Jack Bauer

By:Danielle McLean

Jack Bauer is the main character of the critically acclaimed American television show, 24. Jack, the son of Phillip Bauer, was born in Santa Monica, California, on February 18th 1966. He graduated with a Bachelors Degree in English from the University of California. He'd later receive his Masters in Criminology and Law. Jack has one sibling Graem Bauer and married Teri Bauer after a stint in the U.S Army. They have one child, Kimberly Bauer. Jack was in the military, worked for the CIA and was also a member of the special weapons and tactics unit at the LA police department. Jack, was later recruited to be the head of the Counter Terrorist Unit in Las Angeles, by a man named Christopher Henderson. He later worked as the head of field ops and for the Department of Defense. Bauer shows his intelligence by demonstrating skills with firearms, operating planes and having the ability to understand numerous different languages. Bauer also demonstrates his experience through his resistance to pain and torture. Jack’s wife, Teri, was murdered in 2001, by a traitor within his agency. Over the years Jack Bauer gained a reputation for going against the grain; however, his erratic behavior was often overlooked because he was responsible for preventing numerous terrorist attacks in the United States.

Psychoanalytic Perspective:
Throughout his career, Jack Bauer is forced to make impulsive decisions. Although affective, most of his decisions were considered negative to society. To save millions of people, Bauer was forced to torture terrorists and sacrifice innocent human lives. Overall, Jack Bauer seems to act on his id. He primarily acts on his own drives, desires and emotions despite what others would consider acceptable. Although Jack predominately acts on his id, it can be said that in some situations he demonstrates a well-developed ego and superego. The ego operates based on the reality principle. Bauer must use his ego in order to solve real world problems in a way that is acceptable for society, which in his line of work constrains him from getting results. Jack’s ego helps him plan and carry out actions however when he is determined to get answers, it seems as if his ego no longer interprets his id’s desires into suitable actions. Jack believes he is invisible in a lot of ways and does not act under the reality that he is a human who can die. The superego is a part of the personality that allows an individual to act on societal rules. Jack Bauer puts his morals above everything in most instances. Throughout his career he is forced to follow rules given to him by members of society such as the president. In many cases it seems that Jack’s superego leads to the portrayal of hid id. For instance Jack’s conscience could not handle allowing an innocent person to die, so instead of following instructions he uses his id to go against the rules.

Defense mechanisms are often used to distort reality to protect ourselves against threatening or painful impulses. The psychoanalytic perspective considers this an essential aspect to ones personality. Bauer uses defense mechanisms such as denial and rationalization in his everyday life. During a potential nuclear attack on the United States, Bauer is forced to work side by side with his wives murderer. This is the first example in which he is in denial. Although colleagues insist that Bauer is going to seek some kind of revenge; he insists that he will be able to put his feelings aside even though it is obvious he cannot. He demonstrates this same defense mechanism in a few other instances. While working in the field, Bauer, had to inject heroine in order to establish a cover. After the cover was established he was going through terrible withdrawal symptoms and often had to use. Although his weakness was obvious, he refused to acknowledge it because he had to continue doing his job. Jack Bauer is constantly forced to use rationalization in order to justify his behavior. In season seven, Jack Bauer is on trial for the use of torture. In order to justify what he does, he states, that the terrorist had targeted a bus carrying forty-five people, ten children. By using torture he saved these peoples lives. This is one of hundreds of examples of Jack Bauer rationalizing his actions.

Neo-Analytic Approach:
According to Carl Jung, each person possesses a collective unconscious that is made up of archetypes that are common across all people. The character Jack Bauer is the constant portrayal of Carl Jung’s, hero and demon archetypes. According to the neo-analytic approach, the hero archetype represents a strong and good force that battles with an enemy in order to rescue another from harm. The demon archetype shows the dark and cruel side of a person. In the end of each season, Jack Bauer, was seen as a hero after preventing attacks that could have devastated our country. He risked his own life and was willing to die in order to protect the lives of others. Whether it was the rescue of his family, saving a presidential candidate or simply using his intelligence to stop a crime, Bauer was constantly presenting his hero archetype to the world. Although the ends justified the means, the way Jack Bauer became this hero was controversial for so many people. For example, Bauer was able to find a nuclear bomb but by torturing numerous terrorists. He was willing to kill the terrorists’ family in order to protect the greater good. This constant use of torture and violence often placed him into a category of cruelty and evil.

