© Arnold Holtzman, Ph.D. (March 2001)
The color photograph of Michael Douglas is the property of Paul Rogers and is protected by copyright.

Michael Douglas


Hollywood mega star. Enormously successful as both a producer and actor. He first distinguished himself as the executive producer of Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). His fame, however, came with his sexually focused acting roles opposite Sharon Stone, Glen Close and Demi Moore. His proficiency with serious dramatic roles, dark comedy and light romance in roles opposite Kathleen Turner, Annette Bening and others elevated him to the highest levels in latter day American filmmaking.

Born in New Brunswick, NJ, USA on September 25, 1944.
Michael Douglas is the son of Kirk Douglas, and is presently married to his second wife Catherine Zeta-Jones.


n oft recurring theme in the psychological profile of Michael Douglas is the expression he gives to very conflicting currents in the makeup of his personality. These would manifest both in the patterns of his attitudes and the patterns of his behavior. What we find, essentially, is how he enlists his considerable strengths not only to compensate for certain difficult weaknesses, but to disguise those weaknesses as strengths. This isn't unusual. For example, his inner image of himself... how he visualizes himself behind his own eyes, as it were, and how he evaluates his inherent worth, is a critically uncertain and troubling area. His very earliest experiences had him identify with rejection. Yet the image he would project to those beyond himself... his public image, or persona, would underline self-confidence, desirability, and everything else that one associates with strength, influence and supreme wellbeing.

Normally when a person records an experience... an experience of any order... the chemistries originating in this person's largely subconscious inner world will define the emotional significance that experience would have for him (or her). These chemistries will give the design to the person's emotional responses to any experience, so that, in effect, how this person consciously thinks about whatever was in the parcel of those experiences, will, for the most part, extend from how this person had subconsciously (emotionally) felt about them. In a word, feelings will determine thinking, and there would be a very real symmetry between the two.

With Michael Douglas, however, there is an overwhelming striving for controls. As a response to painful stresses originating in his earliest mother/father-experiences, he learned to equate dependencies upon others with a terrible vulnerability and the inevitability of catastrophe. Were he to give free licence to his feelings and emotions (over which he essentially has no control) and have them determine his responses to events, his feeling would be that he risked losing entirely the reins on the run of his life.

What he does then is to enlist a strong cerebral discipline and have the faculties of his rational mind determine what his "emotional" responses should be. This is a very familiar defensive organization. It is called Intellectualizations/Rationalizations, and its great advantage is that conscious weights and measures, and very rational considerations, will now assure that whatever responses Michael Douglas will have in reply to events those responses will be perfectly calculated. He would never risk losing the controls so vital to his sense of wellbeing.

The problem, however, is that now there would be a real lack of symmetry between his authentic emotional investments in his life's events and the rather forced intellectually determined "emotional" significance which his defenses would dictate. Under these circumstances there can be little that would be authentic in his communication with himself. There is also a mild strain of obsessiveness in his mental organization which suggests that this lack of symmetry would be a source of almost chronic concern and discomfort. In large measure this would define Michael Douglas's present psychical circumstances, but he is an enormously talented individual and there would be nothing shallow or contrived about these talents.


The features of Michael Douglas's hand which serve as the major sources of information include:

Curvature of the little finger:
The C shape of the little finger identifies an early history of fragmentation in personality. This is almost invariably brought on by a traumatic experience the neonate would have recorded with its mother. As a very young infant Michael Douglas would have found himself exposed to his mother's emotional difficulties. These would often manifest as bitterness and anger sometimes verging on rage (though not necessarily directed at the infant). The experience would have remained powerfully ingrained in his subconscious mind, and from here, over the years, would evolve such references to himself as would have him seriously question his inherent self-worth. There would be a sense of dislocation from the self... almost as though Michael Douglas suffers from a chronic loss of self... an uncertain connectivity with himself. All this remains hidden from public view defining what may be described as his inner world environment.

Also hidden from public view may be a preoccupation with body experiences. This is a variable. With some the focus may be on diet, with others it may be sex. Exercise and body building are other possibilities. The determining factor here would be the timing and nature of the specific stress experience which contributed to the fragmentation.

Narrowing formations of the base phalanges of the middle and ring fingers where they join the palm:
This feature always identifies intellectualizations and rationalizations in the complex of a person's defensive organization. What this person may say he feels may be wholly removed from what he really feels. This person would always enlist his intellectual faculties and calculating rational mind to determine how to respond "emotionally" to any circumstance. When this person represents himself (or herself) to others (even when in therapy) very little of what is offered as explanation of motives for attitudes and behavior would reflect the true motives. This person's explanations, invariably, would be perfectly packaged in the sense that there would always be a logical connection between the what and the why. The explanations will be entirely reasonable and entirely believable. They will have everything save a grain of truth.

Profound development of the hypothenar eminence:
The hypothenar eminence (the Mount of Moon, in popular literature) is the heavy development of the lower palm across from the ball of the thumb. Here is the seat of all those subconscious chemistries which determine the emotional significance of anything a person may experience. This area of the palm is, in effect, a person's inner world and gives the definition to that person's most basic and fundamental needs and drives. Everything unique about a person is here. The Jungian school identifies this dimension of the psyche as the depository of all the universal archetypes, and the Freudian school would find here the seat of the individual's primary instincts and libidinal energies. The profound development of this area points to a marked capacity for abstract conceptualizations and creative expression (which, because of other features, will invariably be given practical application. Michael Douglas might well have reached the same pinnacle of fame as an architect). As it appears here we may appreciate that Michael Douglas has a very rich inner world dimension which contributes a profound sense of individuation and uniqueness.

