The Pursuit of Happiness

This post will interrogate what it means to be happy in greater depth. Even though I’ve written several posts on happiness already and have recently added some posts on emotions, which include joy and sadness, I want to look at this so called unalienable right further. I have been surprised by the number of articles that have recently appeared in the NYTimes and elsewhere about the concept of happiness. Then I did a little more digging and discovered that, like the US, many countries consider happiness a major goal for their citizens and one that government can assist in. In fact, in 2010 British Prime Minister David Cameron made a speech about his concern for sustaining his countrymen’s happiness and asked the Office of National Statistics to devise a new way of measuring wellbeing in Britain. I wouldn’t even be surprised if the writers for DM included some of the references to happiness as a result of Cameron’s speech on wellbeing. Series 5 and 6 came along after that speech and contained many scenes that related to the happiness level reached by several characters, e.g. Martin and Louisa (of course), Al, Bert, Ruth. The scene at the end of series 3 in which Martin and Louisa declare that they wouldn’t make each other happy had already taken place, but, in my mind, that may have been the set piece for starting down this path of thinking about happiness.

Before I go into all of the articles and try to put their contents into some sort of coherent form, I want to mention that I have now seen the film “Inside Out.” The film is brilliant in addressing a serious subject by using animation and humor. The central concern is what goes on inside our minds when we deal with major disruptions in life.  In the film the key protagonist is an 11 year old girl named Riley whose family is moving from Minnesota to San Francisco. The fact that she is 11 plays a major role because along with the change in locations she is experiencing some emotional peaks and valleys due to puberty. For me, an important message of the film is that joy is Riley’s most prominent emotion, but joy needs to drag around sadness, literally. Joy wants sadness to suggest ideas about how to make Riley’s life go well, but not take away the joy of memories. In the end, though, this growing and developing child must lose her attachment to those memories so that she can enjoy life again in a new setting. The idea is that without sadness there can be no joy, and without family and loving support from them, there is difficulty transitioning to a new stage of life.

Since “Inside Out” is a Walt Disney production, it is especially coincidental that last weekend an article titled “The Happiness Project” appeared in the NYTimes Style Magazine, and that the article makes some similar points about happiness. The article is about how Disney, its parks and films, brings happiness to many and inspires non-Americans to love America. (I should say here that many Brits only visit America to go to Disneyland. There are several non-stop flights from London to Orlando on at least 5 airlines, and they contain 11,257 seats per week. When we were in England, we met quite a few Brits who had been to Disneyland, and nowhere else in America.)  For one thing, the author of the article, Andrew O’Hagan (a British novelist), argues that “the idea of Disneyland has a fear of disaster embedded in it. Happiness, after all, is like that. We can hardly live with happiness for fear of it suddenly ending.” Later he states, “happiness is paired with a basic drive to do something that defies gladness.” These comments come in the midst of a long article about how happy visiting Disney makes people and that some people cry with happiness when they visit the park. They also are combined with a description of the joy he gets from taking his daughter there. This reconfirms that joy often is conjoined with family. It also might highlight the fact that S6 of DM and its downward trajectory could be used as a springboard for getting Martin and Louisa on a much better path to finding joy once more. The fear of losing happiness is rather prominent in their marriage.

Ultimately, the film “Inside Out” reflects what most of the research on happiness has found. People consider family a significant source of happiness. In addition, like most studies on happiness the film indicates that there is a lot of self-governance involved. As a result, the issue of control frequently comes up.

We can also see this in David Cameron’s speech on wellbeing in which he said: “We have got an instinct that people who feel in control of their own destiny feel more fulfilled. That’s why we’re giving parents real choice over schools and patients real choice over where they get treated. We have an instinct that having the purpose of a job is as important to the soul as it is to the bank balance, and it’s there in our hugely ambitious work programme to get people off welfare. Our instinct that most people have a real yearning to belong to something bigger than themselves – that is leading our plans to bring neighbourhoods together, to increase social action and to build what I call the Big Society.”

He goes on to say: “Let me give you three examples where I really do believe there is a link between what politics and government does and people’s happiness, contentedness and quality of life.

One is I do believe if you give people more control over their life, if they feel they have more of a say, they are authors of their own destiny, that actually increases people’s self-worth and wellbeing. Now that has a real effect on, for instance, education policy or health policy. We should be trying to give more power to the patient and the parent to have more choice over where they are treated, where their kids go to school and the rest of it. So that has a real-life effect.

The second one was mentioned – relationships. It is absolutely right that people’s wellbeing often depends on the quality of their relationships, so we should ask as a country, why do we spend billions and billions on the consequences of family breakdown, but so little on trying to help families stay together? £20 million on the budget of Relate, but £20 billion on the consequences of social breakdown, so again if we think about wellbeing, rather than just GDP, we might actually change that.

