The Matrix is a science fiction movie about a breed of artificially intelligent computers fight to take over the world. The film starts with an infamous hacker called Trinity, who is cornered in an abandoned hotel by the police that she easily overpowers and escapes from them; however, a sinister black-suited agent further pursues her with superhuman abilities along the rooftops where she narrowly escapes. “Thomas Anderson is a computer programmer living a double life under the hacker alias Neo; he believes something is wrong with the world, and he’s puzzled by repeated online encounters with the cryptic phrase The Matrix” (Conspiracy). “Trinity contacts Neo confirming that a man named Morpheus can explain it means, however, agents led by Agent Smith attempt to prevent them from meeting” (Conspiracy). Undeterred Neo meets Morpheus, who confirms that Neo can learn the truth about reality by choosing to swallow an offered red pill. Morpheus says, “this is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believed whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: All I’m offering you is the truth. Nothing more.” Upon taking the red pill, “Neo wakes up naked and weak in a liquid-filled pod finding himself among countless people connected by cables to an elaborate electrical system” (Conspiracy). Neo is then rescued and brought aboard Morpheus hovercraft named the Nebuchadnezzar. Although the central theme of The Matrix is narrated through the boundaries of machines and humans, Neo’s personality closely resembles personality types and themes found within Jungian, Maslow, and Freud’s psychology. The Matrix illuminates’ ideas of cognition, intelligence, and language found within personality psychology.
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At the beginning of the movie, Thomas Anderson is questioning his search for truth. Anderson believes that something is wrong with the world, which causes him to continue the hunt and dig for information to understand what is flawing the system. Anderson is searching for the impurities and trying to find logical accuracy in the world he lives in. Anderson’s behavior can be identified as the denial Freudian Defense mechanism because it depicts him as being a skeptic. Thus, Andersons “failure to admit the existence or true nature of emotionally threatening information” shows him as being a skeptic because he wants more proof and information about the world around him. (Welker slides). Anderson is lazy and unmotivated because he’s still looking for those pieces of information that will give him motivation. When he is in the booting up phase, he’s trying to figure it out, but there’s nothing to act on yet because he doesn’t have that robust framework to understand the world. This is keeping him from making an impact on the world, and he wants to check his way of thinking, but he does not have the resources. This behavior can be seen as Anderson’s self-actualized motivation to enhance his psychological state, that is, to achieve a personal meaning in life and attain a state of psychological maturity. At this point, Anderson is an introvert, and he works at Meta-cortex as a programmer, which he connects with people through sharing information. At the beginning of the movie, Anderson is sleeping at the front of his computer, and Trinity wakes him up by typing the cryptic message The Matrix. A man knocks on his apartment door in which Anderson retrieves information that he has stored in the book titled Simulacra and Simulation. When Anderson opens the book to retrieve the information, the chapter was on nihilism. In the book Simulacra and Simulation, the author looks to inspect the connections between the real world, images, and society, specifically the meanings and imagery of culture and media engaged with building an understanding of shared existence. According to Jungian psychology, primordial images have similar themes to the book Simulacra and Simulation because both ideas rely on “patterns, culture, myths, stories and religion” (Welker, slides). Later, Trinity tells him to follow the white rabbit. Trinity tells Neo to follow trails within The Matrix and to explore the possibilities outside the normal world. Knowing that Neo is an introvert and not connected to the outside world, this experience can be seen as his attempt to become extraverted. If Neo did not follow the white rabbit, he wouldn’t have been at this uncomfortable place at the club, and he wouldn’t have met Trinity, who started his full journey. Thus, exploring outside of his room and also known as his head. Through Jungian psychology, this can be viewed as Anderson’s attempt to harness his collective unconscious. “The collective unconscious is a storehouse of mental images, symbols, and ideas that all humans inherit” (Welker sides). Suggesting, that inherit mental symbols influence our thoughts and emotions, because the ideas are unconscious.
