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Analysis of Michael Oher from 'The Blind Side' Using Psychological Theories

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‘The Blind Side’ is a movie based on a true-life story about a homeless teen and the family that took him in. The movie is based on Michael Oher who was homeless, who discovered a family that wanted him, and who rose to become famous. This paper will analyze the main character Michael Oher.

Michael was an African American homeless while his drug addicted mother lived in a rundown apartment. Unfortunately, Michael never knew his father was, had little education, and he was little skills to help him be a productive member of society. Michael was on the street without a jacket or warm clothes. Michael is noticed by Leann after a football game on a night when it’s cold and rainy. Leann having seen this picked him up and offered to let him stay in their house. This was the beginning of Michael becoming a part of the Touhy family.

In the Touhy family are so different from what he is used to, being white, Republican, having a successful business, and two adolescent children SJ and Collin, who both attend Wingate. Leann grew to genuinely care about Michael, realizing that he wasn’t just some dumb kid but one full of potential if given an environment and opportunity to succeed by getting him involved in football. When Coach Cotton saw Michael, his size in particular, the coach knew straight away that he’d be an asset for the football team. Leann eventually adopts Michael giving him catch up in the school he missed, he gets his grades up allowing him to qualify for a Division I scholarship which allows him to attend college playing football where he was picked up as a first-round draft by the Baltimore Ravens in 2009.

Personality Theorists and Theories

Michael’s personality is associated with Freud and the psychodynamic theory. Michael though he’s young has had to deal with several issues in the movie including feelings of being unworthy depression, and being unloved. Despite being conscious during the negative events that happened in his life these events impacted Michael in an unconscious way causing problems for Michael. According to Cervone and Pervin (2013), the negative dominating events experienced cause trauma to a person’s unconscious mind and impact their development and personality of life. When individuals that are experiencing hard times remove themselves from the situation, they need to be able to find a place that ends the painful experience and brings peace to them amidst the problems going on around them. When Michael was in the situation with his mother, his mother would tell him that he should close his eyes when she was doing bad things. This stayed with Michael allowing him to secure the bad things into a box in which he could open his eyes once the bad things were over. Closing his eyes allowed Michael to keep the negativity that was in his life, the bad things that were happening to be separated and he was able to escape from it. Michael was able to maintain the negativity in his unconscious through closing his eyes.

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Also, Michael is well represented by Cantell with the association to his environmental concept and heredity, Michael’s environment was very unstable with him going from home to home in foster care and having to use any skills he had to overcome this negative change in his environment which took up his childhood. Michael had to condition his mind to process the change in environment and the issues associated with it so that he could understand what had happened, to be able to change himself so that he could let go of the problems and the obstacles that would have otherwise kept him down. According to Feist and Feist (2009), a person’s personality is fairly consistent throughout life and does not change overnight, but rather is conditioned overtime through the environment that surrounds individuals and causes those individuals react.

And finally, Michael’s personality can be explained using Maslow’s hierarchy with specific focus placed on the biological and psychological needs of Michael. Michael set out to satisfy his basic needs once he ran away from the foster homes, looking to find food, water and shelter in order to survive as best as he could. According to Friedman and Schustack (2009), the lowest needs of Maslow’s hierarchy have to be satisfied in order for an individual to move up in the higher levels. Deficiency needs are what drive and motivate a person through the absence of something at a lower level and only allows satisfaction when the needs of lower levels are met. Michael needed to be able to satisfy his survival needs of finding food, water, and shelter. Once Michael was able to satisfy these basic needs in his new home with Leann and her family, he was then able to work on the next levels of Maslow’s hierarchy. According to Friedman and Schustack (2009), the first level of needs was physiological entailing food, water, etc. from there Michael went to safety needs getting security of resources and body, and then Michael was able to progress to the next level of love and belonging which paved the way for him to work on his self-esteem issues. Only through completing each level of needs was Michael able to continue moving up the pyramid to growth and develop.

Theoretical Approach

Through the use of Maslow’s hierarchy, it can be seen that individuals need to complete the lowest levels of needs in order to move up the next set in the attempt to become self-actualized. Michael wasn’t provided with a lot of necessities throughout his childhood and it became a problem that he had to resolve his self. If he had been able to get his needs met as a child the struggle, he went through with homelessness would have different as he would have learned both good and bad skills. Michael’s childhood and adolescence affected his social behaviors to the point where he was unable to communicate effectively; he missed a lot of education opportunities, and had difficulty with opening up to new people or new situations.


Michael’s situation throughout his life impacted his development of personality and his performance. Maslow’s hierarchy shows that Michael had to satisfy certain needs in his life in order to grow and envelop. It wasn’t until he was able to satisfy the lower level of need that he was able to move up to higher levels and satisfy things such as his self-esteem that had been previously holding his life back.

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Analysis of Michael Oher from ‘The Blind Side’ Using Psychological Theories. (2023, March 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 9, 2023, from
“Analysis of Michael Oher from ‘The Blind Side’ Using Psychological Theories.” Edubirdie, 01 Mar. 2023,
Analysis of Michael Oher from ‘The Blind Side’ Using Psychological Theories. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 9 Jun. 2023].
Analysis of Michael Oher from ‘The Blind Side’ Using Psychological Theories [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Mar 01 [cited 2023 Jun 9]. Available from:
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