Another one is planning policy. People, definitely, the way your happiness, contentedness, wellbeing does partly depend on your surroundings, and your surroundings depend on planning policy and how much you are involved and have a say over your neighbourhood and what it looks like. So therefore, I would say: give people more power over the planning policy in the neighbourhood and they will be more contented.”

The ONS did follow up on Cameron’s request. and produced a  report: “Reflections on the National Debate.” In total, ONS held 175 events, involving around 7,250 people. The debate generated 34,000 responses, some of which were from organisations and groups representing thousands more. The quotes on each page of this report were taken from online contributions, where permission was given to reproduce the participant’s words anonymously.

The following are the salient points, in my opinion:

The term ‘well-being’ is often taken to mean ‘happiness’. Happiness is one aspect of the well-being of individuals and can be measured by asking them about their feelings – subjective well-being. As we define it, well-being includes both subjective and objective measures. It includes feelings of happiness and other aspects of subjective well-being, such as feeling that one’s activities are worthwhile, or being satisfied with family relationships. It also includes aspects of well-being which can be measured by more objective approaches, such as life expectancy and educational achievements. These issues can also be looked at for population groups – within a local area, or region, or the UK as a whole.

The debate ran between 25 November 2010 and 15 April 2011 and was conducted both online and at events around the UK. The debate was structured around a consultation paper, which asked five main questions:

  • what things in life matter to you?
  • of the things that matter to you, which should be reflected in measures of national well-being?
  • which of the following sets of information do you think help measure national well-being and how life in the UK is changing over time?
  • which of the following ways would be best to give a picture of national well-being?
  • how would you use measures of national well-being?

The main questions from the consultation questionnaire are listed below with the most common answers from a predefined list.

What things in life matter to you? What is well-being?

  • health
  • good connections with friends and family
  • good connections with a spouse or partner
  • job satisfaction and economic security
  • present and future conditions of the environment.

All the age groups highlighted the importance of family, friends, health, financial security, equality and fairness in determining well-being.

Having a general sense of well-being is important to nations and individuals. When Martin asks “Why does everyone always have to be happy?” in S6, we can now answer that asking that question truly demonstrates how out of sync he is with the world. However, we also consider his question one that reflects his personal agony and desperation in the face of hearing Louisa say that she plans to leave again. His question is plaintive and shows how pitifully sad he is with his life. Like everyone else, his sense of well-being would be likely to derive from health, good connections with his spouse, and the conditions determined by his environment. Until he performs Louisa’s AVM surgery, his health is a major concern for him, his connections to his spouse are precarious, and the conditions of his environment are problematic. The surgery is accompanied by some phobic symptoms (vomiting), but he’s able to carry on; he expresses his sincere wish to work on their marriage and be a better husband; and we can only hope that they can find a balance at home between their need for quiet and some private space while spending time with JH. S7 may be headed toward managing some of these essential elements for achieving happiness in this marriage.

In addition to Cameron’s emphasis on the importance of control for reaching a sense of well-being another article I came across also emphasizes control in regard to happiness. In “Two Ways to Be Happy” (NYTimes, June 1, 2015). the author describes studies that draw a distinction between primary control and secondary control. Primary Control is that ability to directly affect one’s circumstances; Secondary Control is the ability to affect how one responds to circumstances. These researchers assert that for most people secondary control is most important for life satisfaction; however, for those in committed relationships, primary control is more important. Their explanation for this discrepancy is that it’s possible that having a partner may help people deal with adversity the same way secondary control does. (This assumes you have a partner who is allowed to help with adversity, a definite problem with Martin and Louisa.)

Previously I wrote about Carol Ryff’s theories of happiness and eudaemonia. I also mentioned Aristotle’s theories and that many others have written their views about this emotion. However, the person most associated with psychological studies of happiness is Martin Seligman. What makes his studies more impressive is his belief that the complete practice of psychology should include an understanding of suffering and happiness, their interaction, and the use of interventions to relieve suffering and increase happiness. In an article on Positive Psychology that was published in American Psychologist (July-August 2005), he and his co-authors try to answer the question “What makes life worth living?”

Seligman, et. al. developed a guide that describes and classifies the strengths and virtues that enable human thriving. (They call it the CSV for Classified Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification.) They have determined that there are 24 strengths and 6 overarching virtues that span all cultures. The strengths include: kindness, fairness, authenticity, gratitude, open-mindedness, prudence, modesty, and self-regulation. The virtues are: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence.

