Michael’s Scenario

Abstract

            Michael’s situation illustrates an adult’s life amidst stressors. Michael could cope in his stressors through altering his cognitive thinking and accepting the painful events as normal incidents in life. He understands that he has to undergo such stressful situation in order to personally grow and handle life in a more mature manner and perspective. Cognitive therapy and rational emotive behaviour therapy are the approaches most effective in dealing with cases of psychological and emotional depression leading to physical ailments, like in the case of Michael.

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Michael’s Scenario

Introduction

            Life can be difficult for a person who is alone especially if he or she is in the stage of adulthood. It is the stage where people experience intimacy versus isolation and generativity versus stagnation. This paper focuses on analyzing the case of Michael as to what might be the possible stressors which aggravate Michael’s chest pains. Is the chest pain due to the recent marital dissolution with his wife, or is it caused by the stress he feels due to the increasing numbers of layoffs at work?

Causes of Stress in Michael’s Life

            Michael is more or less feeing depressed out of a failed relationship with his wife which lasted for fifteen years. He is also depressed by the fact that he would not be able to see his two children as often as what he is accustomed to do. As much as Michael wants to give custody and to finance his family’s needs, he could not do so because of his current crisis at work. Michael’s company seems to be facing financial constraints that it needs to lay off some employees. Thus, Michael thinks he would not be able to sustain the needs of his children if they would stay with him; plus, the townhouse Michael recently purchased would be taken away from him in case he got laid off from his job. Due to these stressful incidents, Michael got anxious most of the time, leading his health to deplete and causing him to develop chest pains.

The Impact of the Stressors in Michael’s self-concept and self-esteem

            The stressors in Michael’s life are his family, work, financial needs, and the house he just purchased for his family. These stressors buckle up in Michael’s mind to cause him stress, tension, and anxiety, and they degrade Michael’s self-concept and self-esteem. If Michael would not be able to handle the problems at the same time, it may cause him to view himself as incapable, negatively affecting his own sense of self-concept. Consequently, this may decrease his self-esteem and sense of worth.

Recommended Adjustment for Michael’s Case

            In dealing with Michael’s case, the recommended adjustment is for Michael to learn and accept the circumstances that happened. It is through acceptance of a painful scenario that a person really matures and develops emotional maturity. Thus, if Michael would be able to accept painful incidents like what happened to him, he would therefore be adjusted in the situation, and most likely, he would be able to move forward and grow. There is indeed a personal growth once a person learns to react in a positive, productive, and emotionally healthy manner.

Furthermore, in order to avoid or decrease the degree of depression and anxiety that Michael experiences, Cognitive therapy and rational emotive behavior therapy is recommended. Moreover, both approaches (Cognitive and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy) under cognitive conditioning are the best way to reduce and alleviate the impact of stressors that trigger depression or psychological sickness that further lead to physical ailments like that of Michael’s chest pain (Corey, 2001).

Michaels Method: The Use of Repression as a Defense Mechanism

            Michael used the defense mechanism of repression which could only serve him temporary convenience. Moreover, repression, which further leads to extreme, anxious behavior and neuroticism, functions in Michael’s subconscious which may have triggered the development of physical ailment (chest pains) in Michael. He unconsciously resorts to this uncontrollable defense to protect his “ego” against the “painful events” that happened and may happen in his life due to his perceived rejection, undermined sense of worth, and decreased self-concept (Corey, 2002, p. 71). Such painful events are involuntarily denied and eliminated to consciousness, but the mechanism would certainly not serve him for long. What would be healthier for Michael is to adjust in the situation and practice the rational emotive behavior therapy relative to cognitive therapy. These approaches are recommended, for they alter one’s feeling towards specific events after altering one’s thought and interpretation of a certain event (Corey, 2002).

Effective Coping Methods: Cognitive Therapy and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive therapy and Rational Emotive behavior therapy are perhaps, effective coping methods. Cognitive therapy, founded by Dr. Aaron Beck, was considered to be “the most comprehensive theory of depression (cited in Corey, 2002, p. 296). The therapy was used to alleviate the tendencies of people for pessimism or negative cognitions which directly affect the attitude and behavior of people engaging in the unreasonable and unproductive habit of thinking negatively. According to Beck, this negative input (stimulus) in human mind would lead to a negative processing of that negative input and would therefore lead to a negative output (response) overtly seen in the behavior humans (cited in Corey, 2002). Thus, a control in the input by practicing positive thoughts and interpretation as a stimulus is necessary for a desired outcome or positive result.

