Regression And Aggression

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Regression is a defense mechanism resulting in an individual returning to a childlike state to cope with unpleasant thoughts or stress. Regression occurs when an individual faces a particularly stressful or tense situation, and instead of handling said scenario in a mature and adult manner, an immature, childlike technique is employed to handle the anxiety. While a psychoanalytic analysis is more difficult given the subconscious nature of the tensions and resulting anxiety, there are several scenes through the movie that indicate Clark Griswold regresses to handle unpleasant and anxiety-inducing situations. In one example, Clark has been stringing lights on his house for hours, and upon attempting to light them comes to find that none of them work. After a few attempts to calmly rectify the situation, he quickly turns to a childlike state wherein he violently whips the cord and electrical plug for the lights, swears profusely, and attacks the plastic Santa’s sleigh and reindeer in his front yard. It is important to note that this regression resulted from an accumulation of stress and tension as Clark dealt with the arrival of his extended family, felt pressure to create the “perfect family Christmas,” and eagerly awaited his bonus check from work to pay off the deposit he had made, all resulting in the explosive nature of his childish reaction. This regression was a defense mechanism to cope with his undesirable situation as opposed to handling the scenario with the maturity expected of an adult. There are strengths and weaknesses associated with both trait and non-trait approaches to psychological analysis; with the trait approach, one of the biggest strengths is that it facilitates comparison of Clark’s personality to oth... ... middle of paper ... ...d to identify Clark’s low conscientiousness, demonstrated by his irresponsibility, low self-discipline, and erratic behavior. The psychoanalytic approach, with a particular emphasis on regression as a defense mechanism, helps explain why Clark has such enormous emotional and mental breakdowns when his idea of the “perfect Christmas” fails to come to fruition. Of the two, the trait approach is preferable due to the ability to better predict Clark’s personality and future behaviors, though additional analysis from Bowlby’s Attachment Theory would offer useful insight. Given personality is a complex combination of factors that converge to create the unique identity of each individual (also applicable to entertaining and unpredictable characters such as Clark Griswold), it makes sense that multiple approaches and analyses can yield useful insight regarding personality.
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