Here is a Table that explains their findings:

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 10.57.31 AM
They contend there are 3 defined routes to happiness:
a) positive emotion and pleasure (the pleasant life)
b) engagement (the engaged life)
c) meaning (the meaningful life)
They have determined that the most satisfied people are those who orient their pursuits towards all 3 but put the greatest weight on engagement and meaning. Furthermore, they believe that happiness brings many added benefits. “Happy people are healthier, more successful, and more socially engaged.” The goal, therefore, would be to provide a means for people to reach a state of happiness because then they will build on that positive cycle they’ve been establishing.
The team devised some exercises to see if they could increase happiness and decrease depressive symptoms. They were pleased to find that some of the exercises led to a sense of happiness that lasted for 6 months (which was the maximum time period for which they checked). Those participants who continued to do the exercises benefited the most and were the happiest.
They conclude that since these exercises reduce depressive symptoms lastingly, they could be another means for treating depression, especially in talk therapy. They recognize that the individuals in their study were only mildly depressed and were motivated to become happier.
Their final judgement is that “the  pursuit of happiness is [not] futile because of inevitable adaptation or an immutable hedonic set point.” In other words, they believe that despite happiness being subjective and self-reported, everyone can reach a rewarding level of happiness through consistent effort. Furthermore, pursuing happiness is a valuable goal because of all the advantages that result.
I want to close this post by saying that, like the article above, there is a book entitled The Happiness Project that was written by Gretchen Rubin and published in 2009. Much of the book is pretty simplistic, but she did a lot of reading in preparation for writing it. She read all of the big names associated with the philosophy of happiness as well as several novelists’ views on happiness. She has a blog and suggests various ways people can work on being happier. For me, there are two significant comments she makes. One is “the opposite of happiness is unhappiness, not depression,” by which she means her suggestions are not to be mistaken for treatments of severe depression.
The other is more comprehensive:
“According to current research, in the determination of a person’s level of happiness, genetics accounts for about 50 percent; life circumstances, such as age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, income, health, occupation, and religious affiliation, account for about 10-20 percent; and the remainder is a product of how a person thinks and acts…It seems obvious that some people are more naturally ebullient or melancholic than others, and that, at some time, people’s decisions about how to live their lives also affect their happiness.”
So we are back to the idea of whether people can change and we now have a lot of data that supports the conviction that we are capable of changing our level of happiness. I think we can generalize that to other aspects of our emotional lives. We are the authors of our lives to a great extent, especially if we have a strong desire to make certain changes. Why does everyone always want to be happy? Because happiness is an important emotion and being happy makes our lives worth living.
[I am very sorry that for some reason the font changed in this post and I was unable to figure out how to make the spacing function normally after I included the Table. Believe me, I tried!]

 

 

Originally posted 2015-07-28 21:46:04.

41 thoughts on “The Pursuit of Happiness

  1. Santa Traugott

    Two quick things — the last time I was at Disneyland, with my grandchildren in Paris, I loathed it. I don’t know what that says about me.

    The post has made me think again about Louisa’s statement to Martin in the hospital room, that “I’m not happy. And I’m not making you happy either.” So, would Louisa have been “happy” in their marriage, do we think, if Martin was happier, or at least not in a depressive funk? I think the one thing she wants from him, emotional intimacy, is exactly what he denied her in his shut-down.

    Also, I’m remembering the scene where she tells him that his not being able to sleep disturbs her so that she can’t sleep. That suggests to me that she resonates with him to the extent that, when he’s troubled and insomniac, she gets upset too. No wonder she was “unhappy.”

    But that leads to an interesting question about boundaries between partners. Can you be sympathetic, supportive, empathic, and yet not so enmeshed that your partner’s moods become yours too?

    Maybe Abby will weigh in.

  2. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I’m with you on Disneyland/world. The kids love it and we like watching the kids, but there’s only so many lines you can wait on before you get fed up. They have good line management and do their best to keep the lines moving. Even so, you gotta go during the less crowded times to have any chance of missing the long lines. Somehow there are many people who are addicted and go back year after year.

    The quote you mention is the one that directly precedes Martin’s question about everyone always needing to be happy. When he answers Louisa that way, she looks totally defeated. Not only is she saying that they’re both not happy, but also he doesn’t seem to care about being happy. As it turns out, however, by the end of S7, he shows signs of caring and wanting to be happily married. For her part, Louisa shows signs of still defending him (at least to his mother in the airport), and their ride to the hospital has her looking to him for reassurance and him providing some. I would imagine having him perform the surgery might be somewhat comforting to her too.

    She would certainly welcome some emotional intimacy, and that is withheld by him, unless you consider his comment to her prior to surgery that he needs her help because he doesn’t seem to be very good at marriage to be emotionally revelatory. By the time he visits her post surgery, there’s no intimacy again, although their conversation is personal.

    We have to believe that his insomnia and restlessness affects her, even if it just disrupts her sleep. That’s why it’s so funny that he tells her to come to bed when she’s worried about Mrs. Tishell’s return. He tells her things always seem worse at night. Pretty ironic for him to tell her that! But I definitely think they are trying to show that she is troubled by his inability to sleep. She tries lavender oil and bringing him a magazine to read, and gets herself a mask to wear so he can stay in bed with the light on. She’s doing her best to help and it goes unacknowledged or appreciated.

