Social pressure to improve people's lives has been a major contributing factor to human developmental research. Human beings are complex beings; they change physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. No age period is considered as supreme in its impacts on life but rather, events that occur during each period (prenatal, childhood, adulthood), may have equally powerful effects on the future. In each period, change occurs in three domains: emotional/social (psychosocial), physical and cognitive. These domains cannot be characterised as being distinct because they interact and overlap. Each age period has its own demands and opportunities which are unique; which yield similarities in development in a lot of people. The challenges that individuals face throughout their lives are diverse in patterns and timing (Berk, 2007). Pat Solitano can be placed under the period of early adulthood that has an age range of between eighteen to forty years of age.
Pat is diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Pat is diagnosed with bipolar disorder only after an assault on his wife's lover, results in tests being carried out on him at the hospital. Mental illness does affect physical development. A diagnosis that is prompt and an early intervention of mental illness in its early stages have life changing and significant consequences on a person's mental and physical health. An early intervention could mean a reduction or the prevention of the progression of the mental illness and it could mean an improvement of not only mental health but also physical health. Often at times, physical health takes a backstage as everyone in the individual's life is concerned with his or her mental illness. An individual suffering from mental illness has an extra challenge to try and look after his or her physical health (Early Intervention in Mental Illness, 2015). The challenge could either be related to the symptoms of the mental illness or the side effects caused by medication. Medications taken for most of the mental illnesses have sedative effects and this makes it more difficult to engage in physical activities (Gray, 2006). Pat at first, had refused to take his medication as it made him foggy. Bloating and sedation are some of the effects that Pat and Tiffany give after they took certain prescribed medication.
Physical inactivity is one of the leading causes of death in developed countries (WHO, 2003, cited in Robson and Gray, 2006). People suffering from serious mental illness are more so less physically active than those of the general population (Macreadie, 2003, cited in Robson and Gray, 2006). Being physically healthy could go a long way in making a difference in the life of a person suffering from mental illness. This could mean maintaining good sleeping habits, better management of stress, being physically active and eating healthily (Sane, 2017). When Pat stays up all night while reading Earnest Hemingway's novel, the lack of sleep makes him agitated; Pat gets into a fight with his father when he accidentally knocks his mother down during one of his episodes as he fails to manage his stress levels well; Pat takes up physical exercise as one of his ways to better manage his bipolar disorder and also as a way to get back in shape for Nikki's sake.
The family and friends and people around a person diagnosed with mental disorder become affected too. The parents of the individual diagnosed often at times experience a range of emotions, for example, guilt, anxiety, sadness, anger and confusion. Most people have very little understanding of mental illness and the little they know comes from films, print media and television which mostly present sensational and distorted views of mental illnesses (ORYGEN, 2002). The individual's psychosocial development will be determined on how all these are handled. Pat's brother, Jake, his father and his friend, Ronnie, do not know how to go about offering him the support he needs as he tries to recover from the bipolar disorder.
Stigma can also cause a huge blow to the psychosocial development of an individual diagnosed with mental illness. It robs people of social opportunities like employment and diminishes self esteem (Corrigan, 2004, cited in Parle, 2012). Pat lost his job and this can be seen to be indirectly related to his bipolar diagnosis. Social distancing is also another form of stigma and can be observed when individuals are not willing to associate themselves with people suffering from mental illness. Ronnie, Pat's close friend, does not go to see him at the psychiatric hospital in Baltimore due to "a hectic work schedule and having a newborn baby"; Nancy, Pat's former work colleague, shows signs of physical distress when Pat runs by the school. Such acts of discrimination can have a huge negative impact on their confidence and self esteem (Parle, 2012). Individuals suffering from mental health problems are quite often objects of derision or ridicule (Queensland Alliance for mental health, 2010, cited in Parle, 2012). Pat gets stared at by his neighbours on his usual runs.
Nikki divorces Pat.
