Saturday, November 6, 2010

Daughter from Danang, Summary and Reflection

First of all, gut-wrenching may not be the best word to describe this film.  It did turn my stomach though, but not out of action.  To me, gut-wrenching sounds like high octane action.  Also though to me this is a perfect way to show the dramatic differences between cultures, from the large scale differences in pace and individualism to the subtle nuances of some other stuff.  Cultural differences are apparent, and I found it interesting how culture is basically not really genetic.  Heidi grew up in the US and it is very apparent, from her ‘me first’ attitude and self-centered outlook to her feeling of uncomfortably with lots of touching, she did not fit in at all.  Heidi places huge expectations upon this visit to emotionally fill a void in her life from an unloving and damaged childhood.  Partly because of that expectation she was really let down and it caused her a lot of anguish from the disappointment.

Even when Heidi had her first meeting with her mother, I could tell that Heidi was holding herself back and silently yet really slightly judging her mother.  She was uncomfortable with this woman whom she had never met hugging and kissing her, and they did not speak the same language to top it off.  Outwardly their personalities were different, especially because Heidi has a great fear of what others think of her.  I felt uncomfortable because whenever Heidi was uncomfortable, she became somewhat unpredictable.  It was disheartening to see her act like a spoiled brat that thought she had it together and was above the rest.  Her family in Danang was very open, outwardly loving, and real.  Heidi did not act like this very much; she was much more reserved, judgmental, and distanced.  Because of this misunderstanding on the foundation level, many problems arose.  I also related to her feeling of awkwardness around touchy-feely people, especially family.  I know that there are specific roles, or scripts, in close groups, and when people begin to feel like family or close to the people in the groups, they act out their script.  This is one of the benefits of group therapy as opposed to individual therapy.  Issues with family members will be projected upon the group.  Heidi’s closeness issues, as well as her baby child issues (wants everybody to take care of her), came out quickly, once she set it in her mind that these people were family.

Heidi’s childhood was very damaging.  It definitely did not well equip her to succeed, particularly in personal relationships. Heidi has a reluctance to capitulate to her Danang family’s unconditional love, due to her fear of closeness and rejection/abandonment, stemming directly from her damaged childhood.  When children’s mental processes are developing, they are very impressionable.  Problems during this time of development are easily seen later in life.  Heidi was completely uprooted toward the end of this crucial developmental period.  Therefore, much of what she had learned in early childhood was unusable when she came to the US.  This is traumatic, and she even said she used to cry and cry for her mother.  Then, Heidi was raised in the US by a strict, cold, unloving, untouching, and somewhat demented woman.  This situation is a nightmare.  By the filming of the movie, Heidi’s second mother had completely severed any ties her, going so far as to say that she considered herself to not have a daughter.  No matter what a child has done, there is no excuse for this behavior by Heidi’s adopted mother.  Twice Heidi has been abandoned.  It must have taken a lot for her to build up the courage to go try it again halfway across the world with people she had never met.  Also, it must have taken a lot of expectation.  I believe that Heidi, being so damaged by abandonment, would only be willing to face her Vietnamese family if she believed that it would take the place of