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Theories of Personality Essay

Nearly 2000 years ago ‘Persona’ word was used for personality. The word ‘Persona’ means mask or dress up. The meaning of personality by ‘Persona’ word is an outer or external quality of personality. There are thousands of definitions related to personality which are described by Allport (1937). Allport classified these definitions in six groups, but provided an overall definition of personality as “Personality is the individual’s characteristic reactions to social stimuli and the quality of his adaptation to the social features of his environment” (1924) (Adams, 1967).

For years now many psychologists have provided the theories of personality. These are psychoanalytical theory by Freud, Reinforcement theory by Dollard and Miller (1941, 1959) (Broody), social learning theory by Bandura, Trait theory by Cattell. The context of the present assignment is to evaluate the character of ‘Will Hunting’ from the movie ‘Good Will Hunting’, which is by genre an American drama film. The character of Will Hunting is played by Matt Damon and the character has the most interesting shades of personality. Rather a close understanding of the movie shows a different personalities played by the different characters.

The two theories which closely associate with the character of Will Hunting are the psychoanalysis theory and the social cognitive theory. It is quiet apparent in the movie as well that “Will” is being referred to a psychologist and the psychologist tries to understand Will by the means of defence mechanism. Sigmund Freud (1956-1939) was the first person who considered the childhood behavior as base of adult behavior. The two main concepts regarding Freud’s psychoanalytical theory are as under: 1. Structure of Personality: According to Freud (1927) (Dember, 1970) there are three parts of personality – id, ego and super ego.

Id represents the unconscious mind. Its nature is just like instincts and wants to fulfill or satisfy immediately the various wishes, motivations, desires etc. It is totally affected by pleasure principle (Eysenck, 1972). This can be seen in the character of “Will Hunting” when he wants to fulfill his desire of breaking out in a fight with a group of college graduates or taking impulsive decisions like “Being a laborer for his entire life” (Geldard)(1972). Ego is the developed form of id. It is logical, organized and rational part of person but it gets energy from id.

It compromises with the situations of environment and helps to fulfill the desires of id. In the movie when Will is asked to undergo the sessions of therapy, he initially tries to comply in the therapeutic relationship, in order to maintain the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship (Haber. R. N. & Fried, 1975). The third part of personality as given by Freud is the super ego. Super ego is the lastly developed moral or ethical part of the person. This is developed part of ego in the childhood. Mental mechanisms like identification and interjection help in its development.

It tries to fulfill all the wishes of unconscious by following the pleasure principle (Hilgard)(1956). At many instances when true satisfaction is not achieved then id tries to satisfy needs by the help of images. The knowledge of environment is collected in the ego. And it protects the person from outer dangers, so it follows the reality principle. It expresses the Id’s impulses according to the reality of environment (Mussen)(1992). Ego makes the balance between the contradictory impulses of Id and super ego (Morris, 1979). Super ego behaves with ego as parents behave with children (Whittakar)(1966).

It tries to stop the impulses of id and takes these impulses towards ethical and moral aims. Another important aspect of the movie is the implementation of the defense mechanism. As commonly known the defense mechanisms are the methods by which an individual can subdue his emotions from being expressed. In the movie the psychologist tries that will should remove all his inhibitions and should share feelings with him. He uses the therapeutic approach and establishes a doctor-patient relationship. Slowly Will sheds his inhibitions and becomes open with the psychologist.

However, an interesting dynamic that is seen here is that the process of Will being open with the doctor was more on a level of mutual understanding when the doctor establishes the fact that he has also gone through similar childhood situations in life. Here the understanding of the social cognitive theory comes in where the “Will” is rationalizing what the doctor has mentioned about his childhood traumas. ‘Will’ is learning by the so called rational approach therapy where he is able to relate himself with the experiences of the psychologist and then being able to think about his own situations.


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