Rational behavior therapy, on the other hand, was “founded and experimented by Dr. Albert Ellis [and] is also an effective approach for he claimed to use the technique himself in order to solve his unsolved childhood issues in stage fright and fear among women” (cited in Corey, 2002, p.295). Remarkably, Ellis found the cognitive and rational approach to be powerful and effective approaches in facing such stressful events in life and facing them with a positive cognition and attitude (cited in Corey, 2002).

Both coping methods are suitable for Michael in case he would want a therapy. In addition, Michael could also practice these approaches even by himself if he wishes not to obtain the aid of a psychotherapist.

Therapeutic Goals for Cognitive and REBT Therapy

            Both the cognitive therapy and rational emotive behavior therapy have the following characteristics. First, both are grounded on a client-therapist participative relationship in order to attain the desired direction or goal in the therapeutic relationship. Second, both approaches suggest that negative cognitions are primarily the source of most emotional problems. Lastly, both approaches have the goal of altering the unproductive habit of pessimism and negative cognition for the purpose of changing the behavior of the individual and making it a productive and reasonable one. Hence, for Michael’s case, both approaches are conducive to facilitate this desired change in Michael’s behavior of unconscious repression and replacing it ideally by acceptance, adjustment, optimism, the reduction of accusing, and imputing oneself and other people for unpleasant scenarios. Moreover, the therapeutic goal of the approaches would be achieved through behavior modification, observation of the overt change with one’s own behavior, creation of a new perspective and positive outlook in life after traumatic or painful events, and consistently learning or application of what one has learned from the therapies.

Theory of Personality used in Michael’s case

            The theory of personality used in Michael’s case is the cognitive perspective in which, the behavior is attributed to the cognition of a person. The brain resembles the mechanism and functions of a computer where the output in Michael’s case is his response or the overt behavior of Michael in suffering from frequent chest pains; whereas, the stimulus or the input in Michael’s scenario is the events that happened in him through the past and present: divorce with his wife, separation from his kids, possibility of losing his job, and possibility of losing the townhouse he just bought for his family. Now, the processing of the input or the stimulus is certainly a negative processing and interpretation of the events on Michael’s part since the observable effect of the scenarios in his life is the frequent occurrences of his chest pains.

Michael’s Stage of Development: Other Factors Influencing Michael’s problem

            Learning from Erik Erikson’s stages of development, Michael’s case could be classified in the range between the stages of young to middle adulthood wherein Michael’s perspective of the painful and stressful situation might play a role in his current position and stage in life. Michael must be more or less around 30 to 40 years old; thus, he can be classified under the category of young to middle adulthood. Young adulthood is characterized by Intimacy vs. Isolation. This stage is understood as having established the decision for having a partner or committing in the relationship (intimacy) or preferring to stay alone for good (isolation). Perhaps, objectivity between the concepts of intimacy and isolation shows that a person is mature enough to handle gains and losses. In Michael’s case, this factor may be considered as one of the roots of his physical problem since he was not able to balance and accept the unforeseen losses and separation from loved ones which normally happen in a person’s life.

Michael can also be classified in the middle adulthood period ranging from 40 to 60 years of age. Generativity vs. Stagnation is the characteristic of this stage of development. This stage is understood as having interest in honing the children’s values and attitudes towards life, and the opposite happens for those who choose their lives to be stagnated and unproductive. For Michael’s case, he is currently at the point of evaluating his life, and he tries to cover up the feeling of fear in isolation and failure in playing the role of a provider and acting as the “man” in the family.

Conclusion

            Michael’s situation illustrates an adult’s life amidst stressors. Michael could cope in his stressors through altering his cognitive thinking and accepting the painful events as normal incidents in life. He understands that he has to undergo such stressful situation in order to personally grow and handle life in a more mature manner and perspective. Cognitive therapy and rational emotive behaviour therapy are the approaches most effective in dealing with cases of psychological and emotional depression leading to physical ailments, like in the case of Michael.

References

Corey, G. (2002). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy (6th ed.).

            Shenton Way, SG: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

 

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