What is the separation anxiety movie synopsis?

This post answers: What is the separation anxiety movie synopsis? What is social anxiety? What are the signs and symptoms of social anxiety? How to manage social anxiety using self-help techniques? How to manage social anxiety using other methods?

What is the separation anxiety movie synopsis?

Separation from loved ones is a frequently occurring theme in a lot of movies. Some movies portray it as a disorder, while others portray it as a theme. In any case, separation from loved ones is extremely stressful. People who are very dependent on loved ones excessively worry about them.

Separation anxiety refers to the anxiety associated with separation from primary caregivers and people that we love. Experiencing anxiety while separating from people we love and are attached to is normal. It becomes a disorder when this anxiety is extremely out of proportion.

People with separation anxiety worry about losing loved ones even when there is no obvious reason for worrying. The reason why they worry so much is that they are highly dependent on loved ones. They feel extremely insecure and threatened in their absence. They are very pessimistic about their relationship with major attachment figures.

In this article, we are going to discuss the synopsis of the movie White Oleander which is centered around the theme of separation. The movie is about the life of a teenage girl named Astrid who suffers severe losses throughout her life.

Astrid is the daughter of a passionate woman named Ingrid. Ingrid is one of those women who cannot be caged. She loves freedom and independence and doesn’t listen to anyone when it comes to her life. Astrid lives with Ingrid in a relatively isolated place, and they are happy.

Astrid’s life takes a completely unexpected and terrific turn when her mother, Ingrid Magnussen, falls in love with Barry Kolker. Ingrid loves Barry, but Barry doesn’t seem to be very interested in her and cheats on her.

This enrages Ingrid to the point that she decides to take revenge form Barry and kills him. Ingrid is immediately arrested and is sentenced to prison for life. This totally destroys the life of Astrid. Astrid’s relationship with her mother starts to fall apart.

Astrid now has no one to take care of her. So, she is sent to a foster family where a former stripper named Starr is asked to take care of her. Here another tragedy strikes poor Astrid. Astrid tries to make a relationship with Ray, Starr’s boyfriend.

Astrid is being manipulated by her mother to do this because Ingrid doesn’t want her to live with Starr. When Starr finds out about Astrid’s affair with Ray, she tries to kill her and shoots her. Luckily, Astrid survives but suffers a severe gunshot. Now, Astrid again has lost another home. There is again no caregiver in Astrid’s life.

Astrid is sent to an orphanage. Her already distressing life becomes even more difficult in the orphanage. The teenagers in the orphanage seem to not like her and mock her. She ignores their bullying. Amidst the darkness of the orphanage, she finds a boy named Paul.

Paul seems to like her and wants to talk to her, but Astrid ignores her initially. After repeated attempts from Paul’s side, Astrid finally decides to give Paul a chance. She finds out that Paul’s life is way more upsetting than hers.

The repeated loss of caregivers makes Astrid extremely anxious and depressed. Her life becomes colorless. She tries to communicate with her mother, who is in prison. Astrid finds out that she and her mother have changed quite a lot. Ingrid still tries to manipulate Astrid into not communicating with people, but she doesn’t listen.

Astrid moves into the family of an actress named Claire Richards. Claire wants to adopt her because she doesn’t have children of her own. She has good relations with Claire. Her mother stays in active communication with Claire, and that angers her when she finds out about it. She also finds out that her mother doesn’t care about Claire at all.

Here, another strategy befalls poor Astrid. Claire’s husband divorces her, and Claire commits suicide. This, once again, leaves Astrid alone. After this, Astrid decides to go with Rena Grushenka, a Russian lady. At this point, Astrid’s mother begs Ingrid to testify in her favor in the court.

She agrees to testify in court only if she tells her the true story of her life. Ingrid has no choice and has to tell her about her life. She tells her how she didn’t let her father have her and how she had left her with another lady as a child. These revelations shock her. Astrid’s mother finally lets her go. She moves to Berlin and occasionally connects with her mom.

What is the separation anxiety movie synopsis?

What is social anxiety?

Individuals experiencing social anxiety might feel uncomfortable being in social situations to an extent that it hampers their daily functioning, it’s sometimes referred to as a social phobia.

Individuals consider public spaces as potential spaces of humiliation and embarrassment. Social anxiety affects how a person Interact with the world around them.

Social anxiety can be differentiated from shyness. In that shyness does not affect an individual’s daily life and functioning, moreover shyness is short-lived.

On the other hand, social anxiety is persistent and negatively impacts various aspects of an individual’s life like their ability to work productively or even develop or maintain close bonds with people outside their family.

What are the symptoms of social anxiety?

The symptoms of social anxiety can be both physical and psychological.