    I’d love to hear from Abby too. My unprofessional answer to your question would be “yes.” On the other hand, perhaps the writers here want to demonstrate how his moods are affecting hers. She’s very exasperated with the situation and Sport’s Day shows that in many scenes.

    What do you all think?

  3. Linda D.

    He does not know how to be happy nor what it feels like. He has never experienced “being happy” and therefore does not understand why it is important to others. He operates in a vacuum and has never before known what is it is to be loved or to love another. It totally baffles him. He is a wreck but does not equate it to being happy or not. He thinks his problems are a “medical issue” and that he had a “healthy childhood”!! Louisa does not know about his past and does not realize that he is unable to fathom happiness. Of course, she takes it badly, thinking it is something she is doing or not doing. She does try to do things to help because she is concerned for his welfare, and when he responds strangely, she is very hurt. She IS very concerned by the changes in him. She cannot help but to get caught up in his malaise. He does not want to hurt her and never deliberately has but, he is just so mucked up that he can’t respond to her need for emotional intimacy. He is not even aware of how bad things are. Sad, but true.
    I’m still baffled about her lack of tears. I’d expect her to be far more emotional about her new husband and love withdrawing so drastically from their relationship. Maybe if she had cried, he’d see how hurt she was.

  4. Abby

    Santa, as to your question about whether a person can be sympathetic and supportive while not taking on the mood himself, I think it’s difficult if you are living with someone who has a major depression. This is probably because of the relational circuits in our brains. People can and do modulate each other’s emotional states through these circuits. M was in a deep depression and L was hurt and frustrated by his withdrawal. To her it probably felt like another abandonment. So, it seemed she was unable to modulate his emotional state because he was unreachable by then. But he certainly modulated hers. Given her insecurities, she naturally concluded his withdrawal was about her and so was less able to see his depression for what it was, i.e. an illness. I really felt for her, being rebuffed over and over when she reached out to him. It would have been difficult for anyone. I do think M is capable of achieving some level of happiness, though, and I hope we see some of that in S7. Given his level of dysfunction , though, I think it’s a bit of a stretch that he would make much progress in couples counseling alone. But, we’ll see how it goes. I’m willing to go with the Portwenn Effect.

  5. Santa

    We can hope the counselor is able to point out the above to Louisa–reframe it for her. But that would probably be too easy for this show!

  6. Cecelia

    From the opening scene of the series when Martin leans forward to take a better look at Louisa’s eye, we note Louisa response, “You have problems” then she her defense of choice: flight not fight or negotiate but flight. [Considering they are on a plane, flight is a limited defense: it is also a sign.] The flight [both the plane and Louisa’s] foreshadows: it presents the dynamics clearly. Whenever Martin gets too close, Louisa heads for hills: no confrontation, no negotiation, no “Let’s discuss the matter calmly.”

    Martin was not the only one who did not show up at the altar. Yet, instead of admitting her part, Louisa walked away. Martin followed her like some lost pup.

  7. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Abby, I think your analysis is excellent. Everything you say about the modulation of emotions between a couple is very convincing. I also agree that Martin can achieve some level of happiness, and has demonstrated that on occasion (as I’ve written in previous posts). My post was meant to argue that everyone can achieve a sense of well-being if they are interested in doing that. I also was trying to argue that it is important to make an effort to be happy because happiness has been shown to improve one’s life in many ways, based on many studies.

    I was hoping to have some comments about the conjunction of joy and sadness. In an earlier post, I wrote that it is impossible to be happy all the time, but I certainly believe that life would not be worth living if we did not have any happiness in it. I have to think that these sorts of questions have become more prominent since we’ve all started having more leisure time. How we live our lives has generally evolved into working less and finding ways to do things we enjoy more. I wonder if pursuing happiness was even on people’s radar 500 years ago. People have spent time celebrating and falling in love for as long as we have records, and I suppose that should be listed in the happiness category.

    Of course we’re talking about the 21st century and pursuing happiness now, although the pursuit of happiness was included in our Declaration of Independence and has been a supposed goal for a long time.

    I would also go along with your suggestion that regardless of whether couples therapy would lead to an epiphany for Martin in which he finally realizes in depth origins for his behavior, they will gloss over the particulars and have something bring about a reconciliation.

  8. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    We would all be shocked to see anything too immediately revelatory to Louisa or Martin. They have to go through fits and starts. That’s how the show is constructed and it would be too jarring for that to change now.

    Come to think of it, I meant to say in my reply to Abby that I was also hoping that my post on happiness demonstrated another way of proving that people can change.

