Love Lessons From 'Oz The Great & Powerful'


ruby slippers
Plus: how "the wizard" will ruin your relationship.

James Franco's wizard character could readily be diagnosed as a narcissist. Narcissists are charming, and with a slight of hand, can make you admire them and serve their every need. So, when love interest Theodora first meets Oz, he both fulfills the "prophecy" and seductively tickles her fancy, and she falls for her newly appointed wizard. Like Theodora, we become preoccupied with our "wizards" and rest all our hope on them. These kinds of wizards tantalize our minds and emotions. So, when Oz fails Theodora, as all wizards eventually do, her love turns to hate. And if we make our lover into a wizard, we too will end up hating him as well.

I have a client who was notably ignored by both of her parents when she was young. Because of this, she carries around an inner-emptiness and a strong longing for someone to make her feel better inside. That someone is her wizard husband. However, it is reasonable to look to our partners to satisfy (adult) relational needs. After all, we can't be relational alone. However, wizards may promise to "cure us," and while the thought is irresistible, it's never true.


So, every time my client's husband misses the mark, she gets re-injured and often throws a temper tantrum. My job as a therapist was to slowly pull back the curtain and let her see that he is just an imperfect human being that she loves and he loves her. He cannot deliver her form her childhood neglect.

In the original story, Toto pulled back the curtain and the wizard was exposed as a fraud. In the end, Dorothy found Tin Man (love), Lion (power) and Scarecrow (mindfulness) — the three attributes necessary for a healthy relationship — not from the wizard, but from taking the journey herself. And so it was with my client that over time — and lots of work in therapy — she developed her own capacity for Tin Man, Lion and especially for her, Scarecrow, which helped her find her way to a better home, a more healed home, a happier home. Because of this growth, she is now freer to have an adult relationship with her non-wizard husband.

The lesson here, as I see it is simple: Enjoy romance thoroughly but do not make your partner into a wizard who is responsible ultimately for your happiness. It is when you are truly at home with yourself that you are best equipped to have a fulfilling relationship. There is no place like (your) home.

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