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Developmental Analysis of “Big”

In the movie Big, Tom Hanks is an adolescent boy who gets frustrated with the limitations that come with being only 12 years old.He makes a wish that he was older and to his surprise it works! Unfortunately for him, he realizes that being older is not all that it is cracked up to be.Throughout the movie, young Josh (the main character) has to go through the developmental stages that an adult normally goes through, only they are happening all at once for him.

I will be using Erosion’s stages of psychosocial development to analyze the growth of the Josh’s personality.

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He viewed personality as a result of our social interactions with other people throughout life. Whether we succeed or fail at these certain stages will determine how our personalities develop. Erikson proposed eight stages of development from ages O-65+. From infancy to 18 months is knows as Trust vs. Mistrust Stage. Failure at this can lead to mistrust. 2-3 years is known as Autonomy vs. Shame/Doubt. Failure at this can lead to feelings of shame.

From 3-5 years is known as Initiative vs. Guilt. Failure at this can lead to feelings of guilt. From 6-11 years is known as Industry vs. Inferiority. Failure at this can lead to feeling incompetent. After 40 until 65 is known as Generative vs. Stagnation. Failure at this leads to little involvement in the world. Over 65 years of age is known as Ego Integrity vs. Despair. Failure at this can lead to bitterness, despair or regret. Because this movie starts in adolescence (12 years old) and shows the character at about 40 years old, I will only be discussing two stages of

Erosion’s development: Identity vs. Confusion and Intimacy vs. Isolation. Adolescence (12-18) is the stage known as Identity vs. Confusion. This is when children learn a sense of identity and sense of self. Failure to succeed at this may lead to a weak sense of self and role confusion. This is a time when teens try to find where they “fit” into society. They may experiment with different hobbies or behaviors. It is important for a teen to be able to explore different paths in a supportive environment so they can form a strong sense of independence and control.

In the movie, Josh, went from being a 12 year old to a grown man. He had to move out of his parent’s house and start living on his own. The first few nights alone, he was in a dark, dank apartment in a shady part of town. Without the skills that one learns throughout adolescence teaching them what skills they are good at and where they “fit” in society, Josh was lost. When he meets an owner of a toy company that embraces his “youthful” attitude, he offers him a Job. This Job entails thinking of and trying out new toy ideas that will popular with the youth of that time.

Since Josh mentally is still a 13 year old, this appeals to his interest and is compatible with his development. In a sense he is finding his identity. This is a place where he “fits in” to society. If he did not meet the toy shop owner, he may have remained confused about what he should do with himself or where he will fit in. There are many ways in which people know that they are successful in what they are doing. An example of this is when Josh received his first check. He exclaimed “One hundred and eighty dollars! “. To him this was a great amount.

His coworker replies aim, they really screw you. To his coworker, this is not enough. This shows how a specific symbol may convey success to one person and failure to another because of differences in development during the Identity Vs. Confusion stage. Young adulthood (19-40) is known as intimacy vs. isolation. This is when adults seek to find intimate and loving relationships. Failure to accomplish this may lead to loneliness and isolation. This stage is thought to be highly dependent on whether or not one was successful at the previous stage.

In order to form intimate relationships, one must have a strong understanding of who they are. People who have poor sense of self find it harder to stay in committed relationships and often times experience depression or isolation more frequently. This is a good example of how all the stages, while independent, all depend on each other in order for personality to successfully grow. In the movie, there are many situations that occur that depend on previous development of the intimacy vs. isolation stage. At his new Job at the toy company, Josh comes to meet a female coworker named Susan.

Throughout the movie Susan grows more attracted to Josh and tries to initiate a more intimate relationship. Unable to pick up on her cues, Josh say inappropriate things that mean something different than what he intends. For example, Susan tells him after a date that she “.. Wants to spend the night with him”. He replies ” Oh, like a sleepover? Well Im on top! ” In the adult world this would refer to intercourse, but for Josh it referred to bunk beds. Because Josh had never successfully navigated through this specific stage of life, he lacks the skills necessary to be in an adult committed relationship.

Because of this, Susan assumes that he Just does not want to commit to her and dismisses his attempts at trying to explain he is really a child. Since Josh is technically only 13 years old, he has not successfully developed a mature sense of self yet. He has not gone through the previous stage, identity vs. confusion. It is only possible to be successful in this sixth stage of social development if a strong sense of self is developed during the previous stage. This movie does a good Job at showing how an incomplete sense of self can inhibit a person from forming committed intimate relationships in adulthood.

The ability to form these intimate relationships is very important to both hysterical and mental well being in adulthood because they affect not only personal relationships but also work and community relationships as well. In conclusion Erosion’s stages of psychosocial development are clearly apparent in the movie Big with Tom Hanks. The two stages in particular that are evident are the identity vs. confusion stage and the intimacy vs. isolation stages. These occur between the ages of 12 and 40. In the movie the main character, Josh, is 13 years old and finds himself in a world where he appears and must act as if he is in his ass.

While trying o make it in the adult world he is confronted with situations that require certain psycho-social skills that he has yet to develop yet. He begins life as an adult in a state of “confusion” about where he fits into society. He has not had time to explore what he is good at or what he should do as a career. He has not formed a mature sense of self yet. When he lands a Job as a toy creator, he develops an sense of independence and self worth. This is only because as a toy creator he does not have to do anything that he isn’t prepared for. Susan does all the clerical work and all he must do is think f and play with toys.

Another problem he is confronted with is the subject of adult relationships. He must navigate the stage of intimacy vs. isolation at an earlier time than expected. Susan tries to initiate a romantic relationship with Josh to no avail. He interprets these as purely platonic since he is only 13 years old. Susan interprets his reactions as a inability to commit. In real life if Josh was an adult, this would lead to isolation from Susan leading to less committed and secure relationships for Josh. Psycho-Social relationship skills are vitally important for successfully navigating he adult world.

The ability to form intimate relationships can lead to happiness and the inability to do so can lead to depression. The ability to develop a strong sense of self and identity is crucial in order to form committed relationships and to know where you fit in with society. Our relationships impact our health and well being throughout our life. Being able to go through the stages of development that Erikson proposed successfully is what leads a person to a happy and fulfilling life.

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