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Psychological Analysis of Main Character of the Film 'Good Will Hunting'

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The film ‘Good Will Hunting’ describes a genius young Will, who solved the equations of the MIT mathematics professor Gerald on the blackboard and was discovered by Gerald. However, Will is a very violent and unsatisfied young man. When Gerald found this genius, he was about to send to jail because of the fight. Gerald pleaded with the judge for bail, and then let Will be free from jail. In order to let Will find his own life goals, he asked many psychologists to give counsel to Will. But, Will was very resistant, he humiliated all to psychologists. At the same time, Will in love with a girl named Skylar who is a student at Harvard University. However, due to his inferiority complex, the relationship between them could not be going a step further. As Gerald is not willing to lose a genius, he turns to his college classmate, psychology professor Sean. Under the efforts of Sean and Will’s friend Chuckie, Will finally willing to disclose himself and start a new life. This film is not only inspiring, but also very healing. The lines from the film are thought provoking, influential and encouraging, which affect my personal growth unexpectedly.

Will Hunting is a child gifted in mathematics. Yet, he is also an orphan who was physically abused by his foster father. In the film, Will was arrested by the police officers since he fought with his kindergarten classmate who used to bully him and kicked the police officer. When he went to the court, the judge uncovered the fact that Will had a dark past of stealing a car, pretending a police officer, and transferring to three foster families because of violence. This can be explained by Freud’s classical psychoanalytic theory, which proposes childhood experience is one of the main driving forces for personality development. Since Will was suffered both physical and emotional abuse throughout his childhood, he had bad temper and arrogance when he grew up. Moreover, he was losing faith in relationships and people that avoided getting close and hided his true thought to everyone such as therapists. This makes him hard to build a social life. Apparently, his childhood trauma significantly affects his personality development.

In addition, Freud’s psychological defense mechanisms explains the actions by Will to deal with his anxiety. Although Will is a genius, he had low self-esteem and struggled with the fear of failure or disappointment that he is not perfect. Firstly, he displaced his anxiety by drinking with his friends in the bar. Second, he denied two facts that he is an orphan by telling lies to his girlfriend that he got twelve brothers, and he does not admit that he actually loves Skylar. Reaction formation is also used as Will told Skylar that he does not like her, but in fact, he loves her. Moreover, there are two rationalizations: he asked his best friend Chuckie Sullivan to the interview at MacNeil and refused to go to California with his girlfriend. It is because he was afraid that his genius will be exploited, and he will be abandoned by his girlfriend because of his childhood experience. For regression, he threw temper as an adult and revenged his kindergarten classmate. In short, Will used displacement, denial, reaction formation, rationalization, and regression of defense mechanisms to cope with his anxiety.

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Apart from that, the relationship between Sean and Will demonstrates an enduring relationship. Building up trust is crucial in a long-term relationship as trust replaces anxiety. At the start of the therapy with Sean, Will insulted his deceased wife and did not willing to speak. However, after Sean shared his story about how he met with his wife, Will began to open up and decided to start a relationship with Skylar. Sean then helped Will to see that he is a victim of his own inner demons and to accept that it is not his fault, causing him to break down in tears. The therapy was successful as Will was willing to share his bad childhood experience to Sean, even Will do not want the therapy to come to an end after he overcame his anxiety. It reveals disclosure enriches relationship. The self-disclosure by both Will and Sean increases the intimacy between them.

In the film, Will closed himself off from people since he was afraid of failure or disappointment. However, the end of the film tells us that it is not the correct way to deal with anxiety. Live is full of choices. Nevertheless, people tend to play safe and not taking risks. And I also. I always scared of getting out from my comfort zone that I would rather miss out on an experience than risk being hurt by it. This is the reason the saying ‘There is nothing to fear but fear itself’, which is also the logic that Will applied to his entire life in ‘Good Will Hunting’. This reminds me of one motto ‘We scared because we care’. If we do not want to do something, why are we care about it? University life is full of challenges. Some of the worthiest experiences are the ones that could cause pain and pleasure in equal amounts so that they are memorable and unforgettable. As a 1st year student, I want to make the most of my 4 year university journey by exploring all the possibilities. Not only focus on academic studies like getting an internship or going exchange, I also want to build up my network by making new friends.

The scene that impressed me the most is when Sean argued with Gerald about the future of Will. While Gerald encouraged Will to think about his own version of success that Will should not waste his genius, Sean claimed that Will had the right to make decision for his own life. Since Will can solve the complicated mathematic equations that Gerald cannot solve, Gerald projected his own unresolved issues onto Will. This scene implies that there are different versions of success that we should not kidnap yourself with others’ standards.

After learning psychological theories and concepts in this course, I found that there is always a reason behind someone actions. For the film ‘Good Will Hunting’, I thought Will was a cool child that he used his knowledge to chase a girl and defends himself from the law officer. In fact, Will was hiding himself from the others by using defense mechanisms. After all, we should get to know someone before judging them as there must be a reason for them to do so. Those theories and concepts in this course enable me to learn more about human behaviors.

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Psychological Analysis of Main Character of the Film ‘Good Will Hunting’. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 8, 2023, from
“Psychological Analysis of Main Character of the Film ‘Good Will Hunting’.” Edubirdie, 15 Dec. 2022,
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Psychological Analysis of Main Character of the Film ‘Good Will Hunting’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 15 [cited 2023 Jun 8]. Available from:
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