Title: Erikson's perspective on the personality of Landon Carter
- Total Pages: 14
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- Citation Style: MLA
- Document Type: Research Paper
Please follow the same format as the following paper does.
Instruction: ERIK ERIKSON ? Describe the development of the personality (with special emphasis on the strength of the ego, and the conflicts that are resolved during development). Make sure you describe the development of the personality in terms of the stages up to the point the personality is in the fictional work you?ve chosen (remember the virtues if they are developed).IT IS IMPORTANT TO ANALYZE LANDON CARTER'S BEHAVIOR THROUGH EKRIKSON'S STAGES. (please be specific like this paper does).
Even if the film only shows you few stages, I am guessing that you can probably get some hints about the earlier stages. Obviously, anyone who chooses Erikson is going to be limited by the age of the character, and any speculations about where development might go from there would have to be based on understanding where the character is at the end of the film. In terms of the strong ego, you need to think about how (previous to the end of the film), Landon resolved the various 'crises' that confronted him prior to that as a way of thinking about the ego.
In the late 19th century, Dr. Sigmund Freud, an Austrian physician, combined medicine, philosophy and his theories concerning the inner workings of human beings to formulate a theory of human psychology (Frager and Fadiman 19). With a focus on introspection and clinical observations, Freud developed a system of psychotherapy called psychoanalysis to unlock the unresolved conflicts of the human mind and to heal psychopathologies and dissipate mental anguish. Freud based his theory on the existence of inner conflicts within the human personality that result from the competing drives for physical gratification and moral action that humans develop. He also proposed a psychosexual theory of personality development, whereby libidinal ?life sustaining? energy transfers from different erogenous zones throughout the stages of development in childhood that can become fixated in these areas provided a trauma occurs during one of these stages. Finally, he delved into the various levels of human consciousness, outlining defense mechanisms utilized by individuals to cope with traumas and illicit thoughts and desires, all of which evoke anxiety (Frager and Fadiman 20-1).
Dr. Gregory House, the lead in FOX?s hit medical drama, ?HOUSE M.D.?, is a brilliant doctor with a scorn for humanity, a biting wit and a traumatic past. He developed an addiction to Vicodin, a painkiller, after his leg suffered an infarction (muscle death), leaving him with a limp and chronic pain. Dr. Wilson, one of House?s few personal friends, said of House?s contempt for one of his patients, a psychiatrist: ?Never before has a profession been so decried, by someone who needed it so badly? (Episode 411). It is for this reason that House is a prime candidate for analysis under Freud?s psychodynamic theory. As is evident throughout the episodes of ?HOUSE M.D.?, House is what Freud would deem a classic oral aggressive character, devoid of a fully developed superego, with powerful Thanatos urges, who lives his life primarily through the defense mechanisms of isolation and displacement.
DR. HOUSE?S BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Gregory House is a misanthropic, world-renowned diagnostician at the fictitious Princeton Plainsboro Hospital in New Jersey. In every episode, his medical brilliance and gifted perceptiveness are put to the test to solve the mystery of his patient?s illness, all the while flexing his acerbic wit and relaying to his team of doctors and his patients his philosophy about the truths of reality and the baseness of human nature. He lives his life by the motto: ?Everybody lies,? (Episode 101) and his distrust for other human beings is so extensive that he avoids actually meeting with his patients if he can help it, preferring instead to stay in his office and rely on written patient histories and test results, brought to him by his team of three fellows. ?I don?t ask why patients lie; I just assume they all do,? House has said (Episode 107). When he is missing a critical detail about a patient history, or if a patient, family member, or proxy is standing in the way of his diagnosis, he typically brow-beats them with his unrelenting dispassionate rationality and brutal honesty, manipulates whoever stands in his way, violates medical ethics, breaks into patients? homes and employs whatever methods necessary, no matter how morally dubious, to solve the case and reach the correct diagnosis, but more importantly to satisfy his curiosity. He is fascinated by the puzzle of the diagnosis and is said to have the ?Rubik?s Cube complex?, by Dr. Wilson (Episode 109). His excessive disregard for authority, non-compliance with social conventions and selfish, anti-social behavior frequently alienates his team, his colleagues, and his boss.