Later in the movie, when Thomas Anderson is on the phone with Morpheus at his job, Meta-Cortex, Morpheus tells him how to escape from the agents. He says, goes to the window in this massive building, then go down the scaffolding. Anderson attempts to scale the building, yet when he tries to open the window, he drops his phone off the side of the skyscraper. Anderson refuses to continue with Morpheus’s orders; thus, this is him refusing the call to adventure. Anderson allows himself to be captured by the agents who also can be seen as being a prisoner of his introverted sensing in his refusal to explore the world. Anderson’s refusal to explore the world suggests that he does not possess a high openness to experience personality traits. He finds it challenging to create an “orientation towards a complex and behavioral life, and a diversity of experiences” (Welker, Slides). After Anderson is captured, the agents surgically implant a tracking bug in his abdomen; this is the agent’s attempt to locate Morpheus. However, Neo gets help from the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar, which they remove the mechanical bug. As such, Anderson is unattached from his mechanical side, and he takes the red pill, and the rest of the technology is removed and separated from him. Anderson was dead, but now he is reborn as a human under the alias name Neo. Neo then begins to merge with humanity and begins to fight for people to save the world. Neo then see the purpose and the value of bonding with other people even though its outside of his frame of reference. Neo is in his dominant function; this is “introverted thinking which is about analyzing frameworks and categorizing information to get a clear slice clear understanding of what is going on” (Welker, slides). This is a decision-making function based on logic. This situation is introverted, and it is personalized based on his own understanding and not what everyone else accepts. “Want is vital and basic in the aspect of the Oedipus Complex. Thus, individuals persistently look for an object of want to satisfy their very own craving” (Welker, Notes); thus, with regards to The Matrix, Neo’s object of want is Trinity. At the beginning of the movie, Neo plunks down in his seat; he is looking occupied at Trinity, who passes by to leave the room. Neo looks down, which indicates that he was watching Trinity’s hips, this is a kind of voyeurism or fetishism: sexual delight he got from seeing suggestive objects of want. Neo is a solitary and desolate man who hacks PCs in his downtime. So perhaps he is attempting to satisfy his wants that he does not have: the absence of female consideration and the absence of sexual delight.
Neo’s martial arts training is the first time he uses his body. This is where he learns the rules of the Matrix and the coded parameters that are keeping people in this world. In this point of the movie he starts to download information of different fighting styles. Learning these specializing functions takes a while to learn; however, Neo is able to solidify his neuropathways at superhuman speed. Neo is connecting with the duty that will guide him in helping humanity. And he begins to realize that information he just downloaded and will help him in his quest to save humanity, all while embracing the standards people live in The Matrix. He sees the difference between the theoretical and the real and he is able to use both when necessary. This illuminates Neo’s dominant function introverted thinking, where he sees the Matrix for what it really is, but he also knows the rules and how to break them. This can be seen as Neo’s “moral development in which he gains understanding about personal rights, responsibilities, and social obligations, especially regarding the welfare of other people” (Welker, notes). Also, during Neo’s training, Morpheus is teaching him how to free his mind. During this training session, Neo was required to jump from one building to another. To Morpheus, taking the red pill is going to allow Neo to wake up and experience extraversion. This openness to experience will lead Neo to growth and connect him more to reality. It is suggesting that the risks that are out there are part of truly living and are part of embracing your destiny and adventure. Morpheus then says to Neo, “you have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind.” The idea to know everything you have to let go of the presumptions, which are pretty difficult because most of Neo’s life, he was introverted. Suggesting that apart from his own understanding, if one really wants to be one with the information, you have to accept it and not try to model it into your own internalized perception; thus, you have to get out and explore the world. It promotes safety and comfort, it is a defensive kind of mode, so when he does not want to leave and explore the crazy world, then he can rely on his past and what is worked before. At the end of the movie, when Neo is aware that he is the one and he starts fighting the agents, which he starts seeing them in the green code, this is Neo seeing the world through its actual point of view. As such, everything is pieced together, and he becomes one with all the information. Neo no longer has to work hard to decode anymore; he just sees it; naturally, everything is perfectly placed and defined.
As Neo progresses from nihilism to enlightenment and becomes the one, he is the only person who can free humans from their machine overlords. Neo’s quest for truth begins in his dreams. Neo’s reconstruction of a new reality from scratch is visualized in Neo’s training session with Morpheus against a blank white background where they can summon anything they can think of. Morpheus calls this training session the construct. For the first time Neo is discovering agency. This phase has a lot in common with the humanistic psychology in which “psychologist treat people as human beings who, unlike machines, have hopes, plans, dreams, and personal values” (Welker, notes). The question of whether Neo is the One allows Neo to gain a sense of self-knowledge. Morpheus bring Neo to visit the Oracle. The Oracle seems to tell Neo that he is not the One. She says, “But you already know what I’m going to tell you…” Neo responds, “I’m not the one.” Though what she really tells him is that the answers are within him — suggesting that we cannot arrive at self-knowledge through others. Neo cannot know that he is the One because someone tells him; thus, the Oracle strategically shuts down the grand narrative others have been building around Neo’s specialness. Instead, she prepares Neo for a choice he’ll soon face. This aspect of Neo’s journey can be seen as conditions of worth on which the Oracle is urging Neo to find self-actualization. The Oracle prepares Neo for a choice he will soon face. She says, “In the one hand, you’ll have Morpheus’s life, and on the other hand, you’ll have your own.” But why is the oracle not talking about what Neo came for, a declaration of his identity. Even though Oracle’s words may seem to be off topic, her information was not an answer; it was a test. It was a test through which Neo can define himself. Morpheus says, “she told you exactly what you needed to hear; that’s all.” Suggesting that prophecy is only valuable insofar as it provides useful information we can draw on, as we form self-actualization from within. Morpheus says to Neo, that there is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path. The Oracle gives a subtle hint that she does believe Neo will develop into the One when she alludes to Trinity’s feelings for him. Oracle’s vision of destiny can be described as an ever-shifting inkblot test. When she meets Neo, her inkblot test of him reflects that he does not believe in himself, so he’s not there yet. The necessary elements are present, but Neo will also have to decide his destiny. The Oracle says, “You got the gift, but it looks like you’re waiting for something.”
