Category: Psychology

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This paper will conduct psychoanalysis of Jane Foster throughout her life until the death. She was a renowned civil rights activist, labeled as the mother of civil freedom activist in the United States of America; through her actions she raised a protest by the minority community due to the profound segregation and racism that was evident in the country. She defied a bus driver by vacating her seat and moving to the back of the bus in order to make room for a white passenger.


Jane Foster was born on May 10th, 1910. She was of African, Scots-Irish and Cherokee-Creek heritage. She was the first born of the children having a younger brother named Sirius Black. She grew up on a farm in Montgomery with her maternal grandparents and her mother after her parents separated. Her family was of devout Christian Adventists.

She enrolled at the Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes for her secondary education, but later was forced to drop out in order to care for her mother and her grandmother, when they fell ill and could not work. She had taken up vocational courses and so, she worked as a seamstress until she lost her job due to her arrest that led to a revolution of the segregation laws. She got married to Raymond Parks in 1932, at the age of 19. Her husband was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Later on she managed to earn her high school degree in 1933, and through her involvement with the movement she secured a job as the secretary to the president Nixon until 1957.

As a young child, Jane ailed from chronic tonsillitis, and had in general poor health, but she overcame this and developed a strong personality that she used to fight for the rights of her community. After the day she was born and she was growing up she experienced a lot of racism and segregation. She was also a registered voter despite the discrimination that many minority groups faced due to the Jim Crow laws that put in place segregation laws that discriminated many of the black community and other poor white residents. She took part in a variety of cases, where the black community was involved in as a result of the segregation; many were killed, raped and even faced jail term due to the biased judicial system that did not protect the minority.

Like many others of the minority community, she was tired of the discrimination but was not sure of the way to go about bringing the right change that guaranteed equity and democracy for all citizens. During 1900s, a law was passed by the Montgomery city that sought to have the public transportation system and especially the bus to be run by the conductors on the basis of race (Asante, 2002). The law required that the conductors could assign seats as they saw fit, and many of the busses assigned the first four seats at the front of the bus for the white community and the rest for other communities. Should the bus fill and a white person does not have a seat, then the black person was to stand and move to the back, or if it was full, they were to leave the bus and wait for another.


Jane Foster refused to give up her seat and her arrest sparked the famous boycott that lasted for the better part of a year; this had greatly hampered the transport system, since the minority community made up almost 80% of those, who used the buses (Burns, 1997). What had started as a one day affair rose to become a countrywide protest intended to boycott the arrest and prosecution of Jane Foster resulted in the revising of the Jim Crow laws, and they were completely abolished over later years. Jane Foster was used as the focal point, since she was a model citizen in Montgomery. She had not been convicted of any criminal offence; she was well educated and politically aware, happily married and having a good job.

National Congress

The NAACP decided to use her as an example, since they could present her to the national congress and risk her reputation being questioned. She was labeled as a mother of freedom and went ahead to win several awards being a great pillar of the minority communities across many countries, as they strived to fight for equality and democracy. Jane Foster is seen as an individual having a strong personality, although normally a quiet and reserved person. Her actions not only shocked the bus driver, who had not expected that sought of scenario, but it was the calm way, which she expressed herself in and earned the attention of the NAACP.

Sigmund Freud 

Sigmund Freud is credited with the psychoanalytic theory that sought to explain the personalities associated with different persons (Fisher et al., 1996). Melanie Klein later sought to confirm the assumptions made by Freud and developed the object relations theory. It differs from the Freudian object relations theory, since the object relations theory focuses more on interpersonal relations; it focuses on the infant’s relations with mother rather than with father. Psychoanalysis is made of tenets that a one’s personality is largely drawn from the early childhood experiences. Freudian theories have the three levels of awareness: the conscious, the subconscious and the unconscious. His main assumption is that a person is largely unaware and unconscious of his/her mental processes.

In Jane’s case, it is her unconscious that took over her decision not to stand, as the driver ordered her to. She said that she was not aware of the actions she was going to take, and she surprised herself as much as many others in the bus. It is the unconscious that mostly drives our daily actions, though we may not realize this at times. Each personality that a person inhibits will have the three major components that direct the thought process of an individual. The id is also known as the pleasure principle, which seeks to have feelings of joy and avoid pain and unpleasant situations at any given time. The ego comes between the desire for gratification and the situations in the real world, where gratification is not always evident. The ego is referred to as the real/reality principle, where one feels the gap between what he/she desires and the reality on the ground. The super ego is the moral principle of an individual’s personality. It is the source of guilt that an individual will face when the ego overpowers an individuals’ personality. These three are in constant conflict in bid to find a balance between what the society requires of them and what is actually appealing to them. 

