Journey of Healing: Overcoming Trauma and Embracing Self-Discovery

Categories: Carl Rogers

Antwone Fisher is a boy with anger and temperament concerns related to youth interpretation of physical and emotional abuse brought on by the authoritarian figures of his family. Self-image and real self have been challenged, but the Navy as different events set off tragic memories from the past. A psychiatrist played by Denzel Washington accepts the difficulty to assist human advancement through different techniques and intervention strategies. Additionally, intervention helps to remove the layers of negative emotion and can be accomplished if the right therapist helps with correct intervention methods.

Carl Rogers theorized the importance of taking a look at "self". He drew a difference between the self understanding and the understanding of the "Ideal-self. There are organized patterns connected with the established one self or the numerous selves. The "sensational field of the private consists of both unconscious and mindful understandings, consisting of those of which a person is conscious and is not aware (Pervin p. 172). Focus is on supplying opportunities to awareness, as the means to a healthy functional individual.

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Antwone's self-image is buried in unpleasant memories and untreated past emotional events.

Rogerian Theory seems to be based in self image. It offers a basis for understanding, evaluating, and offering the proper intervention. Gordon Allport'sTheory Reasoning Practical Autonomy obtains from the notion of healthy and well-organized elements of human behavior. Traits are the basis of and essential aspect of personality, and they are seated in the nerve system.

They represent generalized personality dispositions that account for regularities in the functioning of a person across situations and over time (Pervin p.

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32). Antwone’s predictable pattern of behavior becomes traits controlled by his changing emotional state. When a memory challenges the nervous system, he makes irrational emotional unhealthy decisions. Allport’s theory application may reveal more options to understanding the root cause of aggressiveness and angry outbursts. Character Description Antwone Fisher was born in an Ohio prison (his mother was an inmate; his father was shot dead before his birth) and grew up in an abusive foster home in Cleveland.

Beaten and often kept tied in the basement, Fisher ran away when he was seventeen and had to face life on the streets. Antwone joined the Navy only to find he was fighting to save himself from insult and to help preserve his pride. Antwone progressively becomes a healthy young man after a psychiatrist helps remove layers of anger and pain based memories. Character Analysis Structure- Antwone Fisher’s character is wrapped up in pressure associated with memories of a mother in prison, a father killed by his girlfriend, abandonment, and physical, emotional, and sexual maltreatment.

He was placed in a foster home with his half-brothers. The pastor beat the light-skinned boy for having too much pride. Mrs. Tate tied Antwone’s hands behind his back and beat him unconscious and threatened to burn him with an open fire. She would create division between them while using skin color and the degrading terms. Antwone was the middle child. In the Navy, Antwone was a loner. He constantly went inside to find answers to his past. His treatment as a child stemmed from slave-based disciplinary practiced by Mrs. Tate.

His character begins to be formed according to the daily exposure to verbal and mental lashings from her. His self-worth in her eyes amounts to nothing. His submissive behavior is degrading and subservient. He is chastised every step of his childhood into his teen years until he finally puts an end to the beating. There is no reward for good behavior. He even pokes fun at Dr. Davenport (Played by Denzel Washington) while making a mockery of his intervention suggestions. Denzel again reverts to memories from his past and the feelings associated with self-perception.

Confusion after making an attempt to straighten-up drives him away from seeking more attention from the psychiatrist. He just wants to be a good shipman, but continues to find a problem with anger. Process He has to find himself before he can find his ideal-self. He realizes through the help of Dr. Davenport that he can change. He tries to find a trust based relationship to compare thoughts and feelings to his own. Establishing relationships may be difficult when internal issues have not been resolved; He wants to impress his woman friend but cannot find the words to begin a caring relationship.

Denzel role plays away some of the perceived self-critical behavior to instill confidence. There is a growing consensus about the relationship between personality traits and emotional states, biological theorists of adult personality are exchanging ideas with theorists of childhood temperament, and long-term studies of personality development across the life span are delivering on the promises made many years ago William Revelle; Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 46, 1995, p. 1). Antwone finds incongruence between his perceived self image and his true self image.

