Adolescent development through film




June 4, 2021

REVIEW: ‘All the Bright Places’ draws heartfelt emotions, falls short of book

Protagonist: theodore finch
Finch is a lonely, unstable teen who is also
unpredictable and considered a “freak” by
his peers. He is very reckless, emotional,
mysterious, and also has past trauma that he
hasn’t dealt with. This all comes back onto
him like a wave. He lashes out, loses his
temper, and has extreme highs and lows. He
also seems to mask this with humour and
keeps himself busy focusing on Violet, the
female lead. This movie also exhibits how
his character handles this and what the
effects are on both his life and the people
around him, more specifically Violet and his

Physical development
Growth and the ability to use muscles and body
parts for specific tasks are both parts of
physical development. Motor skills are also
important for physical development, and by a
given age, most toddlers and teenagers have
mastered this set of skills. In terms of physical
development, Finch is a teen who has finished or
is almost finished with puberty. He is in high
school and his voice is deep, he’s grown in
height, and his proportions are pretty developed
too. Your brain is still developing at this age,
which could be the source of Finch’s rash and
impulsive behaviour. Also, your ability to make
independent decisions is established during this
stage, although there appears to be a malfunction
with Finch, as evidenced by his disappearances
for days at a time without warning.

Physical development contd.
At this stage of physical growth, there should be greater
consideration of the future, which we don’t see very often. Finch
makes no long-term intentions, which come together and make sense
when he dies by suicide. He didn’t feel the need to make plans
for the future because he knew he was going to do it someday.
Another aspect of physical development is the development of a
stronger sense of self, something that Finch appears to be
lacking as he battles with self-actualization.The entire
fulfilment of one’s potential, as well as the full development of
one’s abilities and respect for life, is known as
self-actualization. Because this notion is at the top of Maslow’s
hierarchy of requirements, it is not accessible to everyone, and
clearly not Finch.

Cognitive development
Cognitive development is the process where a
person perceives, thinks about, and
comprehends his or her environment. This is
because of the interaction of both hereditary
and learned elements. Information processing,
intelligence, reasoning, language development,
and memory are all components of cognitive
development. Finch experienced some cognitive
development where he would use sticky notes to
organize his thoughts, feelings, nice words,
song lyrics, quotes, and things that remind
him of Violet. This falls under organization,
so we see that he was trying to arrange his
thoughts and feelings.

Cognitive development contd.
The Formal Operational stage of cognitive development, as
defined by Piaget, signifies a transition from being able to
think and reason logically about obvious events to being
able to think rationally about abstract concepts.
Adolescents such as Finch consider what might be rather than
what is. Finch had a mindset that his life was not going to
get any better and he should just spend his time making
Violet happy. He was only thinking what might be rather than
what is. Your brain is not fully developed as a teen, and
therefore it can be hard to make logical and mature

Cognitive development contd.
Teens have many hormones and emotions racing
through their body and they can’t use their
mind to analyze their life the way an adult
can with full frontal lobe development. A lot
of teens make the decision to take their own
life based on how they feel and what they go
through at that moment. Some people have said
they grew out of their suicidal feelings once
they got older and fully developed their
decision making skills. This could have not
been the exact case with Finch, as his suicide
was very vague. Still, I believe his behaviour
and especially the recklessness was a cause of
his brain not being fully developed, as well
as his bipolar disorder.

Cog dev contd: The information – processing perspective
Humans process information rather than simply responding to
stimuli, according to the information-processing approach. We’re
responsible for analyzing information based on the things around
us, and until you reach that point, you are just reacting instead
of processing. Finch seemed to be at a point in his life where he
was just reacting, even though he felt as if he was processing.
He had planned his suicide, and yet still kept trying to improve
Violet’s life and help her get back into society. This shows he
had instantly reacted to what was going on in his life such as is
depression/bipolar disorder and set his mind instead of
processing things and learning that just like Violet, his life
could also change if he just let her and other people in.

Socioemotional development
The ability to build pleasant and
rewarding relationships with
others, as well as the experience,
expression, and management of
emotions, are all part of
socioemotional development. Finch
was a loner boy who got made fun of
and called a “freak” by random
people at school. He did not open
up to anyone but Violet and the
teacher, and he had a lot of trauma
inside him from the abuse his
father put him through.(He had a
huge scar on his stomach)

Socioemotional development contd.
Since that was never dealt with and his mom was never
around, Finch seems to have achieved autonomy (independence)
faster than teens do in high school. His sister is like a
parent to him, but he’s mostly on his own. Finch didn’t
really experience parenting styles after being abused by his
father. He did not have a mother figure around, and
definitely not a father. His sister tried to be his
caregiver as much as she could, but that was not her
responsibility. Someone who is around negative parenting
styles and then none at all can develop self esteem issues
and feelings of guilt. Theoretically, this could’ve added to
Finch’s suicidal thoughts and make him feel less worthy of
love and a good life than other peers such as Violet.

