The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), filmed on the eponymous book, is one of the most exciting excursions into the lives of teenagers who explore the world and gain experience from their significant victories but also mistakes. This movie is multilevel and valuable for the psychosocial analysis. This research paper is based on the movie analysis, and it explores the diversity of relations between the peers and society, including the family members, because the surrounding people significantly influence the formation of an individual and determine the further development of a person.

 

The General Analysis of the Movie and Characters

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the story of shy and unpopular Charlie, a high school student in Pittsburgh. In the plot, the process of his growing up is observed as everything changes around him. Charlie becomes close with people who help him to overcome a childhood trauma, meets the beloved Sam as an occasion to show the best qualities of his character and wins the dubious recognition of the classmates and the friendship with a teacher.

Charlie, Sam, and Patrick are the key characters in the story. The other characters are associated with them by different social and family ties. However, Mary Elizabeth also influenced the spiritual evolution of Charlie as his girlfriend and significant part of his circle of friends.

Introvert Charlie can be described as a humble young man going through a hard death of his aunt and the best friend. His acquaintance with Sam and her stepbrother Patrick is a true salvation for him. They help Charlie to cope with loneliness and to understand his importance and relevance as a unique individual.

Sam became his dream and a source of inspiration. She had experienced violence in her childhood and had many unsuccessful love affairs in adolescence. Despite that, she remained cheerful and believed in a better future. She could be called an invaluable nugget, an uncut diamond in the routine of everyday life. Charlie became the person who helped Sam to reveal herself and her beauty through a pure love.

Patrick also has a close relationship with Charlie. He is considered as a frivolous humorist and an amateur to rebel against social norms and practices. Only several people knew about his homosexuality. Despite the complexities of life and contempt, he found the strength to remain optimistic. Charlie and Sam helped him to overcome the difficulties of life and peers cruelty.

Another character, Mary Elizabeth, is a Buddhist and Charlies first girlfriend. She was a sweet, kind, and sincere. Her attitude toward Charlie helped him to understand better the relationship in a pair. Thus, Charlies relationship with Mary Elizabeth can trace his transition from childhood to adolescence.

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The Identity Development Analysis of Charlie and Sam

Charlie and Sam are close friends and they become a couple in the end of the film. They are united by self-doubt and similar childhood injury. Charlie was extremely gifted by the love of his aunt who had died in a car crash. Sam was the object of his fathers boss harassments.

Charlie

Unlike Sam, Charlie was brought up in a relatively close-knit family. His parents were not divorced but they did not pay him enough attention. The movie gave reason to assume that he lacked their participation. Despite the fact that Charlies family regularly attended church and prayed, the religious factor did not particularly influence him. Charlie mentally suffered from his sisters unwillingness to maintain a close relationship with him. He saw the rough treatment by her boyfriend and could not understand why Candace tolerated it. Perhaps, her behavior became a further example of humility and obedience to the circumstances and the will of other persons. Charlie was from a middle-class family and he never felt uncomfortable on that occasion. Thus, the problems in his life had only psychological roots.

Peers played a significant role in the development of Charlies personality. Wanting to become a part of one big team, he unconsciously tried drugs to enjoy the surroundings. Charlie was observant and smart, which distinguished him from other teenagers and made him an outcast despite all attempts to become a part of the class. However, it became possible for Charlie to achieve his classmates respect when he saved Patrick during a fight. It helped Charlie to feel not as a humble observer but as a man, which is capable to make a bold move.

Charlies friends and, especially love for Sam, remained his key weaknesses. Sams relationship with another young man brought him significant emotional experiences. Her departure with Patrick provoked another attack of mental disorders. Thus, it becomes apparent that the greatest impact on Charlie has been done by his friends.

The movies main character impressed. He possessed an incredible reserve of patience and a high level of moral development. He knew how to love those who were dear to him and to protect his friends. Just seeing this film, one could realize what it meant when the core character could be attractive.

