Harold’s persistent “suicides” can be explained by operant conditioning. One way that can explain his suicides is as positive reinforcement. This can be seen when Harold performs the suicides it seems as though he is looking for reactions out of people. If this is the case for Harold, then every time someone reacts to his suicides, like his mother when he “slits his throat” in the bathroom or when he gets reactions from the girls his mother sets him up with. Everytime he gets a reaction, it positively reinforces the behavior of his suicides. For negative reinforcement could be seen in his suicides because when he performs the suicides his mother’s happiness goes away. So the more she becomes unhappy the more likely Harold is to continue his suicides.
Erikson’s psychosocial roles can be seen in the film Harold and Maude. Two of them can be seen specifically in Harold, identity vs. role confusion and intimacy vs. isolation. Identity vs. role confusion is the psychosocial stage of development that Erikson said that adolescents go th...
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...xcited to show Harold the ways of life and pass on her excitement about life. Maude gets excited about the simple things, she is excited about planting a small tree in a forest so it can grow big and strong. She is even excited at the very end when she says that she has taken an overdose of pills and she will be dead by midnight. Maude is even cheerful when welcoming death. Harold on the other hand is rather gloomy. With Harold’s obsession with death it is hard to be anything but gloom, especially when thoughts of death consume you. Harold very rarely smiles anything other than a slight smirk when he has performed a suicide and he gets the reaction out of the people that he desires. Overall, Harold and Maude are quite opposite from one another, but maybe the old phrase is right, maybe opposites do attract and they is why Harold and Maude become such wonderful friends.
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