The problem, however, is that while this marvelous dimension in personality gives the definition to his individuality and uniqueness, it is constrained to suffer the intervention of cerebral dictates (the intellectualizations and rationalizations). Michael Douglas would, in effect, be prevented from giving free rein to the true currents and temper of these inner world dictates. Mental formulas will almost certainly overtake them. But if we consider the alternative, where surrender to his true feelings may have him obsessed with feelings of anger and resentment, forever focusing on rejection and other early traumas, there would be little profit in his "loyalty" to his "authentic" self. This would be true for most everyone. Chances are that without such defenses life would have us all destined to become neurotics and worse.

Spatulate formation of the tip phalange of the middle finger:
This construction always identifies a tendency to relate obsessively to anything disturbing the sense of self. In the instance of Michael Douglas much of what he would find most disturbing in this regard would have to be in the complex of his earliest mother/father-experiences (see the preceding feature). Letting go of things, would, therefore, always be difficult, but with his cerebral defenses as central to his life as they are, he would strive powerfully to insulate his emotional responses from such distant trauma.

This should have us consider the factor of compensation. The obsessive concern with his history becomes not so much bypassed as hidden and masked, with much of the emotional tension diverted to seemingly unrelated areas of his life. We may find the obsessiveness now manifest as an unforgiving and untiring ambitiousness - a transmutation of sorts of high tension energy investments which continue to be focused on the Self.

Profound development of the thenar eminence:
This is the area dominated by the ball of the thumb and encircled by the Thenar Line (which, inasmuch as it has nothing to do with the length or developments in one's life, is still popularly referred to as the Line of Life). This feature is particularly pronounced here. It bespeaks heightened sexual drives, a responsiveness to music, a genuine capacity for warmth and generous giving. It identifies one who would be involved with people, responsive to people and committed to people. This person would gravitate easily to attachments and serious relationships.

Length and thickness of the middle finger relative to the other fingers:
In seeming contradiction to the above, this feature adds a certain schizoid temper to Michael Douglas's attitude toward his social environment. There would be a very real and very private sense of separation and apartness from people... the feeling of not being entirely at one with the complex of his social groupings. This feature is normally hidden from view and identifies the individual who, in the management of his existentialist difficulties would have the striving for significance become the central ambition of his life. This would be a development in his later years because the factor of thickness in not evident in the photo of his early years. Such people tend to have a critical disposition with little patience for pretentiousness and anything (or anyone) perceived as being shallow of content.

Challenging this psychical construction and almost certainly compromising its manifest expressions, would, once again, be the cerebral discipline, intellectualizations and rationalizations which remain his formula of choice to secure his emotional wellbeing.

Morphology of the thumb:
There is much strength here. The thumb is constructed in a manner which suggests an alert intelligence and a powerful, fluid, willfulness. There would also be a marvelous capacity for adjustments, for learning and creative improvisation. New skills may be acquired with minimum effort. A thumb thus constructed invariably finds the individual taking initiatives and striving for achievements. The angular insertion of the thumb in the palm points to motor coordination, a sense of timing, and other attributes that contribute to a proficiency in such areas as dance and sport. (In this regard the reader may note article #38, Sports Sorts, on the Download page.)

The marked length of the Lower Transverse Line:
This line is more popularly known as the Line of Head. Fundamentally, it give representation to those faculties of cognition which define how information becomes absorbed, processed and made meaningful. The lines are seen quite clearly in the photograph of the younger Michael Douglas, and what we find here is the unusual length of this line. It crosses the palm horizontally from the edge of one side to the edge of the other. Geneticists call this a Sydney Line (it was discovered in Sydney, Australia) and it often explains certain difficulties a child may experience learning such basic language skills as reading and writing. Invariably, with time, the child catches up with his peers. When seen in adults the individual may respond emotionally to stimuli in a manner which doesn't alway seem related to the original intention and temper of the stimuli. When the stimuli is invested with emotional significance for this person, he, or she, might process this information in a manner which seems to carry that information beyond its original context.

Bent index finger:
The index finger is always associated with the individual's father-experience. Anything about this finger which would appear to be a deviation from the norm would suggest some manner of disturbance in the original father-experience. Much of what describes Michael Douglas's childhood where he felt isolated from his father is probably common knowledge.

The bent index finger would also suggest a certain tenseness or lack of fluidity in one's communication with other people. This would be, in effect, a projection of the original father-experience, but we may expect that this would be a facet of personality which will remain unseen. Very often an individual would compensate for this feature by being assertive and somewhat aggressive in his communication with others.

Conclusion:
Michael Douglas is considered one of the most important and influential individuals in latter day American filmmaking. His influence and wealth are duplicated by very few. His talents have been both recognized and rewarded, and his assumption of social responsibilities has earned him the appreciation and respect of his peers. Yet for all this we cannot say that Michael Douglas has realized a sense of personal fulfillment and self-actualization. This is apparent by the relative thinness of the middle and tip phalanges of the ring finger. However rich his life appears to be, below the surface level of his persona there appears to be considerable unfinished business with his past. Appreciating how unlikely it would be for him to relax his defenses the question of his sense of fulfillment and self-actualization may forever remain somewhere in the background as an emotional abstraction... and remain mostly unresolved.


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