Sam

No less sympathy can be experienced with respect to Sam. She is described as a crazy girl who believes in happiness and a strong friendship. Sam is like a jewel in slums. The heroine represents the classic example of a person who does not believe in herself. The surrounding is not worthy of this beautiful girl, and it gives her more suffering than she deserves.

Sam felt the need for support and understanding as well as Charlie. However, unlike him, she relied on Patrick. He was her step-brother, so they spent much time together. It could be mentioned that they protected each other in a cruel world of peers who were always ready to throw stones at those who stood out from the crowd. Just like Charlie, Sam passed during endurance tests and earned a mixed reputation among classmates. She was feminine and charming. An observer could suppose that her charm caused problems with peers. Probably, she became the victim of envy because of her beauty and ease in communication. Moreover, her innocuous nature caused presumptuous disrespect of boys towards her. Acquaintance with Charlie gave her the opportunity to realize the dream to enter the desired university. She became brave and disclosed like a flower trampled many times. Charlie played a special role in her life, as he had helped Sam to reveal her inner beauty and not fall to despair after multiple soul traumas.

Sam had no problems with material prosperity, and she tried to follow social norms. Nevertheless, she allowed herself to relax at private parties, where various turns of events could take place, as well as her rebellious brother and many friends.

Social Theories

One of the central ideas of the film is the close interaction between the main characters. From the positions of Social learning and Behavioral theories, classmates unknowingly pass experience to each other, teach how to survive in a group, transmit, and receive rules of a social game. Thus, the public by hounding Charlie and Patrick eventually provoked a fight, in which Charlie saved the other young man. Such an example is supported by the theory of Behaviorism in action when an individuals reaction becomes a response to the behavior of society. According to the Behavioral teaching, human actions are not determined by the internal mental processes, but by the mechanical effects of the environment based on the principle of stimulus - reaction. Behaviorists concern reactions as human movement, committed in the performance of a particular action. Moreover, they observe stimulus as accessible to external observation irritation of the world, causing human reactions. Thus, stimulus and response are closely connected by a natural bond. Behaviorists argue that knowing the causes of this connection and examining certain reactions, the desired behavior could be accurately achieved from a person, without referring to the individual inner psychic experiences.

Charlies behavior could be analyzed from the perspective of Social learning theory in the period of his adaptation in the high school. Learning in humans is largely determined by the processes of modeling, observation, and imitation. According to Social learning, individuals are neither autonomous systems, nor simple mechanical transmitters, enlivening influence of the environment. They have higher abilities that allow them to predict the occurrence of events and establish the means to exercise control over what affects their daily lives. Causes of human functioning should be understood in terms of the continuous interaction between behaviors, cognitive sphere and environment. This approach to the analysis of the causes of behavior was designated as the mutual determinism by Canadian scientist Bandura. It implies that predisposing factors and situational factors are interdependent causes of behavior. Most human learning is carried out without traditional reinforcements that require the principles of operant and classical conditioning. People can learn unconsciously, seeking a strategy of conduct, which would be accepted by their surroundings. For example, during the first party, Charlie tried to make new acquaintances. He unwittingly tried drugs and later understood that there was only one way improve relations with classmates. In fact, he tried to imitate other students behavior. Likewise, Charlies dates with Mary Elizabeth could be considered as the imitation of the behavior of others. Charlie realized that it was a part of the normal life to have a girlfriend. Thus, he met with her despite his unwillingness, seeing that his friends had girlfriends.

From the perspective of Social learning, Sams conduction can be also explored. As well as Charlie, she often was in captivity of the surrounding influence; however, she was less susceptible. Sam considered Charlie as a very educated and clever person. It prompted her desire to reach a new level. The scenes in the film where Charlie trained Sam were a prime example of Social learning when the main character tried to get new experience and to become similar to the selected character.

