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Analysis of Good Will Hunting Through The Psychological Lens

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Good Will Hunting is a film about the pronounced relationship between a therapist and janitor, Will Hunting. The film demonstrates egos and how ego can affect people in their daily lives. Will experienced a not ideal upbringing, as he was an orphan. Because of his upbringing Will, an unrecognized genius, works as a school janitor as part of a parole agreement after assaulting a police officer. He was abused as a child and is expressing that abuse and violence in his adult life. While mopping the floors, Will solved several physics theorems on a chalkboard in the hallway, causing Nobel Prize Winner Lambeau to seek him out. “I’ve spoken to the judge and he’s agreed to release you under my supervision. Under two conditions. That you meet with me twice a week – get into some more advanced Physics. The other condition is that you see a therapist.” Lambeau told Will. Mental health professionals’ negative attributes and of an individual by looking into personality theories for the clients counseling needs. Personality theories are helpful to professionals when it comes to identifying behavior that is related to effort to understand individuals suffering difficulties in relation to negative behaviors. The professionals have an obligation to assess, diagnose, and treat an individual as soon as the theoretical perspective has been found. In the movie Good Will Hunting portrays the violence Will Hunting experienced as a child and then it demonstrates how as an adult it has affected him. Along with flashes of a sweet disposition when he is with his friends. In the known factors that Will is a mental genius with an overabundance of intelligence. Hunting’s has many contradicting personality traits that will direct us to the factor that there is more in his mind than mathematical intellect. Will shows many changes in the movie from self-destructive behaviors to the ability to form positive behaviors.

Cognition is defined as information processing weather it be mental operation, or intellectual activity or thinking, reasoning, remembering, imagining, or learning. Concepts of separating identity from the environment around them, top levels of imaginative ability. Bring unrelated facts or ideas to create a situation or problem. Planning a unique story or future action of imaginative concepts. Substantial in individual of older adulthood cognitive performance and cognitive abilities change over time. There has been an increase of studies focused on examining personality characteristics in cognitive aging. People who engage in high levels of cognitive stimulation experience a slower rate of cognitive decline than people who do not engage in much cognitive stimulation, but that people who engage in more mental stimulation show higher levels of cognitive ability in general. Will didn’t think he was good enough to do much with his life filled his cognitive thoughts of self-pity and doubt.

In the first scene of the movie where Will goes to call Skylar and is not sure what to say so he says nothing when she answers the phone it shows self-fulfilling prophecies. Will is used to acting on his anger when he is at a loss for words or lacks the ability to expressing his emotions. There is a scene in the movie where Will and Skylar are in California and Will begins to push Skylar away as they get into a heated argument in hopes to push her away before she does it to him. Will tell Skylar the he does not love her and in hopes to put self-fulfilling prophecy with the thoughts of the future will come true if you sabotage them now. “Will scream to Skylar do you think I have a sign on my back that says save me!” “Do you think I want you to feel bad for me in the fact that I got cigarettes put on me as a child”. Will cognitive doubts in his own self worthiness and struggled with the pain from it daily it was clear that Will is needing some emotional support to help him see his self-value.

Whereas neuroticism accounted for significant unique variance in all symptom outcomes, individual cognitive and personality-cognitive vulnerabilities accounted for small and only sometimes statistically significant variance across outcomes. There is a relationship or connection between cognition and personality development, During the time of this movie, 1997, Will was 20 years old and these were very violent times for the area of the movie setting, Boston. His life at this stage was filled with pandemonium. Chaos is in the town because of the issues arising, turmoil internally for him as an orphan. He was born around the time of the busing issues in Boston which was a very bloody and violent time. Erik Erikson’s psychological stages of trust versus mistrust play a huge role in character Will’s life. This stage begins at birth and continues until around age one. An infant develops a sense of trust hen interactions are reliably, careful, and affectionate. lack of any or all these characteristics will lead to mistrust in the infant. If the care the infant receives is consistent, predictable, and reliable the infant will form a sense of trust which will carry with them to other relationships and will have a sense of security even when threatened. Mistrust does not end it will fallow one on throughout their life until they make an amends to the situation and even then, it will still affect them it just might not be as significant.

