The Woman in the Window and the Problem of Obsessive Safetyism
Safety is something people need.
We need it so much that we're willing to go extraordinary lengths to achieve it. If the last almost two years has taught us anything, it's just how much we're willing to give up in order to feel a sense of safety from any type of danger. It doesn't necessarily need to be a real sense of safety. Only that we can actually feel as though someone is taking charge and making you feel safe. The idea of safety is more important than real safety. Whether it's security from terrorism or a virus or even from either other people or ourselves.
Once our safety has been violated, we can need to be all right again. Even if the thing that violated it was you. We're willing to create entire ideas of safety within our own heads to protect ourselves from considering the implications of what we have done. This is particularly true of traumatic events that we witnessed or were a part of. Denial is the obvious result. An unwillingness to see or accept the reality of our circumstances. It's a protective measure that we might not even be aware we're doing. Yet the result is ultimately the same. Safety is effectively achieved.
Agoraphobia is perhaps the most extreme version of this need for safety. The inability to interact with the outside world for fear of what might happen to you. At least in any meaningful way. Obviously people can't completely cut themselves off from the world and still function. But they can limit the amount of interaction in order to maximize safety at the expense of other things. You will be willing to sacrifice all but the most basic of human interaction for the feeling of safety. The rise of the internet has made this so much easier to do. Before the internet, there was still a basic need to leave a place of safety in order to get things like food and other needs.
This doesn't mean that there aren't real dangers out there to protect yourself from. It just means that your ability to do so is massively increased. You can end up trying to find dangers where they don't actually exist. To create dangers entirely in your mind so that you can justify your continued fear and embrace the feeling of safety you currently feel.
The Woman in the Window explores this idea brilliantly, and it came out at the perfect time to explore such a topic. The woman in question is Anna Fox, as played by Amy Adams, can't leave her home. Something we've all experienced over the past two years. She sees danger around every corner. Everyone around her is a potential source of danger. She can't even see children as a source of safety on Halloween. Her struggle is to find a way to balance the lack of safety she feels with her need to fight against what seems to be real dangers around her.
It's fascinating to watch and you should find a way to balance that safety yourself.
Check it out on Netflix as soon as you can.
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