7 Jun 2022


Psychological Analysis of a Film

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Acrimony is created, produced, and directed by the film industry mogul Tyler Perry. Acrimony features Taraji P Henson as the lead character playing Melinda Moore, who is a hardworking and dedicated wife who steadfastly supports her husband, Robert Gayle who is an engineer working on battery design. Before her marriage to Robert, Melinda supports him, as they are young despite the backlash, she faces from her family members. Once they are married, Melinda will stop at nothing to ensure that Robert is aware of the undying support that she accords him. Their marriage is fractured with time as both Robert and Melinda wallow in debt in a bid to finance the battery design that Robert has created. Their marriage ends after some time, and Robert goes ahead to marry Diana Wells after attempts to rekindle his relationship with Melinda prove futile. The film follows the rage of Melinda as she tries to get even with Robert by taking revenge on Robert while on the honeymoon cruise with Diana. Undoubtedly, the film touches on the significant psychological aspects that are portrayed by the characters and positively contribute to the psychological analysis of the piece. 

Psychological Concepts Used in the Film 

Psychoanalysis of Revenge 

The desire to revenge has been portrayed in Acrimony by one of the main characters, Melinda. Like many movies already in the market, Acrimony brings out revenge as a form of getting closure after a wrong thing has happened to the character (Akhtar, 2018). Melinda has toiled with her husband Robert, and they have suffered financially together as they try to gain funding for Robert's scientific experiment. After the project is a success, their marriage seems to have already been ruined, Robert moves on to Diana, and they are engaged. To gain closure after the chronology of events that have taken place in the past and the present, Melinda finds revenge for being a convenient way to ensure that she gets even with Robert. Researchers of the psychology of revenge have discussed findings of studies performed that affirm that the human brain often has a rush of neural activity as a person contemplates revenge. The science of revenge reveals that human beings often associate revenge with emotional release and that getting retribution makes them feel better (Jackson, Choi & Gelfand, 2019). However, revenge has the exact opposite effects as human beings expect, and long-term effects of retribution have been found to affect the emotional wellbeing of the person. Taking the case of Melinda, her desire to take revenge leads to her developing a borderline personality disorder, as evidenced by her conversation with her therapist. Her learning fuels Melinda's revenge feelings that Diana is pregnant with Robert's child; her family has to restrict her to avoid her ruining Robert and Diana's wedding. The psychological analysis of revenge as it appears in Acrimony suggests that the need to revenge reopens the wounds of an individual, and they may end up punishing themselves (Jackson, Choi & Gelfand, 2019). Melinda ends up drowning herself as she tries to drown both Robert and Diana to ruin their honeymoon after getting married. 

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Psychological View of Success 

Human beings' happiness is sometimes based on their ability to make those that matter to them succeed in the different spheres of their lives. With her undying support, Melinda can offer the unwavering support that Robert needs in his battery experiment. A psychoanalytic look at the human brain reveals that individuals believe that they can create success for other people. In reality, human beings cannot create success for the other people surrounding them since every individual has their definition and view of success in life (Medawar, 2019). Melinda believes that she is entitled to Robert's success since she has over time been the greatest supporter in his battery experiment. From her thinking, Melinda believes that Robert would be nothing without him, and she confides with her therapist that she made Robert into who he is at present. Studies performed to reveal that human beings are in constant strife to socially define success, which goes against the personal views of success (Liyanagunawardena, Parslow & Williams, 2017). According to the Maslow's hierarchy of needs, human beings have to have their psychological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization needs met so that they can live a life of success (D'Souza & Gurin, 2016). According to Melinda, she views Robert as successful due to the kind of life he and Diana are living. On the other hand, her needs are not sufficiently met, which makes her desire to revenge heightened. According to Maslow, human beings will psychologically be wired to pursue the hierarchy of needs, which increases their determination, such as in the case of Melinda (D'Souza & Gurin, 2016). According to the stein's typology of singles, Melinda exhibits the involuntary temporary trait (Azmawati, Hashim & Endut, 2015). She is continuously seeking to be with Robert even after their marriage did not work in the first place. His success has drawn Melinda to him, and she tries to seduce Robert at his place in the hope of rekindling their romantic relationship. Maslow's hierarchy of needs, therefore, forms an integral part of the psychoanalysis of Acrimony as a film. 