Gregory House was born to a loving mother, Blythe, and a marine pilot, John, who was frequently transferred with his family to bases around the world throughout Greg?s upbringing. Greg claims to love his mother who loves him as he is, but he hates his father because of his military-styled insistence on adhering to strict rules as well as his ?insane moral compass that won't let you lie to anybody about anything. It's a great quality for boy scouts and police witnesses. Crappy quality for a dad? (Episode 205). House admits that his father subjected him to physical abuse throughout his childhood.
House was a very curious and bright boy, as can be inferred by his allusions to his fascination with archaeology and science. In Greg?s early adolescence, his family was stationed in Japan, where he was first inspired to become a doctor after watching a Japanese untouchable (buraku) doctor gain tremendous respect, despite his otherwise untouchable status, by saving House?s schoolmate whom none of the other Japanese doctors could cure.
House attended Johns Hopkins University for both his undergraduate degree as well as medical school until he was expelled for cheating, whereby he subsequently resumed and completed medical school at the University of Michigan. He is a board certified diagnostician with specialties in nephrology and infectious disease.
House was in a serious relationship with the hospital lawyer, Stacy Warner, for a number of years until he suffered the infarction in his leg. Because the diagnosis for his condition was not caught in time, the likely course of treatment would have been to amputate his leg. House, however, insisted that he receive a radical and potentially fatal treatment in order to salvage his leg. When he was unconscious, Stacy, his medical proxy, chose the safer middle ground, which was to remove the dead muscle cells in his leg, leaving him a cripple with a cane and chronic pain for the rest of his life; although less pain than House?s preferred treatment would have yielded. House never forgave Stacy for this betrayal, even though her decision likely saved his life, and they subsequently ended their relationship. House then developed an addiction to Vicodin, the painkiller prescribed to him to relieve his pain, although other characters in the show eventually come to realize that he uses it to escape psychological pain such as anxiety as well.
In Freud?s psychodynamic theory, he differentiated between the conscious, the preconscious, and the unconscious. According to Freud, the conscious is what one?s mind is immediately aware of, whereas the preconscious is information that is readily available to be recalled if one so chooses, such as one?s phone number. The unconscious, however, consists of repressed thoughts (thoughts inaccessible to the conscious), impulses (e.g., sex and aggression) that motivate behavior, traumatic events, and thoughts and wishes that are unacceptable under society?s standards. Impulses have a source, an aim, an impetus, and an object that the impulse acts upon (Frager and Fadiman 21).
The unconscious is dominated by what Freud termed, the id, or the biological aspects of the human personality, which encompasses our animal drives for sex and aggression. It is governed by the pleasure principle, seeking to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. The superego, on the other hand, encompasses our conscience (i.e., our internalized system of right and wrong) that we develop from being punished, self-observation, and the ego ideal, or the moral values we identify with in which we receive positive reactions that reinforces pro-social behavior. The ego, the weakest of the three aspects of personality, through both conscious and unconscious means, seeks to mediate the inner conflict between the ever-clashing id and superego. The ego works within the parameters of one?s internal values provided by the superego as well as societal consequences to gratify the id in a morally and socially acceptable manner. (Frager and Fadiman 23-4)
Freud believed that the development of the human personality took place in a series of psychosexual stages that occur early in life. According to Freud, the first stage of psychosexual development is the oral stage, which occurs from birth until 18 months, whereby the infant is solely governed by its id. During this stage, libidinal, or life sustaining, energy is focused around the mouth, which is the infant?s primary means of physical gratification. The infant takes great pleasure from oral stimulation, such as feeding, sucking and tasting, and by relieving its libidinal tension through oral means. The baby?s primary interaction comes from its mouth and is very dependent on its mother?s breast for sustenance. It is because of this dependence that either the baby will develop a sense of trust and comfort with its mother and the world at large, or if it is not sufficiently gratified, it will develop distrust and possibly an oral fixation later in life. If the baby is overly nourished and overly stimulated around the mouth, the libidinal energy around the mouth may become cathected or invested in the mouth, meaning, it may develop an oral fixation later in life, whereby it will exhibit appetitive and dependent behaviors. If the baby, however, is not adequately nourished and orally stimulated, it can become fixated in the oral stage and develop into an oral aggressive (oral-sadistic) character. (Frager and Fadiman 25-6)
Oral aggression manifests itself in verbal aggression, argumentativeness, sarcasm, manipulative tendencies, and oral habits such as eating, drinking, and other habits related to mouthing and ingestion and the oral aggressive personality is constituted as a ?biting? and caustic personality.