  9. Santa Traugott

    Here’s a slightly different take: everybody encounters many losses as they go through life. It’s possible that UNLESS you grieve those losses — if you shut yourself off from experiencing the pain — then you will not experience happiness either. Because maybe the defenses that constrict one’s experience with grief and loss are color-blind, so to speak, and equally shut out feelings of well-being, deep satisfaction, gratification — however we are defining happiness.

    Which brings to mind a quote from The Prophet (pretty corny, I know, but apropo):

    But if in your fear you would seek only
    love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
    Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing floor,
    Into the seasonless world where you
    shall laugh, but not all of your laughter,
    and weep, but not all of your tears.

    Martin in particular strikes me as someone who has never grieved his losses, which actually are major: he didn’t have loving parents, and he lost his career, and basically his identify. Then we find that he has also lost his father, without every being able to confront him or work things through at all. And also, of course, Joan, though it’s never been clear to me how much she meant to him.

  10. Abby

    Couldn’t have said it better myself, Santa. He first needs the awareness that he has things to grieve about. That would be the first crack in the armor.

  11. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I’m replying to Santa, but want my reply to refer to what she had to say as well as to what Abby noted. I am grateful to read what Santa says about grieving one’s losses before being able to embrace happiness. I think that’s a very insightful way to look at a situation like this one on DM. I wonder if that was a part of what they were trying to show in S6. Now that you’ve put your finger on needing to grieve, I can see how ME’s many low scenes in S6 may have been a crude attempt at implying a grieving process.

    Someone sometime mentioned that he looked like he was going to his funeral while in the taxi on the way to his wedding. Perhaps he’s still nervous about losing some part of his private life even though he’s finally marrying the woman he’s been chasing for many years. When his haemophobia returns, it hits him hard because it reminds him of many losses: loss of control, loss of surgery practice, loss of stature, etc. His grieving process has begun and he withdraws because it’s easier for him to, as Santa says, shut down and try to avoid acknowledging these losses. Then his mother appears and she brings up more losses in his life, as Santa beautifully catalogs. Those scenes in the bedroom where he stands over James and Louisa in pain, or when he’s in the car with James and appears defeated, may be meant to show him grieving or at least coming to some realization of what he’s lost and what he’s worried about possibly losing.

    Perhaps the tearful scene in the bathroom stall following the surgery on Louisa is meant to display that he is beginning to experience both the losses and potential losses of his life, and to grieve as well as feel a sense of relief. Being able to complete the surgery may be heading him toward rehabilitating his ability to perform surgery and managing his phobia; it also is an heroic act that saves his wife’s life. He’s not happy yet, but we could imagine that he’s finally on the road to knowing what happiness is, or at least that could be true in a real life situation. I’m really asking whether all of the above seems possible.

    As we say over and over, we might speculate that S6 was an attempt at bringing in some of these psychological issues, but in S7 we may not get much analysis of this kind. That’s not important to me because I am anxious for the show to get past such seriousness and return to the more comical and typical interplay between this couple and ME and the village. It would be nice, however, if we could see some glimmer of happiness in him and in Louisa. I am going to guess that we will.

    Your comment has helped me look at S6 in a better light even if I still struggle to understand why they chose to go down that road, especially if they now recuperate the elements of these characters they eliminated in S6.

  12. Abby

    Throughout S6 Martin believed his symptoms were physical in nature. Until his conversation with Ruth he had no awareness of the psychological etiology of his misery. I think that Ruth’s comments caused a shift in him, so that he is now more able to admit to how his childhood affected him. Yes, he has a lot of grieving to do, but he needed some awareness to be able to do that. Hopefully he has enough of that now, so that healing can take place in S7.

  13. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    What you seem to be saying is that in order to grieve effectively, i.e. so that you can achieve a sense of wellbeing, you need to be aware of the fact that you are going through a grieving process. Ruth pointed out to Martin that the return of his phobia wasn’t a medical problem, but rather a result of his needing to recognize that he doesn’t feel deserving of a wife and family. As a psychiatrist, she would be expected to suspect a psychological origin. So when she tells him that he’ll have to change if he wants to be with Louisa, you think a light went on in his mind to the extent that he not only realized he had to catch up with Louisa (even before he knew she had an AVM), but also he immediately knew he should confront his mother? That is certainly how they presented it. And now you’re saying that could have happened realistically, if I understand you correctly.

    In addition, they augmented his urgency to run after her by inserting the AVM diagnosis. Now he has a bona fide medical reason to get her off the plane. And she has less of a reason to object and resist. While preparing to operate he tells Louisa he needs her help. That seems more of a sign that he knows he needs to do something to save his marriage rather than a sign that he has begun a grieving process, but I don’t know where one draws the line here.

    I’m not trying to be argumentative; I’m only trying to fully comprehend how all of this works.

