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Hank Moody

By: Kevin Malazarte
"A morning of awkwardness is far better than a night of loneliness."

A video that shows the general life of Hank Moody




A few clips of Hank being Hank





Biography

Hank Moody is the main character on the show, Californication. Although not specified, Hank Moody should be around his mid 30s. He is a successful novelist who moves from his beloved New York City to Southern California to turn his novel into a screenplay, which he ends up hating (Kapinos 2007-2011). It seems as if the move has made him extremely unhappy on a number of fronts. From his writers block to his periods of self loathing to his drug and alcohol binges it seems that California really has changed him for the worse. He believes that moving back to New York will fix everything. He is a smooth talking, intelligent, and witty. At time he acts like a smart ass and a womanizer. Hank, like most people, has his fair share of vices.

Hank has a teenage daughter named Becca, with the love his life, who he regrettably never married, Karen (Kapinos 2007-2011). For the duration of the show he works on his relationship with them and tries as hard as he can to be the father Becca needs and the partner Karen deserves. Although this is very hard because of Hanks love of women, drugs, and alcohol his ultimate goal is to be a happy family. Hank’s best friend, who is also his agent, is named Charlie. He consults Charlie with his problems and treats him as a brother (Kapinos 2007-2011).They laugh together, cry together, and get into a whole lot of trouble. A major theme in the show is that Hank loves women, flaws and all, and they love him back (Kapinos 2007-2011). For the most part, people who come into contact with Hank Moody believe he is arrogant, childish, cocky. But deep down he is a charming gentleman, who has his way with words and a big heart.

Psychoanalytic Theory

The psychoanalytic approach to psychology is Sigmund Freud’s basic approach to understanding personality. This theory emphasizes the unconscious processes of the mind. (Friedman, 2010, p. 61). The word “Unconscious” refers to the part of the mind inaccessible to usual, conscious thought. One of the ways Freud accesses the unconscious is through dreams, which he referred to as the royal road to understanding the unconscious (Friedman, 2010, p.62). Freud had his patients tell him their dreams and he would interpret them. In the show Hank often has dreams only, some of which the audience sees. The dreams they do not see are shown by Hank awakening yelling something, usually about him having sex. In the very first episode we see Hank pulling up to a church as he smokes a cigarette, which he later drops into the pool of holy water at the entrance of the church. This is a classic Hank Moody moment showing his disrespectful and very relaxed nature. He enters the church to talk to Jesus to try to understand why he is having a serious case of writer’s block, but before he gets the chance he meets a beautiful young woman who is a nun who offers herself to him and then proceeds to have sexual relations with her. He wakes up and the audience finds out it was all a dream (Kapinos, 2007-2011). In this dream Hank goes to a church which he even says he rarely ever does. Freud might interpret this as Hank’s unconscious desire to be a more religious person. Another one of Freud’s very well known theories is there are different parts of the mind the id, the ego, and the superego (Friedman, 2010, p.64). In relation to the dream Hank had, Freud would probably say that Hank’s superego was his desire to go to church and be more religious, because the principle operation of the superego is morality and being more in touch with his religious side is being moral. Hank’s ego was that he was having problems and needed help from Jesus, because this was a real problem he was having in the real world. The id would be his primitive drive to have sex even if it was with a nun, because this was purely out of pleasure, the principle operation of the id.
Freud had the idea of a libido, the Latin word for desire or lust, as a sexual energy that underlied all opposing inner tensions competing inside someone (Friedman, 2010, p.67). Freud would say that Hank’s libido is very strong as he exhibits in his many one night stands with a multitude of partners. Hank’s lust of all women and his witty comical persona is exemplified in this quote, “I love women. I have all their albums.” (Kapinos, 2007-2011).


