Case Study of a Person Experimenting with the Use of Alcohol

New Zealand is well-known as one of the best growers of grapes for world class wines. The topographic feature of the country, having a rich forest, hilly mountains and breath-taking coastlines, best suits the cultivation and growing of a variety of grape vines. The temperature of the land with good sunlight at day and cool sea breeze during the night nurtures the taste of grapes. This temperament makes the grapes ripe at slower pace enhancing the taste of wines to be made. This made New Zealand’s wine as one of the major agricultural products of the country.

With this accessibility of wineries, alcoholic beverages in the country are of low cost and sold anywhere in the country. Even food cooked and served at home commonly uses wine for classic taste improvement. Many households experiments food dishes with the use of their grown wines to compliment their food. Like European dishes, New Zealand people use wines as spices for their foods.

Use of wines in food or drinking alcohol beverages is common for New Zealand people. It is just a simple custom that they drink wines or any alcoholic beverages on their everyday meals. And the cold environmental climate especially the north part of the country would need such alcoholic drinks to warm up body preferably at night time.

Because of those, being addicted or experimenting with the use of alcohol is not an issue for their society. Activity of people with alcohol is unnoticeable unless crimes are committed with its excessive usage.

The Story of a Teenage Boy

I had known a boy within the country about a year ago whose story of his life had been a misery because of the use of alcohol. His family problems rooted from alcohol addiction. He described alcoholism as a distinct vice that runs in their family.

I could recall the day when he approached me and asked for help, I was then hanging out in one of the local bars where I spent a summer vacation. The boy was so sober and could not stand still. It just so happened that his house was just a few blocks away from where I am staying. I offered him a cup of coffee to clear up his mind before we parted ways. He did not accept my offer but rather he asked favor to give him a ride home.

On the next day, while I was doing a morning stroll around the neighborhood, it happens that I met him around the park. He was dressed with same screwed dirty clothes the night before. I came close to him and asked him to have breakfast with me. He agreed by then because he confessed that he had not yet eaten anything since that night.

We had exchange of thoughts and became good friends for a while. I once asked him why he looked so disturbed and so much drunk the day I found him. He said he was distressed because of his family problems. I found out from him that his family descendants came from Maori race. His parents had been wed at early age. His father was already dead and his mother is suffering from an ailment. He had two brothers who are younger than him. They are supposedly at secondary school but they are still in an intermediate level. They lack money to support a continuous education, even though they are studying in a state school. His father was a farm worker but all of his father’s earnings were spent for alcohol. His

father died from liver cirrhosis. Even though his father was diagnosed of the disease, he still drinks all the time until the last day of his life.

During the burial of his father, James (not his true name) learned that his grandfather, on his father’s side, died of same ailment.

James told me that his drinking problem started at a very early age, he was in his early teens when some of his school buddies were experimenting on wines and liquor. They are mixing drinks, measure how good it tasted and evaluate how strong the alcohol affects.  James told his friends activity to her mother. And he promised her that even though his peers were teasing him to try drinking alcohol; he will never taste a drop of it. That is because of his father’s habit. Then one day, he went to school bruised and teary eyed. His friend made an inquiry of his appearance.

He had said that his father had come home late a night before. And he was so drunk. James was awakened of the shouting and crushing noise from their kitchen. He went right to where he heard the noise and saw his father was beating his mother. He then intervened to stop his father and protect his battered mother. His father beat him instead. His two brothers saw what happened but were afraid to help him. By the end of his story, his friends sympathized with him and gave him shots of liquors to forget and relieve the pains.

Every time things went wrong in their house, his friends made him drunk. James said that it is good that he can not be reminded of what was happening in his family. He began to like drinking and even tried smoking. He had been hooked with alcohol for years.  His characters changed. He became hot-tempered and irritable.

He worked to earn money to provide food to his family when his father died. But half of it was spent his vice of alcohol. Once in his younger life, he tried to quit drinking but when problems arises in his family, he started to engaged in drinking habits again.

James also got in trouble oftentimes because of drinking, either in school premise or in his community. He had also been dismissed to his work because of being late due to hang-over caused by alcohol.

In his school, he even got a suspension of attending classes being drunk. He never went back to school after experiencing a week-long suspension.

His two brothers hated him with his habit. He was confronted by his brothers as often as he went home late at night, so much drunk. Their friends and classmates made excuses to avoid their company because of James’ character. And their mother tried to talk with him before she was sick. He knew the responsibilities that his father had left to him. But he can not contain how he will learn to stop drinking and be strong enough to resist the taste of liquors. He planned to start a new life after his father’s death to cure himself. But he can not afford to leave his family because of his concern for his sick mother.