  14. Santa Traugott

    This is going to be really narrow, so I’ll just say that the scene with his mother is pivotal — he’s out from under her spell, and hopefully can now move forward, unencumbered by the defective image of himself that he internalized from her. (If only it were that simple in real life!).

  15. Abby

    In order to work through grief you need to be aware that you have lost something. Otherwise you are just in pain. What I mean by that is it would feel like you are submerged in water, where the water is pain. It just envelopes you. By being aware of what you’ve lost, you are still in pain, but are able to process the loss.

    For most of S6, Martin wasn’t even aware of his losses, except perhaps the return of his hemophobia. He really had convinced himself that his symptoms were physical, and he was scared about what this might be.

    What Ruth told him woke him up to the impact of his early life on his present. In real life, it would likely take a lot more than what she said for that lesson to take hold. But, I must say that epiphanies do happen, and people have been known to change profoundly from one moment to the next.

    What I think happened with Martin was that Ruth drilled the first crack in the wall. He had enough information after their conversation to know that he had to confront his mother and go after Louisa. Before that I think he felt pretty impotent with his mother and undeserving of Louisa. So, by the end of S6, he had enough of an opening to know that he needed to do some internal work in order to save his marriage. Hopefully, in S7 we will see him do that, not just for Louisa, but for himself as well.

    If it is true that Louisa actually does go to Spain, I think that will be very hard on Martin. We’ll see what unfolds. I am trying to brace myself to be depressed for the first few episodes.

  16. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Exactly. But then we do make exceptions because this isn’t real life, even if MC is always saying they are required to be accurate.

  17. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thanks for the additional info. I have a much better understanding of what could have happened with ME now.

    I don’t know any more than you, but I do not think Louisa goes to Spain. She certainly can’t immediately following the surgery unless they are going to be very off with the medical circumstances, which I wouldn’t think they would do. If CC is on set from the beginning of S7, the only time she could have gone is in the period between the two series. You were in PI in April and she was there. The better likelihood is that she and Martin live in different locations at first but continue to interact, especially because of JH.

    Since we know they are going to have several occasions when they are together throughout S7, I will be looking for what she remembers of his comments to her before surgery and how they discuss their situation going forward from the surgery. The first two episodes should be very interesting.

  18. Abby

    Karen, I am commenting here on your last post, because the text was getting too narrow.

    I, like you, had thought L doesn’t go to Spain, but I have changed my mind. First of all, there are no exterior scenes with CC in E1. Two, there is a short video clip that seems to show her coming into the surgery with sunglasses on her head displaying the same expression that she had when she came back in S4. It sure looked like she was coming back from somewhere. And she looked tentative but hopeful. I’m guessing this scene is either at the beginning or the end of E1, most likely at the end. As far as her not being medically able to go to Spain, it’s possible that, between S6 and S7, she spent a few days at home and then traveled by ground and sea transportation. I was really hoping she wouldn’t go, but I’m afraid she did.

    The scene I saw filmed on April 1st was from E2, and it showed an interaction between M and L on Roscarrock Hill. She was holding a letting flyer, and they seemed to be arguing. My guess is that this took place shortly after her return from Spain, and was the beginning of their living apart. The fact that M moved out instead of L seems to show that M wanted to keep her at the surgery. I think he feared that if she moved out there was less of a chance of their getting back together, and I think he was right. By her staying at the surgery, they would see each other coming and going. And, indeed, there are pictures of this happening.

    My guess is it’s only by E4 that we start to see some progress in their relationship. I think it’s going to be painful until then.

  19. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I haven’t seen the scenes you mention with Louisa returning wearing sunglasses. If you’re right and she does go to Spain, we have to consider why they decided that was a good choice.

    One thought that comes to mind is that she told her mother she was coming for a visit and bought the ticket. The AVM was an emergency and she may never have revealed it to her mother. The evidence suggests that she didn’t tell her mother because most mothers would have come to be at their daughter’s bedside once told about emergency brain surgery. Louisa may think it best to still get away and have time to think about her marriage, and she may not want to give her mother too much information about the surgery. From what I’ve read, air travel would not be forbidden after an AVM is repaired.

    Another thought is that having her reappear with a similar facial expression as the one she used in S4 is a good way to reprise that occasion with the implication that her return is a sign that she once again is ready to try reconnecting with Martin. No matter what, we know she does return and that they see a therapist and make several attempts to spend time together. I would also have to believe that her decision to return would give Martin his chance to redeem himself and he would be highly motivated. This time could be his last chance with Louisa.

    Furthermore, while Louisa is in Spain, she would have called Martin. She told him she would call him when she initially thought she was leaving. We might see phone conversations and they could be used to portray the pain they are both in as well as the difficulty in communicating over the phone.

