Michael Gerard Tyson
Michael Gerard Tyson offers an interesting case study for how various factors usually shape our development right from childhood. Tyson’s character it can be argued was essentially shaped by a number of occurrences right from his childhood; more so the fact that he grew up without a father figure. This lack of care and affection, as well as a sense of trust, judging by Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development affected Tyson’s relationship with his mother, further setting him up for occurrences later in life. The fact that by the time Tyson was 13 he had already been arrested 38 times depicts a troubled youth, who it is plausible to argue, felt the need to become autonomous and defend himself beyond what was necessary, leading to unnecessary aggression and delinquent behavior. This delinquency was also contributed to in a huge part, by the neighborhood within which Tyson and his family lived (high levels of crime), as well as the levels of poverty. Based on Tyson’s comments after his mother’s death, it also seems as if he felt that his mother did not approve of his actions and behaviors; suggesting a sense of guilt, that could have stemmed from his preschool years, and persisted into adolescence. The death of those he considered his legitimate guardians or parents such as D’Amato and his mother must have taken a toll on him as part of his rebellious nature can be directly attributed to their deaths. Particularly, his misdemeanors following his mother’s death, leading to his suspension and subsequent discipline problems at Catskill High School can be identified as evidence of the effect these deaths had on him. These coupled with the feelings of inferiority he must have had due to his size, voice and lisp, played significant roles in shaping Michael Gerard Tyson into the man he is today. The conflict between generativity and stagnation is quite evident in Tyson’s recent interviews, as he seems to really hold his children and the family life he now has in very high regard. In fact, he feels as if his legacy does not really hold up, instead considering his most enduring legacy to be his children. This falls in line with Erikson’s claims that at this stage, individuals often wish to nurture things that will last beyond their own lifetime. Tyson (46) has seemingly reached a stage in which he values family above all else.
Initially, while still living in Brooklyn, Tyson turned to petty theft in order to satisfy certain needs, such as clothing and to an extent even food. The lack of approval from his mother, in addition to spurring him further into a life of crime as a minor, also spurred him into seeking something greater for him. This urge started to be quenched following his arrest and detention at the Tyron School for Boys, where he was first introduced to boxing by Bobby Stewart, and further passed on to D’Amato. This thirst for success and respect is quite evident from the manner with which Tyson opted to pursue a meaningful boxing career, to the point of even agreeing to study if only to be allowed into the gymnasium to train. The self discipline that is so evident in Tyson’s early years in boxing, are consistent with an individual motivated by the need to not just provide for his family members as well as himself, but with an individual striving to achieve and gain respect from others. Once success had been achieved and Tyson seemed to have gained a significant amount of self esteem and respect due to his rise to become the youngest heavyweight champion of the world, he married his first wife and opted to settle down. The manner with which he carried himself bred a lot of controversy and depicted a man full of confidence and completely at ease with himself. Later years however although not as successful, depict a man who is seemingly more at ease with who he is, rather than who people want him to be. In fact, based on what he says, it is evident that Michael Gerard Tyson is currently quite contented to simply belong. He values family and friendship more highly than he did a few years back, and is more settled than he was when at the peak of his professional career. His main source of motivation is currently his family and doing right by his family.
Based on Tyson’s case, I have learnt that the quest for achievement and respect usually comes before the need for love and belonging in most cases including my own, with the need for achievement usually one of the strongest driving forces behind any successful individual. Further, I also learnt that the hierarchy of needs does not always occur in the order suggested by Maslow, especially the top three, as every individual depending on how they develop hold the three at different levels of importance and may therefore, end up seeking one before the other despite Maslow’s suggested order.