Analysis of James Case

Developmental Context:

a) Bronfenbrenner’s Model describes how the environment settings, where a child spends time, with the influence of family, community and the society, affect child development. The child is the center of this model. Person, objects and symbols around him have pertinent influence in his growth and development.

Above ecological model shows that positive experiences, so called proximal processes, understand the value of protective and preventive processes to avoid physical and psychological damages.

Microsystem mainly consists of a family. It is the immediate environment where the child begins to learn. Parents have the major role in the child’s development because a child, at his early age, is limited to the home environment and interact with the members of his family especially to his mother who attended to his needs.

Classroom, religious setting and peer groups are also considered microsystem. It is a small group where a child started to learn how to socialize and develop his abilities.

In James’ case, his father had been an alcoholic. His grandfather was also a drinker. His father, being a constant drinker, introduced him the liquors.

Another is his classroom environment, he had met his friends to chat and hang around in school.

Mesosystem is the interactive relationship or connection of settings within his family, peers, religion or school. The model introduced in this level of influence that the number and quality of the connection between settings affects child development.

Since early environment is limited at home, family relationships play a dominant role in determining the future pattern of a child’s attitude toward and behavior in relationship with others.

At this level, transitions, made by child between settings, are also distinctly recognized. The child, after recognizing his environment, started to show maturity brought out by his experiences.

Due to James’ family problems, he was forced to try and experiment with liquors with encouragement from his peer group. He had tasted alcoholic drinks and started to appreciate it until he was hooked.

Not all experiences may give positive impact on individual. It either leads to better path or placed in a harder situation.

Exosystem consists of community, school system, mass media and medical institution. This system pertains to an entire group of people and organizations having interest with every individual.

In this level, there is no direct participation of an individual but his experiences are greatly influenced by this sytem.

James was discouraged to pursue his education because of the school institution’s rules to suspend students who often gets in trouble and violates school’s regulations. Although the rule serves to discipline students, James decided not to return after his suspension.

Macro system shows the effect of cultural values, social conditions, national customs and economic patterns to child’s development. These settings dictates how people will live and act based on accepted norms of the society.

James wanted to live alone to find himself and cure his alcoholism but he can not do so because of his concern for his mother. It is a Maori’s cultural value of being close with their family especially at the lowest point of their family member’s life.

a.) Baltes’ Life Span Concept. As defined by Baltes, this concept deals with the study of individual development (ontogenesis) from conception into old age. The development of child is not yet complete as he reaches adulthood. It actually extends across the entire life course.

Age-graded are influences based on chronology of age with correlation to life course. Biological or environmental factors or its interaction caused this influence. Environmental factors is categorized as family life cycle, education, and occupational. Events occurring in this influence are commonly undergone by population majority at same life duration. Each culture or sub-culture has their own set of this influence.

James’ addiction to alcohol happens in his puberty stage. This is the time when most young individuals have anti-attitude towards life or seems to loss some of good qualities previously developed.

While influences related with historical time and cultural experiences is known as normative history-graded. Examples are wars and epidemics that may affect the whole community.

James grew in present decade where liberation and individualism is a norm. He does engage with liquor that do not needs behavioral acceptance by his society.

Non-normative influences pertain to significant events experienced by particular individual.  These are not part of an overall pattern in connection to the normal life cycle of an individual. Examples are like road accidents and conversion of religion.

James’ father died of liver cancer. His death caused by his overindulgence to liquor.

Social and Emotional Theory:

Erickson’s psychosocial theory covers development from birth to old age. This theory describes how social interactions affect child’s sense of self. It has eight stages that completing of each stage successfully will result to a healthy personality therefore an individual can have better interaction with others.

Below are the eight stages

1. TRUST VS. MISTRUST This is a stage where an infant begins to know who to trust and mistrust strangers.  Commonly, trust is established by infant with their parents.

– James trusted her mother so much that he even told her the things her friends are experimenting.

2. AUTONOMY VS SHAME & DOUBT is the stage when a child projects his separation, he points out that he is an individual with different ideas from his parents. He started to assert his own desires.

– When James, help his mother against his father by the time he was so drunk, he showed that he believe that his mother do not deserve such treatment from his father.

