Anyone can experience stress in his or her life, but how the person responds to that stress is affected by the person's personality and upbringing, as well as other factors (Fernald, 2008). For someone like Lester, the issues he is facing are serious and immediate, but they also appear to have been (and will continue to be) ongoing. That is highly significant, because there is no "quick fix" for Lester. Despite that, he will be able to move forward if he addresses the issues he has and learns how to face them more clearly and in a way that is healthier for him. Psychological distress can have physical causes, but the reverse can also be true in that physical issues can be manifestations of what is taking place psychologically (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2010; Overskeid, 2007).
In Lester's life, he faces several causes of stress. The main one is the divorce through which he has just gone and the fact that the end of his marriage means that he does not see his children as often as he would like. That stressor is significant, but adding to that is the idea that he may lose his job because of layoffs and budget cuts. The hours he is forced to work to keep his job are keeping him from seeing his children more frequently, but if he loses his job he will not be able to support his children at all. He is stuck in a cycle with which he is struggling, and there are few options for him to make changes in his present circumstances. He is also stressed about the chest pains he is experiencing, because he fears that he may have a serious medical problem or that he may die. When taken together, all of the stressors in Lester's life are adding up rapidly.
As Lester faces his stressors, he worries about dying and what will happen to his children if that occurs. He also worries about whether he is a good man and a good father, why he has not gotten further in life, what he did that caused his marriage to fail, and other factors. His job is a big part of his life, and now that is also threatened. He had an identity as a family man - a husband and father, and as a pilot. Part of that identity has been completely destroyed now, and another part is threatened. While Lester can rebuild what he needs to have a strong, happy life, he has not yet begun that process and his self-esteem is very low. He must redefine his self-concept and determine who he is without benefit of the husband role or other factors that he was used to in the past.
Lester's situation signifies and illustrates adjustment because it is a forced change. Lester did not choose to have his marriage fall apart or his job end up in jeopardy. Whether he has done something to cause these issues in his life or whether they have occurred through circumstances beyond his control, he must still face them in the present day. This gives Lester a chance for personal growth, because he has lost who he thought he was and how he identified himself in many ways. Now he can re-examine his life and determine if there is a different direction he wishes to take. Many people who embark on a journey of personal growth end up going back to school, changing careers, or developing a hobby that is meaningful to them (O'Neil, 2008; Overskeid, 2007). By doing something that matters solely to him, Lester will be able to grow as a person despite the hardships through which he has recently struggled.
Lester is currently using the coping method of denial, or avoidance. While he understands that his marriage has ended and that he can only see his children every other week, he can still deny that he might lose his job. He has also not been to the doctor about his chest pains, which could be something serious but are most likely anxiety related. There are more than 30 different causes for chest pain, and most of them are benign. Lester's physical problems are likely a manifestation of his current level of anxiety and stress. Lester avoids seeing the doctor, dealing with his job situation, or even talking to a therapist or other concerned and qualified individual about what he should do next. By avoiding everything, he can pretend that things are okay or that the problems in his life are not really there. Unfortunately, this will not work as a long-term strategy for dealing with problems in life (Fernald, 2008). It would be better for Lester to focus on the coping method of acceptance, where he acknowledges the issues in his life, works through the pain of them, and learns how to move on. Lester cannot heal from the emotional wounds he has suffered until he accepts his life now as his new reality.
As for a theory of personality, the best choice would be to use a behavioral theory to address Lester's problems. Personality is more than just how a person feels about his or her life. It is also shaped by the person's environment (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2010). While internal thoughts and feelings are valid, they are often a product of what is happening to the person where his or her environment is concerned (Overskeid, 2007). Change the environment, and the personality will also change. This can explain how people who are raised very differently turn out very different from one another, even if those people are similar in age, intelligence, education, and other factors. Personality is shaped by environment, so if a person wants to undergo strong changes in his or her personality, the environment must be changed (Fernald, 2008; O'Neil, 2008). For people like Lester, environmental changes have been forced and therefore Lester must change and adapt his personality to the new normal that he is facing with the environment around him.
Lester is still in denial. He has not moved beyond this, to anger or acceptance. It is important that Lester move forward, but he seems to be at a loss as to how best to address that. It is also possible that he simply does not want to move forward, because he may feel as though there is no need to do so. What does he have to look forward to? He has lost his marriage and does not see his children more than once every two weeks. His job is in serious jeopardy, and he may lose it within the next few weeks or months. That could cause him to lose his newly-purchased condo and end up homeless. His health could be failing, and the chest pains he is experiencing could be a serious heart problem that will cause his death in the near future. He is not certain of this, of course, but understands that it may be a possibility, which causes him to worry more than necessary. Once Lester has moved past this stage in his development, he will be able to think more clearly about his situation. He should see the doctor to rule in or out a heart problem, so he can deal with that on its own. He should also make peace with his divorce, and find a hobby or something that will fill up his time and keep him from dwelling on the fact that his wife and children are not there in his life every day.
Lester's problem is being influenced by several relationship factors and considerations. Being married for 15 years means that Lester had married relatively young and had "grown up" as a family man, in many ways. He and his wife may have grown apart, or there may have been extenuating circumstances that caused them to divorce. No matter what the circumstances, it is clear that Lester is deeply upset about the end of his marriage and the fact that he will not be seeing his children as often as he did in the past. The life of an airline pilot is stressful, and the divorce and the potential job loss only add to that. It is not surprising that the stress and anxiety Lester is feeling is manifesting itself through chest pains. It is likely that those pains would go away if Lester would face and work through his feelings about the relationships he has lost and the relationships that have forever been changed by the divorce and the potential loss of his career.
With Lester's situation, it is easy to see that he needs some assistance to deal with his problems. Going to the doctor to address the causes of his chest pain would be a good first step. He may not feel as though he can deal with a health problem on top of everything else, but his concerns about dying should be addressed. It is certainly not impossible for…