Silver Linings Playbook and wounded healers


May 5

Silver Linings Playbook is about two people who are both facing emotional challenges. Both Pat and Tiffany face mental health issues that concern their families and friends. Both are experiencing pain and loss and making destructive choices to deal with those.

Pain is such a universal experience and Silver Linings Playbook tells an encouraging story about growth and healing. Pat and Tiffany are responding to their wounds in self-destructive ways. It takes someone who has felt pain to help heal pain. Yet each is so self-absorbed, so intent on his or her own pain that they dismiss one another’s as less intense or legitimate but they reluctantly become wounded healers toward one another.

Each has a need the other can meet and this serves as a starting point for serving one another. When they begin a project together, preparing for a dance competition, pain finds less prominent place in their lives as they are able to get their eyes off self.

Carl Jung used the myth of Chiron, a “wounded healer” from Greek mythology to espouse the theory that it is the healer’s own wounds that empowers him to heal. Writer Henri Nouwen in his book The Wounded Healer talks about suffering and its impact on the world, the generation, the individual, and the minster. Like the movie, he presents the idea that “the same powers that enable man to create new life styles carry the potential for self-destruction.” It is on this sword’s edge that Pat and Tiffany carry their pain. As wounded healers they are vulnerable to one another and vulnerable to the destructive habits each uses to address the pain. Each wrestles with insecurity and the temptation to default to hopelessness.

A scriptural perspective suggests that “suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope.” So much of endurance is simply showing up, as Pat and Tiffany learn through the discipline it takes to prepare for their performance together. That accountability to one another builds character, especially in Pat.

Both Tiffany and Pat desperately want to hope but are guarded. Having faced devastating loss and disappointment they recognize that hope carries with it the potential for more hurt. Hope requires vulnerability. It’s a struggle for both of them.

I really liked Silver Linings Playbook. In spite of its subject matter it was funny and engaging. The characters, even the minor characters, were developed and endearing and just as messed up in their own ways as Pat and Tiffany…or any of us. We don’t have to be in perfect shape ourselves to help one another toward hope and healing.




Comments are closed.