House is a classic oral aggressive character. It can be surmised from the dynamic of House?s parents, that although his mother loved him unconditionally, his authoritarian father probably insisted that House?s mother not coddle him, which therefore left House insufficiently nourished. The father may even have even convinced House?s mother to prematurely wean their son. This is likely to have led House to develop an oral-aggressive fixation in his later life, which explains his sarcastic, manipulative, and argumentative nature. Dr. House has been described as biting, caustic, and sarcastic by his colleague and best friend, Dr. Wilson, which are the primary characteristics of an oral aggressive character. Throughout every episode, House regularly insults his team, his colleagues, his boss and even his patients with his sarcasm and biting wit. In fact, most of House?s lines in the series are sarcastic quips. A few examples of his innumerous instances of oral aggression includes the following: When House was in the free clinic facing a patient whose body turned orange he said:
?Unfortunately, you have a deeper problem (than being orange). Your wife is having an affair. You?re orange you moron! It?s one thing for you not to notice, but if your wife hasn?t picked up on the fact that her husband has changed color, then she?s just not paying attention. By the way, do you just consume a ridiculous amount of carrots and mega dose vitamins? Carrots turn you yellow, the vitamins turn you red. Find some finger paint and do the math? (Episode 101).
In addition, when a mother expressed concern over giving her 10-year-old child his inhaler for his asthma, because of the strength of the medication, House responded:
?Your doctor probably was concerned about the strength of your medicine too. He probably weighed that danger against the danger of not breathing. Oxygen is so important during those pre-pubescent years don?t you think?? (Episode 101)
In addition, in every episode, House pops an inordinate amount of Vicodin pills into his mouth, especially when he is mentally anguished, which can be attributed to his oral fixation. To prove this last point, in an attempt to get out of his free-clinic obligations that are uninteresting to him because of the banality of the illnesses, he addressed the free-clinic waiting room: ??But not to worry, because for most of you, this job could be done by a monkey with a bottle of Motrin. Speaking of which, if you're particularly annoying, you may see me reach for this: this is Vicodin. It's mine! You can't have any! And no, I do not have a pain management problem, I have a pain problem ... but who knows? Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm too stoned to tell. So, who wants me? " (Episode 103). House is also seen drinking excessive amounts of alcohol both in his apartment, the hospital (Episode 201), and in a bar, which is also characteristic of an oral fixation.
In keeping with the oral aggressive personality, House is exceedingly manipulative. He frequently manipulates his patients and their loved ones into complying with every course of treatment he wants, no matter how risky and dangerous the treatment may be or how inconclusive his diagnosis is.
Stacy to & about House: "Such a hero. Always righting wrongs. Who cares who you have to manipulate." (Episode 208)
In addition, House has been known to manipulate office politics to achieve his ends. For example, in the 4th season, House was forced to hire a new team of diagnostic fellows after his first team left en masse. When Dr. Cuddy hired Dr. Foreman, a member of House?s original team back, she only allowed House to pick two additional members from the prospective recruits when House wanted to hire three. House then feigned indecision over whom to pick from his final three candidates, two males and a female, and he asked Dr. Cuddy for her advice. Although she wanted him to pick a male and a female for politically correct reasons, she told him to hire the two male candidates, thinking that upon listening to her advice, he would then defy it and pick a male and a female candidate. House, of course, anticipated all of this, he picked the two male candidates in mock-accordance with Cuddy?s endorsement, and she was forced to let him hire the female candidate as well.