Psychological Treatment for Charlie

Charlie is very complex and multi-faceted personality. His inner harmony depends on significant protective and risk factors. Thus, therapy must be designed according to his characteristics. From the very beginning of the story, it becomes obvious that events that have taken place in his childhood do not give him an opportunity to adapt to the surrounding world fully. Charlie dreams of becoming a writer and unwittingly resorts to narrative therapy. He regularly writes letters to the boy from school, which, according to rumors, is able to support in difficult times. The letters of Charlie are not aimed at sending them. It is some kind of an attempt to talk with the void and relieve tension in the mind.

Among the potential and the most substantial zones of influence, it is necessary to designate the psychological trauma associated with the death of Charlies aunt and the best friend. The aunts death affects guilt; and the friends death has caused depression and loneliness, which becomes a stumbling block in high school for Charile. These tragic events have led to the fact that Charlie avoids excessive communication and tries to stay on the sidelines. Thus, healing of the past injuries makes possible to actively influence the present moment.

Risk factors may significantly reduce the effectiveness of psychotherapy. They may include a regular daily stress, a compulsion to perform certain actions, psychological unpreparedness for physical intimacy (taking into account the childhood experiences), the deterioration of relations with friends, parents indifference, and the lack of time for creative work. In such a situation, protective factors for the patient may be strong motivation, positive thinking, frequent communication with the closest friends, support of neighbors, improving the family atmosphere and creative activity.

Given the particular nature of the patient, it can be argued that the best method of treatment would be the union of art therapy and writing therapy. Charlie is a creative person who feels the world. He is interested in good music and reading, he likes writing letters and dreams of writing a book. Thus, the development of the treatment plan and interventions should take into account certain qualities. Consequently, the treatment plan may include the following points:

1. The evaluation of general psychological and mental state.

2. The study of the childs development period; clarification of the circumstances obtaining psychological trauma.

3. The use of art intervention for the gradual elimination of the psychological state of the patient squeeze.

4. A careful discussion of the problems with the patient; allowing the patient to talk enough.

5. The use of interventions for the gradual elimination of destructive emotions for blunting of painful memories.

6. Securing success and support positive motivation.

Among the interventions that can contribute to the release of the individual from the psychological blocks, it is significant to mention therapy based on music, dance, and painting. Charlie prefers to listen to music. Thus, it could be used to achieve the best results.

The next type of intervention is healing through writing. By writing letters, the patient is released from the gravity of the past, which leads to the psychological relief. The next step could be writing small essays or short stories. Such an approach makes it possible to develop creative thinking and to work through different possible scenarios for the future.

The final intervention includes all previous ones combined with such a new initiative as the participation in the theater organization. The movie shows that Charlie played his role in the theater rather well, feeling emancipation from everyday routine.

In the treatment, according to strength perspective, it is particularly important to emphasize the best qualities of Charlie, highlighting his kindness, sincerity, diligence, patience, and so on. The belief in the domination of the good quality breeds a mans faith in the treatment success.

 
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Conclusion

The core value of The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the concept of freedom, the importance of each person, and respect for individuality. This picture underlines the value and inviolability of true friendship regardless of age, sex, or other preferences. Additionally, the film raises a number of such serious problems as the lack of unity within the families and child sexual abuse that destructively impact the core characters psyche and become a cause of serious disorders in adulthood.

This touching and human story is shrouded by doubts, fears, and first love. Such kind of experience is extremely important for the work of the sociologists and psychologists, considering that the film reflects the process of the formation of the characters personalities. They are very different, and it gives grounds to search for each individual approach. Self-destruction and self-creation clashed on the watershed of adolescence and dragged the main characters and the audience into its vortex. It is impossible not to laugh along with these boys and girls as well as not to cry when they feel bad. It is one of those rare occasions when I feel a desire to stay in the company of imaginary friends for a long time or, perhaps, forever.

All the characters have the common feature - they are outsiders in their environment. Only few people can understand and accept them. Nevertheless, they are very friendly and they represent different types of personalities that perfectly complement each other. I sincerely admire the fortitude and courage of teenagers who have decided to make a challenge to society and to overcome the psychological trauma, remaining worthy people.

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Jan 15, 2021 in Research
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