Making Sense of the World Around Us
Myths were an attempt by early humans to make sense of the world around them. Because they had no idea why the sun traveled across the sky, they attributed it to Apollo and his chariot or to Amaterasu. Earthquakes were the result of a cobra shifting or giants hugging. Myths also served to codify a society’s customs and taboos. One would think that with the advent of science and thousands of years of recorded history, myths would have outlived their use and become a thing of the past. However, myths continue to be propagated today, often in the form of movies, television, or video games. Furthermore, because of their reliance on archetype and narrative and their familiarity, myths provide a fertile ground for therapeutic discussion. In fact, one of the giants in the history of psychotherapy, Carl Jung, featured elements of mythology heavily in his work.
Brian Dunphey and The Lion King
Brian Dunphey, the clinical director here at Ocean Recovery, is also very aware of the therapeutic value of myth. If you look around his office, you’ll notice several posters of popular movies. However, Brian isn’t merely a fan of these films; he uses the myths as pillars of his core treatment and healing process. I sat down with Brian to discuss this process and will be featuring his answers as sort of an ongoing “spotlight series” with one of his posters highlighted each month. This month, we’re talking about The Lion King and how Brian uses its stories to help clients learn more about themselves.
Trauma and Suffering
Brian began by saying, “We (the clients and I) start with the concept of ‘Something happened to you a long time ago…it wasn’t fair, it wasn’t right, and certainly, it was not just.’ However, if today you are abusing or depriving yourself or someone else of dignity, belonging or new relationships, you must stop and acknowledge that truth and seek help to heal.” Brian is drawing a parallel here. On one hand is Simba’s unjust exile from the Pride Lands due to the trickery of Scar. On the other is the trauma that is almost invariably at the root of a client’s suffering.
I replied that the abuse and deprivation analogy seems obvious enough in the case of the client – drinking and drugging certainly fall into those categories – but how does that part tie back into The Lion King? Brian laughed. “This is where people either say I am crazy or insist I’ve ruined the movie. But it’s true: ‘Hakuna Matata’ is a drug binge. The message of the song is ‘when faced with a problem, avoid it by having fun instead.’ ‘No worries for the rest of your days.’ So it isn’t saying that worry is useless and to face your fears, but that worry is the nudge to run and play away.” I had to admit he had a point. After all, Simba eventually realizes he can’t run from the past or his fears and must return to the Pride Lands to set things right.
Passionate, Informed, and Connected
Other concepts we discussed include The Lion King‘s “Circle of Life;” Simba, Scar and the entitled “King Baby;” attachment parenting; and being honest about vulnerability and mortality. While I can’t go into detail on all of them here or this would turn into a series on The Lion King alone, I do want to point out that Brian Dunphey’s approach is representative of the Ocean Recovery staff: it’s passionate, informed, always looking for connections with clients, and always coming back around to recovery. It’s how we help out clients build their foundation for hope. If you or someone you love is struggling with drugs or alcohol, please give us a call today.