Socioemotional development contd.
Finch was insecure about his identity as if he
was always lost, and he didn’t really fit in
with people at school. He seemed to have been in
a constant state of crisis through his
adolescence. Physical, cognitive, and
socioemotional development can all contribute to
increased identity conflict. The kids at school
called Finch a freak, and his only real and
close friend was Violet. The environment at
school was toxic because everyone thought he was
weird, and he also didn’t like to get close or
open up to anyone. By always feeling like he
didn’t fit in, this had an impact on Finch’s
self concept and self esteem.

Primary mental illness – bipolar disorder
The primary mental illness that I’d associate
Finch with the most would be bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is often known as manic
depression. It’s a mental condition where
extreme mood swings, changes in sleep, activity,
thinking, and behaviour are experienced. People
with bipolar disorder can experience periods of
extreme happiness, as well as moments of extreme
sadness and hopelessness. Finch literally
disappears for days at a time and shows reckless
behaviour such as ditching class and not
informing anyone of his whereabouts when he
would disappear. Violet would be asking his
friends and blowing up his phone with no
response until he got back, and she had no idea
where he was.

Bipolar disorder contd.
He would also purposely try to keep
himself under water for a long
period of time, which scared Violet
one time. This was shown when he
was in the bathtub fully submerged,
trying to see how long he could
stay. Trying to stay underwater and
practicing “drowning” is a sign of
suicidal tendencies which can be a
part of bipolar disorder,
specifically the depressive

Bipolar disorder contd.
Finch is terrified of treatment because he
believes that mental illness is a label
that follows you around for the rest of
your life. Finch shows this as he fails to
communicate his problems to those who can
help him, such as his guidance counsellor
and elder sister. Instead, he is left on
his own to deal with his problems. He
calls them the “Awake” and the “Asleep” in
private (which are referring to his manic
and depressive episodes.)

Bipolar disorder contd.
Finch would be very happy and energetic with Violet, taking her
to different places and helping her feel better after her
sister’s death as well as make memories. They fell in love and he
was helping her in various positive ways. On the other hand,
Finch got into a fight at school with Roamer and completely lost
his temper. He also reassured his sister that he was perfectly
fine right after, which shows the sudden switches he experiences.
Then immediately after arriving home he finds Violet in his room
and yells at her harshly to leave. These are clear examples of
the highs and lows one experiences with bipolar disorder. He
would be enjoying his time with Violet and making her smile and
laugh while a little while later he’d be beating someone up or
yelling at Violet who did nothing wrong. Finch not being able to
control these emotions is what lead me to believe he struggled
with bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder contd.
Age of onset is between the ages of 15 and 19. The age group
20–24 years is the second most common. Some patients with
recurrent major depression may have bipolar illness and
experience their first manic episode when they reach the age
of 50. Bipolar and associated disorders come in a variety of
forms such as mania, hypomania, and depression are examples.
Symptoms might include erratic mood and behaviour and
depressive episodes causing severe anguish and problems in
daily life. “In the previous year, an estimated 2.8 percent
of adults in the United States suffered from bipolar
illness. Males (2.9%) and females (2.9%) had similar rates
of bipolar disorder in the previous year (2.8%)” (NIMH 2017)

Bipolar disorder contd.
A combination of medication and
psychotherapy is the most
effective treatment for bipolar
disorder. The majority of people
take multiple medications, such as
a mood stabiliser and an
antipsychotic or antidepressant.
It’s a chronic and incurable
illness, symptoms may usually be
controlled with antidepressants,
mood stabilisers, and
antipsychotic medications, as well
as therapy or counselling.

Bipolar disorder contd.
The prognosis for bipolar disorder varies
depending on the form you have. Finch was
not receiving any sort of professional help,
and he was not on any medications either as
shown in the film. The only help he had was
from the guidance counsellor, who could not
fully help him or provide the type of help a
psychiatrist could. Finch did go to a
support group but it seemed to have been
just for show, so his sister and the
guidance counselor wouldn’t worry about him
too much. The correct type of therapy,
medications, and help in general could have
potentially saved Finch from himself and
lead him to grow and live a better life.

References – apa
Bipolar Disorder. (n.d.). CAMH. Retrieved June 2, 2021, from

Miller, J. (2020, February 29). How Netflix’s All the Bright Places Tackled Teen Suicide in

the Wake of 13 Reasons Why. Vanity Fair.

NIMH » Bipolar Disorder. (2017, November 1). National Institute of Mental Health.



References- Picture urls

REVIEW: ‘All the Bright Places’ draws heartfelt emotions, falls short of book

REVIEW: ‘All the Bright Places’ draws heartfelt emotions, falls short of book

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