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Oprah Winfrey

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Nicole Newton

on 6 April 2014

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Transcript of Oprah Winfrey

The resources we used for the facts about Oprah’s life were biographies written by authors who are not related to Oprah nor did any of them know her personally. However, the authors’ sources were public interviews Oprah had done, episodes from her television show, interviews with family members and quotes from magazine and newspaper articles.

There is no published autobiography from Oprah herself. She was writing one but it has been put on hold and may never be published.

There were some inconsistencies about whether or not Oprah was sexually abused. Some family members said she over exaggerated the situation.

We only used historical details that were consistently cited across all of our sources as facts to base our evaluation of Oprah’s personality.
Oprah's Life
Adler Individual Theory
Attachment Theory
Oprah Winfrey
Valentine, L & Feinauer, L. (1993). Resilience factors associated with female survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
The American Journal of Family Therapy
, 21(
), 216-224.

The purpose of this study was to explore what kind of experiences survivors of childhood sexual abuse perceived as being helpful in assisting them to overcome their early experiences of the abuse. The variables identified by the women in this study were the same variables that have been cited in other resiliency research.

Results: Prevalent resiliency themes extracted from the interview data included the ability to find emotional support outside the family, self-regard or the ability to think well of oneself, religion or spirituality, external attributions for blame and cognitive style, and an inner directed locus of control.
Career in Television
Personal Relationships
On January 29, 1954, Orpah Gail Winfrey was born to her unwed teenage parents Vernita Lee and Vernon Winfrey in Kosciusko, Mississippi. She was named Orpah after a biblical character in the book of Ruth but people would mispronounce it all the time so Oprah stuck.

Soon after Oprah was born, her mother headed north to look for work. She settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she worked as a housemaid. So Oprah was left in the care of her grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee, for the first 6 years of her life. They lived on a farm.

Although her grandmother was poor she was still able to provide Oprah with the necessities. Her grandmother taught her to read and write at the very early age of 3 years old. She took her to church every Sunday, and instilled in her a strong sense of moral values and purpose. At church Oprah had her first public speaking opportunity reciting versus from the Bible at just 3 years old. People were very impressed and told her grandmother that she was gifted and Oprah became known as “the little speaker.”

At the age of 6, Oprah moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to live with her mother Vernita, and her new half-sibling Patricia. Her mother was always working so there was very little supervision for Oprah and because of this she started misbehaving and talking back to her mother. So Vernita decided it was best to send Oprah to live with her father and stepmother in Nashville, Tennessee even though they had no prior relationship. While living with her father Oprah was pushed up a couple grades and she met her favourite teacher, Ms. Duncan, who supported and encouraged her, which provided a nurturing environment for Oprah. Unfortunately, while visiting her mother for the summer she was not allowed to return to her father’s house in the fall like had been planned.

Living with her mother again and now two half siblings, Oprah did not get the attention she desired. There was still a lack of supervision and no structure or rules in the household. At age 9, Oprah was raped by her 19-year-old cousin while he was babysitting her. Oprah would also be sexually abused by an uncle and a family friend before she was 13 years old.
Oprah started acting out in her teenage years. She would run away from home, break curfew, steal, lie, and was very sexually promiscuous. Years later Oprah would admit that she was seeking love and attention in all the wrong places because she was not receiving it from her mother.

Again, Oprah was sent to live with her father at the age of 14. Shortly after arriving Oprah gave birth to a premature baby boy. He passed away shortly after his birth. No one knew that she was even pregnant until she went into labour. This tragedy was revealed to the tabloids years later by her half sibling which forced Oprah to speak about it on her show.

Even though Oprah’s father was strict, it was in her best interest. He encouraged her academic development and love of learning. He gave her what her mother did not, structure and discipline, as well as attention and support. He gave her direction and helped her to learn her potential. Oprah respected her dad’s authority and knew what would not be accepted in his house.