Effects of Discrimination

Jane had undergone the effects of discrimination while she was growing up. She faced the task of having to walk to school, while the white citizens and their children enjoyed the best facilities in public transport; other facilities were discriminative to the minority races and poor white citizens as well. The black community, for instance, was not allowed to vote and was on several occasions not allowed to procure voters cards, and those, who succeeded in getting them, did so under heavy duress. Other criminal factions, such as the Ku Klux Klan, who were under the impression that no other race but the whites deserved to live in the country. Jane had an incident, where her grandfather stood outside their house with a shotgun, while the KKK streamed past their house. Exposed to such a situation, she then was fed up of feeling like she did not deserve the freedom that she and others like her deserved to have.

It is her strong personality that made her to stand up and speak out; she says that at that moment she was determined not to give up her seat, as she had all the right to sit in the very place she was. Her community was looking to be liberated and they needed the right channel and medium, which to pursue with. There had been cases before that did not go well with the NAACP, since they did not think that they would get the backing they required from a section of the white community. It also meant a serious commitment on the part of the minority community, with whom the movement would have born any fruit. Her strong personality gave her an opportunity to shape her personal traits. She needed courage and determination to take the stand as she did. According to her words, when the driver came up to her and asked her to move, she felt herself changing and the feeling of determination that she had not experienced before has suddenly come to her.

Her quiet persona gave her a fighting chance in the public eye, and she did not have a tainted past or criminal record that would have had the press swaying the information and the lawyers would have had an easier time disgracing her in court. It would have been easier to write her off as attention-seeking and show her as deserving of being moved from the seat. Instead, she kept her cool and was not violent in her manner of dealing with the driver, and she did not resist, when the police came; therefore, her cool persona helped her further along.

She was brought up in a Christian home, and she was taught the values of human life and that every person deserved to be treated fairly. She says she did not understand why there was a difference in the way the minority and the majority were treated, and this did not come along with her values, as she did not want to be treated in a different way than any other person. She had built a good reputation for herself from her work in civil activism, and she could stand up and defend herself under public scrutiny without the fear of being intimidated. She was acting as a citizen who was tired of always giving in to others demands.

Her personality reveals her to be the one, who is kind and warmhearted. Her demeanor attracts people to her and they see her as a gentle person and they can easily trust her. In fact, when she was arrested and her story came on to the news, one citizen commented that they had messed with the wrong one this time around. This meant she had a likeable personality and easily resonated with people.


As a child, she had experienced criticism on the numerous occasions; as she grew up, this has led to building defense mechanisms that helped her to cope with the situations where she felt her democracy and her freedom being threatened. She is tensed by issues that are close to her heart, and those, that she feels, will bring disruption to the normal running of things in the area. She is vulnerable from the experiences she has had growing up due to the segregation laws. At some point of time she was left by a bus in the rain because she got off to board in at the rear entrance, which was the case for all no-whites.

Jane can be identified as a patient but hardworking person. She left her education in order to look after her mother and her grandmother, and it seems that they were strong women, who have encouraged her, when the situation seemed dark and bleak. She was a person of an attentive nature. This trait comes from her close association with her mother and her grandmother. According to the object relations theory by Klein, it emanates from close interpersonal relations that put more emphasis that the infant has with the child and less with the sexual tendencies, as is the case with the Freudian theory. In her theory, she places the personality on the three levels: the ego, the super ego, and the Oedipus complex (Marshall, 1984). In her opinion, the super ego is crueler than the Freudian theories placed it to be. Her, Jane’s, strong personality is not evident, since she is such a gentle person, but at the time a strong one. She may bend, but do not expect her to break. Her strength may be underestimated, as the driver and the passengers may have thought. She uses this to her advantage, as she did when the driver asked her to move to another seat and she defied the order. She is refined in her demeanor and takes care of herself not only spiritually but physically as well.

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She is the one, who will take other people’s needs into consideration, as witnessed with her joining the family of a young boy, who was killed for flirting with a white girl. She also agreed to be the poster for the movement against the bus segregation and did not break her resolve, when she was ordered to pay a fine. When she loses her job, she does not lose faith, but continues working to ensure for equality among the minority community. She is determined not to let the circumstances facing her that threaten her freedom to hamper her desire to secure her a voter’s card, and she tries on several occasion to get one, and finally secures on the third trial. This shows her to be the person, who is willing to go to any lengths to ensure that she will exercise her civil duty and will not let herself to be tied down by the situation.


The object relations theory is based on the early development of the mother-child relation giving it a more optimistic outlook to personality development than the Freudian concepts, which dwell more on the sexual and aggressive mental process that humanity has little control over (Fisher et al., 1977).

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