Jack Shepard
Mitch Dansky


Jack Shepard, played by Matthew Fox is a fictional TC character on ABC's LOST. Jack has appeared in all six seasons spanning from 2004 to 2010. The show is set up in such a fashion that in each episode one of the characters past is shown throughout the episode in "flashbacks", so the viewers get to know more about the characters past. Jack Shepard was born into a relatively successful family. Not much is mentioned about his mother, but it is made clear that Jack and his father, Christian, relationship is tense, overbearing, adversarial, and complicated. Jack also has an ex wife, Sarah. They met after Jack performs spinal surgery on her and get married, but soon divorce after.

Jack follows in Christian's footsteps and becoming a surgeon, attending Columbia University and graduating a year early. Jack eventually ends up working at the same hospital as his father, becoming a great doctor. By this point in time though Jack attitude towards his father has become very negative, believing that his father feels that no matter what he will never become as him. In one though Jack has to come and help his father in surgery because his father is operating drunk. The girl dies on the operating table and the hospital starts an investigation in which jack's father is asks jack to lie for him. Jack does not lie when the hospital board questions him and tells the board his father was intoxicated. The next time jack sees his father is in a body bag in Austria where Christian had gone after being fired.

On the island Jack is the natural leader of the survivors of the Oceanic flight 815 crash. He has more then once put himself in harms way for the survivors and seen as the leader by nearly everyone as well as the islands doctor. Jack is seen as a man of science, being a spinal surgeon and most of the time keeps his composure in stressful events.

Perspective 1 Neo - Analytic Aspects of Personality

Using Carl Jung's Neo-Analytic/Ego theory which concerns the approach to personality psychology that in concerned with the individuals sense of self as the core of personality, we can learn a lot about Jack and his actions. The Personal Unconscious according to Carl Jung is the component of the mind that contains thoughts and feelings that are not currently a party of the conscious awareness. Jack actions on the island can be explained through repressed thoughts because they threat his ability to see himself as the "leader" or a morally correct person. One of these actions takes place when one of the survivors of Oceanic 815 looses their inhaler. Jack immediately blames Sawyer, another survivor, and demands the inhalers. Sawyer does not give the inhalers to Jack so he punches him in the face. Sawyer takes the punch and taunts jack saying "Well it's about time cowboy, been telling you since day one we're in the wild. I didn't think you had it in you". Jack punches him in the face again knocking him over to which Sawyer responds "is that all you got".

Jacks Self-Monitoring, a concept of self-observation and self-control guided by situational cues about the social appropriate behavior becoming apparent when he realizes that everyone is watching him in shock and sees that he has gone too far. Jacks believes he punched Sawyer in retaliation of the inhaler incident but what his person unconscious might know is that Sawyer was already beginning to threaten his relationship with Kate, another survivor that both seem to have romantic interest in. Jack can "ego" cannot process this information though because it threatens his ideal self, seeing himself as the "good leader" and it also threatens his own thoughts of being morally higher then Sawyer
Sawyers taunt of " I didn't think you had it in you" describing Jacks hostile attitude is ironic because Jack certainly portrays the Persona Archetype. The Persona Archtype is the socially acceptable front that is presented to others, while the Shadow archetype portrays the dark and unacceptable thoughts and actions. Jack's Shadow archetype shines through as he beats Sawyer for the inhalers, but once Jack notices everyone is staring at him in shock of his actions his Persona Archetype takes over and he walks away from the situation because he knows his actions were unacceptable. The Hero Archetype represents a strong and good force that does battle with the enemy in order to rescue another from harm. This Archetype more then any other portrays Jack as he is always the first to run into the jungle to save someone, such as the time when he went to save Charlie and find Claire or the time that he performed spinal surgery to remove tumors on Ben Linus' back, to then mess it up and force the "Others" to let the then captive Sawyer and Kate escape, sacrificing himself.

