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Angelina Jolie - Psychology of Personality

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The purpose of this psychobiography was to analysis the life of the award-winning actress Angelina Jolie by utilizing Erik Erikson’s theory of personality. I will go through his various stages of personality development and assess them to Angelina Jolie’s personal experiences. I start with the background story of Jolie’s parents and how their split affected her early childhood in traumatic ways as well as her later life. Erikson’s psychological stages are as followed: Stage 1: Trust versus Mistrust, Stage 2: Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt, Stage 3: Initiative versus Guilt, Stage 4: Industry versus Inferiority, Stage 5: Identity versus Identity Confusion, Stage 6: Intimacy versus Isolation, Stage 7: Generativity versus Stagnation, Stage 8: Integrity versus Despair, and Stage 9: Dystonic Resurgence or Gerotranscendence. Each stage has a positive or negative effect on our personality based on whether we successfully complete each stage or fail each stage.


Angelina Jolie is a successful American actress, filmmaker, and humanitarian. Upon receiving numerous awards she is also one of the highest paid actresses. Her family is full of successful actors, models, golfers, and songwriters. At an early age she struggled with substance abuse, self-harming, negative identity, and sexuality.


Angelina’s parents

Angelina Jolie was born on June 4th, 1975 to Marcheline Bertrand and Jon Voight. Angelina’s mom, Marcheline, was a small town girl from Illinois. Marcheline and her family moved to Beverly Hills, California during her high school years with big dreams. Marcheline aspired to be a model as well as pursue an acting career. Marcheline’s mother, Lois, approved of her daughters big dreams and hoped to live her own dreams through Marcheline (Morton, 2010). At one point after Marcheline’s to the big city, she told a friend “there was a day after moving to Beverly Hills when I truly realized that I could actually marry someone famous” (Morton, 2010). Angelina’s father, Jon Voight, was from New York. At an early age he had hopes of becoming a famous painter. Growing up Jon and his brothers were very close to their parents. Jon states that his dad, Elmer, is who inspired him to take up acting. He says every night he and his brothers would look forward to their dad coming home from work to tell them a bedtime story. Elmer loved to make up stories and preform acts for his boys before they went off to bed. Jon says his dad was so good at story telling one time Elmer convinced all his boys he was an FBI agent instead of a professional golfer. After high school, Jon went into stage acting and appeared in a few small TV shows. He eventually landed a role in Midnight Cowboy, a film that helped solidify his acting career. In the spring of 1971 at William Morris, an agent proudly showed Voight a picture of his model girlfriend who just recently landed a role in the TV drama Ironside (Morton, 2010). Jon was immediately interested in this women, so he called her up afterwards and invited her to tea at a five-star hotel in Beverly Hills. This woman was Marcheline Bertrand. Marche (pronounced Marcia), for short, agreed to this date. While drinking tea together on their first “date”, Jon told her he wanted to have two children with her to celebrate her twenty-first birthday (Morton, 2010). This was just the beginning of their story. Jon and Marche married later that year in 1971 and had two children together; their son, James Haven Voight and their daughter, Angelina Jolie Voight. Shortly after the birth of Angelina, Marcheline put her career on hold to stay home and take care of the children. Meanwhile, Jon, went out to find more work. He was offered to be the lead in the play Hamlet at the University of California. Jon opened an office on campus and sought out Stacey Pickren, who never even auditioned for the play, to be cast as Ophelia. Jon was attracted to Stacey and said he knew she would be the woman he spends the rest of his life with (Morten, 2010). After Marche found out about the affair, their marriage crumbled. According to one of the nanny’s Marche hired, Krisann Morel, Jon was a very sexual man while Marche was very uptight and conventional.

“ I can tell you that Angie does not get her sexuality from her mother, that’s for damn sure. It comes from her father. Marche was graceful, sweet, and kind, but she became a bitter, scorned woman and she never let that anger out of her heart. She never moved on when she lost her role as Mrs. Jon Voight, and made sure she lung to that fame for as long as possible. Don’t get me wrong- I loved and adored Marche. But she never let go of her anger. Jon took away her fairy tale, and she felt bereft. I felt sorry for her. (Morton, 2010)”

I think the story between Angelina’s parents will play a significant role later in Angelina’s life. There is irony in her parent’s constant love affairs because Angelina herself played a role in the split between Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston.


After her parent divorced, Marche had Angelina, who was only a little over six months old, moved into a room on the fifth floor of their apartment while her and James stayed on the fourth floor. According to Krisann (Morton, 2010), the room that Angelina stayed in was referred to as the Ivory Tower. There was nothing more than white walls, white carpet, and a white crib. Marche wouldn’t allow the walls to be painted, and barely allowed for Angelina to have toys during her bath. Krisann claims she told Marche that Angelina needed more care and attention from her and Marche said “she looks too much like Jon, I can’t be around her right now. It’s too painful.” Angelina states that one of her earliest memories is of her lying in her crib looking out the window toward the sky. Later in life she understood that was a metaphor for her whole life, confessing, “I’ve just been staring out a window all my life… thinking there was somewhere I could finally be grounded and happy” (Morton, 2010).

Stage 1: Trust versus Mistrust

Erik Erikson developed his idea of personality development and divided it into eight stages. During stage 1, the psychosocial crisis would be ‘trust versus mistrust’. During this stage the infant would be unknowledgeable to the world in which we life. Therefore, they would look toward their primary caregiver, typically their parents, for their needs to survive. An infant is completely dependent on their parents during this stage. Angelina was not even a year old when her parents split and her mother



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