    I would guess you are right about why they would want Martin to have Louisa stay in their home while he moves somewhere nearby at first. The immediate expectation would be the opposite since he’s been living there since he moved to Portwenn and his work is there, but having him move out shows he’s willing to make concessions and extend himself for her comfort. In addition, having her live there makes it likely that they would bump into each other pretty regularly, as you say.

    I find this a situation that works well for the show and would even be pretty realistic. It gives Mrs. T renewed hope that Martin will be available again and reignites her obsessive behavior. As Louisa tells Martin in the final scene of S6, they can’t just go back to living as if nothing has happened. He says he knows. I was prepared for them to live apart at first, and a trip to Spain seems a little extreme, but she planned to go visit her mother and it makes sense for that reason.

    I’m fine with whatever they throw at us as long as they return to the original tone of the show. Of course, I want this couple to eventually get back to a good relationship and stop always being at odds with each other. I still think that ultimately the series will end on an upbeat note because it is a Dramedy.

  20. Linda D.

    I also think she did not go to Spain and I will be surprised if this is the case. They left off with Martin agreeing with Louisa that things needed to change. Why then, would she go to Spain? I think she will take this information and the words he spoke prior to the brain surgery as a sign that there is a small chink in his armour. She might also consider that he did come after her in the end. Ruth has accomplished the feat of getting him to realize that he needs to change if he intends to keep his family intact. He wants this unquestionably. She has put some sound thoughts into his head about his phobia and it’s causes. She suggested that Martin does not believe he deserves his wife and child. She has given him a lot to chew on. I liken their interaction to her shaking him by the shoulders and telling him to wake up and see exactly what is happening. Hopefully, he will grieve his losses and find ways to cope. We all want to see his family and relationship flourish.

  21. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    We’ll soon find out if Louisa goes to Spain. I think it’s unnecessary for the storyline, but they’ve done many things I didn’t think were necessary. I agree with Linda that in the grand scheme going to Spain only provides a more dramatic return scene and makes their last conversation of S6 of less value. Due to that conversation, we know Louisa isn’t ready to forgive and forget yet and can’t go back to living with Martin unless he changes. We also know that Martin seems to realize they have work to do. Either way, Louisa comes back and probably lives apart from Martin at first. While they’re living apart, Mrs. T has the opening she needs to inject herself into Martin’s life again even if Louisa isn’t in Spain. It’s all relatively equal.

  22. Santa Traugott

    It may not have been Spain but SPOILER ALERT…….

    There was a recent clip of her — in the ITV promo for upcoming TV shows — that was very short, but does show her with sunglasses on the top of her head, apparently arriving at the surgery, and looking exactly like she’s come back from somewhere. Also, when they were first filming, there was a report of a one villager saying to another, “Louisa’s back.” Now this could all be misdirection, but I think she did insist on a temporary separation. She didn’t necessarily have to fly to get somewhere — there are trains and ferries. Like you, I don’t understand why she would do such a thing, if she remembered at all the operating room speech, and I also think Martin at that point might have tried to dissuade her from leaving, although he was not doing that in the hospital room, was he. But disappointing as it is, I think she did leave temporarily, and when she returns, they live apart — again,I’m, guessing, at her insistence. My mantra now is, “it’s always darkest before the dawn.”

  23. Santa Traugott

    Didn’t see Abby’s reply before I posted my response to Linda (above).

    I agree with Abby’s interpretation of her look on return as the same as at end of S4, E1 (which this parallels) as “tentative but hopeful.” However, I would add, that in S4, what she was apparently hopeful of was that the conversation between them would go fairly smoothly and they could work out a way to remain on reasonably friendly terms, while not resuming their romantic relationship. It was almost a placating look. And here, if she wants to live separately from MArtin, which I think she does, she has every need to be placating!

    No — I think Louisa is going to have to be talked into trying again. Sad to say.

  24. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I have now watched the promo and seen the short clip of Louisa having entered through the front door wearing sunglasses on her head. It’s amazing how a look on someone’s face can be interpreted so many different ways. To me, she looks cautious and expectant. I would speculate that she knows Martin wants her to come back, but that he’s not likely to act exuberant when he sees her. Her entrance here is another moment when we see her returning because she wants to try again. She may not be ready to move back in right away, but I wouldn’t call it placating. As I speculated before, they would have spoken on the phone some while she was away. She probably didn’t tell him she planned to come back on a certain day, or even that she was coming back soon, but her mere return should be a relief to him and a good motivating action. Now he has to make the effort to convince her he’s serious about changing.

    As I will always argue, without Louisa there is no show. She had to come back and I would never have thought she wasn’t going to. Of course, we have all sorts of pictures now that make it clear that she’s in Portwenn for the duration of the series. They are together for many scenes and affectionate in some. All we have to do is see how they decided to let it play out.

  25. Abby

    My take on L’s return on S4 was that her immediate hope was that M would take the pregnancy reasonably well. I think she hoped that M would want to be involved in the pregnancy and with the baby. But, having said that, I do think she harbored some hope that they could get back together, because she still loved him.

