Gilbert Grape and what really ate at him, this essay will divulge into certain aspects of Idler’s theory including its peripheral personality types, its distinct developmental factors, and finally, the core tendency crucial to Idler’s IEEE on personality. Art One Personality theorists use a myriad of theoretical approaches when attempting to define or understand different personalities. There is not one truly right or wrong theory and in Gilbert Grape’s case we can dissect and interpret his issues from many different angles. But I believe that Alfred Idler’s theory on personality connects with Gilbert in a way that strikes a chord with many individuals because of how commonsensical it is. Alfred Idler’s approach to personality illustrates that an individual’s personality is simply a reflection upon that individual’s lifestyle.
A person’s lifestyle is his or her psychological makeup, or the way he or she deals with the world and reacts to certain events. This lifestyle is determined primarily through past experiences, particularly in the way an individual views themselves in relation to others. One’s lifestyle affects the way one views the world and how one reacts to experiences. Adler believed that all actions are undertaken by an individual are done with the goal of improving one’s current situation.
Basically, we as people constantly strive towards something greater – towards superiority or refection. This emphasis on the individual and how we as people are drawn towards our goals, our purposes and our ideals connects greatly with Gilbert as he struggles with himself to find a life beyond the mundane. Alfred Idler’s theory proposes that an individual’s style of life represents distinctive patterns of striving that derive from inferiority, or shortcomings, and the adaptive compensation, or inborn tendencies used to counteract or cope with them.
Adler formulated his lifestyle typology on the basis of two polarities, active-passive, and constructive-destructive. The active-passive dimension reflects whether an individual has learned to be a giver and initiator as opposed to being a receiver or getter. The constructive-destructive polarity refers essentially to the levels of social interest one has. High levels of social interest reflect a constructive orientation, while low levels signify a destructive orientation. Putting these two extremes together led Adler to propose four basic lifestyles, or peripheral personality types.
An individual can either be active-constructive, active-destructive, passive-constructive, or passive- destructive. The former is Idler’s most ideal type for an individual, while the latter is least ideal. An active-constructive lifestyle is one that is considered healthy. These individuals are described as feeling comfortable with life and sensing their existence to be worthwhile. They seek to overcome difficulties with creative efforts. The passive-destructive lifestyle is characterized by opposite tendencies.
These individuals are seen as accusatory; they easily lay blame on their circumstances, act in a passive-aggressive manner, and generally see life in a despairing fashion. Having seen the film, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, one can easily tell at the outset that Gilbert Grape lives a passive-destructive lifestyle. Residing in the quiet town of Andorra, a place that in his own words is “like dancing to no music,” Gilbert finds it especially difficult to view life in a positive manner. He lives with his widowed mother, a woman who became grossly overweight in the seven years since her husband committed suicide.
Weighing nearly 500 pounds at the start of the movie, Gilbert’s mother never leaves the Grape’s residence and has left Gilbert with the extremely challenging and tiresome task of tending to his three younger billing, one of which is a mentally retarded teenager named Ernie. On top of that, Gilbert has to try his best to help keep a locally owned grocery store he works at from closing due to competition from a brand new supermarket attracting all their past customers. And, as if those challenges weren’t enough, Gilbert also has to maintain an uncomfortable affair with a wildly obsessive housewife whose husband is clearly threatening.
These very taxing responsibilities placed upon Gilbert has him struggling daily to keep his spirits from falling and has prevented him from seeing any significance in life. Indeed, one can tell that Gilbert wasn’t always destructive. Gilbert acts upon several values throughout the movie. He is extremely loyal to his family, honest and giving. It is apparent in a multitude of scenes where he is taking care of Ernie, working to support his family, and simply trying to be a Good Samaritan for the town and its other citizens.
Gilbert certainly wants a better life and future for himself and for his family. He definitely is, in Deadlier terms, striving to overcome his inferiority – striving towards something greater in life. But in dealing with his family, the responsibilities placed on IM, and the uncertainty of his future, Gilbert inevitably falls victim to life’s difficulties. He is unable to find creative ways to escape the rut he has treaded through his whole life and becomes extremely negative and frustrated.
He starts to accept his fate and becomes dead set on the idea that he would never amount to anything more. This trend would have continued on forever had it not been for the arrival of Becky, a worldly girl who becomes stranded in Andorra with her grandmother after their truck breaks down. Wise beyond her years, Becky was exactly what Gilbert needed at exactly the right time. She was a spark of curiosity at first sight and drew Gilbert in not just with her looks but with her carefree nature and sense of freedom, something Gilbert desperately yearned for.
An innumerable amount of scenes in which Becky displayed her love and acceptance for all things and people gradually changed Gilberts heart. Perhaps one of Becky’s greatest lines in the movie was when she tells Gilbert that she does not really care about external beauty because it always declined with age. She instead, believed that it was better to focus on being herself and enjoying life. With her perspective, she provided Gilbert with a sense of meaning and self-worth for the first time in his life that in such a dull town seemed nearly unattainable.
But why was Gilbert so down on life? Our personalities make us extremely unique individuals. We are who we are, and we believe what we believe because of our personality. But how does our personality develop? Many prominent theorists in the field of personality have developed theories to describe the various types of steps or stages that occur on the road to personality development. From Pigged to Freud to Erikson, most have outlined specific stages that an individual must o through as they develop. Alfred Adler though, believes that there are no such stages.
