Home Concepts Managing Stress & Challenges Oiling the Tin Man’s Armor and Healing His Heart I: The Nature of Energy and Anxiety

Oiling the Tin Man’s Armor and Healing His Heart I: The Nature of Energy and Anxiety

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We begin with a story taken from a book written by Frank Baum and translated into a famous movie called The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy from Kansas has just landed in a strange land called Oz, having been carried there by one of the tornados that was all too common in the dust bowl countryside where Dorothy lived. Seeking to return to her home, Dorothy is instructed to follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City, where the great Wizard of Oz will help her with this return journey from the land of Oz (and the sound stages of the MGM movie studio). Dorothy is joined on her journey by her dog (Toto) who has been swept up with her. They are soon joined by a scarecrow who is searching for his brains.

The three of them come to a crossroad where they encounter a man who is made of tin. He can’t move. His armor rusted shut during a rainstorm. The Tin Man was able to mumble about an oil can and his first request was soon fulfilled. Oil was squirted into his tin joints and our tin character of Oz was soon able not only to move freely but also make a second request. He is looking for a heart and proves that he doesn’t have one by thumping on his hollow chest. The Tin Man joins Dorothy, the Scarecrow and Toto on their journey. He hopes that the all-powerful Wizard can provide him with a heart.

This story about Oz and the Tin Man frames the narrative which we are about to engage in four essays. We offer a premise: what if we could assemble a team to diagnosis and treat the ailments articulated and exhibited by the Tin Man. Here is what our team would determine. First, we know that he has been frozen in time. We don’t know the duration of his inability to move—but it must have been quite traumatic for him. Will he forever dread rain (or even more generally water)? We need to provide the oil so that he can move about freely. We might even suggest that he find armor in the future that is more flexible—or at least rust-proof. There is more to be done.

We also wonder a bit about the veracity of the Tin Man’s account. How could he have been rusted so quickly after standing for a short while in the rain? Could there be some other reason for the frozen armor? Is he actually afraid of the rain or of something else that is threatening him (perhaps something in the forest)? And where did he find the armor–or did he construct the armor himself? Perhaps, it is just psychological armor.

Our diagnosis leads us to the all-too-obvious conclusion that our Tin Man believes that he has no heart—and as a result fears that he is unable to care deeply about anyone or anything. Almost immediately we recognize that the Tin Man does have a heart. Jack Haley, the noted vaudevillian and character actor who plays the Tin Man speaks with a very gentle and kind voice that leads us to believe that this man of tin actually does have a great big heart. However, his heart seems to be encased in restrictive armor. There is an issue of denial or an even deeper failure to acknowledge what is hidden away. The Tin Man banged on his chest. It seemed to be empty. Yet he does have a heart. He might have to prove to himself that he has a heart by engaging in the fulfillment of some “heart-felt” mission.

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