    Perhaps a similar dynamic occurs in S7, with L having layers of hope. It may be that her immediate concern is to have a cooperative relationship with M so they can co-parent JH. But, like in S4, I believe she still loves M and harbors some hope of reconciling. However, MC has said M needs to work hard to get L back, so I think L is initially skeptical about M’s ability to change.

    Karen, the scene with L returning was part of an ITV trailer, and, unfortunately, I can’t find it anymore. It was posted on one the the FB groups, and it’s really hard to search for things there. I’ll send you a link if I ever find it.

  26. Santa Traugott

    Yes, I agree that there are layers on layers. That’s part of why we love the show so much! And I do think that at one level, she really does want to be shown that Martin wants to and CAN change. I think Louisa would be right to be cautious about words as opposed to deeds this time, and that it’s not unreasonable to live apart temporarily, until she’s had some evidence that returning home won’t be to the same unhappy state. When she comes home, though, I think she knows that’s she decided that they’re going to live separately while they work things through, and that does make her initial approach to Martin cautious.

    I’m curious though about two intervals: between the time she left the hospital and the time she left — did they talk at all? If not, why not? Or was she just not ready to hear it? And what happened between the time she walked in the door and the time she went to look for a place to live?

    I guess we’ll know some of this soon enough, but other parts of it will always remain ambiguous, I suspect.

  27. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    http://youtu.be/7CTu2buq66I
    Here’s the YouTube link Abby. It’s much too hard to look through FB posts!

    My two cents is that no woman would keep coming back to a man unless she still loves him and wants to be with him. I know several women who needed a break from their husbands in order to decide whether they were happier apart or missed being together. To me, Louisa’s practice of returning is not only because she’s an integral part of the show, but also because it’s meant to show that she really loves him and isn’t willing to give up on him. She may say she’s not happy, and there are plenty of reasons not to be happy when she’s in the middle of daily life with him, but she must be even unhappier when she isn’t around him.

    I have to agree that she needs him to show her real change now. From the various pictures people have posted, my sense is that he is making a serious effort to act differently. Since we don’t see the inside shots, we won’t know until we watch the series exactly how much he’s doing. I bet it’s still touch and go, but the overall trend will be towards a major improvement. He said he wants to be with her and that he knows he hasn’t been very good at being married. This series will be likely to show him trying at least, and probably doing enough to convince her to return to their home.

  28. Santa Traugott

    Oh, I totally agree that they will be together in the end, that he will make a determined and at least somewhat successful effort to change, and she will learn a bit more tolerance. She hasn’t stopped loving him or wanting to be with him — but she may be feeling that it isn’t workable. That can be changed.

    Indeed, if Martin were unable to change, and the “dark side” remained dominant, we would be watching a tragedy. not a dramedy, in that a man loses all hope of redemption because of his own, irremediable flaws. And we won’t be watching that, I am sure. That’s not what BP is about.

    It’s the getting there that could be painful to watch, at least in parts.

  29. Santa Traugott

    I think, tho, that it will take some time for Louisa to recognize the changes, and believe in them. The suspense will be, whether she will get to that point by the end of S7, or we have to wait until (the alleged) S8 .

  30. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    If they toy with the audience too much and don’t get them back together in some permanent fashion by the end of S7, I think they will lose a lot of credibility and much of their audience. I mean, there’s really only so much of this viewers are willing to put up with. They have a loyal fan base, but too much more of this uncertainty will leave many fed up.

    A S8 is hard to imagine if they have another 2 yr. break, don’t you think?

  31. Santa

    I hope S7 is the end. Rumors swirl that S8 is definite, including one that allegedly came directly from MC.

  32. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    As much as I’ve enjoyed the show and found many interesting topics to write about, I, too, hope S7 is the end. Every show has a lifespan after which it loses its punch and its excellence. I’d hate to see that happen with this show.

    I am also very glad to have made your acquaintance, as well as so many others, through this blog. I look forward to great conversations ahead about S7.

  33. Abby

    I took a look at the video again and freeze-framed L. Upon studying her face more closely, I am reevaluating my assessment of what she is feeling. It appears to me that she looks more afraid than anything else. It could very well be that the layers we talked about before are still there, but it seems that she is afraid of how M will react to her return and perhaps to her wanting a separation. I must say that depresses me.

  34. Abby

    On the other hand, the fact that she consents to staying in the surgery would imply that she may not see the separation as permanent. I’m driving myself crazy with this!

  35. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Yes you are! You may need therapy soon!! Just let the show unfold and stop trying to figure out what everything means from the pictures. Their expressions are momentary and they are acting. They’re good at using their eyes, but there is a limit to what you should interpret from a 2 second shot.

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