In the movie Good Will Hunting, Sean (Robin Williams) is shown to be very depressed in the beginning because of a personal tragedy. His house is all messy, he (apparently) gets drunk every evening, he doesn't socialize with his old friends etc.

Then he works with Will as his psychologist for a few weeks/months and by the end of the movie he is supposedly cured of the depression himself (he now wants to go to college reunions, travel the world, is happier overall, etc).

So, what happened? What made him go through some sort of catharsis himself? What is the movie trying to say here?

  • 2
    Maybe redemption? He couldn't save his wife but he could save Will. It is certainly not the first time we see something like that on cinema or tv. Although in this case it might not be a obvious as, let's say, Chief Hopper in Stranger Things.
    – Anguepa
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 15:02
  • Good point. We should also note though that Sean was just sort of doing a job that he was trained for and had been doing for most of his life. But Will's case resulted in an amazing catharsis because Will was a genius or from similar background or something? Difficult to say.
    – Achilles
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 15:33
  • 1
    I know the answer but it has been a while since I watched the movie: I need to rewatch it so I can provide specific examples to back up what I want to say. Also, because it is an amazing movie and worth watching again.
    – user9311
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 16:23

1 Answer 1


He realizes he needs to take his own advice

The entire movie, Sean has been basically telling Will that he needs to get out and experience things for himself instead of being a know it all. Sean has been out there and experienced life but Will hasn't. His entire wealth of knowledge comes from books.

At one point they have an argument where Will throws this in Sean's face:

Will: Dead! She dies and you just cash in your chips. That's a fuckin' cop-out!

Sean: I've been there. I played my hand.

Will: That's right. And you fuckin' lost! And some people would have the sack to lose a big hand like that and still come back and ante up again!

Sean: You and your bullshit. You got an answer for everybody. But I asked you a straight question and you can't give me a straight answer. Because you don't know.

Will criticizes Sean for giving up after he lost his wife, but Sean comes right back at him. He may have taken a risk and been hurt and given up, but at least he's been out there and tried.

Later in the movie, Will has finally taken Sean's words to heart ad we find out that Sean has also taken Will's crticism to heart and has decided to take his own advice and start experiencing life again.

Sean: I'm gonna travel a little bit, so I don't know where I'll be.

Will smiles.

Sean: I just... figured it's time I put my money back on the table, see what kind of cards I get.

Will smiles. Sean hands him a piece of paper.

Sean: I'll be checking in with my machine at the college. If you ever need anything, just call. Do what's in your heart, son. You'll be fine.

Will: Thank you, Sean.

Sean: No. Thank you.

Helping others is a common way to cope with depression

On a personal level, I would like to add that Sean gains a level of personal satisfaction from being able to help Will and this has a great affect on him and his depression. Helping other people is a common method that people use to cope with depression and I can say that it is very effective.

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