Jack is not without his flaws. One of Jack's biggest obstacles in his personality that he must overcome is "always needed something to fix", and "not being able to let go". This is seen many times throughout the show. One of them being when one of the survivors, Boone, is seriously injured from an accident and Jack places it upon himself to fix him. Jacks Superiority complex comes from underlying emotions from his father so he seems to overcompensate in all his effort it seems. He tries for hours to fix Boone with the limited supplies they have on the island, but in the end Boone's injuries were too fatal. As Jack is about to cut off Boone's leg to save him Boone stops Jack and asks him to "let go". Jack has a hard time with "letting go" because he is always "perfection striving", always having goals to reach. He needs to reach these goals, he needs to fix things to make himself feel better about who he is and eliminate perceived flaws. Jack was told as a child that he "did not have what it takes" after a school yard fight in which jack was defending a friend. His reasoning for this being that Jack is afraid to fail and that he would never be a hero because he cannot let go. He then goes on to work for the same hospital as his father, in which his father for most of his career has more experience. As a young kind this must have stayed with Jack because he has worked his whole life to try to fix problems and essentially prove himself to his father. The energy that would go into an inflated ego of a person with a superiority complex, which Jack does sometimes present, is spent on trying to become worthy and accepted by his father. Both men are very similar in many ways. Jack is Symbiotic Psychotic person when it comes to his father; he has formed an emotional tie that is so strong that he cannot really form his own identity and lives in his father's shadow.

Perspective 2 Behaviorist and Learning Aspects

Looking at Jack Shepard through Behaviorist point of view can take a lot away from his personality. Behaviorism being the learned approach to psychology that emphasizes the study of observable behavior. The concept of Reinforcement, where an event strengthens a behavior and increases the likelihood of repeating the behavior in the future plays a key role in some of Jacks actions and life philosophy. As we know Jack has a hard time "letting go" and always needs something to fix. These two qualities which plague his normal social life on and off the island are ingrained into his personality because these characteristics help him becoming a great spinal surgeon. These two qualities have been reinforced his whole life because that is what he needed to be successful and it also supports B.F. Skinners use of "Law of Effect where the consequence of the behavior will either weaken the behavior or strengthen it. We see in one of the episodes that Charlie, another survivor is Oceanic 815 is hung in a tree and appears dead. Jack tries to resuscitate Charlie for a very long time, too long. Kate tries to get him to "let go" and stop but he has been reinforced to not "let go" so he just keeps on trying. Charlie then miraculously comes back to life and Jacks efforts and actions are validated and reinforced even more.

Jack's personality also fits into the idea of Operant Condition where the changing of a behavior comes by manipulating its consequences. In season 1 we see that Jack is a "man of science" which has helped him his entire life as a doctor. Now in its 6th season we see that his views have changed because the island has had so many paranormal things happen that it is impossible to simple man of science, he is now a man of faith and destiny. A better example of Operant Conditioning would be the positive reinforcement that Jack receives from saving Charlie's life because of his habit of "not letting go". He then later in season five refuses to "let go" and sets of a atomic bomb to reset time and ends up failing and in the process killing Juliet, a companion and love interest of Sawyer at the time. Sawyer gives jack anything but positive feed back about the situation and puts the blame on his choice to set the bomb off. This event changes Jacks personality and he now believes that he has a destiny to follow and has stated publicly that he is going to try to "let go". Even though the death of Juliet made Jack a man of faith instead of a man of science, we have seen his character slowly exhibit characteristics of Extinction, where the frequency of the produced responds gradually decreases when the response is no longer followed by reinforcement. Jack believes at first in only realistic and scientific evidence because he has been reinforced to do so and has refused to acknowledge the weird events that occur on the island and constantly gets into philosophical fights with John Locke, another survivor who blindly follows the island and is a firm believer in destiny. John's beliefs have seem to be chipping away at his habits and conditioning to always look for the scientific reason behind events. Jacks philosophy of science was constantly reinforced before the island but now it is never reinforced and the idea of faith, destiny and purpose come into play.


Jack is seen as a strong leader type and a very complex character. Jack has many fans in the Lost community because his personality of a leader of Hero Archetype is very attractive. He is also appealing to viewers because he does have flaws. His constant habits of fixing things and not being able to let anything go makes his character more personable then a character who always does the right thing. Jack is a complicated person to analysis because he is such a complex character and is so realistic. Unlike a sitcom character on TV, Jacks character has a lot of depth and has a rich personality that is hard to pigeonhole. His confidence and sureness of himself may sometimes be a front so that other people do not panic on the island, but he is a good leader whose favorite qoutte describes him best "Live together, Die alone"


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