Psychology Analysis of the Breakfast Club

Essay by khocolate April 2004

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Oh what can you really learn in Saturday detention. The Breakfast Club film contained a wide variety of behavior and stereotypes. Each person had there on personality and taste at the beginning of the film. I believe that communication played the biggest part in the movie. It shows the way that people from totally different backgrounds can communicate and even agree on issues. The various types of communication and behaviors within the film will be discussed.

To begin with the film started out with a communication climate that was both tense and without verbal communication. This was mainly due to the variance in membership constructs of the characters involved. The characters included the brain Brian, Andrew the athlete, the criminal Bender, the princess Claire, and the basket case Allison. There was a great deal of interesting nonverbal communication taking place between these people. Their reactions and responses to each other demonstrated perceptual errors, which would be shown as the story progressed.

The gender conflict styles also played a role. The girls both tended to listen, rather than hold the attention of the others. This was especially true in Allison's case, whom never spoke. Allison was introduced in the movie as the basket case. Allison showed that she was obviously insecure, seating herself facing away from the rest of the room. She would not speak out. She was non-assertive, when asked what she wanted she would not respond. She would only sit and smile to her self. She didn't like herself, or others. She was both unsuccessful and helpless. The only way she displayed her anger was by giving a whimper. She obviously had a lot of pent up feeling, for she reveals a lot later in the movie through self-disclosure. Allison obviously lacked the respect of others, for she had no friends whatsoever earlier to her time spent in this detention. She also was nervous and showed this by chewing her nails and playing with her hair.

Brian was another case of insecurity. The influence of self-concept was strong with Brian Johnson for he had no sense of self. He could not meet the standards of his desired self and was therefore unhappy with himself as a person. Any suggestion Brian made throughout the movie was met by resistant responses, or interruptions.

Claire was the "Prom Princess", she had a high self esteem, and was assertive. As well she was highly emotional throughout the film. An example of her emotional language was her straightforward statement to Bender "I hate you" This was after he had broken a promise not to laugh at her. She made up for her lack of general skills and abilities by turning the discussion to how popular and rich she was.

Andrew was the jock. He was an athlete who was assertive, confident, and had high self-esteem. His problem was that he couldn't think for himself. He showed aggressive behavior when Bender acted as if he was going to urinate on the floor. Andrew turned and said "you whip it out your dead before the first drop hits, the floor. Two hits, me hitting you, you hitting the floor." He again demonstrated direct aggression later on in the movie during another conflict with Bender. He said, "If we weren't in school I'd waste you." Andrew had made a perception error. He saw Bender as a "bum". He said to Bender "Only weed burners smoke dope", which classified Bender as a drug-using bum. Andrew was ignorant to the fact that Bender had any feelings, as if drug users didn't have any. Later on Andrew revealed his ability to be compassionate. He showed compassion when he put himself in the place of the nerd he taped. Andrew had taped up some persons butt. Afterward he thought about it. He put himself in that kids place, and looked at the humiliation that the kid must have had to face. Again Andrew showed his compassionate side with Allison. He asked her what was the matter with her. She then revealed through self-disclosure that her problem at home was that her parents ignored her. He could then relate to what she was going through.

Richard Vernon was in a constant communication and behavioral conflict with the students. This was especially true in the competitive relationship with Bender. Bender showed no respect for anyone, including this authoritative symbol, the principle. The principle felt he had to raise his voice and show his power. There was a lose-lose situation here with Bender. He had low self-esteem, he didn't think the kids really respected him, and he felt that they had changed, to rebel against him. He revealed this when he talked to himself in the mirror and also in his chat with the janitor. He made a perception error here by saying that the kids had changed and were all "pricks".

Bender obviously had a bad self-image. Bender would just slice anyone down with his aggressive behavior and verbal abuse. This included statements such as calling Brian a "neo-maxy-zone-dweeby". He was obviously a defensive listener and an ambusher. He was also effective at using symbols such as his middle finger. His perception of Claire demonstrated this. "Such a pristine girl, I'll bet you've never been laid." He was always on her for being the spoiled princess. He had constant conflict in a win lose situation with Andrew. There was a struggle for control through both verbal and physical aggression.

Bender did however show he was a leader. The others seemed to have a hidden respect for him throughout the movie. They followed and did whatever he did. This led to smoking some pot.. In turn this led to a great deal of confessions when they had a group discussion. They all said that their lives at home were unsatisfactory, and this was obviously creating debilitative emotions. Andrew revealed that he was a winner because his father wanted him to be, not because he wanted to be. With help from Allison the fact that he couldn't think for himself was revealed. Bender described his life at home with his father. He told of how he got a cigar burn on his arm for spilling paint in the garage. He also told about his "banner" Christmas, where he received a carton of cigarettes and was told to "smoke up son". Brian told about how his parents had such high expectations. He said that he considered suicide because he simply could not deal with a failing grade.

Allison said she was a "nympho," she did this to trick Claire into admitting she was a virgin. Allison then said that she was just a compulsive liar. Claire gave a lot of non-verbal cues, that she was not comfortable revealing that she was a virgin. She was going to reveal some of her secrets to them.

The interpersonal relationships developed steadily through the movie, although there was the occasional backward step. The characters similarity increased. This was demonstrated through the confirming behavior. This included Claire putting her earring in Benders' hand, and giving him a kiss. Allison being kissed by Andrew was an example of relationship's development through the experimenting stage and of coming together. The movie left us believing that everyone came out a better more understanding person than when they came in. This makes you wonder what was going to happen the next day.