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Good Will Hunting: Sean Maguire

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Published: Fri, 15 Sep 2017

Melissa Hernandez

This case is about, Sean Maguire, a character in Good Will Hunting. Mr. Maguire is a 56-year-old Caucasian psychologist and therapist male. He teaches different types of psychology classes at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. He was married to, Nancy Maguire for eighteen years before he lost her to cancer. They have never had any children. After his wife passed away, Mr. Maguire withdrew himself from friends and family. He is also a Vietnam Veteran. He continues to teach at the college because he wants to be surrounded by the people he is familiar with, people he grew up with. This case study will cover Mr. Maguire’s transition being secluded from friends into his turning point when he starts to make amends with his friends.

Life Course Perspective

The life course perspective (LCP) looks at how biological, psychological, and social factors act independently, cumulatively, and interactively to shape people’s lives from conception to death, and across generations. Of course, time is only one dimension of human behavior . . . (Hutchinson, 2015, p. 7). The LCP has five basic concepts; cohorts, transitions, trajectories, life events, and turning points (Hutchinson, 2015, p. 11).

Cohort

A cohort is a group of persons who were born during the same time and who experience social changes within a given culture in the same sequence and at the same age (Hutchinson, 2015, p. 11).  Sean Maguire belongs to the Caucasian, team of professors cohort. All of Mr. Maguire’s friends are professors who have gone on to do more with their lives. During the period Mr. Maguire’s wife was sick he quit counseling and he regretted it. After her death, he secluded himself from his friends. Mr. Maguire’s cohort were his friends from college, his colleagues, and his wife.

Life Events

A life event is a significant occurrence involving a relatively abrupt change that may produce serious and long lasting effects (Hutchinson, 2015, p. 15).  Mr. Maguire’s life events evolve around his wife from the moment he meets her until she passes. He passes up the Boston Red Sox playoff games, probably one of the most crucial playoff games during the history of baseball, to spend time with Nancy who he had just met. It was a risk worth taking because later he marries her and he states, “I don’t regret the 18 years I was married to Nancy. I don’t regret the six years that she was sick and I gave up counseling. I don’t regret later when she got really sick.  I sure as hell don’t regret missing that damn game.”

After his wife’s death, he lives an independent life. The pain he is left with after her passing became difficult to deal with. He doesn’t know how to move on until he meets a young man, Will Hunting, he starts to counsel who helps change his life. Also as a child, Mr. Maguire experiences abuse from his alcoholic father who he tries protecting his mother from. He can relate to his patient Mr. Hunting.

Transition

A transition is a process of gradual change that usually involves acquiring or relinquishing roles, but it can be any change in status, such as change in health status (Hutchinson, 2015, p. 13).  Sean Maguire transitions into life without his wife after she dies. This life event changed Mr. Maguire’s environment as well as his self-concept and expectations. He is not able to move past losing his wife and watching her grow more and more ill. It hurts him knowing there was nothing he could have done for her but he is grateful he was able to spend her last months with her. This transition required Sean Maguire to make social adjustments. He stopped counseling for the duration Mrs. Maguire was sick, which he previously stated he regretted. Transitioning to life without his wife has been a challenge for Maguire.

Life Course Perspective Themes

There are six themes that pertain to the life course perspective; interplay of human lives and historical time, timing of lives, linked or interdependent lives, human agency in making choices, diversity in life course trajectories, and developmental risk and protection (Hutchinson, 2015, p. 20). This case study will cover linked or interdependent lives, human agency in making choices, and developmental risk and protection.

Linked or Interdependent Lives

The life course perspective emphasizes the interdependence of human lives and the ways in which people are reciprocally connected on several levels. (Hutchinson, 2015, p. 24). Mr. Maguire shut off communication with his college friends which left him with no social support, which is defined as help rendered by others that benefits an individual or collectively, is an obvious element of interdependent lives (Hutchinson, 2015, p. 24). The one person who was Sean Maguire’s family who always stood by his side through everything passed away, thus causing him to push away friends who could have supported him.

