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Why Therapists Talk About "Charm" Characters


"Charm" is receiving praise from therapists for how the film portrays trauma and healing, helping viewers with mental health issues.

Composer of "Encanto" reveals some secrets of the film 3:38

Editor's Note:

This story contains spoilers for "Charm," which is currently in theaters and available to stream on Disney+.

(CNN) --

Kadesha Adelakun bought the "Charm" toys before she had a chance to see the movie.

He knew characters from a multiracial Afro-Latino family would be an important addition to his office in Kennesaw, Georgia, where he conducts play therapy sessions and strives to find toys that reflect the diversity of his young patients' lives.

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When he finally saw the film on Disney+, Adelakun realized that the figurines fit together even better than he had imagined.

The plot of "Encanto," he says, perfectly captures the problems many families go through.

“There are a lot of layers, a lot of dynamics,” says Adelakun.

Although the catchy songs of "Enchantment" top the charts, Disney's latest animated film is drawing praise from therapists like Adelakun for another reason: the way the film portrays trauma and healing.


The therapists who spoke to CNN say they are discussing the film with their clients, many of whom are first-generation children of immigrants who see themselves reflected in the story, listen to their experiences on the soundtrack and use "Enchantment" to speak. of things that otherwise would not be said.

"I think it will have a huge impact on society. ... People are watching this movie and realizing that they see themselves in it," says Adelakun.

Here's a look at several key "Charm" characters and the conversations they're sparking:

The healer who tries to support her whole family

Mirabel, from "Charm"

The character:


The song that stands out:

"Waiting On a Miracle"

What therapists hear:

At the beginning of "Encanto", Mirabel introduces us to the Madrigal family, cheerfully describing the "gift" or magical power of each one.

We later learn that there is a darker side to magic and the family's haunted house, originating in a traumatic moment after the family is forced to flee their home, trek across the desert, and cross a river in search of security.

Mirabel is the only member of the Madrigal family who does not receive a gift.

But in the end, her power lies in seeing her family members for who they are and doing everything she can to keep them together.

"Mirabel was really the glue of the family, but no one really saw it," says Adelakun.

And it's no accident that her character is someone many can relate to, says Mara Sammartino, a therapist in Fairfield, California.

"Our parents come here fleeing war, poverty, violence. They come here, establish a life, and then we're born into this duality, and we're not seen in one, and we're not seen in the other. I think because of That resonates with Mirabel's character," says Sammartino, whose parents came to the United States from Nicaragua.

"She is part of that duality. She is the only one who is in contact with the community. ... She is the only one who (leaves the house) and goes out, talks to people. Then she comes home and they put her in her place and They tell him: 'You really don't have anything to contribute'".

Jenny Lemus, a psychotherapist in Chicago, says she heard the sentiments that many of her clients have expressed over the years in Mirabel's song, "Waiting on a Miracle."

"He tries to communicate with his grandmother: 'Look, this is what I'm living. I want to be seen.' They want recognition at least, and they're not getting it," says Lemus.

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The perfectionist who feels like she can't fail

Isabela, charming

The character:


The song that stands out:

"What Else Can I Do?"

What therapists hear:

At first glance, it seems that Isabela has it all;

she is able to make flowers out of nothing and waves her long hair like she has no worries.

But their song reveals just how limiting perfectionism can be.

Adelakun, whose parents came to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago, says the message is understandable to many children of immigrants, including her.

"In my family, one of the main things is not to let them down... especially when you know that they have made sacrifices to come to this country, to send you to good schools, to live in certain neighborhoods, just the importance of not letting your family down. and try to live up to their expectations," he says.

First-generation children "constantly get the message that we have to be more," says Lemus, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Guatemala.

And those pressures, he says, can take their toll.

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"There is a lot of anger. Sometimes we don't know where the anger is coming from. Why do I feel so angry with my parents or my grandparents? What's going on? You see that a lot with first-generation Latinos, a lot of resentment that builds up because of that pressure that is not said within the family dynamics," says Lemus.

"'Charm' had such a beautiful way of subtly portraying that. ... Those of us who saw the movie and identified with it, got the message. We identified with it a lot. And I think that's why it's been so successful" .

