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The Psychology to Sam’s Rebellion Essay

The Psychology 2 In the movie Life as a House, George’s son, Sam goes through new changes in behavior. When the movie begun Sam was a rebellious young teen with negative feelings toward his father. Throughout the plot of the movie Sam goes through experiences with his father as they spend time together over the summer, which brings them closer together and allows them to have a better relationship. Sam’s acting out and unwanted actions were results of his parents divorce and not having a healthy relationship with his father. In Psychology, the basic concept of Nature vs. Nurture is said to Influence Development. Nature, according to Laura A. King (2010), includes “the individual’s biological inheritance, especially his or her genes” (p.264). Nurture involves a persons environment and experiences.

In her book King (2010) also states “early experiences are important contributors to development” (p.266). In the movie you could easily understand the nurture side of Sam’s behavior. Knowing and hearing about what kind of people Sam hangs out with we can kind of understand why he dresses a certain way and why he partakes in certain activities, such as drugs. The people he hangs out with leads us back again to the divorce. Sam chooses to hang out with others like him who fell pain inside. His behaviors are a cry for help. In the movie Sam says “I like how it feels not to feel”. He does drugs to forget his problems and not feel pain.

The emotions that young kids and teens go through when parents get a divorce usually include depression, anger, sadness, and the feeling that maybe they could have done something to have made the situation better. While some children and teens choose to hide their feelings, Sam didn’t. He acted out with disrespect and constant anger. “No one knows whether there are actually more depressed kids today or just greater awareness of the problem, but some researchers think that the stress of a high divorce

The Psychology 3 rate, rising academic expectations and social pressure may be pushing more kids over the edge“ (Wingert, Pat, & Barbara Kantrowitz, 2002, p. 52). The emotions that Sam has and also his Development contribute to his Personality. Sam has what is called an Introverted personality, because he is not very social and mostly keeps to himself. We see an example of his introverted behavior toward the beginning of the movie when he locks himself in his room and pushes his mother out. He prefers to be alone, and is not very social. Sam’s primary defense mechanism is Displacement. He “shifts feelings toward an unacceptable object to another” (King, 2010, p.343).

The anger he has about the divorce , he shifts onto everyone else, especially his father. His parents divorce had a significant impact on his personality, emotions and development. Motivation is “the force that moves people to behave, think and feel the way they do” (King, 2010, p.305). Motivation is usually triggered by an incentive, or a reward for certain behaviors. The most common incentive is money. When George flushes drugs that he found that Sam was supposedly holding for a friend in the toilet, Sam freaks out because he has to now pay his friend back. He is then motivated to work to make money to pay for the drugs.

He asks his father to give him ten dollars an hour to help George build the house. At first, the money was his primary motivation, but as he started getting closer with his father it became less about the money and more about building their father-son relationship and also building himself back up again. After George had opened up about his father and his past, Sam says “I haven’t used anything [drugs] in two days, Im trying”. His father motivates him to become a better person and to change his life around. When Sam acts out, his parent don’t usually know how to handle him, so Sam

The Psychology 4 continues to rebel. If his parents were to use Operant conditioning to reinforce Sam’s behavior, he most likely wouldn’t have rebelled as much. He would still have Negative feelings but his actions wouldn’t have been so extreme. Nurturing come in again with learning and conditioning. If his father was around more to reinforce his behavior, he wouldn’t have been the young teenaged boy who lashed out. Operant Conditioning is a way of learning and Sam needed to learn that his actions have consequences.

Sam has a problem with substance abuse. In an intense seen with his father, he admits to have been using since he was twelve years old. Along with the stress of his parents divorce his drug abuse is a factor contributing to his extreme behavior. It is said that “a striking consequence of drug use by young people is its association with violence and delinquency” (Winters, 2010, p.118). Sam has become so accustomed to the use of drugs, since hes been taking them for so many years, that he even steals his fathers Vicodine. Anything to ease his pain. Not only does he suffer with drug abuse he also seems to have depression.

Depression is a common illness for those who have divorced or absent parents. “Depressed teenagers are more reactive to the environment than depressed adults. In addition, they act irritable. In classical depression, you are depressed all–or almost all-of the time. Depressed teens’ moods are much more changeable. If an adult male gets depressed and you take him to a party, he is still depressed. In fact, he may depress others at the party. A teenage boy who is depressed and gets taken to a party might brighten, might actually want to have sex. If pursued, he might enjoy himself. But if he goes home alone, he is likely to become very depressed again. These mood changes are very hard for parents to understand” (Winters, 2010, p.118). The changes and behaviors seen in Sam, in the movie Life as a house, are caused

The Psychology 5 due to a divorce between parents. And many aspects of the young adults behavior can be analyzed with psychology. Sam’s emotions, personality, learning and development all pertain to one another. Sam’s father helped motivate him, enabling him to turn his life around. His emotions had changed, not completely, but he became less angry and less violent then when he was in the beginning of the movie. His Personality had also changed a bit, he was no longer as introverted as he was, he became a little more social.

The Psychology 6 References King, L. (Ed.). (2010). Experience Psychology (1st ed.). New York, NY: McGraw- Hill. Wingert, Pat, & Kantrowitz, B. (2002, October 07). Young and Depressed. Newsweek. 52. Winters, Ken C. (1998, October). Kids and Drugs. Corrections Today. 118.


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