Another step in Neo’s journey is overcoming doubt. Morpheus says, “you have to let it all go, Neo.” His fear of falling symbolizes Neo’s doubt; this is seen already when he’s still in the Matrix. As such, pre liberated Neo caves to his fears. During his training, Neo faces another great height, in which he makes a choice to jump, but he does not make it — suggesting that the fall demonstrates that he does not truly believe in his own capabilities. The problem of denial is embodied in the character of Cypher, who whispers in the Resistance’s ear, tempting them to submit to the inevitable victory of machines. Cypher rejects the truth choosing instead to descend back into hedonism and ignorance. Through Cypher, The Matrix challenges its thesis that mankind truly wants liberation and enlightenment. The character forces us to consider, which would we really choose a difficult but free life or blissful subjugation. The Matrix suggests that most of us already are choosing the blue pill. As we learn in the Matrix Reloaded, only 1% of people have minds that reject the Matrix. Cypher wants badly for Neo to fail, and it is suggested that he may know to the degree that Trinity would love the One because he keeps asking her if she thinks Neo’s the real deal. Cypher’s desperate need for proof that humankind’s situation is truly hopeless stems from his knowledge deep down that what he’s done is evil. Choosing ignorance is enabling oppression. Anyone who is plugged into The Matrix can be a takeover by an Agent at any moment, making them a tool for this system of slavery. The moment when Neo discovers belief is the point when the plot starts to turn in his favor. This is an example of Neo’s plateau experience, where he starts to believe in his own capabilities. After Morpheus is captured and tortured for the access codes to Zion, the one remaining free human city, the Resistance considers pulling Morpheus’s plug. No one has ever beaten an Agent, so they’re certain it’s impossible to do so. Neo then decides to do the impossible – save Morpheus. Neo does not have the ego to believe he is the savior of humankind abstractly. Still, when his mentor Morpheus is in danger, he unconsciously believes in his ability to save him. This shows that he does know he has the power to be the One, yet he refuses to believe it.
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The three main characters Morpheus, Trinity, and Neo are all driven by beliefs. Meanwhile, Cyphers’s weakness comes from the fact he lacks belief. The last thing Cypher says before he dies, “I don’t believe it.” Just as Neo’s name is an anagram for one, Cypher’s name is an alternate spelling for Cipher, which means zero. Perhaps these two opposite characters correspond to 1 and 0, the two digits of the binary system which computers operate within. This suggests that ultimately, what seems to be an array of choices, breaks down to just two. Thus, believe in something or believe in nothing. Neo’s belief in his mission makes him able to dodge bullets like an Agent, yet Neo is till hit by a bullet symbolizing that his self-doubt lingers. Trinity comes to his rescue, foreshadowing how she will provide the secret weapon to complete his journey. When Agent Smith takes over a homeless man’s body in a subway tunnel just after Trinity and Morpheus have exited the Matrix, due to his growing faith, Neo stands his ground against an Agent. Neo’s belief makes him an even match for Agent Smith, but he has not yet surpassed the Agents. As software programs, the Agents have this belief written in their code. Smith keeps calling Neo Mr. Anderson, which pushes Neo to cast off his slave name and claim his true identity. Overall, this film exemplifies many philosophical and psychological connections to reality. Although this film is meant to raise interesting questions surrounding religion, free will, and determinism, it also illustrates many issues regarding modern-day psychology.
- “Videos.” Conspiracy Cafe, https://conspiracy-cafe.com/apps/videos/videos/show/18986004-conspiracy-night-at-the-movies-the-matrix.
- Welker, Keith. notes/slides, 12 Dec. 2019, Massachusetts.
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