Madrigal - The matriarch. She has pushed off her trauma onto her descendants, subconsciously, creating a tremendous amount of pressure for them to be "all of the things" that she couldn't be. It has never crossed her mind to consider what they may actually want out of life. This sounds absurd to her, because she didn't necessarily get to choose things about her life. When Mirabel points out that the foundation of their home, which to me, represented the family structure, was breaking! I also think it was no mistake that no one else could see it, but felt the weight of it. Abuela also KNEW that it was cracking and "fragile", but publicly disregarded Mirabel's claim. This is how often times, the head or families that perpetuate these dynamics know deep down that something isn't right, but believe they must keep it all together for appearances.
Luisa Madrigal - The STRONG 💪 one. I think I can drop the mic 🎙 here, but I'm a go further. This is the person in the family that everyone depends on. This person usually appears to have their own stuff together but feels very anxious and resentful about being expected to do everything for everyone all the time. But this person also doesn't say no, because their worth is also tied to how much they can help 😕 A line in Luisa's song where she says, "I'm Pretty Sure I'm Worthless, If I Can't Be of Service". & this broke my heart, being that Luisa is a person who should be sitting in my office as a boundary setting expert. But it is so relatable, and so telling.
Isabela Madrigal - The pressure to be perfect, the inability to express true emotions due to the harmful facade of perfectionism is usually what plagues this person in the family. People usually adore them or envy them, with neither reaction coming from people who truly know them beneath the surface. They often do not know themselves, because they never had the opportunity to explore this, as they've always had the pressure to be perfect. They feel a tremendous about of pressure and often feel very lonely, but also the only way they know to connect with others is to flex 🤷♀️ . They learned from their upbringing that their worth is tied to their ability to be "perfect" & they have no internal understanding of getting to be human, mistakes are unheard of.
Maribel Madrigal - Mirabel is the outcast with "no gift" for a long time. Eventually her gift is shown to be that she is to break the generational curse of unreasonable expectations, and fraudulent appearances to appease Abuela and maintain a dusfunctional family system. She was traumatized along her journey like the others, but ultimately the person who noticed the family's cracks and became determined to break down the house and rebuild it's foundation on healthy grounds. There is so much symbolism in that. She has to call out the root of the problem, Abuela, and stand up for everyone, leaving the house crumbled, which was her biggest fear. She spent much of the movie trying to keep this from happening! But it turns out, the house had to break so that it could be rebuilt in a healthy way.
Julieta Madrigal - She is the Luisa of her generation. The Healer, the one to be there for others...possibly never putting herself first.
Pepa Madrigal - Tia Pepa, has caved under the pressure of the family dynamic, hence she is experienced by others as dramatic. This is likely because she didn't have space to express her true feelings, much like Isabela. So Experiencing them after they've been bottled up and dismissed for so long, looks like this. Boom 🤯 Your dramatic Auntie who needs all of the attention on her...explained! Scratched the surface at least...
Bruno Madrigal - The Mirabel of his generation, outcasted and alienated for telling truths and being different. His truths held the key to healing for the family though. Isn't that how it usually goes for the black sheep 🐑 ?
The TRUTH? Oh no, "We don't talk about Bruno!"
In the end, Abuela admits to her mistakes after shaming Mirabel and being called out and the family is able to rebuild it's foundation, allowing the community in to help, instead of trying to keep up appearances.
Many times, we don't get this ending....we often just have to learn to set boundaries and set ourselves free from harmful family dynamics and create new paths.
Great job though, Disney! On giving the world something to think about, holding up a mirror to families and individuals alike.
If you see yourself in one of the Encanto characters, and you feel ready to break free, go ahead and schedule yourself a free 15 minute consultation below! Let's talk about how to break those chains!
SCHEDULE YOUR FREE CONSULTATION HERE!