Charm dethrones Adele and that's not all 3:38

The sister who carries the weight of her family on her shoulders

Luisa, from "Enchantment"



Song That Stands Out:

"Surface Pressure"

What therapists hear:

Big-muscled Luisa is used to lugging around everything her family needs her to handle.

And his song in which he confesses that he is about to break under the weight of it all is resonating with many people.

"It perfectly describes what anxiety is," says Lemus, whose patients are predominantly first-generation Latinos.

"A lot of clients identify with Luisa, who is experiencing the pressure of...carrying the burden of her younger siblings...having that pressure (to) protect the younger siblings from her own experiences. It's eye-opening, and I'm so glad to have clients who are very insightful and can relate to that.

Seeing Luisa's struggle depicted on screen can help those facing similar difficulties better understand and describe their own situation, says Sammartino.

"I think 'Encanto' gives some clients a little bit of space. They may say, 'Oh well, look at Luisa.' They're not going to say, 'Well, that's me.' They say, 'Luisa experiences that. I'm sorry. by Luisa'".

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The untold family secret

Bruno from "Charm"

The character:


The song that stands out:

"We Don't Talk About Bruno" / "We don't talk about Bruno"

What therapists hear:

When it comes to Bruno, who is ostracized by his family and ends up hiding in the walls of the Madrigals' house so he can be around but not have to face them, there's a lot to talk about.

Bruno's gift is seeing the future, and his family members blame him when prophecies come true.

Some of his mannerisms led to speculation about other possible diagnoses for the character, which is the subject of the most popular song in the film.

"Think differently. See things differently," says Adelakun.

"We have family members who are also neurodivergent or have mental health issues, and because they're different, they're shunned or not talked about."

Family secrets, like the stories that come to light when Bruno is discussed in the film, are a common display of the intergenerational trauma that many first-generation families deal with, says Lemus.

"We don't talk about feelings. We don't talk about emotions. We don't talk about trauma. It's so taboo to bring it up, and it's uncomfortable to even express ourselves," says Lemus, who says he tries to work with patients to help them learn to better communicate those feelings. .

But also, he says, "without the expectation that it's going to be taken the way we expect. Because... we don't know how our parents or grandparents are going to take those tough conversations... From generation to generation, if you didn't learn to express your emotions, you're not going to know how to communicate in a healthy way.

The matriarch who passes on her trauma

Grandma, from "Charm"

The character:


The song that stands out:

"Dos Oruguitas" (plays in the background during a flashback that shows the traumatic origin of the Madrigal family's powers)

What therapists hear:

Protecting her family and her haunted house is Grandma's top priority.

She is obsessed with maintaining her magical powers and doesn't realize how her experiences as a young mother, running away from home and losing her husband, have shaped her and her family.

It is only when the house falls apart and he almost loses everything that he realizes his role in the fracture of the family.

For Sammartino, it's a perfect example to point to as he tries to help his clients empathize with their elders.

"My way of trying to support my clients is to really develop a lens of empathy for their parents and the trauma they experienced," says Sammartino.

"Like Grandma in the movie, her husband was killed in front of her. Why wouldn't she be overprotective?"

It's a classic illustration of intergenerational trauma, Adelakun says, and something that will likely resonate more and more as the film gains a larger audience.

"As more people see this movie, or as more people talk about it, I think there will probably be more people who realize that they've repressed these things. I wonder how many people we'll see say, 'I didn't realize, or I forgot, but I also had those same experiences', or 'I didn't realize I was doing that to my relatives'. Abuela didn't realize she was doing all this to harm her family," says Adelakun.

In the film, Abuela apologizes when she realizes the damage she has caused.

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But Lemus warns that there is something that is important to remember.

In real life, he says, Disney-style endings are rare.

"We don't see that ending often. When we see it, when we see the Mirabels of the world making changes for their family and for themselves, it's very beautiful," he says.

"It's also beautiful when they do the work and when they realize that they need to set boundaries in their families."

Sometimes families grow apart instead of coming together with a shared understanding.

It's a sad outcome, Lemus says, but it doesn't stop individuals from coming to terms with the trauma and giving future generations a healthy start.

Even without a Disney ending, he says, healing is possible.


Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2022-01-18

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