Bauer also seems to constantly be going though Adler’s occupational, societal, and love tasks. Alder believed that these were important social issues that every person must address throughout their life. Alder also said that these three tasks were intertwined and could affect one another. An occupational task is when a person must choose a career that makes them feel worthwhile. Throughout the show, Jack Bauer, frequently attempts to decide whether or not he is fit for his career. Societal tasks, concentrate on a person creating friendships and social networks. Although Jack does not make friendships in a social setting, he is forced to form alliances and figure out who can be trusted. Throughout the show 24, Jack Bauer is constantly facing love tasks. His wife and him are in limbo in the first season of the show and after she passes away, Jack is often trying to balance work and a love life. The two often become intertwined and it seems that Jack struggles trying to sort through this love task. Through Jack’s personality you can see that these three tasks can indeed affect eachother. Jack’s occupational task influences both his societal and love tasks drastically.

According to Karen Horney, Jack would fit into a withdrawn style of personality, in which he believes that it is best not to engage emotionally at all. This stems from the loss of his wife. He believes that the people he cares about will be safer without him in their lives. At one point in order to protect himself from being captured, Jack, decides to fake his own death without telling any of the people he loves. From the neo-analytic view, it seems as if Jack also has a narcissistic personality disorder in many instances. This is a disorder in which a person feels powerless but appears strong and authoritative. For example, when Jack’s wife and daughter are kidnapped and he is being forced to follow the kidnappers every instruction you can tell that he feels helpless and vulnerable but on the outside he is still very tough and aggressive.

Erik Erikson believed that identity formation was a lifelong process. He believed each person faced eight ego crises in which each prior stage influences the next. Although young, Jack Bauer finds himself in the ego crisis of “Integrity versus Despair.” In these instances he shows ego integrity. In many situations Jack is under the impression that his life is going to end. When looking back he says he has no regrets and is happy that he can die for a cause. He is able to see meaning in his life and knows he lived by his morals. To get to this place you can see the progress of Jack Bauer through a number of prior ego crises. Bauer was able to get through the “Initiative versus Guilt” stage by realizing that he had the ability to plan and carry out actions. He also passes through the “Industry versus Inferiority” ego crisis by feeling satisfied after completing a task that resulted in protecting lives. Although he often struggles with this stage, Jack is able to choose intimacy over isolation, however work, usually seems to interfere with the total completion of this stage. Lastly you can see how Jack gains a part of his identity through the ego crisis of “Generativity vs. Stagnation.” This is a stage in which a person gets pleasure from giving to others. Jack believes his sole purpose is to give back to the world and to ensure the success of future generations. These are just a few examples of Jack successfully passing through some of these ego crises and as shown they contributed greatly to his personality.

As shown through the psychoanalytic perspective and the neo-analytic approach of personality, Jack Bauer is a very complex person. I think that both of these approaches are helpful because they allow you to look at the many different parts of Jack’s personality and the factors that have shaped it. Whichever way you look at it, there is no denying that although Jack acts on impulses, he is doing so for the right reasons. Throughout his life he is constantly figuring out how to balance his career with every other aspect of his life. Many of his past experiences have prevented him from being able to engage emotionally and he uses his job as a way to avoid intimate relationships. Although Jack presents hero and demon archetypes, his true personality is that of a hero. He has made it his soul purpose to protect his country and all the people who live in it. Jack Bauer and the honor, loyalty and intelligence he possesses is truly rare.

24. Fox. Las Angeles, CA, 2001-2010. Television.

Friedman, H.S. & Schustack, M.W. (2009). Personality: Classic Theories and Modern Research
(4th ed.) Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon

"Jack Bauer" (2002-2011) Retrieved From: <http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0009881/bio>.