Term Paper: Theories of Personality

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Forrest Gump/Analysis of Jenny

Theories of Personality

Forrest Gump's Jenny grew up without a mother and endured substantial abuse as a very young girl. It is implied but not known if she was sexually or physically abused. However, she clearly was traumatized by her father and by the memory of her childhood home sufficiently to impact her outlook on life and relationships. Jenny's also learned from her traumatic childhood experiences that she was never good enough; certainly not good enough for the one man who devote his life to giving her all positives. When children are abused by parents, research has suggested that the children carry into adulthood a feeling of lower self-esteem beliefs of inferiority (Diehl and Prout, 2008).

Jenny's self-views determine her, and regardless of her ultimate goals and ambitions, she, like most people, behave in a way which validate her self-views, no matter how negative (Swann, Chang-Schneider, & Larsen-McClarty (2007)). Jenny provides the prototype of a person whose self-esteem dictates their course of actions and that the actualization of belief that they can perform a desired or positive behavior, or not, under certain conditions (Pachankis, 2007). While Jenny strives to do good and accomplish, she cannot avoid placing herself in harmful situation. suggest,

Section 1: Character Personality Matrix

Theory

Major Components

Structure

Process

Growth and Development

Psychopathology

Change

1. Social Cognitive Theory

Jenny's personality structure is very negative. This is based on her interactions with others, most of which involved with all men and most of which was negative.

The process by which Jenny sought to create a positive self-image was to contribute to the greater cause. Thus, she created a positive self-image for herself in pursuit of becoming closer to her ideal self.

Jenny's time with Forrest teaches her that her surrounding environment can be a positive one and that her life will improve if she is to experience a positive outcome in her relationships.

Jenny's personality developed as a result of negative experiences over her lifetime, starting form early childhood. Her relationship with her father was quite formative, based on its duration and nature.

Jenny experienced change by replacing the present environment or behavior and adapting a new one. While living with Forrest, Jenny experienced positive reinforcement and observed decent behavior, perhaps the first time for either.

2.Psychodynamic theories

Jenny's personality structure is dysfunctional. Her ego and sense of self are weak due to her painful childhood experiences

Jenny lives in a reality distorted by her painful experiences and she tries to repress her emotions and feelings to escape those experiences.

She clings to childhood wishes and dreams and she is aware when and where these dreams materialize. It is years before she will let herself gravitate in that direction.

Jenny's childhood trauma created a negative self-image and a need to self-actualize her negative self impression. She finds reinforcement of this self-image in dangerous situations and with men who do not treat her with respect.

Jenny realizes that her positive self-image can be reinforced through positive association,. She decides that at least her son can grow up with the love and unqualified respect that she did not have.

Section 2: Application of Personality Theory

Theory Description and Rationale

The ability to think and use cognitive ability define the social-cognitive theory. This theory utilizes the goals, beliefs, standards, the ability to translate these behaviors, and to understand the unique nature and coherence of personality (Pervin, Cervone and Oliver, 2005). Personality in this theory is based on observations and experiences that amount to social lessons and in which the learned response patterns create a sense of self-standards and problems in self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy also has cognitive and behavioral elements. Swann, Chang-Schneider, & Larsen-McClarty (2007) compare self-efficacy to self-concepts by stating the same elements being present such as caring about personal attributes they deem to be important. Another view to be compared with these two are also that of self-beliefs, which are the general views of how an individual sees themselves and how they respond to others (Tamir et al., 2007).

Deciding on the Social Cognitive theory to analyze Jenny's character was difficult. Both the psychodynamic theory and social-cognitive theory are equally viable to interpret the character. Due to the effect of negative and positive feedback and environments in establishing Jenny's self-valuation, and her quest for self-actualization, the social-cognitive theory will be used.

Character Description

Jenny's childhood influenced her perception and interactions with her surroundings (Anderson, Saribay, & Thorpe, 2008). As a result she sought negative reinforcement because it was what she was accustomed to from childhood to adulthood. The more emotional support an individual receives is associated with a greater sense of meaning in life. Jenny received positive emotional feedback and attention only when she was with Forrest Gump (Krause (2007)).

Jenny wanted to do her best to become a good person. This is consistent with our purpose in life, according to Reker (2000): "The purpose in one's existence, the pursuit and attainment of worthwhile goals, and an accompanying sense of fulfillment" define our self-fulfillment. Jenny's actions indicate that she wanted to be a good person: singing, protesting, and other actions of civil service. Sadly, she placed herself in dangerous environments, such as risque lounges, black panther rallies etc.… Jenny was clearly drawn to these environments because she identified with the idea being a good person in the midst of a bad environment.

According to Anderson, Saribay, & Thorpe (2008), mental representations of people close to us, like family and friends, change the way view ourselves and others. These views form an expectancy of the past that shapes present behavior and interactions (Anderson, Saribay, & Thorpe, 2008). Jenny's mental representations of her childhood cast a negative light and thus when a new person comes into the environment, the negative light becomes associated with the new situation and becomes more familiar too.

Jenny learns positive enforcement and a good environment from Forrest. Unfortunately, she resisted the lessons for many years, preferring her negative environment instead of the positive structure offered by Forrest. Eventually, however, Jenny learns that she can achieve her self-actualization of being happy by learning new behavior from Forrest.

Character Analysis

Structure

Jenny's personality structure is very negative. This is based on her interactions with others, most of which involved with all men and most of which was negative. While Forrest was the only man who had tried to treat to her well, Jenny's pushed him away because she coveted dangerous situations. Jenny sought these situations to make sense of her own self-image.

Process

The process by which Jenny sought to create a positive self-image was to contribute to the greater cause. She protested the Viet Nam war, entertained by singing folk songs, and joined peace groups. Thus, she created a positive self-image for herself in pursuit of becoming closer to her ideal self. Her pursuit of this ideal was often times thwarted by her resorting to actualizing her negative self-image. This was evidence by her inability to remove the dysfunctional men and relationships from her life and replacement them with healthier ones.

Growth and Development

Jenny knows right from wrong but she has not developed the skills needed to see the kindness in the people or events that surround. While she does know the difference between good and bad, Jenny takes a long time to learn that to judge people and events as good or bad.

Psychopathology

Jenny's personality developed as a result of negative experiences over her lifetime, starting form early childhood. Her relationship with her father was quite formative, based on its duration and nature. Jenny then reinforced these experiences by deciding to engage in negative decisions. Again, because Jenny knew right from wrong, she wanted to extricate herself from unhealthy situations, however, she too often would only replace that with another negative situation or relationship, because this was her seeking normalcy.

Change

Jenny experienced change by replacing the present environment or behavior and adapting a new one. While living with Forrest, Jenny experienced positive reinforcement and observed decent behavior, perhaps the first time for either. Her first reaction was to reject this as not consistent with her learned values. However, in time she used this experience to change by her behavior from partying and being promiscuous. Jenny learned from Forrest who she wanted to be.

Internal and External Factors

Jenny was saw herself behavior in a positive light and negative consequences as the effects of the choices of others. However, this belies her actions and decisions to stay in a negative environment. People tend to find the social feedback that their self-confirms a negative self-schema (Pervin, Cervone, and Oliver, 2005).

Internal factors that influenced Jenny's personality were her emotions and ideas she had in relation to herself and how they motivated her to act or make choices as she did. The self-schema of a good person guided Jenny's view of the world around her. According to Pervin, Cervone, and Oliver (2005) self-schema can motivate people to process information based on self-enhancement and self-verification.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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