Oprah became an honour student at East Nashville high school. During this time, she was voted Most Popular Girl, and joined her high school speech team. She won a public speaking contest, which secured her a full scholarship to Tennessee State University where she studied communications. While at school she worked at a local radio station.
Best Friend Gayle

Long time partner Stedman Graham
After graduating, she accepted a job offer from Nashville's WLAC-TV and in so doing became the youngest news anchor at the station. In 1976, she moved to Baltimore's WJZ-TV to co-anchor the six o'clock news.

Oprah made her acting debut in 1985, when she starred in Steven Spielberg's 'The Color Purple'. Her performance in the film earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and nominations for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.

Oprah is offered a job in Chicago hosting "A.M. Chicago" for WLS-TV. In less than a year, the show expanded to one hour and was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show. The first broadcast of the show was on September 8,1986. The show was a success receiving multiple Day Time Emmy Awards and became the highest-rated talk show in television history.

In November 1986, while doing a show with sexual abuse victims and their molesters, Oprah revealed to her audience that she was also sexually abused as a child.

In 1988, Oprah established her own studio called Harpo Studios, which is her name spelled backwards.

Oprah expanded the show and started releasing a monthly magazine, which was called, O: The Oprah Magazine. The first issue was in 2000. Oprah has received many awards for her broadcasting and humanitarian work and her personal wealth was estimated by Forbes magazine in September 2010 to be over $2.7 billion.

Winfrey announces her plans to end her highly rated talk show in 2011 after 25 years, in an effort to prepare for the launch of her cable channel, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.

In one of her last shows, Oprah reveals a big family secret that she has a half-sister whose existence was kept secret from her for 47 years. At the time her mother was pregnant Oprah was living with her father. Vernita decided to give the baby up for adoption because she didn’t think she would be able to take care of the baby since she had three other children and was on welfare. Vernita, Oprah and Patricia were all reunited on the show.

Oprah has long been active in philanthropic causes and expanding opportunities for young women. She recently received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honour that the President can bestow and it is given to those who have made commendable contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
Resilience is the ability to cope with problems, setbacks and adversity that one may face in their life and have positive outcomes. Resilient people are able to utilize their skills and strengths to cope and recover from problems and challenges, which may include job loss, poverty, illness, natural disasters, medical emergencies, divorce or the death of a loved one and abuse.

Those who lack this resilience may instead become overwhelmed by such experiences. They may dwell on problems and use unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with such challenges. Generally, these individuals are slower to recover from setbacks and may experience more psychological distress as a result. Resilience does not eliminate stress or erase life's difficulties. Instead, it gives people the strength to tackle problems head on, overcome adversity and move on with their lives.
Adler, B. (1997). (Eds.). The uncommon wisdom of Oprah Winfrey: A portrait in her own words. Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing Group.

Cole, S. A. (2006). Building secure relationships: Attachment in kin and unrelated foster caregiver-infant relationships.
Families in Society
, 87(4), 497-508.

Collishaw, S., Pickles, A., Messer, J., Rutter, M., Sheaer, C., & Maughan, B. (2007). Resilience to adult psychopathology following childhood maltreatment: Evidence from a community sample. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31, 211-229.

Feeney, J. A., & Noller, P. (1991). Attachment style and verbal descriptions of romantic partners.
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships
, 8(2), 187-215.

Friedrich, B. (2001). Oprah Winfrey: Women of achievement. New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers.

Hjelle, L. A. (1991). Relationship of social interest to internal-external control and self-actualization in young women.
Individual Psychology
, 47(1), 101.

Holland, G. (2001). Oprah Winfrey: An unauthorized biography. Chicago, IL. Heinemann Library.

Jeffrey, G. (2007). Oprah Winfrey: The life of a media superstar. New York, NY. Rosenberg Publishing Group Inc.

Karreman, A., & Vingerhoets, A. J. J. M. (2012). Attachment and well-being: The mediating role of emotion regulation and resilience.
Personality and Individual Differences
, 53(7), 821-826.

Kelley, K. (2010). Oprah: A biography. New York, NY. H.B. Productions Inc.