Psychological View of Suffering 

Suffering carries out several functions in human beings. In human beings, suffering is known to either cause a personality degradation or further the personality of a human being (Shneidman, 2018). Suffering in the case of Melinda on Acrimony has been seen to bring about a personality degradation to her. She has grown apart with her immediate family members who keep warning her against being with Robert as they think he takes advantage of her. On the grounds of harassing both Robert and Diana as they are engaged, the court is forced to order Melinda to desist from the harassment failure to which she spends forty days in the county jail. From a psychological point of view, Melinda is harassing Robert and Diana based on the belief that she worked too hard to see Robert climb the success ladder and after all, said and done, Diana takes her place (Binnie, 2018). Freud's psychodynamic theory can be used to discuss the psychoanalysis of human suffering more in-depth. Freud believed that human behavior was as a result of unconscious forces that operate within the mind of a person. He went on to claim that the conflicts that take place during the psychosexual developmental stages of a human being might have a bearing into whom he or she becomes as an adult (Martinsen et al., 2019). The exposure to suffering while with Robert in college might have implied the acts and decisions that Melinda takes in her marriage. In as much as psychodynamic model lays the foundation of the psychoanalysis of human behavior, the perspective lacks a scientific explanation to the human behavior and therefore may not be as effective in the psychoanalysis as it should be. In its place, the behavioral theory can be used. According to the model, human behavior, including violent acts, is learned from their interactions with the social environment (Montano & Kasprzyk, 2015). In the same way, treating suffering as behavior that Melinda has acquired through her interaction with her social surroundings, the behavioral theory can be used to account for the tendency. 


Films exhibit psychological cues that represent the lives of human beings in the different capacities and phases of life. Acrimony, written and directed by Tyler Perry has achieved a psychoanalytical perspective, which is delivered by the lead characters Melinda and Robert. The psychoanalysis of Acrimony creates the need to study the psychology of revenge and how human beings conceptualize it. Psychology scholars from across the globe have been able to affirm that human beings seek to gain closure and the feeling of satisfaction with the carrying out of retribution. However, the scientific analysis of revenge reveals that it bears adverse long-term consequences on the perpetrator. On the psychological view of success, researchers have claimed that human beings tend to believe that they can control the success of the other people, which is not the case. Regarding suffering, psychology scholars have analyzed both the psychodynamic and behavioral theories to discuss how human beings take actions and make decisions at a time when they are undergoing suffering. 


Akhtar, S. (2018). Sources of Suffering: Fear, Greed, Guilt, Deception, Betrayal, and Revenge


Azmawati, A. A., Hashim, I. H. M., & Endut, N. (2015). “Don’t Marry, Be Happy!”–How Single 

Women in Malaysia View Marriage. In SHS Web of Conferences (Vol. 18, p. 03001). EDP Sciences. 

Binnie, J. (2018). Medical Approaches to Suffering Are Limited, So Why Critique Improving 

Access to Psychological Therapies from the Same Ideology. Journal of health psychology , 23 (9), 1159-1162. 

D'Souza, J., & Gurin, M. (2016). The Universal Significance of Maslow’s Concept of Self- 

Actualization. The Humanistic Psychologist , 44 (2), 210. 

Jackson, J. C., Choi, V. K., & Gelfand, M. J. (2019). Revenge: A Multilevel Review and 

Synthesis. Annual Review of Psychology , 70 , 319-345. 

Liyanagunawardena, T. R., Parslow, P., & Williams, S. A. (2017). Exploring ‘Success’ in 

MOOCs: Participants’ Perspective. In Massive Open Online Courses and Higher Education (pp. 92-108). Routledge. 

Martinsen, E. W., Michie, S., Ashford, S., Sniehotta, F. F., Carey, R. N., Johnston, M., ... & Te 

Velde, S. J. (2019). Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. Cambridge Handbook of Psychology, Health and Medicine , 62 (47), 300. 

Medawar, P. B. (2019). The Uniqueness of the Individual . Routledge. 

Montano, D. E., & Kasprzyk, D. (2015). Theory of Reasoned Action, Theory of Planned 

Behavior, And the Integrated Behavioral Model. Health behavior: Theory, Research, and Practice , 70 (4), 231. 

Shneidman, E. S. (2018). Anodyne Psychotherapy for Suicide: A Psychological View Of 

Suicide. In Phenomenology of Suicide (pp. 209-217). Springer, Cham. 

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