The film was developed from the book Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. The film embraces concepts in psychology to a large extent. When the audience first meets Charles- the narrator, he has just joined his freshman year in high school. As the audience learns later, Charlie is calm, quiet and withdrawn. His life involves extreme keenness on observations, and he gives deep thought to all the events he observes. He is a silent observer though, and the audience never meets him making giving feedback on any of the observations he makes (Brown & Hammer, 2015). The film assumes a mode of letter writing, where Charlie writes to a friend whose name is never disclosed. Also, the friend never writes back, and hence one might argue that the letter is a collection of a personal diary.
There are various themes that would be best understood in the context of psychology throughout the film including death, mourning, and grief for Charlie. His family members died in the previous spring. Charlie also remembers when his only friend committed suicide, and at the time of the film, he hasnt dealt with this loss yet (Crayola, 2014). Also, he was molested as a child by his Aunt Helen and later the aunt died in a car crash. Her death occurred on Charlies birthday which was also Christmas Eve. Later in his letters., Charlie communicates to his friend that he will not be writing as much anymore because he is committed to participating in his real life. The film encompasses a development process of a child from a tender age and the progress across developmental stages until death as presented by various characters (Crain, 2005). It also captures the different dimensions of human behavior with an underlying explanation of possible reasons and motives that direct peoples behavior. The audience even gets a chance to interact with various characters as they struggle to survive, accept and overcome the effects of certain behaviors they did or were done to them.
Nature and Personality Characteristics
Charlie comes across as an eponymous wallflower in the movie. The film is presented from his perspective with detailed explanations of exactly how much he knows about the event that he encounters. The movie is coming-of-age for Charlie, and the audience interacts with him as he matures and develops intellectually, emotionally, physically and sexually. The development process for Charlie, however, reveals an effect of nature for the personality he develops as a teenager (Crayola, 2014). From the beginning, Charlie is aloof and doesnt seem to care about being part of a social group. Even as the film ends, he maintains his introverted personality and only promises his friend that he will stop writing much and interact with real life more. Although Charlie might be introverted by nature, various events that happen or happened before enhance the development of this personality. For instance, although it is not in his conscious, Charlie keeps aloof most of the times because he distrusts people. The mistrust is a reaction to the incident when he was raped by his aunt. This fact comes to his attention when he gets intimate with Sam and the repressed memories of the molestation surface. Later when he witnesses a date rape, at his brothers party, he watches in silence and withdraws rather than engage.
Interaction of Cognitive and Cognitive Processes
Charlie appears to feel safe with his friend although the friend never writes back. The friend help him mature cognitively as he gains multiple skills for interaction with other people from writing the letters of expression and total disclosure. The friend in the letter is a significant figure to Charlie (Hutchison, 2015). He gains confidence and challenges himself that he will participate in real life a stop using the letters as a defense mechanism to cope with life occurrences. In the drive to better himself, Charlie discovers his talents he gets in touch with his artistic ability and aspires to write or become a deejay. His intellectual argument is that exploring these talents will provide him a chance to interact with the world directly and still get a chance to observe things and people from an inward perspective which provides him comfort and satisfaction.
Emotional Development and Socio-Emotional Interactions
When considering the perspective of emotional development and social behavior, Charlie among other characters significant maturation. Charlie is emotionally aloof from everyone except his friend whom he tells everything. Towards the end, he opens up emotionally and informs his friend that he will try to engage himself in real life and wont write a lot. Also, when Sam and her step-brother incorporate him into their group, he is happy and soon develops a serious crash on Sam. The audience can acknowledge the emotional maturity of a boy who was always withdrawn and alone to the daring Charlie who kisses Sam on a dare game during a party. He also develops enough confidence to disclose to Sam the emotional attraction he felt for her (Crayola, 2014). At some point, the two take their friendship to a new level when they get intimately and sexually connected. However, against expectations, it is at this point that Charlie is prone to face an intense emotional challenge. According to (John, 2016) it would be expected that he recovers the repressed memories of when he was raped by his aunt. He gets uncomfortable with the intimate nature of their relationship with Sam and is subjected to further emotional maturity as he cant repress the memory anymore.
Charlie deals with a lot of emotional burden as seen when he remembers traumatic deaths of his family members and the suicide incident of his only friend. His aunt had died on his birthday in a car crash, and all the grief involved with these loses is overwhelming for Charlie.