Mair, G. (1994). Oprah Winfrey: The real story. New York, NY: Carol Publishing Group.

Marty, A. H., Readdick, C. A., & Walters, C. M. (2005). Supporting secure parent-child attachments: The role of the non-parental caregiver.
Early Child Development and Care
, 175(3), 271-2.

Werner, E. (1989). High-risk children in young adulthood: A longitudinal study from birth to 32 years. Orthopsychiatry, 59(1), 72-81.
Social Interest
The goal of superiority is personal and unique to each individual. Adler theorized that the degree that individuals develop a high degree of social interest, their striving for superiority shapes their style of life that is warmly receptive of others.

Adler emphasized the idea of altruism. Adler believed in the concept of social interest as the concern for others, using one’s talents to benefit the group rather than selfish goals. The healthier the person is, the more he or she is drawn toward this goal.

Social interest can correct for the overemphasis on individualism and competition found in Western culture. Social interest is the innate potential to live cooperatively with other people.

Social connections with others enhance growth. Social interest can be compared with empathetic concern for the experience of another person.

Taking into consideration Adler’s theory on social interest we find that Oprah fits this idea of altruism. In many sense Oprah’s television show possessed many qualities of a therapeutic session for many guests that were on the show.

Moreover, Oprah is an active philanthropist, meaning she often donates and has her own charity called Oprah's Angel Network, a charity that supported charitable projects and provided grants to non profit organizations around the world.
Hjelle, L. A. (1991). Relationship of social interest to internal-external control and self-actualization in young women.
Individual Psychology
, 47(1), 101.
Hjelle did a study that examined the relationship on women between social interest, self-actualization and locus of control. Adler (1939) theorized that the extent to which a person achieves true self significance depends on the degree in which his innate potentiality for “socially useful goal striving” has been realized. Thus for instance low social interest would be characterized by cooperation for the welfare of family, friends, community and the whole of mankind.

Results: The results of the findings were that with high internal level of locus control there were high levels of social interest. In addition, high levels of social interest were positively correlated with high levels of self-actualization.

From these results we assume that with Oprah having high levels of social interest she also possesses high levels of internal locus control and high levels of self-actualization. Again relating back to social interest, Adler believed those that lacked social interest often perceived as failures – neurotics, psychopaths, criminals, alcoholics etc.

We speculate that because Oprah does not possess these negative features is because she is high in social interest. Social concern is a matter of being useful to others and Oprah has proven in her lifetime that she gives back in many ways as she can.
Inferiority Complex
Adler believed that in feelings of inferiority which is a sense or feeling that one has of being inferior. Adler believed that this was universal. Now Adler theorized that the inferiority complex is an individual’s sense of helplessness, of powerlessness, beginning in infancy and childhood.

Individuals respond to these inferiorities by compensation, which is a process by which a perceived weakness or frailty is both denied and converted into a strength. So the individual comes up with ways (skills, abilities, solutions) to overcome their deficiencies.

We hypothesize that Oprah’s inferiority complex was her low SES and ethnic minority. Taking into consideration that Oprah was raised during the segregation times, it is inevitable that Oprah would have feelings of being inferior due to the colour of her skin. Being of an ethnic minority and a low socioeconomic class placed Oprah in a "out group" situation.

However, because of Oprah’s current success we hypothesize that her inferiority complex acted as a motivator. Thus, Oprah responded to the inferiority complex in compensation.

Adler theorized that an individual's life takes shape and direction in accordance with an unconscious plan to overcome sensed inferior traits, meaning that each individual creates a fictional goal that is subjective guiding ideal in order to master their sense of inferiority.

Adler explained that "that power which expresses itself in the desire to develop, to strive, and to achieve, and even to compensate for defeats in one direction by striving for success on another."

Oprah did compensate her inferiority complex.
Early Recollections
Adler believed that examining early recollections of an individual was significant. It is the selectivity of the memory that portray the event, feelings, people in the recalls that have great meaning to the understanding of the individual.