Freud’s attempt to discover why libido could be directed in so many ways gave way to psychosexual development. The first stage of psychosexual development was the oral stage. The theme that infants are driven to satisfy the drives of hunger and thirst, and this happens when the child gives up breastfeeding. The fixation of the oral stage is dependency and preoccupation with oral acquisition (Friedman, 2010, p.67). Hank shows dependency and preoccupation with oral acquisition. Hank seems to be an alcoholic because he is drinking all the time, no matter what time of day. He also likes to use recreational drugs, not as often as he consumes alcohol but fairly frequently. His preoccupation with oral acquisition is his love of cigarettes. Hank seems to be a chain smoker and smokes constantly. The next step is the anal stage when the child receives pleasure from relieving self from bodily wastes and this comes as soon as the child is toilet trained. The fixation here is preoccupation with neatness and excessive bathroom humor (Friedman, 2010, p.68). Although Hank does not seem to be the neatest person, as the viewer sees whenever Hank is at home, he does seem to have his fair share of bathroom jokes. The third step in the psychosexual development theory is the Phallic stage. Part of this step is the Oedipus complex where, unconsciously, the boy wants to kill his father and marry his mother. The child gains pleasure through the genitals which leads to the fixation of vanity, narcissism, and the inability to love (Friedman, 2010, p.69). Freud would say that this is the step that affects Hank the most. Hank is extremely narcissistic; he is arrogant and at times shows he cares for no one except himself. The Oedipus complex when applied to Hank is questionable because throughout the duration of the show he barely speaks about his mother, and the audience never meets her. This does not mean that it cannot be applied to Hank, but there is very little evidence to support this. Inability to love may be shown through his one night stands with his many partners. He sleeps with many women looking for love that he does not get from Karen, his ex whom he has a child with. The next stage, the latency stage has the psychosexual energy being channeled into academic and social pursuits. (Friedman, 2010, p.72) Hank fits this stage only when he writes, which he doesn’t after his first big book, God Hates Us All. He suffers from writers block for a lot of the show and usually fills his time partying or finding women. The final stage is the genital stage where the individual gains satisfaction from mature relationships. The person only reaches this stage if he gets through the other stages and has enough sexual energy left. The person will have no strong fixations and conventional sexuality (Friedman, 2010, p.73). Unfortunately for Hank Moody he doesn’t have enough sexual energy left. He has many fixations including alcohol and drugs and does not have conventional sexuality.

In conclusion, through the view of the psychoanalytic approach Hank seems to be driven mostly by the id because he spends a lot of time filling his desires which are based around primal urges like sex and substance abuse. His superego balances this out only through his daughter and his ex partner. Also, Hank seems to have been stuck at many of psychosexual development stages, showing that he had a lot of sexual energy to spread among the stages, but not enough to get to the final stage.

Trait/Skill Approach

Hank Moody is a character the audience gets very attached to. He is a very complex character; he is fun-loving, arrogant, comical, narcissistic, clever, and intelligent to name a few adjectives that describe him. These and many other adjectives make the trait and skill approach the perfect approach to describe him. The first systematic way to describe ones personality through the trait and skill approach was by the philosopher, Hippocrates, in ancient Greece. He believed the person’s temperament was in terms of bodily humors; the prevalence of one of the four humors supposedly determined personality traits. These humors being Sanguine (blood), Melancholic (black bile), Choleric (yellow bile), Phlegmatic (phlegm). Sanguine meant hopeful and cheerful, the melancholic meant sad and depressive, the choleric was angry and irascible, and phlegmatic meant slow and apathetic. (Friedman, 2010, p.251) In terms of Hippocrates humors Hank definitely would have been dominated by Sanguine. Although he has his problems he always seems to be smiling. He always tries to make other people laugh through jokes and gestures. And even when Hank is at his worst his sense of humor lets the audience know that he is down but not out.