THE PHALLIC STAGE
Freud further advanced that humans undergo the phallic stage of psychosexual development between the ages of 4 and 6 years old. During this time, libidinal energy focuses around the genitals of the child, and the child begins to develop sexual feelings for the opposite-sex parent. Boys see their fathers as competition and feel what Freud termed, castration anxiety, namely that the father will harm the boy if he learns of the child?s illicit feelings for his mother. Seeing that he cannot compete with the father to obtain the mother, the boy undergoes a process of identification with the father, whereby he adopts the father?s values and morality in order to vicariously obtain the mother. It is thus during this phase of development that the child develops a superego. (Frager and Fadiman 26)
In the episode ?One Day, One Room?, House mentioned that he had been physically abused by his father throughout his childhood. It can be surmised that House had been sufficiently abused by his father during this critical stage in his psychosexual development (the phallic stage) for it to have profoundly interfered with his formation of a healthy superego. The abuse House experienced may have been a form of castration, which interfered with his process of identification with his father?s superego, resulting in his superego being malformed. Furthermore, it is evident that because of his hatred for his father, House has negatively identified with his father, both in terms of moral values as well as in various other aspects of his life. For example, while his father is extremely structured and punctual (Episode 504) even to such things as insignificant as family dinner, House is impulsive and tardy, making it a point to come to work and to all of his appointments late. In addition, his father as a military man cared deeply about his appearance, while House, on the other hand, retains permanent stubble, rarely brushes his hair, refuses to wear a doctor?s white lab coat and instead sometimes wears jeans and t-shirt to work.
More significantly, House does not live by a conventional code of morality like the one his father did. House regularly demonstrates a lack of empathy for human suffering, sick people, and even his few close relationships such as Dr. Wilson and Dr. Cuddy that astonishes the other characters in the show. He treats everyone with disrespect, insulting and manipulating everyone just to amuse himself. He even fails to admire noble virtues and acts of kindness or bravery in an impossible situation. For example, in season 2, House had a 9-year-old female cancer patient who came down with a mysterious illness that would have lessened her already short prognosis of one year to live. While her bravery in the face of her difficult situation and her selfless care for her mother?s well-being inspired House?s team, Dr. Wilson, and Dr. Cuddy, House marginalized her admirable attributes as symptoms and statistics: ?These cancer kids, you can't put them all on a pedestal. It's basic statistics. Some of them have gotta be whiney little fraidy-cats? (Episode 202) and
Dr. Gregory House: [talking about 9-year-old cancer patient] She's such a brave girl, I want to see how brave she is when you tell her she's gonna die.
Dr. James Wilson: [long pause] Go to hell. (Episode 202)
Thus, while in the typical human personality, one?s id and superego often conflict, House?s lack of a strong superego enables his id to be the driving force of his personality, which is blatantly evident throughout each episode. House satisfies every whim, impulse and bodily gratification no matter how socially unacceptable and morally questionable it is. He flaunts his use of prostitutes and his habits of watching pornography. He frequently steals food from Wilson, lies to people and puts others in danger in order to satisfy his personal curiosity and boredom. He lives his life saying exactly what he wants and getting exactly what he wants no matter the social consequences, precisely because of his possession of a weak superego. House is a classic example of an unrestrained id that runs wild.
Freud advances that anxiety poses the main threat to one?s psyche and can be triggered by the loss of a desired object, loss of love, loss of identity, or loss of love for one?s self. Furthermore, Freud argues that Thanatos, the impulse for self-destruction and death, is one of the methods that people succumb to in order to eliminate their anxiety. For in death, there is no more conflict (Frager and Fadiman 30). House?s loss of Stacy after he broke up with her qualifies as loss of love and resulted in a noticeable increase in his leg pain, which Freud would deem a hysterical symptom caused by increased anxiety. In addition, the prospect of getting back together with Stacy in season two arguably led to the loss of House?s identity as a miserable and an isolated human being. This must have led to an increase in his anxiety, which provoked him to resolve the anxiety by breaking up with her. Similarly, House?s romantic feelings for Dr. Cuddy in season five, evoked a great deal of anxiety because of the loss of his sense of identity as a rebel and emotionless hermit that his feelings for her, his boss, necessarily precipitates.