Family and Peer Relations and The Effect on Development Several developments are evident in the families and peer lives of the characters. The audience can evidence the effects that the family structure and norms have on the characters. For instance, Charlie grandfather is an extreme racist and the family including Charlie has learned to block his negativity and evade his racist's comments by talking about inclusive subjects like the brothers football games. Other characters like Patrick do not have a productive relationship with their families. Patrick feels rejected an excluded when Brad rejects his sexual orientation because he is gay. Patricks friends include him an accept him for whom he is. On the other hand, Brad lacks such a social support network. He ends up accepting that is he not worthy of love confirming what Bill said to Charlie that people only accept the love they are conditioned to think they deserve. According to (Hutchison, 2015) this reaction is based on psychological conditioning known as social learning which guides behavior by restricting people to act behaviors they have learnt.
For Charlie, he makes progress from a lonely boy who never interreacted with anyone since his only friend died. He matures and adapts incorporating behaviors when he opens up to form relationships with Patrick and Sam who somehow replace his dead friend. Patrick proves to be a faithful friend. In their small world, Sam, Charlie and Patrick form a peculiar triumvirate band of misfits. The peer groups prove to be helpful and harmful at the same time. For instance, a rape case happens among the peers and when Charlie kisses Sam in a dare game, Elizabeth a pretty senior whom Charlie was dating at the time, gets offended and storms out of the room. Other students agree with Elisabeths reaction an alienate themselves from Charlie,
Sex Differences and Sex-Role Socialization
Charlie is exposed to sex encounter at a tender age, and this becomes a psychological trauma for him when he develops and matures to start experimenting with his sexuality. He repressed these memories for so long that he doesnt even know he had them. When he gets intimate with Sam, the memories come back, and this holds him back from getting intimate with her. Brad and Patrick are gay, and the sex-role socialization comes with its fair share of rejection and disappointment. Gay people are rejected by the society like the case of Brad and often do not have social support. The lack of support and acceptance proves to be detrimental to the development process as Bard learn to reject himself just like the society does. Sexual development and acceptance of sexual differences is not easy for the characters. Patrick appears to be very accepting and receptive and is subjected to the force of bigotry. Being gay, he is forced to keep a closeted relationship with Brad throughout the movie. The two see each other in secret since this is the only arrangement that works for their relationship in this society. When Brad's father learns of the relationship, Brad is drawn to withdraw, and this pushes Patrick into a depressive state. Against his personality of warm-hearted and spontaneity, he hasnt learned his sexuality much and struggles amidst emotional hurting from the breakup and Brads derogatory comments. He turns to Charlie for emotional support as he learns to accept his sexual orientation and the sex-socialization that comes with being gay.
The film Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky covers the process of development from a psychology perspective. Various characters develop in different areas of life, and the audience interacts with them through the change process indicated by their behaviors. The film cover areas of development including the personality formation, cognitive maturity, emotional and socio-emotional interactions. Characters like Charlie, Patrick, and Sam go through these changes discovering comfortable and disturbing aspects of their personalities. Charlie challenges himself to mature and promises to cease writing to his friend and participate fully in the events of his life. There is an important aspect that covers the impact of family and peer interaction on an individuals development. The events happening in the environment and which the characters may not personal control over affect their development too. For instance, Charlies molestation is traumatizing, and greatly explains his behavior and lack of confidence. The film articulates the role of loss and grief for children and displays how adult interaction affect a child and their maturity. The audience explores the development of feelings and emotions, rejection, hurting and the healing process through Patricks experience. All these are traumatizing experiences and as (John, 2016) points in his article, the experiences have significant effects on the characters comprehension of sex differences and sex-role socialization
Brown, C., & Hammer, T. R. (2015). The Perks of Being Relational: ReviewingThe Perks of Being a Wallflower. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 10(2), 258-261. doi:10.1080/15401383.2015.1033506
Crain, W. (2005). Theories of development: concepts and applications (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice-Hall.
Crayola, R. (2014). A reader's guide to The perks of being a wallflower.
Hutchison, D. E. (2015). Dimensions of Human Behavior: The Changing Life Course (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA:: Sage Publications.
John, D. W. (2016). Impact of Abuse and Effect of Trauma: A Psychoanalytic Reading of Stephen Chboskys The Perks of Being A Wallflower. DJ Journal of English Language and Literature, 1(2), 1-6. doi:10.18831/djeng.org/2016021001
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