Running Head: RELATIONSHIP DEVELOPMENT
Interpersonal Communication and Relationship Development
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Communication is the process of gathering meaning from the world around us and using verbal and non-verbal messages to share this meaning with others. (Beebe, Beebe, and Redmond, 2005) More specifically, interpersonal communication can be defined as; “a distinctive, transactual form of human communication involving mutual influence, usually for the purpose of managing relation ships.” (Beebe, Beebe, and Redmond, 2005, p. 6) Interpersonal communication is extremely complex and encompasses many different themes and issues that affect many aspects of our daily lives. These themes and issues are found not only in our daily lives but are also intertwined in all movies and shows on TV. To examine these complex themes I will compare and contrast relationships and interpersonal communication in the movie Garden State and the TV show House. The movie Garden State is about Andrew Largeman, an emotionally detached young man who, after being gone for nine years, returns to his home town for his mother’s funeral. When Andrew was nine, a freak accident which he felt was partially his fault, put his mother in a wheelchair for life. After this incident his father, a practicing psychiatrist, put Andrew on so many medications to control his anger and depression he could hardly keep track of them all. When Andrew returns home he is reluctant to talk to his father and does his best to avoid him. As he reunites with old friends and tries to reconnect with his past he has a series of encounters with Sam, a free-spirited, life loving girl who is every thing he is not. As he spends more time with Sam and gets to know her, his self-image, as well as his out look on life, begin to change.
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Andrew realizes that he does not have depression and anger problems and that his only problem is the excessive medication that has made him numb to the world around him. The TV show House is a medical drama centered around the brilliant but debatably antisocial diagnostic doctor, Dr. House. In addition to being borderline anti-social, House is also addicted to Vicadin and has a limp in one leg because of a misdiagnosed childhood disease. Dr. House leads a team of three young medical experts: Dr. Foreman, Dr. Chase and Dr. Cameron. It is up to Dr. House and his team to properly diagnose and cure patients that other doctors have all but given up on. As these doctors work together we not only see them forming relationships with one another but also with the patients they are trying to save. Both Garden State and House provide great examples of many different themes of interpersonal communication to analyze. Interpersonal communication is generally used for the purpose of managing interpersonal relationships and therefore the elements of interpersonal communication illustrated in both the movie and the TV show are rooted in forming or in some way maintaining an interpersonal relationship. (Beebe et al. 2005) While there are many common interpersonal elements between Garden State and House there are also many differences as well. Interpersonal relationships are broken down into two separate classes; relationships of choice and relationships of circumstance. (Beebe et al. 2005) Relationships of choice are relationships which we seek out and intentionally develop. (Beebe et al. 2005) The relationship between Andrew and Sam in Garden State is a relationship of choice because they have a mutual interest in developing a relationship Relationship Development 4
together. On the other hand, relationships of circumstance are formed not by our choosing but because our lives overlap with others’ in some way. (Beebe et al. 2005) Relationships of circumstance are found between neighbors, teachers, family members, and, as...