In addition, although House maintains an aura of invincibility to the outside world, what causes House to feel anxiety above all is losing his control over people and his own abilities, as well as the prospect of changing. In the pilot episode, House exhibits noticeable distress when Dr. Cuddy takes away his medical prerogative of running tests to prevent him from treating his patient. In doing so, Dr. Cuddy, in Freud?s terms caused House to lose a desired object i.e., his power to treat patients, which naturally provoked anxiety. In another instance, House would not allow Dr. Wilson to join his poker game because Wilson "Yeah. That's why you didn't want me in your poker game. Because when it comes to being in control, Gregory House leaves our faith healer kid in the dust. And that's why religious belief annoys you. Because if the universe operates by abstract rules you can learn them, you can protect yourself? (Episode 219). Under more careful scrutiny, it can be concluded that House?s desire for control does not stem from a fixation in the second stage of psychosexual development, the anal stage, where control and organization are prized above all. Rather, the likely reason for House?s need to control everything and everyone is the childhood abuse he suffered. When his father abused him, House?s control was taken away. He was helpless in face of a larger and stronger person that had all the control and inflicted on him physical and psychological pain. House therefore decided that if he had total control over everything, he could never get hurt again. This explains why Cuddy?s temporary restrictions on House?s abilities elicited so much distress. She made him helpless. This also explains why House?s leg pain is not just physical, and is instead the physical manifestation of his psychological anxiety. The sudden loss of the full function of his leg rendered him physically helpless once again, and stands as a constant reminder of the helplessness and lack of control that House spent his whole adult life trying to avoid since living under his father?s roof.
Because House was probably weaned prematurely as a baby, he did not develop trust in the world at large and especially in other human beings. This distrust was exacerbated by having his immediate caregiver, his father, abuse him throughout his childhood. His general distrust of others explains his consequential alienation of all those around him and his refusal to engage in any deep personal relationships. These tendencies were further intensified after his close romantic partner of several years, Stacy, betrayed him when he was most vulnerable, lying unconscious in a hospital bed, by going against his choice of treatment for his leg infarction. Despite his troubled past and lack of trust for humanity, he entered into a serious personal relationship with Stacy, and for what may have been the first time, he put his trust in her, and she violated his trust and went against his wishes when he was most helpless and when it concerned his physical body and well-being. It is for this reason that House chose to live a life of alienation, isolation and ultimately of misery.
In addition, because of the psychological pain that it evokes, House is vehemently resistant to changing for the better, and he likewise hates when others try to change from their own stuck pattern of misery and transcend their own circumstances because of the painful associations that House has with his own struggle with change. Because change for House necessitates trusting others, which is something that House has been traumatized from, it is an intolerable concept to him. House: "It's one of the great tragedies of life something always changes? (Episode 211). Change for House means risking himself once again and putting his trust in people and entering into personal relationships where those around him will once again have the potential to violate his trust and hurt him. Because of this, House puts his own welfare aside and chooses isolation instead of relationships that might make him happy. Being too close to people makes him anxious because of others? proven potential to hurt him. He thus dissects everyone and finds their miniscule flaws to invent reasons to evade a relationship. Wilson: "You always find some tiny little flaw to push people away.... I'm talking about every woman you've ever given a damn about.... You're going to wind up alone, House." (Episode 119). One more dialogue between House and Dr. Wilson sheds light on House?s reluctance to transcend his spiral into misery.
House: "I said I was an addict. I didn't say I had a problem. I pay my bills, I make my meals. I function."
Wilson: "Is that all you want? You have no relationships."
House: "I don't want any relationships."
Wilson: "You alienate people."
House: "I've been alienating people since I was three."
Wilson: "Oh, come on! Drop it! You don't think you've changed in the last few years?"
House: "Well, of, of course I have. I've, I've gotten older. My hair's gotten thinner. Sometimes I'm bored, sometimes I'm lonely, sometimes I wonder what it all means."
Wilson: "No, I was there! You are not just a regular guy who's getting older, you've changed! You're miserable, and you're afraid to face yourself."
House: "Of course I've changed!" (pointing to his leg)
Wilson: "And everything's the leg? Nothing's the pills? They haven't done a thing to you?"
