Anna Nicole Smith was famous for being herself. She led a self-created extravagant, loving-every-minute lifestyle. She was constantly in the tabloids pertaining to her mood swings, slurring speech, choices of male companions, and greater-than-life persona. Her sudden death, on February 8, 2007 (Anna Nicole Smith 2007), made the public wonder who this voluptuous woman truly was.
Anna Nicole Smith, born Vickie Lynn Hogan, never seemed to be happy in her environment as a child. She would continuously change her name (Anna Nicole Smith, 2007), trying to be someone else. She used this defense mechanism to flee the emotional inhibitors present in her childhood home. Anna’s half sister has reported that their father had sexually and physically abused Anna and her sisters (msnbc.com, 2007). Anna’s mother removed her from that environment and ended up poor in a trailer park. Anna seemed always to want better, and would do what she needed to achieve her goals.
As described in the Cognitive/ Social Theory (Kowalski & Westen, 2005), Anna felt that by creating a different persona, she would escape her reality and achieve these goals of her ultimate dream of stardom. She believed that by reflecting certain over-exuberant behaviors, she could achieve her pie-in-the-sky dreams. Most anyone who watches television would say that she strived to be the next Marilyn Monroe. This is called a behavioral-outcome expectancy (Kowalski & Westen, 2005). Self-efficacy expectancy explains that Anna knew that she was in control and capable of achieving these goals. She set high personal goals in order to change her life into a dream she had always hoped would come true.
The Humanistic Theory explains that personality is created by one’s environment and societal experiences. Rousseau clearly states (Kowalski & Westen, 2005), “man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.” (pages 447-448). Anna was a compassionate, life-loving person, but felt held back by society and economics. She found employment in all work environments, from a chicken fry, to Wal-mart, to a strip club, in order to achieve her goals.
While working at the chicken fry, she wed a boy one year younger than she; he was sixteen at the time. They divorced shortly after; she also had a son by this man. Anna Nicole began stripping at a club, while mailing in body shots to Playboy Magazine (Anna Nicole Smith, 2007), trying to get into the Hollywood scene. She was aware of her true self, but was willing to delve into a false self in order to escape her binds (Kowalski & Westen, 2005). She wanted to be accepted and loved by all, literally. Anna met an oil tycoon while stripping, and married him years later. This marriage and relationship was extremely controversial because the gentleman was eighty-nine at the time, she was only twenty-seven. Many, including the man’s son, thought of Anna as a gold digger, but Anna stated that she was self- sufficient and truly loved this man (Goldman, 2001). Again, Anna was making a name for herself and placing herself into the tabloids. She was continuously creating an ideal self. The presence of an ideal self is the complete absorption of the false self, and the complete suppression of one’s true needs and personality (Kowalski & Westen, 2005).
Anna became a widow only one year later. Her husband’s son took Anna to court, preventing her from getting any money. She demanded that she loved him, and he loved her. He wanted her to be taken care of (Goldman, 2001). The case was still dancing in and out of the court system at the time of Anna’s death.
Anna’s death was sudden to everyone. However, she did suffer from depression continuously. She did not hide from the public the fact that she took antidepressants. She had been shown on television obviously mixing alcohol with antidepressants, slurring her speech and flailing her arms in the air (msnbc.com, 2007). Anna especially suffered from depression close to her demise. She had lost her first-born child, twenty years old, and given birth to a daughter, just months before. Anna had not stated who her daughter’s father was; this was discovered after Anna’s death (Anna Nicole’s Afterlife, 2007). Even though she wanted to paint the tabloids with her life, Anna seemed to want this part of her life kept secret. It seemed that she wanted different for her new family.
The Humanistic theory best supports Anna Nicole Smith’s personality. Her childhood was filled with unavoidable situations of her environment. Her adulthood was built on self-created drama and stardom. Anna buried her true self as a young child, renaming herself several times until finally settling on Anna Nicole Smith. She was willing to share her ups and downs with the nation through the ever-honest tabloids, and never flinched when exploited. The one trait Anna never did hide was her big, loving southern heart. She wanted the world to love and remember her for who she was and for what she came from.
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Kowalski, R. M., and Westen, D. (2005). Psychology; The Study of Mental Processes and
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