One of the most well-known trait approaches to describe personality is the Big Five. This was one of the first approaches to come from data and not theory. Through extensive research the Big Five seems to suggest personality can be described by five adjectives: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. The Big Five is often used in studies across the globe to compare people in different situations (Friedman, 2010, p.260). From watching only a few episodes of Californication, Hank Moody can be easily placed into all five of the big five personality traits. The first trait is Extraversion which states that the person seems to be enthusiastic, dominant, sociable, and talkative (Friedman, 2010, p.260). Hank is very high in extraversion; he is always enthusiastic when he does anything, from going grocery shopping to being out at a party. Hank could be described as the alpha male, which would definitely make him dominant. In many situations where Hank meets a new male Hank seems to try to belittle him with jokes and make sure the new male knows his place. Hank is extremely sociable and talkative; he is always introducing himself to new people at parties and is always striking up great conversation. The second trait is agreeableness. People with high agreeableness are friendly, cooperative, trusting, and warm. People low in this dimension are cold, quarrelsome, and unkind (Friedman, 2010, p.260). In terms of agreeableness I think Hank is right in the middle. At times you can see that deep down Hank is very friendly and warm. For example when he speaks to Karen, Becca, or his best friend Charlie you see Hank is very warm towards them. He loves them and knows that they are his keys to happiness. He trusts them with his everything and knows they care for him too. On the other hand when Hank is in a situation with someone he dislikes, for example Karen’s fiancé Bill, Hank is very unkind to him; he constantly insults him and tries to pick fights with him despite Bill’s very relaxed and peaceful nature. The next trait, Conscientiousness is a trait that is also called lack of impulsivity. Conscientious people are generally cautious, dependable, persevering, organized and responsible (Friedman, 2010, p.260). Unfortunately for Hank he is very low in conscientiousness. He is extremely impulsive almost all the time and often does things on a whim. After watching the show you can see that Hank is not cautious by any means, he gets himself into a lot of trouble which is what makes the show so fun to watch. In one episode he sees a pretty woman standing on the side of the street and flirts with her asking if she needs help. It’s a trap and a man with a gun pops out from an alley way and steals his newly purchased car (Kapinos 2001-2011). Hank also is not dependable or responsible. He lets down his daughter Becca time and time again, which in turn lets down his ex Karen (Kapinos 2007-2011). Whether it be going to see Becca for a movie or dinner or simply watching over her for the night, he never does what he promises to. The fourth trait is neuroticism which is also called emotional stability. Neurotic people tend to be nervous, high strung, tense, moody, and worrying (Friedman, 2010, p.260). Hank Moody is actually not moody at all. He is low in neuroticism. He always plays it cool and rarely worries about anything. The last trait is openness; people with high openness generally appear imaginative, witty, original, and artistic (Friedman, 2010, p.260). Hank is very high in openness. Because Hank is a writer he obviously is imaginative, original, and artistic. And every other remark that comes out of Hank’s mouth is a witty comment about something.

These findings, using the trait skill approach, help us to understand more about who Hank Moody is. We see that he is high in extraversion, agreeableness, openness and low in conscientiousness and neuroticism. Through these findings we get a better feeling of Hank’s personality. You can deduce that Hank is a people person and is one of those people to be the life of the party. You can also assume that Hank is a laid back guy who finds a lot of trouble due to his impulsive nature.

Discussion:

The psychoanalytic approach and the trait/skill approach are the best ways to describe Hank Moody. Being a fan of the show I think Hank is one of the best characters I have ever come across. His personality is infectious and makes the viewer want to see what crazy shenanigans he is going to get himself into week after week.
Using these two approaches we see that Hank’s libido has spread itself into many of the psychosexual development stages, except for the last one. Through this approach we see that Hank’s lust for women and excessive use of drugs and alcohol, stem from his uncontrollable unconscious and strong libido. Using the trait and skill approach we see that Hank is a social butterfly that can at times tick people off due to his outspokenness.


Hank Moody is a very complex character who you want to see have a happy ending, even though it looks like that end will never come for him. He seems to dig his grave deeper and deeper into self-loathing, as the episodes go on. It gets to a point where being reunited with his family seems like a mirage. The show is on-going so it hard to say what will happen to Hank next, but I am looking forward to it.


References

Californication seasons 1-4 episode guide on tv.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.tv.com/californication/show/68749/episode.html?q=Californication&tag=list_header;paginator;All&season=All
Episode list for Californication seasons 1-4 on imdb.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0904208/episodes
Friedman, H.S., & Schustack, M.W. (2010).Personality: Classic theories and modern research (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Kapinos, T (Creator). (2007-2011). [Television series episode]. Californication. Showtime.