Will Hunting is a 20-year-old from South Boston who works at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a janitor. With an undiscovered IQ level of a genius, he solves a complicated math problem left on a chalkboard by Professor Gerald Lambeau, who would eventually turn his life around. Given Will has had many run-ins with the law, Professor Lambeau offers to get him leniency if he will receive treatment from therapist Sean Maguire and study mathematics at the University. Will eventually leaves his rural home in South Boston and heads to California to ‘see about a girl.’
While watching this movie, the first concept that caught my attention was posttraumatic stress disorder. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is when a person has trouble recovering after experiencing a frightening event. This condition is apparent by the actions shown by Hunting after his foster father continuously abused him during his childhood. His foster father would put cigarettes out on him, strike at him with a wrench, and have surprisingly jabbed him with a knife. Due to this abuse, it influenced him to learn how to fight, and be defensive during his adult life. Being that Will’s foster family never showed sympathy to him, that led him to adopt that feeling of aggression. The next concept that relates to Good Will Hunting is Sigmund Freud’s Psychosexual Theory. The Psychosexual theory states that the circumstances of childhood impact adulthood. We can see that Will develops many defense mechanisms because of his abusive childhood.
A few defense mechanisms that he demonstrates are reaction formation, repression, and projection. An example of reaction formation is when Skylar says she loves Will, and he reacts in hatred, the complete opposite of what he feels. With repression, Will never brings up his abusive past because it seems to affect him still. The last defense mechanism that Will demonstrates is when he tells his therapist Sean that he is in the middle of a big storm when in reality, Will is the one having a hard time dealing with his feelings and is in the storm.
Another concept is Bowlby’s Attachment Theory. This theory states Throughout the movie, Will shows that he is unable to form positive relationships with others. He acts rudely towards his professor, who helped him avoid imprisonment. Also, Will continuously pushes Skylar away for no apparent reason at all. His past trauma has violated his trust in his fellow beings. The last concept that is related to Good Will Hunting is impulse control. Impulse control is when someone has trouble controlling their emotions and behavior. I believe Will’s inability to control his anger is the main reason that he is put in this situation where the court forces him to receive treatment from a therapist. An example of his impulse control is when he attacks a group of guys for making a rude comment, then later begins to attack a police officer.
The film Good Will Hunting portrayed the Psychological concepts and disorders accurately. I agree because the concepts were not stereotyped or sugar-coated. Also, Will’s actions have directly linked to the behaviors of those suffering from the concepts listed above.