3. INITIATIVE VS GUILT is a continuation of the previous stage in which a child plans to obtain his objectives. Shame is felt when embarrassing experience is exposed publicly. While guilt is felt either somebody or nobody knows that you did something wrong. On this stage a child learns to internalize the values he learned. Child based his manner of action on how his society accepted it.

– James felt guilty on how he was been addicted to alcohol. Because of this, he wishes to cure himself.

4. INDUSTRY VS. INFEROIRITY .This is the stage when a child, upon entering elementary school is being praised for their efforts for the first time or looking for comparison to some external standard.

– James felt inferior because of his family’s ability to support them for their studies; he never wanted to return to school.

5. IDENTITY VS. ROLE CONFUSION. This stage starts at adolescence period. An individual begins to explore with various possibilities for his career, peer groups and vested interests. Often, individual would try on different vices to gain experiences. Individuals find his own self and develop his own identity.

– James, because of his family problems, tried drinking liquor to relieve his problems for some time. He has been confused of the things that are happening in their home.

6. INTIMACY VS ISOLATION This stage happens during young adulthood. A young adult compares his interests, goals and desires with other individual. Emotional aspects of individual, with respect to other not-related to his family, are developed.

– James still have not found any intimate relationship with other individual, he focused on how he will be able to solve his problems. He then isolates himself with the company of liquors.

7. GENERATIVITY VS STAGNATION. Middle adulthood usually faces this stage. This time an individual wish to impart his values and learning from his hard works and experiences to his child or next family generation.

– James felt stagnant of being hooked on alcohol. He had not learned much on how his father been drinking for his whole life years.

 8. INTEGRITY VS DESPAIR. This is the time when a person recalls his life and evaluates how he did things on his younger days. An individual becoming satisfied and happy with what had become of him now  tries to accept the fate of his death.

James felt desperate because he did not successfully hold on his principle of not becoming like his father.

Attachment theory is describes the pattern of human enduring relationships from birth to death. There are three stages of emotional reactions in this theory. Initially, protest, which child shows his dependency to parents. Despair is the second stage when a child outflows his emotions becoming sad and passive. Last stage is detachment, which a child expresses his independence.

James shows his protest when his father beat him. He went to school teary-eyed for the painful experience he had in the hands of his father. He detached himself from his family by attaching himself with liquors.

Cognitive Theory:

Cognitive theory focuses on the individual’s thoughts as the determinate of his or her emotions and behaviors and therefore personality.  In other words, thoughts always come before any feeling and before any action.

SOAR is a computational theory of human cognition. It takes the form of a general cognitive architecture. (Rosen bloom, Laird & Newell, 1992). Soar is characterized by a set of specific theoretical commitments shaped by satisfying the functional requirements for the support of human-level intelligence.

Three functional constraints of the SOAR structures are:

a)Flexible and goal-driven behavior. This shows how a child will behave upon the laid situation.

James goal is to treat his alcohol addiction to prevent him becoming like his father.

b) Continuous learning from experience. Experiences give a major impact of learning ideas. Sometimes experiences helps a child learn in a hard or easy ways.

            – James learned that a taste of liquor drove him to addition.

c) Real-time cognition. This shows a behavior within about a second of being in a situation.

       -James was attracted to experiment with liquors because of his curiosity and immediate need of relieving his tension and present problems.

Evaluation:

Developmental theory shows the important role of a family. The family, where a child is nurtured and its older members who become the role models to develop a child’s emotions and potentials, it is the most crucial environment in which a child’s experiences and actions are justified and rooted with how he is taken cared and be loved.

The first significant fact about development is that early foundations are critical. Attitudes, habits and pattern of behavior established during the early years determine to a large extent how successfully individuals will adjust to life as they grow older.

Because early foundations are likely to be more persistent, it is important that they be of the kind that will lead to good personal and social adjustments as the individual grows older.

Personality of an individual is described in the development theory. It indicates at what stage does a child needs careful attention and support. Personality is a dynamic concept of describing the growth and development of a

person’s whole psychological system. It is the sum total of ways in which an individual reacts to and interacts with others.

An adult’s personality can be further understood through his developmental stages. It is made up of both hereditary and environmental factors, moderated by situational conditions.

References:

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1977) Toward an Experimental Ecology of Human Development. New York: Basic Books.

Erikson, E. H. (1967) Identity and Life Cycle. New York: International University Press.

Hurlock, Elizabeth. (1982). Developmental Psychology: A Life-Span Approach. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.

Leaky, R.E. (1991). The Making of Mankind. The Bumbridge Publishing Group.