Instead, Adler stresses just how important family is in the development of an individual and ultimately, his or her personality. According to Adler, family constellation and family atmosphere are two important terms that help describe the development of an individual. Family constellation refers to the birth order of an individual, where he or she was a first born, second, middle, last, or an only child. Adler theorizes that an individual’s personality will depend at least to some extent on his or her session within the family.
Specifically, he argued that the firstborns or oldest children tend to be more achievement oriented and traditional; second children tend to be competitive and ambitious but relatively unconcerned about power; last-born children tend to be more sociable and dependent; and only children tend to mature relatively early but can remain dependent for a relatively long time. Being the firstborn child then, it is no wonder why Gilbert ponders so much about his position in life – he wishes to achieve more and experience more than what the little town of Andorra has to offer.
But while Gilbert is achievement-oriented and strives for more, he is also traditional in the sense that he knows he must take care of his mother and siblings, something that inevitably and unfortunately gets in the way of his dreams. Family atmosphere, on the other hand, describes the atmosphere in which an individual’s parents play a crucial role in raising him or her and their siblings. Atmospheres thus reflect the parenting style and environment in which one grows.
Adler stresses that family is a system in which each member exerts influence on every other member and an atmosphere or limited develops that can be said to characterize how the family members relate to each other. Furthermore, it is the relationship between the parents that often is the clearest indication of what will constitute the families way of living and interacting. Parents are the models for how one relates to others, how one participates in the world and especially how one sees the world. For Gilbert, life has always been about what others think or ask of him and it reflects in his demeanor.
His family plays an extremely vital role in this. As a teenager, Gilbert had already experienced the death of his father, who omitted suicide for reasons unknown. In such a small and boring community, such a shameful and disgraceful act must have been the talk of the town, placing a stigma on his family. After his father’s death, life only became even more complicated with the responsibilities placed on him by his mother. This really weighed on him both mentally and physically as it made him involuntarily the man of the house and the primary caretaker of his sisters and retarded brother.
Gilbert undoubtedly tries his best to manage it all, but with hopelessness and inconsistency in his family, he eventually comes a bland and flat character. Alfred Adler believed that all people shared a common desire: to belong and to feel important. According to Adler, when we feel encouraged, we are strengthened – we feel capable and appreciated and will generally act in way that is connected and cooperative with others. On the other hand, when we are discouraged we may act in unhealthy ways like withdrawing or giving up. Thus, Adler postulates a single drive or motivating force behind all of our behaviors and experiences.
As mentioned above, we as humans constantly strive toward superiority or refection. This is Idler’s core tendency and it means that we seek to overcome the basic inferiority that life has set upon us. We all have problems or shortcomings and because of that Adler felt that our personalities could be accounted for by the ways in which we strive to overcome or compensate for those problems. This approach to personality thus Stresses a very positive view of human nature in that Adler believed individuals can control their own fate.
We do this by setting goals towards ideals like perfection, self-realization, self-actualization, mastery, etc. How they do this can be understood simply through analyzing their lifestyle. Yet, as stated before, a person’s perception on life, according to Adler is also based on his or her own view of reality. Ultimately then, we construct our reality (and therefore our fate) according to our own way of looking at the world and it can be either be constructive or destructive depending on one’s circumstances.
When looking into Gilbert’s case, it is easy to spot the things that ate at his being. Alfred Adler would say that Gilbert constantly wishes to better himself and his situation. It was just unfortunate that life has placed upon him too many restrictions. As a result, he decided his own fate by believing that nothing was ever going to change. This can be pointed out in several different occasions, but one particular scene in which Gilbert asks Betty, the crazy housewife why she chose him of all the men in town really hits the issue right on the mark.
In response to his question she replies, “Because… I knew you’d always be there. Because I knew you’d never leave. ” This statement was the exact mindset that Gilbert had sadly built himself around. He was never going to leave, nothing was ever going to change – this is who he is and that’s it. In another conversation, this time with Becky, Gilbert even describes his father as emotionless and flat, as if he was walking around “already dead. ” Unknowingly, Gilbert had created himself in the negative image of his father.
Becky even replied that she knew of “a guy like that. ” Luckily for Gilbert though, Becky was able to change his perspective c And while his family certainly played a big part in developing his pass destructive lifestyle early on, as a unit they still supported each other. Miming together for Earner’s birthday party, and at the end of the day their mother’s passing, Gilbert finally realizes that striving for “suppers something greater wasn’t a hopeless ideal; he just needed to put his t himself, not his circumstances. Art Two Although Idler’s theory may not be as interesting Freud, with its sex lungs with its philosophy on dreams and symbols, to me it seems to most commonsensical. He has a simple theoretical structure and focus family and the common person – features that connects to Gilbert Gar case very easily. Alfred Adler, in his approach, avoids much talk of pee n the traditional sense with terms like biological traits, internal struck psychodramas and the like.
He preferred instead to talk about life a lifestyle – how you live your life, how you handle problems and all the interpersonal relations in between. For Freudians, the things that hap in the past, such as early childhood trauma, determined what you are the present. Adler prefers to see personality as a matter of moving to the future, rather than being driven, mechanically, by the past. One CT one own fate, and this resonates greatly with Gilbert. Gilbert struggle life and had to deal with it. He longed to express himself, not just mol personality according to the environment or to his circumstances.