Reactive Attachment Disorder in Literature

Reactive Attachment Disorder in Literature


Print page

Good Will Hunting is about a boy named Will; he was fostered at a young age and bullied repeatedly while in foster care. From this repetitive bullying and time away from an adult or parent figure, he develops reactive attachment disorder. Reactive attachment disorder is a rare and serious condition where the child doesn’t establish a healthy relationship with their parents or caregivers. This happens to Will at a very young age, due to his parents dying, and his many years in foster care. The effects of this disorder include that he withdraws himself from others, avoids comforting comments or gestures, and is very aggressive to peers.

Wills friends are basically brothers to him. He treats them like family, as they do the same for him. All of his friends are very loyal; they would take a bullet for Will. They all like to joke around, and have a great time hanging out with each other. Wills closest friend, Chuckie, picks him up to drive him to work every day. Will and his friends are always trying to get out of trouble, but one wrong fight brought cops to the scene and sent Will to jail.

The movie takes place when Will is 20. He lives in South Boston, and travels relatively far for his job at MIT as a janitor. Will is extremely smart, he just doesn’t make the right choices. After solving a ridiculous math equation that a professor wrote for the whole class to attempt, he remains anonymous. The professor is baffled, and tries to find who solved the equation, but no one comes forward. The professor does everything in his power to find who solved the impossible equation, and finds out he’s in jail. After Will is released from prison, the professor makes a proposal to Will about his future.

Will talks with the professor and they come to an agreement. They agree that he has to see a therapist, and help the professor with math related equations. They go to a few different therapists, each one ending the same way. The therapist ends up not wanting to work with Will, because he doesn’t take any of it seriously. This is because Will is resistant to help. The professor calls one of his old college friends who used to be a therapist to work with Will. The first time they meet, they don’t end up on good terms, but Sean is destined to help Will. Over time, Will finally warms up to Sean and starts talking, and eventually they start forming a friendship.

Will met a girl named Skylar, and they instantly form a very close relationship. They go out on a few dates, and eventually she wants to meet his brothers, but he pretends to have 12 siblings.  Eventually she asks him to go to California with her, but he’s afraid that they’ll get too close, so they fight about it.  They also fight about his brothers, about how he lied about that.  Because of his Reactive Attachment Disorder, he pushes her away in fear of her doing the same to him. Will is fearful; he is always presuming the worst possible outcome for a situation.

Will ends up skipping out on meetings that would give him opportunities in life that people dream of. His friendship with the therapist grows, and he gives Will his personal number. The professor tries so hard to give Will opportunities, and hates when Will throws them away. Around the end of the movie, Will turns 21. His friends give him a car for his birthday. He drives it to the therapists house, and slips a note in his mailbox. Will states that he is going to see about a girl, which is a reference to an earlier point where the therapist talks about his deceased wife. Will drives to California to meet Skylar, to fix their relationship.

Will is very rarely on the right track, but when he is, he’s always heading in the wrong direction. He’s been given plenty of opportunities, but never acts on them. He had plenty of job interviews that he either didn’t show up to, or ended up not liking the job. The first job interview he was offered, he sent his closest friend Chuckie to be there instead of himself. A few more interviews go by and he’s sitting in front of some representatives for the NSA, but somehow finds a way to make a joke out of it. Even his friends tell him that these jobs that he’s being offered are extremely life changing, but he doesn’t think much of it. He just isn’t interested in those types of jobs, and he’s not sure he wants to do code-cracking or any type of brainless math for the rest of his life. He doesn’t want to end up as a human calculator for some business to take all the credit.