House: "They let me do my job, and they take away my pain." (Episode 111)
One final line by Dr. Wilson gives a profound glimpse into why House hates change:
Wilson: "You don't like yourself. But you do admire yourself. It's all you've got, so you cling to it. You're so afraid if you change, you'll lose what makes you special. (long pause) Being miserable doesn't make you better than anybody else, House. It just makes you miserable." (Episode 211)
Change, therefore, makes House anxious. Furthermore, watching others change is similarly haunting to him. He would not allow Dr. Foreman to launch clinical trials on a new Huntington?s disease medication because it would further his career (Episode 508). Similarly, he harangued Wilson for breaking his cycle of going for the wrong women and declaring that he has changed. Lastly, he put Dr. Cuddy through psychological torture while she was adopting a baby, throwing vomit on her, as well as insisting that she would make a terrible mother, to prevent her from making a change that would make her happy. House needs others to be miserable just like him, in order to exonerate himself in his reluctance to improve himself.
According to Freud, oral behaviors, such as verbal aggression for oral aggressive characters, are exacerbated by anxiety (Frager and Fadiman 26). In Season 3, House was forced to go into withdrawal from Vicodin, and in doing so, suffered an incredible amount of leg pain as well as withdrawal symptoms. In Freud?s terms, House was experiencing ?realistic anxiety? because he was anxious about imminently experiencing the physical pain that he spent his life trying to avoid (http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/ 1O87-realisticanxiety.html). In concert with Freud?s theory that heightened anxiety leads oral aggressive characters to engage in more oral aggressive behaviors, during this time, House?s hostility, sarcasm and verbal cruelty increased dramatically. Dr. Cuddy, House?s boss, alluded to this after he yelled at her, ?It?s a good thing you didn?t become a mom, because you suck at it!? (Episode 309). When crying, she told Dr. Wilson, ?I've seen House be rude a thousand times, usually to achieve something. I have never seen him be mean just because he can. "People think House has no? inner censor. The fact is he holds himself back, because when he wants to hurt, he knows just where to poke a sharp stick."? (Episode 309). Thus, the source of House?s verbal aggression, namely the elevated pain in his leg, caused him to expend greater effort (impetus) at relieving the tension (the aim) by yelling more maliciously at whoever crossed him (the object, in this case, Dr. Cuddy).
More profoundly, when House experiences neurotic anxiety (i.e., anxiety subjective to the individual that no one else can adequately understand), this manifests in physical symptoms that Freud would relate to hysteria (http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/ anxiety.aspx). For example, after breaking up with the love of his life, Stacy, for a second time, so that he could continue, ?to be miserable,? the pain in his leg increased dramatically, causing him to seek means of relieving his pain that are more powerful. When Dr. Wilson refused to prescribe him more pain medication, because he knew that House?s pain had purely psychological roots, House turned to Dr. Cuddy for a shot of morphine. Although she was reluctant, she eventually conceded and gave him a shot, which alleviated his pain. She later revealed to House that the shot she gave him was in fact a placebo, and recommended he get psychological help (Episode 213). Additionally, in season 5, because of House?s repression of his romantic feelings for Cuddy, he began to hallucinate that he was being bitten by a mosquito after every encounter with her, complaining of the unbearable itch and scratching at it and bandaging his hand, until Wilson correctly diagnosed the psychological nature of his ?mosquito bite? (Episode 507).
House?s consistent aggression towards authority figures: the police, Dr. Cuddy, Mr. Vogler, who was House?s boss for a brief amount of time, accords with House?s strong Thanatos impulses. In addition, House has exhibited his strong urges of Thanatos to escape the anxiety of feeling physical pain or psychological pain of not knowing the answer to a question on numerous occasions. For example, to prove that his medical school enemy?s migraine cure did not work, he injected himself with nitroglycerin to induce a migraine and then he took his rival?s ?cure? only to discover that the ?cure? didn?t in fact work. He then used LSDLSDLSD, a dangerous hallucinogenic to moderate the migraine, along with anti-depressants to mediate the potent hallucinogenic effects of the LSDLSDLSD (Episode 212). He also faked brain cancer to qualify for a clinical trial that would place a chemical-dispensing chip into his limbic system to offset the unbearable pain in his leg (Episode 315). He injected himself with the tainted blood from a patient to see if a blood transfusion caused the patient?s symptoms (Episode 408). He stuck a knife into an electrical socket in order to temporarily kill himself to see if there was indeed an afterlife (Episode 403). After suffering amnesia from a bus accident, he took a dangerous amount of Alzheimer?s medication to remember the events leading up to the accident, which caused to him to have a heart attack (Episode 415). Finally, in an attempt to recover further memories of the events leading up to the accident, House agreed to stick electrodes in his already fractured skull, which emitted powerful currents, resulting in a seizure which could potentially have given him brain damage, and he fell into a coma (Episode 416). During this coma, he dreamt that he was sitting on the bus with his dead patient, and he expressed that he did not want to wake up from his coma because he did not want to feel pain anymore.
