A school counsellor who has a beautiful family of an airplane pilot husband and two beautiful daughters revealed her alcoholic side to the family. When a Man Loves a Woman depicts the story of Alice Green who has a serious drinking problem that ultimately ruined her family relationship but she was rescued and is forgiven by the family. In the film, a few key characters that showcased dynamic and prominent traits that are worth to be psychologically assessed are as follow:-
a) Alice Green
The alcoholic mother and school counsellor, who is the main character of the film, repeatedly got herself into trouble with her alcoholism to the extent she got herself hurt and admitted to a hospital. Alice experienced the typical alcoholic’s stages that are cause of alcoholism, effects felt by the alcoholic’s family, recognition and rehabilitation. It is discussed further as below.
The cause of her alcoholism was not clearly explained in the film but she mentioned that due to her father’s previous alcohol problem that increased her likelihood of her experimentation with alcohol. Besides that, Alice did credit her drinking problem to the work stress as well as her husband’s constant infrequent presence at home (Michael is an airplane pilot), leaving her to be responsible in raising their family alone. All this factors have caused her drinking even more and increased the severity.
The next stage of alcoholism is the effects felt by the alcoholic’s family, in the film, the family members of Alice comprised of her husband and two daughters are the direct ones to be impacted by her alcoholism. For example, Alice’s eldest daughter, Jess is the one who is negatively affected by Alice’s alcoholism. One afternoon, Alice exhibits the ‘less nurturing and attentive’ side when she returned home after drinking and seeing Jess in the living room, Alice commanded that she finish her homework while ignored her daughter’s request to admire a picture she drew on the computer. Then after, Alice stumbled upstairs to find some aspirin, walked into her closet, retrieved a liquor bottle, and washed down the medicine. All the while, Jess watches her mother’s irresponsible actions, concerned that she is ill. Followed by, Alice abusive act of smacking Jess’s face across when she was asked of her condition. Alice was not sober enough to know how her action had impacted Jess. Then after, Alice went to shower but she could not even stand straight while showering which caused her to faint and fall onto the glass shower door. Jess was worried that she thought Alice was dead by calling her father to report. This physically abusive behavior of Alice is a typical alcoholic parent and is increasingly common during intoxication. Alice’s husband is also emotionally affected by her alcoholism.
The third stage of alcoholism is recognition whereby the alcoholic recognized the impact of her alcoholism on herself and her family. After the incident of her being hospitalized after fainting and falling in the shower, she came to a realization of the addiction for alcohol has reached to a high level of idiocy and suicidal which she was shameful and disappointed in herself. Also, she was remorseful of the physical abuse towards her daughter Jess.
With that, she has decided to get herself into a rehab centre to be rehabilitated. With the support from her husband and her daughter, she has successfully admitted into the rehab centre and survived through the grueling phase of going ‘cold turkey’ on alcohol as part of the detoxification program. Fortunately, she was able to stay sober for about 6 months since she checked out of the rehab centre signifying her rehabilitation process was successful. This is the last stage of alcoholism that Alice had endured and survived.
b) Michael Green
Michael, the husband to Alice has been a very patient and loving man who loves her unconditionally and always is by her side when her alcoholism has skyrocketed to an uncontrollable state. He was very supportive of her when she was sent to the rehab centre by taking responsibility to take care of the family while she was away and at the meantime, he ensured her that he and the daughters are waiting for her return from recovery when she was admitted for the first few days and finally got to phone back home to speak to Michael.
In the film, Michael is also portrayed as the typical problem fixer. For example, when Alice was having a bad mood and stayed in the dark in the living room of their home, Michael went to her and asked her what is wrong? She pushed him away but he insisted in helping her out to overcome her bad day. However, it ended up into a heated argument between them with Michael flipping the coffee table and feeling frustrated for not being able to solve Alice’s problem. He was merely being a typical problem fixer but Alice did not want him to be the fixer. Ultimately, they got separated but Michael never stopped loving her and missing her dearly the whole time. This showed the extent of love he has for Alice which is unconditional.
c) Jess Green
After the incident of being smacked by her mother, Jess had developed a mild form of avoidance towards her mother. For example, when Alice had to leave for the rehab centre, Jess was slightly cold towards – avoiding eye contact with Alice, and when Jess was on a visitation trip to visit Alice in the rehab centre, she was hiding behind Michael for awhile before being convinced by him that Alice is fine, sober and sane. All this while, Jess has never felt abandoned by her mother. On a day-to-day basis, children of alcoholics are always in fear of abandonment, feel a lack of love and embarrassment. However, Jess only feels deserted after Alice leaves. The most obvious example would be her attempt to act out the role of mother by cooking breakfast for Kasey. Fortunately, Jess was not severely traumatised by the incident of the mother being an alcoholic but rather she understood that her mother is hurt and that Alice is a messed up mother. For such a young age, Jess is pretty much a grown up in the family, pent up her emotions and cope it by herself. For example, when Michael told her that he would be moving away and talked through with her the reason to it, she understood the whole situation and regulated her emotions by crying and rationalizing it with Michael.
Overall, the film’s theme revolves around the adverse effects of alcoholism on one’s family and marriage. With recognition and willingness to work on her sobriety, Alice was able to salvage her livelihood when in reality, most alcoholics do not recognize the disease and get the chance to get back their life as it was before, therefore never recover successfully with relapses. With that, there are a few similar themed films on addiction (any form) that should be checked out and they are as follow:-
Requiem for a Dream (drug addiction) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgo3Hb5vWLE
Leaving Las Vegas (alcoholism) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ke6kU0rD8Jg
Trainspotting (on heroin addiction) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBKWnAdmJJ8