What can we learn from Mirabel? Encanto and Macro-Cultural Psychology
by Sincere Bartlett
Few films speak to our world the way Encanto does. It’s its gift, a well-told story that offers a conversation on the role of family dynamics and how it affects our abilities as humans to connect to those closest to us in our development. Aligned with the thinking of Macro-Cultural Psychology, the journey of Mirabel leads us on a journey we can all learn from.
Disney’s recent film, tugs at the heartstrings differently. It speaks about what makes a family what it is, and the miracles we share with our community, especially those who are not evident to the eye. I’m the adopted older sister to four siblings with their own gifts and this role teaches you the power of being seen and loved for what makes you unique. In the pursuit of this lesson, I was introduced to Macro-Cultural psychology, a theory working to logically frame an understanding of how our beliefs and reactions are created.
This theory was conceived contemporarily by psychologist/author Carl Ratner. It affirms the psychological phenomena and the reaction it provokes, as being rooted in historical forces such as politics, family, religious beliefs, and economics. This line of thinking makes space for all that exists in our identities. If we lean into learning them, would we see the same growth? Mirabel gives us insight working to help our families navigate growth in this line of theory.
As the film begins, we are quickly introduced to the magical powers of the members of the Madrigal family, by Mirabel the only person without powers. The implications of this perceived difference strain her relationships with family. She feels embarrassment, shame, or the burden of feeling as though she is not enough, like many of us have felt. The dynamic of these pressures of the gifted versus the non-gifted create a supposed separation in the shared emotion, as that happens, the family home spirals.
The journey enlightens us to the real villain; a violent and traumatic loss, once on the shoulders of the matriarch Abuela Alma Madrigal. Mirabel’s ability to appreciate the external factors that affect her family, especially her abuela, allows her to save her family. These insecurities exist for us all. They show a light on the actions of others that stick with us, and make their way into our hearts, minds, and words. Mirabel’s acceptance and sight reminds of us the importance of seeing people as they are, rather than as we want them to be. So that we can move forward. Because mutual understanding is just what every family needs. Aligning this film with the thinking of macro cultural psychology, as an eldest sibling teaches you to be proud. There is freedom in love as is. Encanto, through the lens of the Macro-Cultural Psychology Theory, enlightens families as to how one day in life can touch us through generations, and how shared healing may save our mental health and relationships.
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