Biological and environmental factors can shape our cognitive processes. Will’s unique situation and life events that helped shape his personality like having unhealthy parents, an abusive father, being abandoned, and being a victim of crime lead him to be untrusting and fearful. An example of this is when Will was growing up in an orphanage it was a harsh childhood and when he grew up, he felt violence was the answer to his problems. The judge learned of Will’s life filled with abuse, no sympathy or empathy and this made more sense to the judge when piecing together Will’s trouble with authority. Will blames himself for his upbringing and turns that blame into a form of self-sabotage in everything he does whether it be personal or professional. This self-hatred has caused it to be very difficult for Will to hold a steady job or even a steady relationship, as he felt he did not deserve to be loved. Will was betrayed and let down repeatedly as a child causing him to now exhibit behaviors trying to protect himself from people. In this film Will must learn to overcome his fear of abandonment in order to learn to love and trust people. Will is very much so an extravert he acts a certain way to get the attention of others. The biological genetics can not be changed they are inherited, and they make up who a person. The behaviors of a person are very much shaped by the things that go on in their direct in environment and the way of life that people act upon. The make up of ones biological and environment surrounding them can fully effect how they cognitively perceive things in this world. The way the children are raised in a rich or poor home either the parents are strict or relaxed has many effects on the way they will grow up. Behaviors are tough to a person and can be changed with corrective tactics. The up bring will had was not the best being he grew up with an abusive father then being abandoned he very unloved and it has certainly shaped his adulthood to run from love. It is very hard for someone who had a rough upbringing to shape themselves into a loving kind person with out coping with the trauma from the past. It shows in the movie with the way will conducts himself in his relationships very poorly.

Parents have huge impact on a child the way they act, behave, feel, think and even the way they carry themselves. In the evolutionary theories the biological or genetic make up of the hereditary units called DNA to build a human and shapes how it should behave. In the evolutionary theories culture is a huge part in how a human with grow and behave the display of the person has to do with their background and the way others model behaviors around them. Many parts of behavioral standpoint are very effected by the way a child acts and behaves parents have much to put into the behavior of a child.

Will grow up in a household of mistrust and lack of love which shows in his adult life he can not have well balanced relationships with men or a woman. A lot of his problem is the fact he doesn’t know how to love so he can not show love in any form. Will needs to work with his self from with in and learn how to love himself through his tough times and after he finds a way to love himself, he can learn to love others. Will also has anger issues when he becomes angry, he lashes out on others and attacks them with hate. Will is working through the underlying issues with his therapist Sean and he is slowly teaching Will how it’s alright to be upset but can not attack others you need to express your emotions in different forms. Sean is a lot like Will, and he sees himself in Will and that is a big reason why he is so in agreement to help Will work through his life and issues.

Self-efficacy is related to personality and ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ factors contribute to one’s self-efficacy. Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory emphasizes the role of observational learning, social experience and reciprocal determinism in personality development. A person’s attitudes, abilities, and cognitive skills comprise what is known as the self-system. Self-efficacy plays an essential part of Will’s self-system, this reflected self-regard. The higher self -esteem a person has the happier they appear. With Will his self-esteem was very low which added to his depression and tendency to engage in criminal activity and self-loathing. Self-efficacy is simply a fancy way of saying ‘the ability to sustain oneself and one’s self confidence’. Psychologists have argued for years on the nature vs. nurture, and efficacy is more widely believed to deal with nurture. I believe that our personalities are developed from both nature and nurture. Nature vs. nurture basically suggests that we develop who we are, influenced from our genetics or the environment that we live in. Just as Will displayed personality traits from his father, reflecting his behavior, however the way he reacts and behave because his life experiences were different than theirs. Will is able to look at himself objectively and redirect his focus towards productive pursuits. The theorists of personality have virtue and inherited values. In Good Will Hunting characters are derived from theories and knowledge. Will demonstrate ability relate unique chemistry and of his environment and past childhood violence. Most of the story he lived without love and was trying to push it away before it got too close to him.