The most significant physical symptoms of social anxiety are:

  • Nausea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Lightheadedness or feeling dizzy
  • Increased heart rate

The psychological symptoms that individual experiences during a social anxiety attack are:

  • Excessive and intensive worry about the social situation
  • Worrying days or even weeks ahead of an important social event
  •  Trying to camouflage themselves in the background or the need to avoid the social situation on a whole
  •  The need for intoxication to face a social situation
  •  The constant worry of being observed by others 

In addition to these individuals with social anxiety may avoid social interactions such as asking another person a question when in doubt, potential job interviews, shopping, using public services like transport or washrooms, carrying out activities in public such as speaking or even eating in that matter.


How to manage social anxiety using self-help techniques?

Lifestyle changes

Apart from therapy and medication what works best to manage social anxiety is certain lifestyle changes. These may include:

  •  Regular exercises
  •  Having a balanced diet,
  •  Socializing and talking to people about their anxiety,
  •  Journal writing to express and understand one’s feelings and
  • Avoiding alcohol or drugs.

Take control of your breathing

It is normal for anxiety to bring about changes in your body, for instance, increased breathing. these changes often make an individual feel uncomfortable.

One can take control of this discomfort by carrying out a few simple steps such as holding one’s breath for two seconds and slowly letting it out through their mouth.

Repeating this step several times until one feels relaxed. This is most effective when one sits down in a comfortable position with their back straight.


Carry out progressive muscle relaxation

Research indicates that certain activities such as walking, or jogging can help in killing anxiety. Another effective technique to kill anxiety is progressive muscle relaxation.

Progressive muscle relaxation involves flexing and releasing a group of muscles in one’s body which helps to maintain their attention on the feelings of this contraction and relaxation.

Prepare ahead of situations

It is best advised that people who experience social anxiety must plan ahead of these situations that make them nervous to increase their confidence.

Start small

to kill social anxiety people must start small. In that individuals must avoid big social situations and start with the situation that they are compatible with.

For instance, one can start by going for lunch with friends and family members rather than with a set of individuals that they’re not familiar or confident with.

Push back negative thoughts

One very effective way to kill social anxiety is to focus and work on one’s negative thoughts actively.

Think about the negative thoughts that one has about a particular situation and write them down. Following which the person is required to write down positive thoughts that challenge the negative ones.

Sensory awareness

One’s senses can help them calm down while they feel anxious in any situation. For some people trying to look at photographs that give them a sense of happiness or using a particular scent that can help to distract them from the negative thoughts and reconnect with more positive ones can help to kill the anxiety at the moment.

How to manage social anxiety using other methods?

Like other physical conditions, even social anxiety has different approaches for its management and treatment. Some people might only need a single type of treatment while others might require a combination of approaches.

Some of the ways to manage or treat social anxiety disorders are:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps an individual to control their anxiety by using strategies like relaxation and breathing. It works on the principles of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a kind of therapy in which an individual is exposed to a particular situation that they usually fear in a graded manner.

It usually starts with exposing the individual to a situation that is least triggering when the individual gets comfortable with this situation introduced or exposed to them with each session individuals become comfortable with a real-life situation that is otherwise anxiety-provoking.

Group therapy

As the name suggests group therapy usually involves two or more individuals who are experiencing similar symptoms and problems.

It is based on the principle that when an individual interacts with other people who are suffering from the same condition or fears they might not feel left alone or isolated.

This kind of therapy also helps in developing and maintaining social skills or techniques to interact with people in other social settings.

 Prescribed medication

Social anxiety can also be treated with the help of medication prescribed by a health professional. There are different types of anxiety medications each with its benefits and side effects.

Online therapy 

Individuals with social anxiety can also seek therapy online. This would involve interacting with the therapist one-on-one over an audio or video call. 

Some individuals with social anxiety might be more comfortable seeking help through this mode than others while in a different case some might prefer face-to-face therapy sessions. 


Separation from loved ones is extremely distressing. Astrid suffers from frequent losses of caregivers, including her father and mother. She lives a very anxious life due to these losses and suffers a lot of emotional pain.

Frequently asked questions: What is the separation anxiety movie synopsis?

Is separation anxiety and separation anxiety disorder the same?

No, separation anxiety refers to the anxiety caused by or associated with the loss of major caregivers. It becomes separation anxiety disorder only when the fear and anxiety are extremely severe and irrational.

Why does Astrid love her mother even though she is a murderer?

Astrid loves and idolizes her mother because she never had a father. Her mother is both her maternal and paternal caregiver.

What is the basic theme of White Oleander?

The basic theme of White Oleander is anxiety caused by separation from caregivers and life in orphanages and foster families.