African centered psychological analysis of Antwone Fisher

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Social and cultural factors that puts black males at risk

Antwone Fisher is a representation of the African-American male who has to undergo several difficulties in life, before his life can finally turn around. Fisher’s angry character and anger burst however are not of his own making. The young African-American male has been shaped by a series of social and cultural factors that have put his life at risk many times. Poverty during his childhood is one of the core factors that have shaped the Fisher into the young African-American male he has turned to be.  Born by a mother who was already behind bars and with his father already murdered by his girlfriend, Fisher has no alternative than survive his childhood at the Tate’s foster family care, where the rest of the foster children were favored. In the foster care, Fisher experienced poverty and shortage that always drew him to petty crimes as a child. In addition to childhood poverty, sexual and physical abuse were other social factors that Fisher had to endure, with Mrs. Tate subjecting Fisher to brutal physical abuse throughout his childhood, while Nadine, a fellow foster child, in turn molested him sexually (Washington, 2003). Such challenges influenced and shaped Fisher to develop an aggressive personality that would enable him to resist further oppressions and abuses. Both institutional racism and internalized oppression also subscribed to the formation of Fishers extremely aggressive personality, considering that he had been racially discriminated throughout his life beginning at the foster home and all the way into the naval base, where a white sailor mocks Fisher’s looks after he shaves (Washington, 2003). The slavery and servitude to which Fisher was exposed as a child by the various oppressors in his early life, coupled by indulgence in drug use as a way of escaping the realities of his hellish life, contributed to shaping the hostile and closed personality that Fisher developed in his early life. After suffering extended hours of slavery that entailed being locked in a dark room by Mrs. Tate for hours on end, Fisher’s personality grew so dark and  could seldom be penetrated, even by the softness of his psychiatrists approach or the tenderness his shy girlfriend, Cheryl (Washington, 2003).

Further, Antwone Fisher encountered more protective factors that cushioned his personality and character against the risk factors posed by the adverse social and cultural factors he experienced in his life. Racial socialization and racial identity plays a major role in , considering that right from when he was a child, Fisher was mocked by Mrs. Tate, who favored Keith, his foster brother, because his father was white, thus he was light skinned (Washington, 2003). In fact, the racial socialization is so strong for Fisher, that he has internalized the order in which adoptions happens, with the white girls getting the first adoption priority, followed by white boys, black girls and lastly the black boys (Washington, 2003). Fisher has therefore developed an African-American identity fully, and his interaction n or relationships with any other individual are based on his racial identity as black. Additionally, Fisher’s religiosity of a shuttered soul and non-believer in anything good serves to reinforce his extremely closed-up personality. The communal and family orientation further cushions Fisher against open and humane interaction, because having been abandoned by his mother and with his father dead, Fisher has no family to count on, thus becomes a lone-ranger.

Culture and Racial Identity

Culture and racial identify have been applied in the film to portray the African-American as a culture of extreme family and communal detachment, where mostly everyone is on their own. The African-American cultures is portrayed as that of brutality and rejection, where the every person is rejecting the other, while the bonds holding the African-Americans together are entirely weak, especially between parents and their children. The outcome of this culture of detachment is that it shapes each African-American, more so the African-American males to be on their own from an early age, making them develop the aggressive and rough personality trait that will enable them to survive different adversaries.

The development of racial awareness for Antwone Fisher, on the other hand, has been projected as being influenced by the adoption discrimination that upholds and favors the white race over the black race. The adoption process was the initial stage where Antwone Fisher experienced racial discrimination, when the white children were first prioritized for adoption, leaving the black children, especially the black boys, to take the last consideration. Antwone Fisher narrates to his psychiatrist that the adoption priority starts with the light-skinned girls, followed by the light-skinned boys, then the dark-skinned girls and last of all the dark-skinned boys (Washington, 2003). This experience made Antwone Fisher to develop a racial identity of an unwanted black male, which he has sustained throughout his life.

Cross’s model of ethnic identity is applicable in Antwone Fisher’s life, because it defines Fisher’s personality and character trait as a function of making racial identity central to his identity (Cross & Fhagen-Smith, 1996). According to this model, individuals who make racial identity central to their personality tend to develop the racial-centric personality traits (Cross & Fhagen-Smith, 1996). This aspect is evident in Antwone Fisher’s personality and behavioral traits, considering that his entire life outcomes, including the roughness, anger outbursts and even shyness have been shaped by his core identity as a black male.

Mental health and Therapy

The primary mental health issues experienced by Antwone Fisher include both Anosognosia and dependency personality disorder (DPD). Anosognosia is a mental health condition characterized by a strong denial of one’s state of mental health (Crease, 2005). The strong sense of denial of his state of mental health has been demonstrated by Antwone Fisher, when he refused to open up and speak to his psychiatrist for days. On the other hand, the DPD is a mental health condition characterized by overdependence on other people for one’s emotional needs satisfaction (Frank, 2016). The DPD mental health issue is demonstrated by Antwone Fisher when he becomes extremely dependent on the psychiatric sessions for his emotional fulfillment, and even breaks down in anger and shouts insults when his psychiatrist informs him that the sessions are now over and he has to start taking care of his wellbeing on his own.

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  1. Crease, R. P. (2005). Anosognosia. Physics World, 18, 9, 19-19.
  2. Cross, W. E. & Fhagen-Smith, P. (1996). “Nigrescence and ego identity development: Accounting for differential Black identity patterns”.
  3. Frank, J. (2016). Dependent personality disorder: Cognitive behavioral therapy self help guide : what are personality disorders, treatment, signs, symptoms, CBT techniques, all covered. Cleal Publishing.
  4. Washington, D. (2003). Dir. Antwone Fisher. 20th Century Fox. [Film].
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