SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS FOR GOOD WILL HUNTING
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Helpful Background Additional Discussion Questions: Subjects (Curriculum Topics) Social-Emotional Learning Moral-Ethical Emphasis (Character Counts) Additional Assignments Other Sections: Links to the Internet Selected Awards & Cast
Helpful Background: Attachment Theory Applied to "Good Will Hunting" Will Hunting has a classic attachment disorder. Abused as a child, he has trouble developing meaningful and appropriate relationships with adults and women. His only friends are among a group of young men his own age who cannot begin to compete with his intelligence. He has no empathy for people outside his close group of friends. He cannot manage his basic emotions, such as anger. If he has a disagreement with someone or if he dislikes them, he will assault them either verbally or physically. Will's anger is one of many defenses that mask his inner feelings and guard his inner self. Will's subconscious is determined that no one will be able penetrate these defenses and hurt him again. Will does not integrate his intelligence and his interest in reading with relationships, either socially or in the work place. The reading gives him a sense of mastery and a way to distance himself from people. He uses intellectual tasks to self-soothe. (Had Will been emotionally secure he would have shared his intellectual interests with people who could have appreciated them. When Sean asks Will to name the people with whom he has strong relationships other than Chuckie, Will names Shakespeare, Nietzsche and several other dead intellectual giants. These "friends" could not rise from the grave and hurt him.) Will does have strengths. His intelligence is a strength, and his choice of Chuckie Sullivan as his best friend is a strength. Chuckie is nurturing, loving, and respectful of Will's promise. Will has the good instinct to be attracted to Skylar, portrayed as a loving and genuine person. But she is smart and requires an empathic and loving relationship. This makes Will very anxious. She represents a risk that he cannot tolerate until after his treatment. Attachment theory is accepted by most psychologists and psychiatrists as the best explanation for how we develop the capacity to form relationships with others and relate to our environment. It asserts that the methods we use to relate to others, manage our needs, express our demands, and shape our expectations for the world are rooted in our relationships with our early caregivers. Through these interactions we learn to balance our feelings and need states with others and to establish our varying degrees of independence, dependence, power, and control. Attachment also impacts self-esteem through the experience of conflict with caregivers. Early attachment is established in infancy and is primarily based on the acknowledgment and gratification of basic biological needs: the need to eat, the need to drink, the need to be comfortable (not cold,...