The 'Hunt' For 'Good Will': The Genius Behind 'Good Will Hunting'

An examination of this cinematic masterpiece through the psychologist's lens.

good will hunting, matt damon, ben affleck, robin williams, attachment disorder, psychology, defence mechanism, inferiority complex, Will hunting, Dr Sean Maguire, Robin Williams In good will hunting, Damon And Affleck, Facts About Good Will Hunting
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Time plays such a trick that you regret your past and end up becoming a victim of your present! If you feel that you are scared of relationships (in general) and attachments, open up that age old movie collection and watch Good Will Hunting. But before that here is a hint of what you will rediscover while watching it this time:

20-year old South Boston labourer Will Hunting is an undiscovered, shy and introverted math genius. One day, he assaults a police officer and as a result is ordered to take therapy.

Enter Dr Sean Maguire. The track is about to change as the task now at hand is to face the past and re-create the present.Will is an art of many broken pieces and here we put them in place to complete the puzzle:

Must Will fight or must he defend?:

The concept of Defence Mechanisms

Why would a math genius like him work as a janitor? Why would he hang out and feel comfortable with friends less intelligent than him? The answer: Inferiority Complex. By hanging out with friends who have lesser intellectual capacity than him gives the power to feel a sense of superiority rather than feeling naked and vulnerable. His aggression is a product of his defence mechanism, owing to his troubled past.

"It's not your fault."

This one sentence breaks any stone-hearted person watching the movie (and it being Robin Williams's dialogue gives it its own charm). Will is a victim of child abuse and such kids associate themselves with self-unworthiness. As Sean Maguire repeats to Will that it wasn't his fault, Sean pierces deeper and deeper into Will's psyche until he gets to the heart of the boy's hurt.

This is how the journey begins:

Source: miramax

Dr Sean takes Will to the Boston Public Garden, a place where childhood blooms, where parents take their kids to play and where memories are made. The first task Sean takes upon himself is the "re-parenting" of the child in Will. 

Will's only strength in his life is his best friend Chuckie (Ben Affleck) and when he is asked about his other friends, he names Shakespeare, Nietzsche, and several other dead intellectual giants. These "friends" could not rise from the grave and hurt him. However, things turn sunny in the otherwise gloomy life of his with the entry of Skylar, the smart graduate from Harvard who Will falls for head over heels.If only things were kept that simple!

Will's past creeps its way back to his life and his 'Attachment Disorder' makes him suppress his feelings and pull back from Skylar.

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 becomes disorganized and dysfunctional in the presence of neglect or abuse. Wanna pause and ponder for a while?

Source: bostonmagazine

The Painting on the Wall:

Indeed a picture speaks a thousand words, and that picture in the movie is the painting on Dr Sean's wall. A small boat in the stormy sea. However, the waves tossing Will around are different from the waves tossing Sean. Will can read the meaning of the picture so well thanks to his intellect and his journey of self reconstruction.

Damon And Affleck are not just pretty faces!

Folks, this masterpiece of concepts and words is actually a work of collaboration by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck!

It draws parallels from Damon's life during his Harvard days. Damon originally started writing the film as a final assignment for a playwriting class he was taking at Harvard. He wrote his then-girlfriend, medical student Skylar Satenstein, into his script. Satenstein is credited in the closing credits of the film. He then approached his friend Ben and the two finished the screenplay together.

The hunt for good will is indeed worth undertaking!

Title image: cambridge


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kruttika agasty (WRITER)

Cognitive cannibal, an oscillation between logically coherent being to a high on Bollywood drama girl, theatre enthusiast, debater and certainly not the sort of person you put on speakerphone! A wacky parcel wrapped and packed in Reacho. Drop your hugs and bugs at: kruttika.agasty@gmail.com

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