Last Updated 11 Feb 2021

Psycology Analysis of Stephen Hawking

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I chose Stephen Hawking to write about for my case study because I have always found him extremely interesting. As a fellow atheist he has come pretty outstanding scientific theories on how our universe came about, none of which are attributed to some fictitious being. I am also inspired with the amount that Hawking has done so far in his lifetime. All this has been done in spite of, or because of, having ALS. As a medical professional I am in awe of the things that he has accomplished.

Stephen William Hawking, born in 1942 is the eldest of Frank and Isobel Hawking’s three children. Mary was born in 1943, Philippa was born in 1947, and Edward was adopted in 1956. As a newborn Stephen first lived in Northern London. Hawking’s parents where themselves quite accomplished, Stephen’s father was a respected medical researcher in the specialty of tropical diseases, while his mother was one of Oxford’s first female students. When he was just two weeks old Stephen was almost killed when a V2 rocket damaged the Hawking’s home while they were away.

This is when the Hawking’s moved to Oxford in order to avoid the attacks by the Luftwaffe (the aerial warfare branch of the German Armed Forces) and to provide a safer environment to raise their growing family. In 1950, when Stephen was eight years old he and his family moved to St Albans in Hertfordshire. As a child Stephen was awkward and small for his age. His teachers thought he was bright but he did not stand out as being very far above his classmates in elementary school. At one point in school he was third from the bottom of his class.

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He did enjoy creating games with his friends. They would come together at the family home on weekends and holidays to play. Stephen would create many of the rules and the games would often be so complex that one turn could take an entire afternoon. At the local public high school, the gauche, lisping Hawking was persecuted as a swot, which is a person that devotes themselves solely to their studies and avoids social diversions. He avoided team sports and pop music for a world of jazz, classical music, and debating. I think that these tendencies point toward him being an introvert.

Stephen had always shown an interest in science. After graduating from high school he enrolled himself at Oxford. There was no mathematics offered at the time, so Hawking chose Physics as his major. During his time at Oxford Stephen also showed great interest in Thermodynamics, relativity and quantum mechanics. He received his B. A. degree from Oxford University, in 1962, after which he enrolled for studying astronomy. Stephen met his wife Jane Wilde, a languages undergraduate at a New Year's party in 1963, while studying at Cambridge, they were married in 1965.

He was named a fellow of the Royal Society at the age of 32, and later earned the prestigious Albert Einstein Award. In 1975 he traveled to Rome, where he was honored with the Pius XI Gold Medal for Science from Pope Paul VI. In the 1980s Hawking answered one of Einstein's unanswered theories, the famous unified field theory. Hawking published his first book, The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time in 1975, rocked the physics community by examining and expanding on Einstein’s General theory of relativity, and the general structure of space and time. In 1988 Hawking, published A Brief History of Time.

A short, informative book, that became an account of cosmology for the masses. Spending more than four years atop the London Sunday Times' best-seller list, it has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 40 languages since its publication. In September 2010, Hawking spoke against the idea that God could have created the universe, stating, "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can, and will create itself from nothing, Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. Along with his brilliance, Stephan Hawking is also well known for the length of time that he has been afflicted with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was diagnosed at age 21 while studying cosmology at Cambridge. Hawking's disease helped him become the scientist he is today. Prior to receiving the ALS diagnosis Stephen Hawking hadn't always focused on his studies. "I was bored with life before my illness," he said. "There had not seemed to be anything worth doing. Realizing that he may not live long, Doctors giving him only two years to live, Hawking threw himself into his studies, and his research. He has astounded doctors by far exceeding this expectation. Hawking's ability to communicate had been dwindling for years, until in 1985, due to an emergency tracheotomy, he lost his voice completely. Hawking caught the attention of a California computer programmer who had developed a speaking program that could be directed by head or eye movement. This allowed him to select words on a computer screen using a handheld clicker.

They are then passed through a speech synthesizer. Today the program is controlled by a sensor attached to his check, due to the amount of control that has been lost in his body. Stephen Hawking’s adult life has been an example in motivation. His disease has pushed him to achieve things that others would not have found possible. 'The realization that I had an incurable disease that was likely to kill me in a few years was a shock,' he recalls. 'How could something like this happen to me? ' stated Hawking.

He has often been quoted as stating that his disease has been the driving force behind his work, because not knowing how much time he would have before he died has made him want to achieve as much as possible in whatever short amount was left. I think that using Erik Erikson’s work on psychosocial development you can see that the autonomy Hawking was given as a child to be as creative as he wanted paved the way for Stephen’s ability to create his phenomenal theories as an adult. I don’t think that Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development can be applied here because there is no documentation of any moral dilemmas in Hawking’s past.

Maslow’s hierarchy can be applied though, even in the stages of life that Hawking is confined to a wheelchair. As a very young child, Hawking’s parents strive to achieve a safe environment that will protect him from the dangers of world war two. They do this by moving the family multiple times. I feel that through the creativity and publications that Hawking has done he has achieved the final portion in Maslow’s Hierarchy, self -actualization Using the humanistic approach, it seems to me that Stephen Hawking used the enthusiasm with which he increased his education as a means to help him cope with the diagnosis that he received of ALS.

This in turn made him a successful physicist. By vastly increasing the education he received, he was able to advance his career. This increase in his research also allowed him to feel as if he was contributing to society. By offering so much to the public he has shown himself that, although his body is frail he is very much able to be productive. By doing this it reinforces his feelings of self-worth. We, as humans have the need to be needed, and in turn the want to be appreciated for the things that we achieve. Stephen Hawking has many astounding, mind blowing theories in publication.

All this has been done though the advancement of his disease, and due to his original diagnoses. It seems that the motivator for Mr. Hawking is the need to do as much as his failing body will let him in whatever time he has left. To me, the statement “You can’t understand others unless you understand yourself”, means that in order to help others, you need to know who you are as a person. Even though I don’t really understand psychology, I feel that if you are going to try to psycho-analyze another person, you need to have done so to yourself. There are definitely applications for psychology in my work life.

Since I am a pediatric nurse working towards my BSN I use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs on a daily basis. There is always the need to ensure that an infant’s need for physical well-being and comfort is met before you can work on making sure that the age appropriate milestones are being reached. With children, if you address their need for independence, they will be your best friend, and allow you to perform the many tests that are required during their visits. I have learned many things during this class. The biggest thing that I have learned is about my personality type.

Although I was not exactly correct about what I thought about myself, I was pretty close. This helps me to know that I know who I am. This in turn lets me know that I am fully equipped to help my patients.


  1. Stephen Hawking (2006) Retrieved June 3, 2012 fromhttp://www. csupomona. edu/~nova/scientists/articles/hawk. html
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  3. Master of the Universe (Robin McKie, 2001) Retrieved June 3, 2012 http://www. guardian. co. uk/education/2001/oct/21/highereducation. cademicexperts
  4. Psychosocial Theory: Erikson (Davis & Clifton, 1995) Retrieved June 3, 2012 http://www. haverford. edu/psych/ddavis/p109g/erikson. stages. html
  5. Theories of Development (Crain, 1985). Editorial board Words of Wisdom (2011) Introduction to Psychology Stephen Hawking. (2012). Biography. com. Retrieved May 26, 2012 from http://www. biography. com/people/stephen-hawking-9331710
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Psycology Analysis of Stephen Hawking essay

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