Dealing with emotional baggage and the inexperience of having the ability to build and maintain a lasting relationship can distort feelings and create confusion. Growth and Development Growth continues during the date with Cheryl as she points out things about his appearance that she finds attractive. His character develops as he shares himself in a way never before experienced. His self-worth grows as he overcomes fear to be “himself” as he lowers defenses and builds a relationship. He also looks to his psychiatrist the same night for validation and confirmation as he shares his first kiss experience.

This appears to be the first time that lowering defenses and trusting his feelings creates a self-worth like never before. Personality theories attempt to account for individual behavior. The scope of such theories is vast. (Revelle, p. 1). Antwone is trying to be nice, but finds it difficult when provoked to anger. Dr. Davenport employs empathy as a way to meet Antwone where before moving quickly ahead. Affective level understanding creates an environment of trust and deeper understanding. Any attempt to withhold judgment and establish rapport assists greatly in growth rate and early development.

In sensing the private world of a client, the counselor or therapist attempts to convey an empathic understanding of the person's experiencing. Through a sensitive attunement, an individual is able to empathically sense his or her own subjective internal state. In an immediate context, a person's reactions assume the form of hunches and a flow of inner feelings. In this mode, experiencing includes such reactions as love, hate, enjoyment, boredom, sensing, and perceiving.

As a basic way of knowing, experiencing subjective responses is fundamental to everyday life. Empathy: Implications of Three Ways of Knowing in Counseling Journal article by Arthur J. Clark; Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development, Vol. 43, 2004, p. 1). Carl Rogers (1964) described 3 ways of knowing with reference to empathic understanding: subjective, interpersonal, and objective. Dr. Davenport questions Antwone about his family life after he was thrown out of Mrs. Tate’s house. He talks about going back to the orphanage to develop his social skills. It’s what happens when empathy becomes a part of the process.

Dr. Davenport uses a line of questioning based in empathetic understanding. The centrality of understanding the private perceptual world of a person from an interpersonal perspective is a recurring theme in the writings of Rogers. Thus, the direction of an individual's empathy is toward another person in an effort to grasp his or her phenomenological functioning. (p. 1). Institutionalized incarceration lacks sensitivity and empathy. The penal system and rehabilitation process formalize a different skill set and can impede growth and development.

From reform school to a men’s shelter to living on the street creates a survival response and an identity vacuum and a need for understanding and belonging. Keep in mind the basis of the Roger’s approach is, to enact empathy, genuineness, and unconditional positive regard (An Analysis of How Carl Rogers Enacted Client-Centered Conversation with Gloria Journal article by Scott A. Wickman, Cynthia Campbell; Journal of Counseling and Development, Vol. 81, 2003, p. 1). Antwone begins to show a trend of behaviors with anticipated responses. His motives are driven by basic human needs for survival.

His dysfunctional past needs to be replaced with more productive behavior. Antwone’s park bench experiences before joining the Navy have to be considered in the same way Gordon Allport suggests personality and trait development tied to the environment. Antwone is very conscious of his reaction and responses to people and events in the environment. Antwone, a nice person, may be misunderstood and misjudged because of the trait behaviors associated with anger and violence.

Allport surveys of personality psychology included discussions of such concepts as defense mechanisms, self, and identification. Shoring up the SASB Bridge between Personality Theory and Clinical Psychology Journal article by Jerry S. Wiggins; Psychological Inquiry, Vol. 5, 1994. 3 pgs, p. 3). Antwone employs each concept on the road to becoming a balanced healthy, functioning young man. Allport's theory suggests growth or development of personality is equally important. Regardless of whether one favors traits or motives, many of the questions driving personality psychology are developmental: How do people develop the trait of sociability (or the need for achievement)?

At what developmental period does this trait (need) emerge? When are the critical periods during which the trait (need) is expressed? Is sociability (need for achievement) stable from one developmental period to the next, and, if not, what factors are responsible for those changes? How does being high in sociability (need for achievement) shape the individual's life path (Traits and Types, Dynamics and Development: No Doors Should Be Closed in the Study of Personality, Journal article by Oliver P. John, Richard W. Robins; Psychological Inquiry, Vol. 5, 1994. 6 pgs, p. 140)? Psychopathology

The development of psychological theory tends to oscillate between optimistic advances and self-critical analyses and retrenchment (William Revelle; Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 46, 1995, p. 1). Antwone employs defense mechanisms to preserve his client/patient relationship with Dr. Davenport. His regression begins when he recalls the memory of his old friend tricks him into committing a crime. During the crime his best friend is killed. Self-maintenance becomes an issue as he recalls how many people in life have left him. He believes Dr. Davenport is determined to leave him after making him an extended member of the family.

