The film, The Light Between Oceans, starring Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander tells the story of a couple’s tragic decision and its consequences. Grieving from the loss of three pregnancies, the lead characters find and keep an infant who survives a shipwreck near the lighthouse where they live.
Their motivations and how they deal with the discovery of the child’s natural mother make for gripping drama and a wealth of psychology topics to explore for your research papers.
Representations of symbolism
Published in 2012, The Light Between Oceans, was M.L. (Margot) Stedman’s debut novel. Because of her reluctance to conduct interviews, we know little about her beyond the fact that she grew up in Western Australia where the story takes place.
Several themes run through the story forming its core including: family, truth and morality. The character of Tom Sherbourne has survived the horrors of World War I and is looking forward to a new life when he meets and marries Isabel. They maintain an existence of happy solitude on the island of Janus Rock where Tom staffs the lighthouse.
Dreams of family are dashed when Isabel experiences two miscarriages and a stillbirth. No doubt, grief, guilt and depression are prime catalysts that move the characters through the rest of the story. So does the location itself which is rife with symbolism as Linda Morris pointed out in her March 24, 2012, “Interview: M.L. Stedman,” for TheAge.com.
According to Morris, the lighthouse represents illumination of the tension between the characters and the choices they have made.
“Isabel and Tom are the two oceans of Stedman’s title drawn together and tested in the cloistered surrounds of the lighthouse, and eventually driven apart by the cold light of reality,” Morris said.
Imagine dealing with grief and loss while living on an isolated island as Isabel did. The journey through her emotional upheaval might have been eased with the help of an experienced counselor or therapist.
In her book, Grief Unseen: Healing Pregnancy Loss Through the Arts, Laura Seftel explored the therapeutic use of imagination and how the use of myths, legends and spontaneous images can make feelings easier to work with and control. The book is intended as a working model which takes the reader through the various stages of imagery and symbolism, and is illustrated by many case studies that highlight various principles and topics, and create a bridge between theory and practice.
The book began with a description from Seftel’s own experiences of losing a baby that was miscarried. After using art and writing to help her work through her grief, she founded an arts project called the Secret Club.
“Why is it that we still can’t talk openly about pregnancy loss? Perhaps part of the difficulty in creating a meaningful dialogue is that words are not adequate to convey every human experience. Many women report that it is not easy for them to articulate the depth of emotions and physical sensations stirred up by a pregnancy loss,” Seftel said.
The need for therapy
Therapy, also called psychotherapy, is employed to eliminate or alleviate any emotional distress or undesirable habits that may handicap a person. It is designed as a series of sessions to help the patient to examine their mental thought and reach long-term improvement.
When does a person need therapy? John M. Grohol, Psy.D. created a questionnaire, “Do I Need Therapy? Quiz,” to help readers find the answer. Common reasons why a person might seek therapy include:
- Relationship/sexual problems
- Significant or chronic emotional distress
- Recent loss
Examples of therapy activities that include art, play and small groups can be found at CreativeCounseling101.com.
Do you feel that the use of psychology in counseling and therapy are needed? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.