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Monster (2003) - Psychological Analysis
Transcript of Monster (2003) - Psychological Analysis
1. How is this film related to the field of psychology?
- The film is about Aileen Wuornos, an American serial killer who killed seven men in Florida from 1989 to 1990
Morality: The differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are right and those that are wrong
- A dark tale based on the true story of Aileen Wuornos, one of America's first female serial killers
- She had a difficult and cruel childhood plagued by abuse and drug use in Michigan
- Became a prostitute by the age of 13 in order to support herself after she was forced to abandon her household
- Moved to Florida where she began earning a living as a highway prostitute
- Focuses on the nine-month period between 1989 and 1990 when she killed seven men
- Later found guilty of the crimes and executed in 2002
Offical Trailer -
2. How can you relate the characters from the film back to Kohlberg’s moral development theory?
- She had antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder
- The film examines the life of Aileen and the psychological influences that lead to her murder spree.
- Many evident psychological aspects:
- her mental processes and motives
- the connection between past events and their influences on her
- Ailleen lacks morality in the movie due to her belief that
her actions (killing seven men) are justified.
- In terms of Kohlberg’s moral development theory, Aileen
has not reached the post conventional stage of the theory
- She doesn’t respect human rights and does not
have developed ethical principles to guide her
actions and behaviour
- Selby is the opposite from Aileen. When Shelby
becomes aware of Aileen’s actions she knows her
actions are wrong and doesn’t agree with her
- Selby has reached the post conventional
stage of the developmental theory as she
has respect for others and has ethical
principal to guide her beliefs and actions.
3. How did past life experiences cause Aileen to partake in prostitution and become a serial killer?
- It is very common for serial killers to have
emerged from problematic childhoods
- Early childhood trauma can set the child up for
deviant behavior in adulthood
- The child's environment is the dominant factor
in whether or not the child's behavior escalates
into homicidal activity
- Family or lack thereof is a prominent aspect of a childs development because it is what they identify with
- The need for approval influences them to attempt to develop relationships, but if they are neglected, they are unable to do so
- Results in lowered self esteem and a loss of control
- Serial killers are based off early trauma and inability to attach
Aileen: her father was a molester - hung himself, her mother abandoned her and she was left in the hands of physically and sexually abusive grandparents.
4. Which of the 8 stages of Erikson’s psychosocial development theory was Aileen significantly lacking?
trust vs. mistrust: developing trust in care- givers.
- parents were not present in her life during her earliest developmental stage- she was unable to form real trusting relationships
The basic virtue for this stage is hope, which Aileen did not have until she met Selby whom she fell in love with
she began feeling more hopeful for her future and potential improvement of her life.
industry vs. inferiority: Social and academic aspects.
- She dropped out of school at age 13 when she became pregnant after getting raped
- Received no encouragement for her achievements, thus making her doubtful of her abilities
- This leads to being looked down on society as an adult and being in problematic situations when looking for a employment
Identity vs. Role Confusion: The exploration of independence and self-identification
- Due to her exposure to sexual acts at a very early age, Aileen did not have time to explore who she truly was, including her sexuality
- When faced with financial difficulties with Selby, Aileen discusses potential careers, not knowing her abilities, likes and dislikes
Intimacy vs. Isolation: The period of early adulthood where individuals form long lasting personal relationships
- Aileen went through this stage at a very early age
- Living in a sexually abusive home and being raped at age 13
She did not develop a sense of real love which Erikson believes is the fundamental aspect of this stage, and directly corresponds to the first stage
- Affected her ability to connect with others on emotional levels
- Due to her involvement in prostitution, she only knew of sexual relations
5. How does Aileen Wuornos disprove Carol Gilligan's theory?
- Carol Gilligan's theory states that women are naturally more concerned with care and empathy while men focus more on justice.
- Aileen did not care about the lives of the men she killed because she saw them as threats to society and believed she was doing the right thing
- Believed she was taking a utilitarian approach by killing them - Maximizing happiness and reducing suffering for the greater good
- She was more concerned with doing what she thought was morally right, despite her emotional feelings
What do you think?
Was Aileen Wuornos really a monster?