Adler believed that early memories are templates on which people project their current style of life. These recollections need not be accurate accounts of early events; they have psychological importance because they reflect a person's current view of the world.

Against gender stereotypes and social norms of having women being constrained to certain style of life and jobs.

Did not want to become like her grandmother and to “just be a maid.”

Gender equality – women should be able to achieve the things men are able to. Thus, this memory was a motivator in striving for better and greater achievements.
Attachment: Romantic Love Conceptualized as an Attachment Process
Cindy Hazan and Philip Shaver
Bowlby believed that the earliest bonds formed by children with their caregivers have a tremendous impact that continues throughout life.

The central theme of attachment theory is that primary caregivers who are available and responsive to an infant's needs allow the child to develop a sense of security. The infant knows that the caregiver is dependable, which creates a secure base for the child to then explore the world.

Based upon the responses the researchers observed, Ainsworth described three major styles of attachment: secure attachment, ambivalent-insecure attachment, and avoidant-insecure attachment.
Marty, A. H., Readdick, C. A., & Walters, C. M. (2005). Supporting secure parent-child attachments: The role of the non-parental caregiver. Early Child Development and Care, 175(3), 271-2.
In infancy, secure infants tend to be the most well adjusted; in the sense that they are relatively resilient, they get along with their peers, and are well liked. Similar kinds of patterns have emerged in research on adult attachment. Overall, secure adults tend to be more satisfied in their relationships than insecure adults.

Their relationships are characterized by greater longevity, trust, commitment, and interdependence and they are more likely to use romantic partners as a secure base from which to explore the world.

Early attachment experiences create predispositions— internal working models—for how the child will explore the world and organize his/ her life experiences. Quality of caregiving during the first year of a child’s life has a great impact on the quality of attachment and, therefore, the quality of the attachment has profound effects on the child’s social adjustment.

Results: Marty et al, found that secure individuals were more competent, sympathic, cooperative and overall more positive. Secure adults are more likely than insecure adults to seek support from their partners when distressed and more likely to provide support to their distressed partners.

We speculate that with Oprah she developed a secure attachment style because of the quality of the caregiving that was provided by her grandmother, Hattie Mae. Oprah developed well adjusted and possesses the qualities that are similar to that of a secure attached individual. Further, in the class readings secure attached individuals were described as socially competent, charming, cheerful and likeable, these characteristics are some of the qualities that Oprah holds, which has made her develop positively.
Karreman, A., & Vingerhoets, A. J. J. M. (2012). Attachment and well-being: The mediating role of emotion regulation and resilience. Personality and Individual Differences, 53(7), 821-826.
The aim of this study was to obtain better insight into the associations between attachment styles and psychological well-being, by testing the possible mediating roles of emotion regulation (i.e., reappraisal and suppression) and resilience.

In a community sample of 632 individuals, secure and dismissing attachment styles were found to be associated with higher well-being, while preoccupied attachment was the attachment style with the most adverse outcome.

Results of the multiple mediation model revealed unique relationships with emotion regulation and resilience for each attachment style, explaining connections with well-being. Secure attachment was associated with higher reappraisal and resilience, partly mediating the effect on well-being. Complete mediation was found for dismissing attachment via higher reappraisal and resilience, and for pre- occupied attachment via lower reappraisal and resilience.

Measured attachment, well being, resilience and emotional regulation.

Securely attached people are the more they employ reappraisal and the less they employ suppression. Fearful, preoccupied, and dismissing attachment were associated with higher use of suppression.

Secure and dismissing attachment styles were both associated with higher resilience, whereas fearful and preoccupied attachment styles were linked with lower resilience. Reappraisal and resilience were positively, and suppression was negatively, associated with well-being.

Reframing an emotional situation as less emotional and by being more resilient to stress-which were found to be related to each other-securely attached people also seem to experience psychological well-being in another way, for example by having much appreciated close personal relationships, which contributes significantly to life satisfaction.

Securely attached people are unlikely to suppress emotional expression, through which they seek proximity to others and invite other people to interact.