To cope with the traumas of his past and his persistent anxiety, House lives his life primarily through the defense mechanism of intellectualization. Intellectualization involves intellectualizing and reasoning to block confrontation with an unconscious conflict and its associated emotional stress. It entails removing one's self, emotionally, from a stressful event (Frager and Fadiman 34). Dr. Wilson aptly notes that House dismisses everything that is emotional and not purely rational. It is evident that House?s relentless rationality protects him from the world around him and from ever feeling emotional pain. House is known to say that everything is rational. This can be illustrated further with a few more instances throughout the series:
1. A nun: "You hide behind your intelligence."
House: Yeah, that's pretty stupid." (Episode 105)
2. A patient's wife: "You got a big 'Keep Out' sign stapled on your forehead." (Episode 112)
3. Wilson: Lisa (Dr. Cuddy) cares. It's why she drives you nuts. 'Cause it's not just a puzzle to her. The patients are actually real, their feelings actually relevant...." (Episode 203)
4. Wilson: Because if the universe operates by abstract rules you can learn them, you can protect yourself. If a Supreme Being exists he can squash you any time he wants."
House: "He knows where I am." (Episode 219)
5. Wilson: "Be yourself: cold, uncaring, distant.." (Episode 122)
House?s inhuman insistence on a purely rational approach to life even during circumstances that warrant emotional considerations now makes sense. His refusal to empathize with dying cancer girls, with Dr. Cuddy?s difficulties in adopting a child, with the problems of his team and with Dr. Wilson can be attributed to his fierce resistance to feeling any emotion at all because facing his own emotions would be too psychologically painful for him. Instead, House has created a barrier between himself and his emotions so that he could live his life invincibly without ever having to suffer the discomforts of self-examination (which is a function of one?s superego) and the misery he has suffered and that he continues to experience.
Finally, House?s contempt for all authority figures and consequent aggression towards them (Dr. Cuddy, Mr. Vogler, a police detective who almost got House thrown in jail for decades etc.) can be explained by a second defense mechanism, displacement. According to the psychodynamic theory, displacement occurs when one acts out their emotion, in this case aggression, on less threatening blameless targets, because acting it out on the actual target would be too dangerous (http://www.planetpsych.com/z Psychology_101/defense_mechanisms.htm). House displaces his anger and aggressive feelings for his father and his authoritarian way of life, onto less threatening targets. He lashes out at people below him, but more significantly at people above him, because he has created such an emotional barricade towards everyone that even his bosses and people in authority who have the power to fire him or throw him in jail are not threats that he perceives. The only actual threat that House perceives is his father.
Using Freud?s psychodynamic approach illustrates how Dr. Gregory House has developed into an oral aggressive character because of unconscious conflicts and past traumas. The traumas that occurred during his phallic stage prevented him from developing a strong superego, and instead caused him to negatively identify with his father?s strong sense of morality, which in effect allowed House?s id to dominate his personality, which accounts for his infantile and coarse behavior. House?s persistent anxiety exacerbates his oral aggression as well as causes him to succumb to his Thanatos urges of self-destruction. Furthermore, he copes with his anxiety through the defense mechanism of intellectualization, which allows him to distance his emotional self from his external situation, and instead intellectualizes everything in order to protect himself from getting hurt. He also displaces his aggression towards his father onto every other human being, who he deems a less threatening target. All of this combined has led to the creation of a truly fascinating and unique character that has captivated millions of viewers in the United States and abroad.
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A Walk to Remember. Dir. Adam Shankman. Perf. Mandy Moore, Shane West, Peter Coyote. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2002. DVD.
Beaumont, Sherry L., & Zukanovic, Ray. "Identity Development in Men and Its Relation to Psychosocial Distress and Self-Worth." Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science. January (2005) Web.