Nature versus nurture has been a common topic of conversation for psychologists for years. Nature versus nurture is an argument of whether humans develop from genetics or the environment they grow up in. Will demonstrated personality traits from his father as well as behavior reflecting his past of abuse and abandonment. Will demonstrated that humans can develop both from nature and nurture. Because of the experiences and traits Will developed, he was able to learn many life lessons about love but also about life in general. Will learns that love is not perfect, and neither are the people involved in the love. Sean opens to Will about his past, in doing this he allowed Will to feel trusted and loved. It also allows Will to be more willing to open to Sean, which allows Sean to be able to help him. This is a great example of how nurture helps shape people. In the film it was portrayed that his childhood events play a role in why his personality seemed so harsh. Freud emphasized that heredity is not enough to structure the personality because developing personality requires environmental effects and develop along through the life span with one’s self-determination. However, the cause of Will’s intelligence is still controversial, is it nature or nurture? I believe it is a mixture of both.

Good Will Hunting has displayed a role of a man of is very much affected in his adult life because of the troubling childhood he had. Will is dealing with cognitive dissonance he is torn between two cognitions, both of which contradict each other. One side of the cognitions is brought up as an orphan from South Boston, sense he grew up rough he should have a low pay job and live that way rest of his life. It would be wrong of him to forget about his roots and try to become something of himself, which would be unfair to his friends who aren’t as blessed as Will, he is a profoundly smart individually. Emotional intelligence is higher than others, which is displayed when he works these complex math equations easily. Behavioral approach would suggest that Will’s behavior is a product of his environment. He is violent because he was beaten as a child and as he grew up, learning through violence. He kept up this behavior because he was never punished severely enough to get him to stop behaving poorly. He knew that he could go to court and talk his way out of his situations which did not give him any reason to stop doing what he was doing to change his life. Will shows how the factors of a poor up bring can influence from society. Society usually views people who live in low income as people who will never make something of themselves, so he feels the same way about himself. The environmental factors affect the ways of people’s lives. Society also does not allow for men to open and share their feeling freely they are looked at to be strong and not to be sentimental. This is the reason why it is so hard for Will to open up and work on himself.

References:

  1. Sutton, J., Mineka, S., Zinbarg, R., Craske, M., Griffith, J., Rose, R., … Mor, N. (2011). The Relationships of Personality and Cognitive Styles with Self-Reported Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety. Cognitive Therapy & Research, 35(4), 381–393. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-010-9336-9
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/cognition Michael D. Breed, Janice Moore, in Animal Behavior, 2012
  3. Turner, J. C. (2010). Social categorization and the self-concept: A social cognitive theory of group behavior. In T. Postmes & N. R. Branscombe (Eds.), Key readings in social psychology. Rediscovering social identity (pp. 243-272). New York, NY, US: Psychology Press
  4. Curtis, R. G., Windsor, T. D., & Soubelet, A. (2015). The relationship between Big-5 personality traits and cognitive ability in older adults – a review. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 22(1), 42-71. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13825585.2014.888392
  5. Schacter, D. L., Gilbert, D. T., Wegner, D. M., & Nock, M. (2014). Psychology. New York: Worth.
  6. Affleck, B., & Damon, M. (1997). Good Will Hunting: An original screenplay. Place of publication not identified: Publisher not identified.
  7. Cognitive Health and Older Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/cognitive-health-and-older-adults
  8. Friedman, H., S., & Schustack, M., W., 2012, ‘Personality: Classic Theories and Modern Research’, 5th edition, Allyn & Bacon. Retrieved from https://purdueuniversityglobal.vitalsource.com

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Analysis Of Good Will Hunting Through The Psychological Lens. (2021, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 30, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-good-will-hunting-through-the-psychological-lens/
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