The movie Good Will Hunting exploits many points of psychology in the character Will Hunting, a janitor at MIT who has a knack for math. Some of the points of psychology include how a character develops after a lot of child abuse during his childhood. It exploits the idea that a child who becomes secluded may never allow an attachment, or when an attachment finally starts to occur, pushes them away. It also exploits the idea that Will Hunting has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Because of the post-traumatic stress disorder it seems that Will is unable to function normally in society, and because of this, carefully plans out his future as to not have to worry about encountering many people. The stress that Will Hunting endured in his childhood could have caused him several psychological obstacles to overcome. “Child psychologists believe that child abuse causes a much higher level of psychological disturbance such as violence, depression, and drug abuse” (Brown). Child abuse is a large part of the development of Will Hunting.
It is revealed several times throughout the movie, especially in one particular scene where he reveals that his father used to come home drunk and ready to fight someone. He speaks of how he had to provoke his father into beating him so he wouldn’t beat his mother. “He used to just put a belt, a stick, and a wrench on the kitchen table and say, ‘Choose. ’” (Sant, 1997) Will would say to his psychologist, Sean Maguire, when they spoke of his past and how he knew all about child abuse because he had first-hand experience in it.
It was also mentioned that he had history with child abuse when he broke out into an anger fit when yelling at his girlfriend, Skylar, shouting at her about how he didn’t tell her the real stories because she didn’t want to know about his scars, and his history, and his father beating him and his mother, and about him going through foster homes and being an orphan. Throughout the movie, Will Hunting uses several defense mechanisms in the way he acts to protect himself from the world, from having to attach to anyone or anything.
One such defense mechanism he uses is lying about himself and his history. When Skylar asks about meeting his large assortment of brothers and staying at his house, he agrees that he would let her meet his non-existent brothers, and that he would let her stay at his house some time to meet his family. Little did she know that he actually was an orphan with no siblings, and that his house was a run-down shack that he stayed in, and that he had never planned on her actually visiting his house or meeting his friends.
Will Hunting also uses the defense mechanism of being extremely smart and by reading people and exploiting their weaknesses to shift their focus away from him. This would be a characteristic of the Post-traumatic Stress Disorder avoidance state, where he is dealing with it throughout the movie, which causes him to stay withdrawn from people and society (NCBI). Will uses manipulation to change the subjects and focus’ of others from himself. He is also sarcastic when he talks. Such examples include the several psychologists who he visited before he found Sean.
He would read their books before he met with them to decipher the way they worked. Then, when he worked with the psychologists, he would exploit their weakness and what they were uncomfortable with and push it right into their faces. He would also use sarcasm to make a point that he thought all of these psychologist meetings were useless to him and pointless. Finally, Will Hunting uses the defense mechanism of anger, another sign of his Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (NCBI), to help guard himself from others and letting them know too much about him.
This could also be an affect from his childhood abuse, where his father had beaten him and his mother when he came home in a rage. Only once in the movie did it really show Will Hunting getting angry to the point of insanity (if it could be called insanity), and that was when Skylar asked him to move to California with him. He stated no, and grew upset with her. She then told him that she loved him, and he lashed out at her with furious words, hurtful words, and the truth about him, that he has no brothers, that he is an orphan, and that his father physically abused him when he was younger.
It’s the anger that pushes him away from Skylar and causes her to go to California without him, causing him to not have to deal with someone trying to get close to him, to learn about him, and to attach to him anymore, the same thing he did in all of his other relationships; make sure that no female would want to stick around. Throughout Good Will Hunting, Will Hunting experiences many different psychological experiences, such as some stages in Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and the stress of having to grow up with an abusive family, never having the chance to attach to somebody he cared for and to never be able to trust anybody.
However, with help, Will learns to overcome these psychological obstacles and chases down his dream girl, Skylar. References Brown, J. (n. d. ). The Effects of Child Abuse on Young Adults. Retrieved November 27, 2011, from http://www. unc. edu/~brownja/goodwillhuntingjab2. htm NCBI. (n. d. ). Post-traumatic stress disorder. Retrieved November 27, 2011, from Pubmed Health: http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001923/ Sant, G. V. (Director). (1997). Good Will Hunting [Motion Picture].