Term Paper: According to Psychology

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Psychology

Although the Wizard of Oz is not expressly a film about human psychology, its colorful cast of characters lends itself well to the application of multiple theories and issues in psychology. With films such as Analyze This! And a Beautiful Mind, it would seem odd to focus on a film that avoids direct addressing of psychology themes. However, the Wizard of Oz, with enough creative interpretation, can offer an even richer understanding of how the concepts of psychology such as those outlined in the Ciccarelli (2011) text. The Wizard of Oz is about a young woman, Dorothy, who lives with her elder aunt and uncle in Kansas and her dog Toto. An old woman in town threatens to kill Toto because he occasionally runs into her yard. Whereas Aunt Em and Uncle Henry defer to the old woman's power and authority in the community, Dorothy has little respect for the woman and is unwilling to accept her edict. Thus, Dorothy runs away from home to save Toto's life. While she is away, a tornado strikes. Dorothy is knocked unconscious, and the rest of the movie takes place in a dream world in which Dorothy and Toto are on a quest to find the Wizard who can help them to return home. Therefore, theories of consciousness, sleep, dreams, hypnosis, and drugs (Chapter 4) can be applied directly to the Wizard of Oz. Characters like the Wicked Witch are counterparts to real-life characters in Dorothy's life back in Kansas. Therefore, the film can be interpreted on multiple levels, within the framework of psychology. Development (Chapter 8), Motivation (Chapter 9), Personality (Chapter 13), and Psychological Disorders (Chapter 14) are evident throughout the Wizard of Oz.

One of the most notable themes in the Wizard of Oz is related to Chapter 4 on consciousness, sleep, dreams, hypnosis, and drugs. Because most of the movie takes place in an alternate universe inside of Dorothy's mind, the viewer questions reality just as Dorothy does. When she awakens, she recognizes that the characters in Oz corresponded directly to the people in her life. The old woman who wanted to kill Toto corresponds directly to the Wicked Witch. Dorothy's consciousness is uniquely positioned between the two worlds. The dream states explored in the film illustrate how people's consciousness is connected to imagery, memory, and emotion. In addition to actual dreaming and dream states, Dorothy experiences what can easily be called hypnosis. When the Good Witch Glenda asks Dorothy to click her heels together three times and chant, "There's no place like home," Dorothy is hypnotizing herself. She is entering what is possibly the alpha brain wave state, which Ciccarelli describes in Chapter 4. Drugs also play a role in the unfolding of the Wizard of Oz, when the Wicked Witch puts a spell on Dorothy and her friends in the field of poppies. The witch chants, "Poppies! Poppies!" which are a source of the narcotic opium. Under the drug, Dorothy and her friends fall into a deep sleep under the narcotic effect. The effect of the opiate is different from that of other drugs listed in Chapter 4 of the textbook.

In terms of the specific theories of dreams that psychologists have discussed, there are a few that can be applied to Dorothy's experiences in Oz. One is Freud's psychoanalytic theory. According to this theory, instincts like aggression and sexuality will manifest in a dream (Loewen, n.d.). The latent content of the dream are the psychological states that are being repressed. In the case of Dorothy, she is angry at the old lady in the neighborhood. She feels some aggression towards the old woman (latent content). Therefore, the old lady manifests as the Wicked Witch of the East (manifest content). Because Dorothy is successful in killing the Wicked Witch of the East, she does successfully act out her aggression in the dream. She might not admit that she had this much aggression in real life; Freud would say she had repressed it.

Another element of the Wizard of Oz that can be analyzed in terms of psychology is Motivation and Emotion. As Gautam (2012) puts it,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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