Personality Paper on Frank Abagnale

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Frank is currently imprisoned in France for the crimes he has committed over the last six years. Previously, in New York six years ago, his father ran into financial difficulties, while his mother had an affair with his father's friend Jack, resulting in their divorce. Following the divorce, Frank fled and began forging checks to make ends meet. His first major swindle was when he impersonated an airline pilot and stole $2.8 million, prompting police to pursue him. He was involved in scams first as a secret service agent, then a doctor and later a lawyer. Although he was constantly involved in sexual conquests, Frank became lonely. He called the FBI that was pursuing him because he did not have anyone to talk to, and met Brenda, who was a nurse. However, when the FBI tracked Frank down, Frank fled to Europe, but a year later, the FBI was able to relocate, arrest and extradite him to America. On a runaway, Frank escaped the plane, and when to his mother’s home and learned about his father’s death. In his devastation, the police came and took him to prison where he served a 12-year term, but before it ended, the FBI gave him work.

Analysis of Frank

In association to psychology, Frank has identity problems as evidenced in the events when he was involved in scams as a pilot, lawyer and secret service agent. Frank also has intimacy problems because he was involved in several sexual conquests, but was never committed in any. He was also lonely, and this is why he called the FBI so that he could talk to him. However, Frank developed as he became remorseful for his actions, fell in love, got a job and even got his own family.

From Freud’s perspective, individuals seek pleasure so that they can satisfy their biological and psychological requirements. The behavior of people results from interactions among the id, ego and superego, which are the three mind’s component. In the case of Frank, women satisfied his need for pleasure. On the other hand, Frank’s biological urges as well as his selfish behavior depicts his strong id according to the structural model of Freud (Freud 251). Freud argues that all psychic energy comes from the id, thereby making it the principal personality component. Moreover, Frank’s sense of self and Ego was what made him want to convince the world concerning his achievement.

According to Maslow, individuals are inspired or driven by a hierarchy of needs, and his theory requires that people’s needs have to be satisfied at the lowest level before progression to the higher levels that are more complex. Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, first, Frank satisfied his physiological need as it is expected. However, the hierarchy order has always applied past that. For example, it is evident that Frank satisfied his self-esteem, which is at the fourth level, before first satisfying safety, the second and love, the third level. The self-actualization theory of Maslow is appropriate only when applied to Frank in the later years, when he has accomplished so much, including a successful career at the FBI (Huitt 1). Frank has been shown to have developed creativity, morality and a problem solving capability.

Self-concept theory entails the totality of people’s beliefs, opinions, attitudes and preferences ordered in a logical way towards our personal existence. In other words, self- concept refers to the manner in which an individual thinks of himself and how he should think and behave in his different life roles (Twenge and Campbell 47). Frank started losing in the manner he thought about himself when he escaped the financial problems of his family and interpersonal woes and began creating false identities. According to Mazar, On and Dan (633), people want to believe that they are honest, but on the other hand dishonesty pays very well. The authors argue that individuals behave dishonestly for benefits, but honestly to deceive themselves of their own truthfulness. Frank impersonated a pilot, a teacher, a lawyer and a doctor, thereby becoming admired, rich, respected, but lonely. As he continued to construct faces and facades, he lost his sense of self, and his disinclination to reveal his true identity isolated him from other important people around him including his fiancée. Although Frank is charming, he is incurably impulsive, entirely narcissistic as well as untrustworthy, which characterizes a sociopath. The only individual that knew Frank very well was the FBI, who was attempting to capture and put him in prison. At the end, this FBI became something like Frank’s father figure as he helped him reinvent a genuine identity.

According to DSM-IV, antisocial personality disorder (APD) is characterized by lack of remorse, deceitfulness, failure to obey, impulsivity and bad temper. Due to the many years of fraud and deception, Frank is seen to have been suffering from APD. The condition necessarily does not suggest physical violence, but can entail hurting others through mistreating or stealing from them.


The pleasure seeking principle by Freud was very applicable in Frank’s life. However, the theory of self-concept and Mascow are not always correct for Frank. Self-concept requires an individual to be realistically oriented, accept themselves and others for what they are, spontaneous in emotions, behavior and thinking and be problem centered instead of being self-centered. In addition, according to the principle of self-concept, an individual is supposed to be independent and autonomous, as well as able to remain true to themselves whenever they face unpopularity and rejection. However, in Frank’s case, he exactly did the opposite because once his father became broke, other than remaining true to himself, he started faking his identity for his survival. Moreover, despite the fact that Maslow said that there are certain needs that should be satisfied in a given order, Frank did not conform to the principle. Though he was right at satisfying the first level as required, he jumped the second and the third and went ahead to satisfy the fourth level. Therefore, Frank is a good example to depict that while some factors of all theories are not entirely correct, they can conglomerate to efficiently explain a very unique case. Frank shows that individuals can grow and develop over time, and that there can be a possibility for change no matter how distinct the situation might be. Despite his problems, Frank was able to change and be remorseful of his actions, and at last, he ended up getting a great job and a family of his own. Frank also has portrayed the unbelievable potential of human being no matter the situation.

Works Cited

Freud, Anna. "The concept of developmental lines." The psychoanalytic study of the child 18.1 (1963): 245-265.

Huitt, Wiliam. "Maslow's hierarchy of needs." Educational psychology interactive (2004).

Mazar, Nina, On Amir, and Dan Ariely. "The dishonesty of honest people: A theory of self-concept maintenance." Journal of marketing research 45.6 (2008): 633-644.

Twenge, Jean and Campbell Keith. Personality Psychology Understanding Yourself and Others. Pearson, 2016

April 19, 2023

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