Human Agency in Making Choices

Constructing a life course through the exercise of human agency, or the use of personal power to achieve one’s goals. (Hutchinson, 2015, p. 28).  Sean Maguire grew up with an abusive alcoholic father who would beat on him, his mother, and younger brother. He would protect his mother and sibling by taking the beatings for them. He confesses this to his client, Mr. Hunting. Growing up with an abusive father and in a low-income community, led Mr. Maguire to make goals to get out of that environment. He enlisted in the military and fought in the Vietnam war, returned home and made another goal to achieve his Doctorate degree in Psychology. Then he fell in love with, Nancy who he soon married. According to Albert Bandura, Mr. Maguire uses all three modes of efficacy; self-efficacy, efficacy expectation, and collective agency to set these goals and accomplish them.

Developmental Risk and Protection

As the life course perspective has continued to evolve, it has more clearly emphasize the links between the life events and transitions of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. (Hutchinson, 2015, p. 31).  As a child Mr. Maguire experiences abuse at the hands of his father. As a young adult, he experiences difficult situations during his time served in the Vietnam war. An example of him protecting himself is when his client, Mr. Hunting criticizes his painting which is a painting done by Mr. Maguire’s late wife. He pushes Mr. Hunting up against the wall and proceeds to walk out of the room to gain his power back. He protects himself by pushing people away, he doesn’t want to get close to anyone for fear of losing them or getting hurt.

Bandura’s Social Learning Theory

AlbertBandura proposes that humans are agentic, meaning they are capable of intentionally influencing their own functioning and life circumstances (Hucthinson, 2015, p. 28). Bandura argues that everyday life requires use of all three modes of agency. The three agencies will explain how Sean Maguire used them through his life course perspective.

Personal agency

Personal agency is exercised individually, using personal influence to shape environmental events or one’s own behavior (Hutchinson, 2015, p. 28). Sean Maguire grew up in a low-income neighborhood with an alcoholic father who abused his mother and him. He used personal agency to get out of the neighborhood and rise up from the physical and mental abuse. He set goals to get out of his neighborhood, enlist in the U. S. Army and attend college. He did well because he earned a Ph. D.

Proxy agency

Proxy agency is exercised to influence others who have greater resources to act on one’s behalf to meet needs and accomplish goals (Hutchinson, 2015, p. 28). Sean Maguire is a professor and psychologist who helps people resolve any conflicts they might have. In this case Mr. Maguire helps Will Hunting resolve his issues he has been dealing with since his childhood and young adult life. Mr. Hunting believes the abuse he endured as a child was his fault and was stuck in his childhood.

Collective agency

Collective agency is exercised on the group level when people act together to meet needs and accomplish goals (Hutchinson, 2015, p. 28). Sean Maguire and Will Hunting help each other accomplish life perspective goals together, which benefits both men. The time Mr. Maguire spent with Mr. Hunting was beneficial for both men because they opened up to each other and helped one another deal with conflicts they probably would not have otherwise dealt with. Mr. Maguire was able to reconnect with old friends and enjoy life even though his best friend is no longer alive. Mr. Hunting was able to accomplish his goal of falling in love and trusting someone, specifically a woman who he was afraid to get close to.

Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development

Erikson’s theory explains socioemotional development in terms of age defined stages such as basic trust and mistrust which ranges from birth to one year old; autonomy versus shame and doubt which falls into one to three year olds; initiative versus guilt which is from three to five year olds; industry versus inferiority which has an age range of six to 11 years old; identity versus role diffusion from ages 11 to 20 years old; intimacy versus isolation which includes 21 to 40 year old adults; generativity versus stagnation which 40 to 65 year olds fall; and ego integrity versus despair which is 65 and older (Hutchinson, 2015, p. 112).

