Peck (1968) suggests that it is psychologically healthy for middle-aged adults to redefine the people in their lives so they can find value in their relationships (Zastrow, 2011). Michael a 45-year old male with no children, weight issues, and a girlfriend with children of whom he is uncertain about in his life is struggling with dealing with his weight and health issues. In addition, to his personal problems Michael also has his sister Taylor to look after who has been diagnosed with HIV. Michael is in the stage of his life where he is redefining his identity and questioning those around him and the necessity for them.
Michael is experiencing the inability to psychologically grow as an individual otherwise known as stagnation because he is aware of his weight issues and chooses to not make a change. In addition he lacks the initiative to propose to his girlfriend because he has a fear of the unknown (Zastrow, 2010). Although, Michael life’s structure was predisposed prior to his choice to enter into a relationship he ultimately has to decide if he will marry Tina. If Michael choose to marry Tina it will affect his relationship with his sister because they do share a living space and his sister is undoubtedly has a safety net with her brother. As Maslow’s theory suggest that safety is that security, stability, and freedom from fear, anxiety, threats, and chaos (Zastrow, 2010). A social structure of laws and limits help with these needs. With Taylor being 37, and living with her brother with no job and no social outlet it is obvious that Taylor feels as though she needs to belong.
Taylor avoids dealing with her personal issues by encouraging her brother’s unhealthy habits, and caring for him as if it were her companion. Taylor’s lack of personal growth affects the family because Michael is unable to move forward with his life because there is the necessity to nurture and care for his sister. When Taylor is confronted with her diagnosis of AIDS she becomes defensive and angry because she has a fear of reality in that her disease was cause by her multiple male sex partners.
Michael lives freely in his life which is good for him but, for those in his life it cause him to delay in making decisions. His social life is well established and very positive which could also be a negative factor to his health issues because he doesn’t make time to live a healthy lifestyle. Taylor encourages his poor eating habits by purchasing the unhealthy food. Taylor avoids seeing her brother’s actual issues because if she confronts reality for her brother she will have to confront reality for herself. This in turn would mean that she would have to become an adult, live on her own, and obtain a job. Michael’s immediate effects of unhealthy habits will lead to future medical problems such as cancer. Michael’s role changed from being and individual middle-aged adult to being a middle-aged adult parenting his younger sister.
Although, Michael is undecided in his relationship with his girlfriend he has the sense of security in knowing he has his sister which works as a bib. Michael’s current health status is that of an unhealthy middle-aged adult but, because of his drive to continuously surround himself with positive people he has mental stability in knowing he will always be supported. Taylor has suffered a disease and a divorce and because of this she chooses not to move forward with her personal or social life. Taylor relies on her brother’s income and nurturing as a form of care and love. Taylor is playing the role of the innocent child.
Taylor is in denial of her disease and chooses to not confront the issue. Taylor lives an unhealthy lifestyle both mentally and physically because she refuses to work and date. This form of tendency can inhibit a person from personal and psychological growth. Taylor has yet to develop her self-actualization because although she may have beneficial qualities such as cooking and caregiving she doesn’t have any interest in developing her own life. This type of behavior can push her relationship with her brother away because she can become too dependent on his attention and love that he is unable to provide a life for his girlfriend and her own children.
“All behavior is our constant attempt to reduce the difference between what we want (the pictures in our heads) and what we actually have (the way we situations in the world)” (Glasser, p. 32, 1932). If Michael and Taylor do not make a life change they will be incapable of forming a relationship outside of the current sibling one they hold. Taylor screaming at Michael when he addresses the issue of her HIV is a sign of denial and embarrassment. Because she chooses not to move forward from her divorce she will continue to live an unhealthy lifestyle and struggle to find her self-identity and self-worth. Her role in life will always be that of a helpless child. Michael consciously chooses to change his diet in moderation showing improvement and change.
Zastrow, C., & Ashman, K. (2010). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (2nd ed.). Chicago: Cengage Learning. The reference page always begins on the top of the next page after the conclusion.
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