Cole, S. A. (2006). Building secure relationships: Attachment in kin and unrelated foster caregiver-infant relationships. Families in Society, 87(4), 497-508.

This study had significant results in showing the attachment styles of 46 infants with their kin and unrelated foster caregivers. It looked at secure attachment styles and results found that secure attachment was equal in kind and unrelated caregiver-infant dyads (67-68%) similar to the percentage of secure attachment relationships found in birth and adoptive caregiver-infant dyads in previous studies.

Disorganized/disoriented attachment behaviours were observed in a greater percentage of kin and unrelated foster caregiver-infant dyads (25-29%) than previously observed in birth families.

The study explains that as long as the caregiver whether related or not provides vital caregiver characteristics of responsiveness, sensitivity and support the infant should develop a secure attachment style. Further in the class readings the study showed that secure attached individuals reported warmer relationships with the caregiver.

Cole explains that with secure attachment an infant is able to develop positive growth in all domains.

In addition, Cole adds that infants with secure attachment will continue to develop positively as long as they continue to experience similar developmentally supportive caregiving as they grow and mature.

Oprah's case we can make assumptions that her grandmother Hattie Mae possessed the vital caregiver characteristics that were needed for Oprah to develop a secure attachment.

Romantic Relationships
In terms of romantic relationships, Oprah has been in several but one that stands out is the one she has with Stedman Graham.

She never believed that it was necessary to marry and have kids, because of the way she lives her life.

The assumption that Oprah has a secure attachment style can be examined through her relationship with Stedman.

Although there is limited information on their relationship, they have been together since 1986 making their relationship exceed over 25 years.
Feeney, J. A., & Noller, P. (1991). Attachment style and verbal descriptions of romantic partners. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 8(2), 187-215.
The sample consisted of seventy-four undergraduates (thirty-seven males and thirty-seven females) who had been in a dating relationship for at least 1 month. Subjects supplied a verbal description of their current dating partner and later completed the single-item measure of attachment style developed by Hazan & Shaver (1987).

Secure individuals with idealization mentioned that their significant other was more mutuality and support.

The content scales revealed attachment style effects for scales measuring idealization, relationship quality and attitudes to partner's social network.

Secure subjects showed intermediate levels of idealization and relatively favourable attitudes to the partner's family and made more references to positive relationship characteristics.
Collishaw, S., Pickles, A., Messer, J., Rutter, M., Sheaer, C., & Maughan, B. (2007). Resilience to adult psychopathology following childhood maltreatment: Evidence from a community sample. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31, 211-229.

The aims of the research by Collishaw et. al were to address the extent of resilience for adult psychopathology, and to identify factors that distinguished resilient and non-resilient individuals with experiences of abuse. A comparison group was included to allow the researchers to test which factors were specifically related to resilience and which were more general predictors. Basically, some factors would be associated with adult psychopathology regardless of abuse status and they want to make this distinction clear.

Results: A substantial minority of abused individuals in the study reported no mental health problems in adult life. However, the researchers looked into whether problems manifested themselves in other ways by looking at personality functioning difficulties, relationship instability, and crime. There was evidence of isolated difficulties in the abused resilient group, but those rates were much lower than the comparison group. The resilient individuals showed positive adaptation in other domains such as health, interpersonal relationships and non-criminality, which supports the view that these individuals can be described as resilient in the face of abuse.
Werner, E. (1989). High-risk children in young adulthood: A longitudinal study from birth to 32 years. Orthopsychiatry, 59(1), 72-81.

In this study the developmental courses of high-risk and resilient children were analyzed in a follow-up to a longitudinal study done in Hawaii. The study monitored the impact on development of a variety of biological and psychosocial factors, stressful life events, and protective factors in early and middle childhood, late adolescence and, now, young adulthood.

Most of the children grew up in supportive home environments but one third of them were classified as “at risk” because they had experienced significant adversities. The majority of these children developed serious learning or behaviour problems as well as mental health issues as a result. However, about 10% of the total cohort developed into competent, confident, and caring adults.
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