The movie Lorenzo’s Oil is about a boy, his family and their struggles to stick together through a life threatening disease. A family’s togetherness is challenged in the event of unexpected change, like in this movie. The Odone family tested many factors of their family structure when Lorenzo was diagnosed with ALD. Some of factors that were tested and some also changed, as a result of this disease, were their environments, boundaries, cohesion, rules, and rituals.
The environments that Augusto, Michaela, and Lorenzo lived in, were ones in which change was common. In the beginning of the movie they moved from Africa where it was warm to a small town in the United States where there were many seasons. In their new environment the natural/physical part of it was the changes in temperature and the seasons. The air, plants, and animals around them were also part of their natural/physical environment. Part of their cultural/behavioral environment was the belief system they had attained throughout their lives. This included family Christmas dinners that they had and Michaela’s attendance and belief in the church. There were many things in their constructed/technological environment. They had a house, clothing, hospitals that Lorenzo went to, the library where they did research, and many more organic materials from the natural environment constructed for their use.
There are two types of boundaries present at all times; those are physical and emotional. In the beginning their physical boundaries were well defined. They had their own rooms and traditional spots at the dinner table. As Lorenzo became more and more sick, he was moved out into the living room and was unable to eat at the table. Michaela’s personal space was another physical boundary that changed. At first she allowed people in her personal space and was able to express her intimacy and anger, but as Lorenzo became sick, she did not want anyone in her space. Emotionally the boundaries in the family were relatively normal. They were all very close to one another emotionally, and they care about each other deeply.
The cohesion in this family was very high. They all had loyalty to each other and cared about each person in a sense of togetherness and individuality. As Lorenzo became sick this cohesion was tested, but because the cohesion was so high before he got sick, they were able to adapt well as a family unit. There were times when the road was rough, but they fought for each other. Augusto and Michaela both went on a quest together for a higher knowledge of the disease to help Lorenzo. This family’s high cohesion and ability to adapt got them through each day together. In the end it helped Lorenzo to become stabilized and they begun to see glimpses of a new life.
There were many implicit and explicit rules that this family lived by. One of the rules that really stuck out was the rule that: Never say never; giving up is not an option; and miracles can happen. This was a huge belief of Augusto and Michaela, and they made sure that everyone else knew this explicit rule. An implicit rule that this family had was that Lorenzo was still a human being and should be treated as one. Their reading to him and talking to him all the time showed this. Michaela’s sister over stepped this rule when she talked about Lorenzo as if he was dead. She was shut out of their lives until she could realize in her head that Lorenzo was still a human being. The rules resulted in giving Lorenzo a little bit of his life back at the end.
Rituals in the Odone family were deemed as very important, and each ritual was treasured. The function that they served was to maintain morphostasis within their family system, allowing for each person to evolve individually and as a family unit. One family ritual they had was to have a Christmas tree each Christmas, and the three of them decorated it together. As Lorenzo became sick, he could no longer decorate the tree with the family, also their tree went from about eight feet tall to about two feet tall because they were more worried about caring for Lorenzo then getting a tree. Another ritual they had was a Family Christmas dinner, where people from both their families came together and shared a meal together. This ceased when Lorenzo became sick. It was not because he was sick, but Michaela was afraid to let people get close to her.
The stronger the family system is, the better it can deal with change. The Odone family had a very strong family system. As a result of their strong family system, they were able to fight together throughout this battle of Lorenzo’s sickness. In the end they had beaten the odds, and they were still together as a family.