His high level of trust and sense of belonging gives way to loss and suffering. He’s willing to do almost anything to hold on to certainty in his life. Optimism crashes and retrenchment occurs as the feelings of loss become incongruent with the memory of his friends blood splatter across his face. His friend Jesse fed him when he was hungry and died during a botched robbery the next day. Believing the death relieved Jesse from fighting anymore, increases the feeling of abandonment, letdown and pain associated with accepting the last session with Dr. Davenport.

Internal and External Factors Internally something is missing. Self-concept and self-actualization cannot occur unless he is reunited with his past. As most counselors know very well, person-centered theory and therapy began with and evolved from the thinking, research, and practice of Carl Ransom Rogers (The Development and Evolution of Person-Centered Expressive Art Therapy: A Conversation with Natalie Rogers Journal article by John Sommers-Flanagan; Journal of Counseling and Development, Vol. 85, 2007, p. 1).

Carl Rogers was raised by parents under one roof. The integration of person-centered principles and art is a natural combination of her parents' most distinct qualities (p. 1). Antwone Fisher’s parents were non-existent. Internal and external support was missing therefore disrupting self-centered support. Much like Dr, Davenport, Roger’s interactions with clients were like small miracles of compassionate understanding and communication". Carl Rogers believed that the relationship between therapist and client facilitates emotional and psychological healing.

As counselors we often see ourselves in the same situations as our clients. For some reason, the need to remain ethical and subjective creates a gap in reality as our own defense mechanisms preserve internal wellness. The therapeutic atmosphere produces positive changes when unconditional positive regard supersedes poor judgment and inflexibility. When our practiced behavior becomes predictable, we become trait driven and predictable which often leads to in effective counseling alternatives.

Pervin's analysis and critique of personality-trait research rests on the assumption that the five-factor model (FFM), and trait models more generally, should fulfill all the goals of a complete theory of personality (Traits and Types, Dynamics and Development: No Doors Should Be Closed in the Study of personality Journal article by Oliver P. John, Richard W. Robins; Psychological Inquiry, Vol. 5, 1994. 6 pgs. , p137) In a summary statement about the nature of this relationship, the whole person remains fragmented until explanations associated with internal messages match externally.

Antwone had to trace his family history for answers to self image, self-esteem, and the ideal self. Throughout the movie, he is polite, articulate, and very well-balanced in a trusting and loving environment. When the memories were released and support from his girlfriend prevailed, gradually the “real” Antwone Fisher began to take shape and grow. How can one become person centered and grow when completeness is rooted in deteriorating external information? Conclusion Communicating genuiness and unconditional positive self-regard is the key to breaking down the walls and destroying the defenses of a troubled and angry client.

When a negative self image impeded growth and development, the counselor must build trust, establish rapport and utilize empathy effectively. Providing a safe environment and a loving and caring ethical and professional relationship with your client are the keys to successful intervention. Carefully choosing the process and defining reasonable goals assist in the healing process on the way to independence. Looking into a mirror and defining the meaning of self and the perceived ideal self may be incongruent occasionally.

Self-talk can be detrimental and harmful when discouragement follows as a result of unanswered questions about the self and the past. When life becomes puzzling and negative behaviors overshadow self-perception, the counselor must provide a way to trace behaviors to the root cause. Rogers and Allport provide reasonable theories on personality development to help achieve successful and healthy lives. We must also consider the internal and external factors associated with changes in behavior as they impact behavioral changes.

Antwone Fisher returned to the environment of his past abusive childhood and confronted the abusers before moving ahead. Three sessions may not be adequate for long-term care and permanent change. Being flexible with healthy boundaries throughout the intervention process, may reveal our own shortcomings as we attempt to stay the course. Antwone Fisher and Commander Davenport established an amazing, growing, and client-centered relationship. The outcome proves that independent and healthy living can be facilitated on both sides when unconditional positive regard prevails.

Updated: Mar 22, 2023
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Journey of Healing: Overcoming Trauma and Embracing Self-Discovery. (2017, Jan 25). Retrieved from

Journey of Healing: Overcoming Trauma and Embracing Self-Discovery essay
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