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Good Will Hunting
SUBJECTS — Medicine (Psychiatry); U.S./1991 - presentAD Massachusetts;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Child Abuse; Marriage; Romantic Relationships
Fighting; Friendship; Male Role Model; Talent;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Caring.
Age: 14+; MPAA Rating: R for strong language, including some sex-related dialogue; Drama; 1997; 126 minutes.
Will Hunting is a macho young man from a working class neighborhood in Boston. To outward appearances, his life revolves around low-skilled jobs, hanging out with friends, fighting, and getting into trouble with the law.
But Will spends a lot of time at home alone reading books, storing information in his photographic memory. His intelligence is exceptional and he can easily solve problems of higher mathematics that elude famous math professors. An orphan, Will grew up in a series of foster homes in which he was repeatedly beaten. As a result, Will has classic attachment disorder. He cannot form trusting relationships with adults or with women. He cannot control his anger. He cannot integrate his intelligence into his relationships with others in either social or work environments. Will's only affectionate attachments are to a group of three young men from his neighborhood who cannot begin to match his intelligence.
Good Will Hunting traces the successful treatment of Will's attachment disorder, providing an excellent basis for studying the origin and treatment of this psychological condition. Filled with wisdom and compassion, the movie shows the power of talking therapy and gives an example of the life-changing insight that can be provided by psychology. The film is also a springboard for discussions about the role of dependence, independence, and interdependence in human life and the importance of love and consistency in parenting.
The movie also shows the young male culture of cruelty and demonstrates that the need to be tough, to never show vulnerability, weakness, hurt, or sadness, leads to a dead end. Will's friends are loyal and want the best for their friend — the essence of a caring friendship. The film can also reach some of the several students in every class (as many as a third) who have been physically or sexually abused.
The TeachWithmovies.com Learning Guide to Good Will Hunting will show teachers and parents how to use this film to supplement curriculum and teach character development.
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Good Will Hunting presents a case study of the successful treatment of a young man with attachment disorder.
Learning Guide Excerpt
To demonstrate how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to improve lesson plans, we have set out below a small paragraph from the description of attachment disorder written especially for the Learning Guide to Good Will Hunting by Dr. Froma Burack, Psy.D.
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, hot, or wet), the need to sleep, and the need to be free from fear. This is exemplified by the infant emitting a cry reflecting a "need state," a signal for help. The caretaker then learns to recognize the infant's different cries to determine the specific need requiring gratification. If needs are consistently satisfied, the infant learns to depend on and trust its caretakers. As the infant becomes assured that its needs will be gratified it acquires the ability to delay gratification when hearing its caretaker's voice or seeing the caretakers' face. The infant understands that help is on the way. This dependency enables an infant to begin to self-regulate, to build inner strength and resiliency.
The Learning Guide to the film Good Will Hunting contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
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