I will be going over the life of Forrest Gump as it was depleted in from the movie and from the disabilities that he displayed. Although some people may call these disabilities, Forrest Gump did not see these as an issue. It seems that Forrest had his share of problems growing up, being bullied played its part in his maturing and his thought process as he aged. Forrest is thought to have some mild mental retardation, Diligent Psychological Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress and Asperger’s. We will look into what some of his behaviors were and talk about how these issues relate to the text we have gone over this semester.
As an Adolescent, Forest had what appears to be Aspergers, which is a psychological disorder that is diagnosed with symptoms that can include marked deficiencies in the use of multiple nonverbal actions such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures relating to social interaction, restricted/repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities.
This disorder can cause significant impairments in social, working, or other important areas of functioning as or with other human beings. With Asperger’s, Forrest Gump had trouble making friends, and only had a few deep or serious relationships with very few people. Forrest never saw the humor in things, it was always the serious side. Forrest always saw and thought about what people said, “one way” as he could not look at things in a different perspective or from another person’s view. He was very literal in his thinking on relationships, although he did show some apathy for Jenny’s tougher situations.
Forrest Gump is a simple man and his journey through life takes place during a time of some historical significance of our young country, the 50’s through the 70’s. It was a period where questions of morality and equality had come to a head in American culture and society. Forrest is simple minded and lives his life by a set of values instilled in him by his mother. Early in the movie, Forrest is found to be physically handicapped which causes him to have to wear braces on his legs that he called, “special shoes”.
Along with his low IQ, which was 75, he faced his young influential years being bullied and made fun of by his peers and even adults. With the help of his mother’s wisdom and direction, Forrest was able to develop a sense of “self”. With his mother’s guidance in his early years of life, he is able to overcome his physical handicap to become a world-class runner and college football player.
Paiget developed 4 stages of cognitive development, which start at birth and progress through the years and into adulthood. Although the movie begins when Forrest is probably around 8 or 9 years old, with his low IQ and mild retardation, we are able to see him progress through the final 3 stages of Paiget’s theroy. The preoperational stage defined by Piaget, typically age 2 through 6 or 7, and is the years the child learns to use language but may not understand how to use logic and the true meaning of what is said.
Forrest quotes sayings that his mother spoke to him to explain the ignorance and cruelty of others, so he could accept and understand their behavior when he is asked if he is “stupid or something”. Forrest has a response to the question because his mother has given him a way to catch the person that is attempting to belittle or bully him. Forrest replies, “Stupid is as stupid does.” If he was asked to explain what that meant, he wouldn’t be able to explain what this actually meant.
With Forrest and his Cognitive Development, we see that he may not have lacked in this area as much as one might think. Forrest being labeled by others since he was young did not change when he became an adult, but he saw that attending school and being able to function in the classroom proved that Forrest had some cognitive abilities.
Forrest was able to experience unconditional love as a child, where Jenny did not have this experience. This experience could have been what led Forrest to believe in himself and continue to grow up into a happy and full functioning adult. From the time he attended college, towards the end of the film where he began his role as a father, Forrest went through normal events that occur in the lives of many young adults. His reaction and development is different from most however, and he goes through interesting events and experiences.
This contrast between typical life events and a slower than normal development shows that some expectations about cognitive abilities may not be as important. Even those who are considered ‘slow’ by the mainstream population can be successful and live a life full of typical life events that fall within a typical time frame. Forrest may have been labeled as having a disability, but he was able to teach others some essentials, such as true love and friendship. Without Forrest in their path, these people may have never seen these things.
- Disabled= the loss or limitation of opportunities to take part in society on an equal level with others, due to social and/or environmental barriers
- Impaired= an injury, illness or congenital condition that causes or is likely to cause loss or difference of physiological or psychological function
As stated earlier, Forrest had a disability that he may not have seen as a disability. It could have been looked at as an impairment rather than a disability. Either way, this still never hindered Forrest in any way in any of his journeys. Adaptation is the process of adjusting to the demands of environment, which is what Forrest did throughout the movie. Social modeling of disability was another theory that was in the movie. In particular, the movie portrayed Forrest as mentally challenged and, despite his mental retardation, was able to achieve many goals that many may have not believed they could have attained.
While waiting for the bus, Forrest describes his life story to strangers sitting by him. Some of the pieces included: how he met Jenny, how he received a full-ride scholarship to college, how he became a Vietnam War hero, his invitation to meet a few presidents, becoming a ping-pong champion, and become a shrimp boat captain, just to name a few. Forrest was mostly universalized because these sorts of accomplishments were not normally associated with someone who lacked any or full developmental functions.