Once upon a dream


An interesting aspect of the new Hollywood revisionist take on the 'Sleeping Beauty' tale, 'Maleficent' - aptly starring Ms. Angelina Jolie as the titular character - is how it re-casts the cherished fairy-tale notion of 'true love's kiss'.

[Warning: Spoilers ahead for those who have not seen the film]

We are used to the traditional idea of how a prince will awaken the damsel with a kiss. I will not delve on the many problems this notion itself has caused, but instead focus on what the film does - which is to re-define 'true love's kiss' as that between a maternal figure and child, rather than between a prince and a maiden. It is Maleficent's tender peck on Aurora's forehead, conveying her regret and demonstrating her genuine affection and love for the child of her enemy, that breaks the curse.

Many people ask me if it is true that a person's neurosis is always linked to their parents, often their mother. While I would not agree that it is always the case, in my experience, the individual's relationship with their primary care-giver during their formative years is key. This person may be a mother, a father, a sibling or other guardian - what is vital is that the child experiences a sense of affirmation and loving regard.

In the film, Aurora is brought up - arguably badly - by three sprites, and it is in fact her relationship with Maleficent, who is often cast as the arch villain of the story, that strengthens and ultimately saves her. Somewhere in this Hollywood fable lies a complicated truth - that love, under its many guises and irregardless of any intellectual intention, wins.

A cornerstone of the counselling work with therapeutic clients is the invocation of their own ability to repair the dysfunctional aspects of their upbringing by applying awareness and will to choose love over past hurts, pain and sadness, so that they can face the future without being trapped by the past. A paradigm shift in perspective leads the way.