Intimacy versus guilt

Sean Maguire is 56 years old and finds himself dealing with intimacy and isolation. During the time his wife was sick he momentarily ceased his practice and regrets not helping clients. It was during that time that he also isolated himself from his friends and colleagues. After he became a widower Mr. Maguire further confined himself as he tried to deal with the death of his wife. He became distant from his students, who lost respect for him and he stopped communicating with his friends. He does not believe he will ever find a love like the love he experienced with his wife.

Levinson’s Theories of Finding Balance

Daniel Levinson suggest that middle adulthood is a time when individuals attempt to find balance in their lives in several ways (Hutchinson, 2015, p. 321). Levinson sees the transition to middle adulthood attachment versus separation. Mr. Maguire deals with being attached to his wife and then losing her to cancer. He does not know how to deal with this in a positive manner. He has a huge tab at a local bar that has not been paid in months.

Ethical Issues

Ethical issues a social worker could possibly face could be, Sean Maguire is a psychologist who may not want to speak about his issues because he doesn’t realize he has any issues to resolve. It would probably be an issue trying to convince Mr. Maguire what him and the social worker speak about is strictly between them and will be kept confidential. The social worker will not speak to her colleagues about what is discussed nor will the sessions interfere with Mr. Maguire’s careers.

Ethical Principles

The social worker may face dignity and worth of a person ethical principle when working with Mr. Maguire. Social workers treat each person in a caring and respectful fashion, mindful of individual differences and cultural and ethnic diversity. Social workers promote clients’ socially responsible self-determination. Social workers seek to enhance clients’ capacity and opportunity to change and to address their own needs. Social workers are cognizant of their dual responsibility to clients and to the broader society. They seek to resolve conflicts between clients’ interests and the broader society’s interests in a socially responsible manner consistent with the values, ethical principles, and ethical standards of the profession (NASW, 2008)

The social worker’s client, Mr. Maguire may not feel worthy and may feel his dignity is lost if he needs to speak about some issues that are interfering with his life.

Ethical Values

Dignity and worth of the person is an ethical value a social worker may deal with when working with Mr. Maguire. As stated previously, Mr. Maguire could possibly feel like his dignity is lost and his self-worth is diminished. The social worker must not allow the client to feel they have lost their dignity and make them feel they are worthy, because it is not easy to for Mr. Maguire to admit he needs help and seek it to become a healthier individual.

Discrimination

Sean Maguire received discrimination as a child growing up in an impoverished neighborhood. As an adult he was discriminated against because his friends think he did not anything further with his life after he earned his college degree.

Oppression

Sean Maguire experienced oppression at the hands of his father while growing up as a child. His father had abused him and his mother physically and psychologically. The oppression he experienced made him stronger and more willing to accomplish goals.

Conclusion

Sean Maguire has accomplished many goals while counseling his client, Will Hunting. He has learned how to deal with the passing of his wife in a positive way and he has reconnected with old friends who can bring him joy during this time in his life. Mr. Maguire needed someone who he could relate to and connect with who would help him come out of seclusion and experience the fulfillment of life. He is able as well to understand the abuse he endured as a child was not his to blame and he is able to nurture and love another person despite his life experiences.

References

Affleck, B., Damon, M., Driver, M., Elfman, D., Escoffier, J., Sant, G. V., & Williams, R. (Writers). (1997). Good Will Hunting [Video file].

Hutchison, E. (2015). Life Course Perspective. In Dimensions of Human Behavior: The Changing Life Course (Fifth ed., p. 7, 11, 13, 20). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publishing.

Code of Ethics (English and Spanish) – National Association of Social Workers. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2016, from https://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/code.asp

Sun, X., & Kim, D. O. (1999). Adaptation of 2f1-2f2 distortion product otoacoustic emission in young-adult and old CBA and C57 mice. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 105(6), 3399-3409. doi:10.1121/1.424668

Wood, R., & Bandura, A. (1989). Social Cognitive Theory of Organizational Management. Academy of Management Review, 14(3), 361-384. doi:10.5465/AMR.1989.4279067


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