Divorce can affect psychosocial development as behavioural and psychological disorders for example; anxiety and mood disorders may be witnessed in those going through a divorce. Pat suffered from anxiety because he was afraid that whatever he was doing would not be enough to reconcile with Nikki and that's why he wrote her a letter outlining all that he was doing to better himself. His mood also improved or worsened, depending on whether his family and friends encouraged or discouraged him from his efforts of trying to get in touch with Nikki. On the other hand, while divorce increases psychological distress, research done on divorce suggests that a person's emotional and psychological health can increase his or her chances of divorce (Felix, Robinson and Jarzynka, 2013). Nikki divorces Pat and takes a restraining order against him after his psychotic break, where he nearly beat her lover to death.
Divorce can impact physical development as studies comparing divorced men to divorced women; have shown that adaptation in well being and health post divorce, favours women (Stack & Eshleman, 1988; Wallerstein, 1986, cited in Leopold). An explanation given is that greater health gains are experienced by men in marriage and therefore divorce increases the risk of declining health in men. Even though Pat showed a lot of distress when his marriage to Nikki fails, his physical health is better than it was when he was married to her (his friend Ronnie, his family and Nancy, his former work colleague, comment on his weight loss)
Pat loses his job.
Physical development can be impacted by losing a job. Evidence suggests that job loss can contribute to declining health in people even after taking into consideration their differences (Burgard, Brand and House cited in Nichols, Mitchell and Lindner, 2013). Loss of employment can lead to an increase of alcohol related diseases, suicide and suicide attempt and mental illness (Browning and Heinesen, 2012, cited in Nichols, Mitchell and Lindner, 2013). Some analyses of specific reasons for the loss of a job and the timing of job loss in relation to health shocks, reveal that people who lose their jobs as a result of health reasons experience higher declines in health while some individuals use that period of unemployment to engage in behaviours that promote good health, for example, physical exercise which helps in the loss of weight and encourages better alcohol management. Pat can be seen engaging in physical exercise while at the psychiatric hospital in Baltimore and when he goes back home, he takes up going for runs (Nichols, Mitchell and Lindner, 2013).
Psychosocial development can be impacted by stressful life events like losing of a job and unemployment. The loss of a job would mean disruption of a person's status, relationship structures and demonstration of skill and competence. Job loss creates a sense of shame, insecurity and anxiety (Newman 1988). The onset of stress in such a case would be as a result of disruption of an important social role and a continuance of social, psychological and economic strain (House, 1987, cited in Brand, 2014). Reasons why the loss of a job can impact negatively on a person's well being include, loss of sense of purpose and control, idleness, increase in apathy, lowered self-esteem, loss of positive derivatives gained in a work environment such as economic security, skill use and valued societal position (Danty and Goldsmith, 1996; Jahoda, 1982; Lazarsfeld and Zeisel cited in Brand, 2014). This however does not seem to be the case with Pat. He takes his job loss in stride and he tries to improve himself so that he can have a better chance to get his old job back.
Development across adulthood, when looked at from a life course perspective, is quite dynamic and even though individual might prefer and strive to have stability in their lives, they should also try to adapt to stressful events in life (Clausen, 1995; Elder, 1998; Wellington, 2005, cited in Sutin, Costa, Jr., Wethington and Eaton, 2013). Most people tend to have a strong need to view their lives as being consistent (Clausen 1995 cited in Sutin, Costa, Jr., Wethington and Eaton, 2013) but stressful life events can be particularly challenging as psychological and physical impacts from such events can and do disrupt identity and self-coherence. On the other hand, some individuals try to view stressful events as a turning point, a point that is associated with major changes in life. An individual can choose to identify such an event/s/ as an opportunity to learn something about himself/herself. Finding benefits from a traumatic or stressful experience can be an effective coping mechanism (Folkman, 2008, cited in Sutin, Costa, Jr., Wethington and Eaton, 2013). Pat chooses to see silver linings even in stressful situations and this goes a long way in helping him to find new love, have a closer relationship with his brother, reconcile and forge a better relationship with his dad and manage his bipolar disorder.
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