A Psychological Breakdown Of The Breakfast Club

A Psychological Breakdown Of The Breakfast Club

All about the weird psychological science behind the characters in the breakfast club...
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*Disclaimer: I have rudimentary psychological knowledge. I only took two years of it in high school. This is only for fun* And I know I left out Allison! So sorry, but I didn't feel like diving into all of her issues.

The Brain

Brian, unfortunately, is considered the lowest rung on the social ladder, a fact that he himself is all too painfully aware of. His self-given trope is ‘the brain’ meaning that his defining trait, defined by himself and others, is his intelligence. Because Brian knows that he in a lower social caste than the others in detention, he is always vying for their attention. He is also desperately trying to fit in. He implements ‘informational social influence’ meaning that he observes others in order to understand social norms. For example, when Bender hassled Claire if she was a virgin or not, Brian hesitantly observed the exchange before joining in. That example could also be categorized under conformity and minority influence from Bender. Brian conformed to what the ‘cool’ person, aka Bender, was doing in order to seem more socially acceptable. His family values his intelligence more than him as a person. This is damaging psychologically and resulted in Brian having a complete mental breakdown when receiving a D on an assignment. He couldn’t handle his failure and gathered the necessary materials to kill himself. This is a huge red flag that his parents seemingly brushed off, his mom when dropping him off for detention was talking in a very hostile tone and demanded that he find a way to study. A completely ridiculous way to interact with someone who very nearly committed suicide. The group as a whole assumed that Brian came from an attentive and loving family, as seen when Bender mocked Brian’s wholesome lunch and acted out what he thought Brian’s home life was like. In reality, Brian’s home life can’t be good, the strain his parents put him through leaves him with a very fragile ego, leaving him susceptible to peer pressure. This can be seen when Bender, by using majority influence, convinces the rest of the group to smoke marijuana. Brian is visibly uncomfortable and verbally questions doing drugs in school, but eventually, conforms. He adjusted his thoughts and behaviors in order to rationalize doing drugs because it seemed that that was how he was supposed to behave. Humans have a natural instinct to belong and in Brian’s sensitive state, it seemed that those feelings were amplified to a rather large extent.

The Princess

Claire sees herself as superior to everyone excluding Andrew, who is of an equal social status to herself. She implements social categorization to understand and organize the world around her. She sees herself as higher in the social hierarchy because she is more ‘popular’ in the sense that she has more friends, attends more social events and is considered wealthy. She groups people either as ‘in-group’ or ‘out-group’ this can be further rationalized by her initial disdain of Bender before he had even caused a disruption or even her patronizing tone that she uses when talking with Brian as if he is beneath her. She sees herself as a tool that her parents manipulate for their own purposes. Due to that situation, she is very aware of her worth as a person and the benefits people have of associating with her which further results in her having a snobby outer personality. In reality, her inner personality is very insecure. She’s always seeking approval, this can be seen when she makes a bold statement she looks to Andrew for assistance, such as when she told Brian that they would no longer be friends after Saturday. She’s afraid to make ripples and therefore seeks comfort in numbers by appealing towards Andrews agreement to validate her feelings.

The Athlete

Andrew on the surface is a one dimensional, dumb, aggressive athlete who fits every stereotype in the book. From being protective of Claire to fighting Bender to having an absurd lunch Andrew seems to be as deep a character as a kiddie pool. Andrew is so much more than what his first impression suggests. He is caring, loyal and an emotionally complex person with real flaws. Most surprising is his empathy and reflectiveness. When he reveals his reason for being in detention it’s hilarious. Everyone laughs at the fact that Andrew taped someone’s butt together. Once Andrew reveals his motivation and the aftermath, everyone becomes incredibly somber. Andrew discloses to the group that he feels that his father is an unloving machine who doesn’t see Andrew as his son, rather than an object to obtain athletic achievements. It’s very similar to mothers who enter young daughters into beauty pageants in order to live vicariously through their children. At first, Andrew uses a downward comparison in order to justify his actions. He reasoned that it was okay to torture some random kid because it would make his dad proud. He weighed that this outweighed any possible consequences. Andrew then displays deep regret at what he had done to the boy and explains how he put himself in his victim’s shoes and felt deep shame at his actions. Andrew’s accountability, reflectiveness, and empathy reveal that he is a far more relatable character than the audience and group first thought.

The Criminal

Bender is a low low-life scum bag with no future. His father, principal, and fellow peers have been telling him this for years. He lashes out like a caged animal because he feels constantly attacked by people’s judgement. For him it is very different than how judgement for someone else would be. For example, people think Brian is a nerd, but don’t say it to his face. With Bender, most people have no quarrel with telling him exactly what they think to him because they feel that Bender wouldn’t care. How could he? With his devil-may-care attitude and rebel persona, nothing can touch him. Wrong. What many don’t know, and don’t care to discover, is that Bender has a horrific home life. He lives with physically and verbally abusive parents. He doesn’t have one person in his corner, leading him to become hardened in order to protect himself and take on a loner persona. Because Bender is so used to being independent, he has obtained an air of authority and confidence which allows him to use minority influence to his advantage. He is an excellent manipulator because he understands other people all too well. He convinces the rest of the group to smoke marijuana even though none of them particularly want to. He also persuades them to make noise, leave the library, lie to help him (when he escaped from the closet and was trapped in the library), and reveal deep personal secrets. A psychological study that mimics Bender’s character would be ‘The Bobo Doll Experiment’ (Bandura, R.) This experiment showed children imitating actions and behaviors shown in hostile and non-hostile environments. Bender was raised in a verbally abusive household resulting in him being more verbally hostile towards the others, specifically Claire. He targets Claire more often because she represents everything he wants in life and can’t have. A (semi) loving family, friends, power, money and stability. All of her ‘problems’ seem incredibly superficial to him. The others reacted to him becoming violent and became more hostile themselves. When Bender yelled at Claire, Andrew stepped in and offered to physically fight Bender. This wouldn’t have happened had Bender not initiated confrontation.

Extra Analysis

Concepts of social identity and conformity can explain human behavior because human behavior is hugely influenced by those two key components, especially for children, teenagers, and young adults. Fitting in is key to growing up, it helps us differentiate between right and wrong. As we age, independence becomes more and more important which is developing a unique social identity rather than fitting into a clique. This film wrote out that cliques are safe groups. There’s not much fear of being judged for being different because everyone within a clique has similar characteristics. The human need to belong is overwhelmingly present in everyday life. Milgram’s experiment (Milgram, S) proved just how far people were willing to go in order to conform with what they believed was societally correct. Two thirds of participants hypothetically killed other human beings! Human behavior is rationalized by social identity and is caused by conformity with a majority.


References

Bandura, R. (1961). Bobo Doll Experiment | Simply Psychology. Retrieved November 9, 2015, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/bobo-doll.html

Milgram, S. (1963). Milgram Experiment | Simply Psychology. Retrieved November 9, 2015, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/milgram.html

Cover Image Credit: Biography

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

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When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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