Analysis Of Developmental Theories Utilized In The Movie Good Will Hunting

The movie “Good Will Hunting”, starring Matt Damon as Will Hunting, is based off of a twenty year old self-taught janitor who works for MIT. Will is a poor neighborhood resident of South Boston. He lives in a house full of crime and violence. Lambeau’s students were asked to solve a mathematic problem. When the problem was completed, Lambeau then set out to track down this mysterious person. Will is soon revealed to be the person. Will and his friends, Chuckie Billy Morgan and Morgan, fight some men the next morning. Will gets arrested for this and is given a date in court. Will is arraigned and it’s revealed that he has a long criminal record. This includes assaults, thefts, resisting arrests, and many more. Lambeau meets Will and explains that he can be released under two conditions. Lambeau will help Will with advanced mathematics. Sean Maguire can be a good therapist to meet with. He has similar experiences as Will. Maguire believes that Will uses this behavior to protect himself. Will gets a new job at McNeil after having a breakthrough session. However, he decides he’d rather pursue Skylar and leave South Boston.

Good Will Hunting was based on multiple theories of development. Freud Ego Defense Mechanisms has been used as one of Will Hunting’s developmental theories. This theory refers to the use of defense mechanisms in order to protect yourself from anxiety or guilt. Will uses a “Displacement” mechanism. Displacement involves redirecting an urge (usually aggression), to a powerless replacement target. Will, an orphan, was abused physically in foster homes. This background helps the audience to understand Will’s actions. Will uses displacement when he attacks others verbally or physically with the same aggression that he received from his abusive foster parents.

Erikson’s Theory of Development also applies to Will’s character through the entire movie, starting when he is a child and Stage 1: trust vs mistrust leading up to Stage 6: intimacy vs isolation. Erikson explains his Trust vs Mistrust stage as “If a person does not feel trust they may become insecure, unworthy, and have a mistrust for the world”. Will was abandoned and moved from home to home as an infant. This is the first stage in Erikson’s theory. The fact that his parents didn’t give him the kind of trust that he required at that age led to him growing up with a mistrust for the world. Maguire’s monologue in the movie asks, “Why does he hide, why doesn’t he trust anyone? He was abandoned and forgotten by the very people who should have loved him. He pushes away people before they can leave him. It’s a defensive mechanism”. Erikson’s Intimacy and Isolation phase can be described by saying that “young adults want deep intimacy, satisfying relationships but may become isolated if not successful”. Will is in this stage, because he was very close to a girl named Skylar, but she had to leave Boston for California. Skylar requested that Will move with them, but Will’s defense mechanism of displacement began to yell and push her away.

Sean Maguire’s Therapist, Will, can also be applied in order to use Freud Ego Defense Mechanisms. Sean had lost his 18-year-old wife and hadn’t dated anyone else since. Will brings up Sean’s wife in one of the sessions. He says, “Maybe I married the right woman”, which makes Sean angry. He responded by saying that if you disrespected his wife again I would kill you. You got him chief? Maguire also uses displacement. He took out his anger at Will for disrespecting his marriage and losing his wife by pushing Will against a wall. Will Hunting is influenced by many different things throughout the film. Will’s failure to have a college diploma is one example. Erikson’s Theory of Development may be used in this situation by referring to Stage 4: Industry and Inferiority. This is a stage of social development, which means that if you experience feelings of inferiority and inadequacy among your peers, it can cause serious problems with self-esteem and competence. In a bar scene, Will has a discussion with Clark. Will, although very intelligent, does not hold a degree from a university. Clark continues to tell Will that he cannot wait to serve food at a fast food restaurant to his family in a couple of years. Clark has become the social leader at this stage. He implied Will wouldn’t get anywhere because he didn’t have or wasn’t going to earn a degree from college.

Will grew-up in South Boston. Will grew up in Southy, which is a neighborhood that has a lot of crime and violence. Will’s life is affected by all this. He grew up believing he didn’t have the ability to do anything and would never get anywhere. His friends thought he should live in Southy forever. Erikson’s Theory of Development also has a Stage 4. Stage 4’s Inferiority is the result of Will growing up in a low-class neighborhood/SES with no family support. Good Will Hunting is a film that demonstrates many theories of development we’ve learned throughout the semester. I liked the way Matt Damon portrayed Will’s relationship with Sean. The actors were passionate about their roles and gave it everything they had. It’s been interesting to be able apply the things I learned during this semester. Without the theories of Freud or Erikson, I wouldn’t have viewed this film the way I see it now. This is my favorite movie. This movie has given me a fresh perspective of Will’s childhood and his background.

My boyfriend is a personal parallel to the movie. He was born in a poor area, his parents were not very good. His aunt and uncle adopted him and his brother after they had been in foster care. His aunt and uncle were very reluctant to accept him at first because he had lived with them for a long time and depended solely on himself and his brothers. My boyfriend was a bit closed and not very good at communicating or expressing himself. But he eventually learned to trust me and began to open up. He felt comfortable enough with me to share his story after we started dating. He had never told his story to anyone before. Will, who was an only child and felt unable to trust others as a young boy, is the perfect example. After meeting Sean Maguire, he was able to be more open with Skylar.


  • oscarcunningham

    Oscar Cunningham is a 41-year-old educational blogger and professor. He has been writing about education for over 10 years, and is known for his expertise on online learning and digital media. Cunningham is also a frequent speaker on these topics, and has given talks at a range of universities around the world. In his spare time, he also enjoys playing the violin and running.

Comments are closed.