The much-awaited multi-starrer movie ‘Animal’ is set to release on December 1st this year, with Ranbir Kapoor as the lead character. The trailer for the film has been well received by the public, with some applauding the actor’s thrilling performance while others are deeply engaged in conversations around the character’s troubled relationship with his father, played by Anil Kapoor.
The opening scene of the trailer shows a heated moment between the father-son duo, where Ranbir’s character revisits an old childhood memory. He then asks his father to reverse roles and re-enact the same situation, which involves a lot of anger and a lack of understanding. In another shot, the son desperately seeks his father’s validation, and the saga continues.
This is not the first time Ranbir has played characters struggling to bond with their fathers. From Wake Up Sid to Tamasha, there have been many films that explored and grappled with the theme of ‘daddy issues’ or father-complex. The OnlyMyHealth team spoke with two leading experts to understand what it is and how it affects people in the long run.
What Are Daddy Issues?
“‘Daddy issues’ is not a precisely defined clinical term or a psychological diagnosis,” said Dr Srishti Saha, Clinical Psychologist, Fortis Hospital, Anandapur, Kolkata, describing them as problems that a person may have in the interpersonal sphere due to repeated negative experiences with their father figure.
Historically, the term is said to have originated from the idea of the father complex espoused by Sigmund Freud, or more accurately, the concept of the Oedipus complex and the Electra complex later proposed by Carl Jung, explained Dr Saha, adding that a more current explanation of its origin is believed to be the attachment theory of John Bowlby.
She said, “A highly simplistic understanding of the attachment theory is that one’s earliest and most formative relationships, usually with caregivers, form the basis of the relationships forged in adulthood. Thus, insecure attachments formed early in life lead to the development of an insecure pattern of attachment in the individual.”
According to Archana Singhal, Counselor and Family Therapist, Founder, Mindwell Counsel, and Member of the Counsellors Council of India and WICCI NPWC, Delhi, such complexities between a father and a child occur due to unsatisfactory father-child relationships, rooted in factors like emotional neglect or paternal absence during childhood.
She explained, “These experiences profoundly impact emotional development, and their occurrence is intricately tied to the quality of the father-child relationship during formative years, where inadequate emotional support or presence can contribute to their emergence.”
Both Men And Women Can Have A Father Complex.
The term 'daddy issues' is most often used to describe women who date older men and have trust and attachment issues with the men in their lives. A study published in the American Psychological Association (APA) even found an association between "father absence or low-quality paternal involvement and daughters’ accelerated sexual development, promiscuity, and sexual risk taking."
However, Singhal said, “Daddy issues transcend gender and specific parent-child combinations, making it challenging to attribute prevalence to father-daughter or father-son relationships.”
She added, “Contrary to stereotypes, men can undoubtedly experience Daddy issues. Causes include scenarios such as paternal absence, emotional distance, or unresolved childhood traumas. These factors create emotional voids that influence men's emotional development and their capacity to form healthy relationships.”
Common Signs And Behavioural Patterns
Some of the common signs of daddy issues include:
- Difficulties in trusting others
- Excessive validation-seeking
- challenges in forming stable relationships
Moreover, behavioural patterns may involve:
- Seeking approval from authority figures
- Struggling with commitments
- Encountering difficulties in establishing secure emotional bonds with others
- Fear of abandonment: going to extreme lengths to prevent it
- Suspiciousness; constant checking up on the partner
- Excessive jealousy
- Lack of clear boundaries
- Maladaptive sexual behaviours as a way of securing affection
Tackling Daddy Issues
According to Dr Saha, there is no shortcut to resolving patterns of behaviour or attachment that have developed as a result of formative life experiences. It requires help and assistance while also being able to work on understanding oneself and being more self-aware.
Some of the things that people can try to tackle such difficulties include:
Dr Saha said, “Being cognizant of how early experiences with primary caregivers may have led to feelings of being unloved and consequently created problems in later relationships can break the cycle of repetition.” As per the doctor, this can be achieved through self-reflection, analysis, and the development of insight, which is often targeted in therapy.
Acceptance is key
According to Dr Saha, denying the truth is not a healthy way to cope with problems. Like any other loss, it must be processed, mourned, and finally accepted for what it is, she explained.
Support is crucial
Singhal said, “Building healthy relationships, fostering self-love, and engaging in activities promoting emotional well-being are pivotal steps in the healing process,” adding, “Creating a supportive environment, coupled with the development of coping strategies, contributes to resilience and emotional balance, aiding in the journey of tackling daddy issues.”
When nothing works and issues tend to increase, initiating open communication with mental health professionals can enable individuals to understand and cope with these challenges effectively, said Singhal. Therapeutic techniques, such as Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), provide valuable tools for unravelling deep-seated emotional issues, she added.
Many people believe the reel world is a reflection of the real world. Ranbir Kapoor’s upcoming film, regardless of the reviews, does open a dialogue around how unresolved father-child relationships can prove harmful for the child’s growth and mindset. ‘Daddy issues’ is not just a term that we lightheartedly throw at one another; rather, it is a deep-rooted problem that needs assistance and may require professional help. According to Singhal, recognising the signs is therefore essential for early intervention and fostering a deeper understanding of the intricate emotional landscape associated with Daddy issues.
“Identifying and addressing these signs early on is pivotal in facilitating effective coping strategies and promoting emotional well-being,” she concluded.