Psychological Theory Term Paper

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Alcoholism and Upbringing

Psychological theory

James' father is responsible for James' involvement in crime and burglary. Origin of the problem. Alcoholic parents are the reason for the moral decay of juveniles

Another reason for James' feelings of inadequacy

Effect of alcoholism in the upbringing of a child

The effect of taking James out of his mother's home as a juvenile

Reaction formation

An examination of James' denial of his responsibility over his problem

Personality theory

Sociological theory

Personality and sociological theory

An explanation of James' behaviors, and his father using the two frameworks

Thorburn (2005) suggests that a misapprehension that numerous alcoholics seem to have is that their behavior does not affect other people. They deny ever hurting other people but themselves. A great deal of research and huge anecdotal proof suggest otherwise. The behavior of alcoholics can affect those around them, including family members, friends, coworkers and employers. Children are the most susceptible. The psychological impact of drinking disorder on the children of the alcoholics forms the centre stage of this paper. The children could develop deep-seated emotional and psychological issues because of growing up with an alcoholic parent. Further studies reveal that the psychological traits play a vital role in character formation of the child (Plant, Peck, Samuel & Stuart, 2000). Majority of the character traits portrayed during adulthood reflects those reported by minors who experienced sexual or physical abuse by a parent (Thorburn, 2005). Other contexts reflecting such outcomes include minors who lived in foster homes, or those adopted at a late age. Others include children brought up with parents with compulsive behaviors like overreacting and gambling.

Case study

James T. Johnson's upbringing was not short of constant friction because of his fighting parents. The regular fights between his parents resulted from his father's drinking problem. The drinking and brawling that characterized his childhood affected him psychologically as well as reducing his quality of life.

Origin of problem

The lack of an example to follow from his childhood and normal family relationship greatly affected his self-esteem. He is a construction worker who seems to be committed to his work. The employment offers a source of income for him. Consequently, his involvement in crime is not because of lack, but a deep feeling on inadequacy. Majority of adult children of alcoholics find it hard to confer themselves a break. They portray feelings of inadequacy and inferiority syndrome. The low self-esteem and little self-worth further complicate their psychological disorder (Thorburn, 2005). In the course of growing up while dealing with his father's alcoholism, James unconsciously adopted his father's lifestyle as the only way of life he knew. The unhappy childhood that he had to tolerate resulted to his involvement in crime. During the week, James maintains diligence at his place of work. From the case study, it is evident that his commitment to work rules as long as he maintains sobriety. His character was polluted by the various burglaries that he commits after their drinking sprees with work mates. His behavior persisted until it ended him at the local police station. He faced burglary charges but was lucky enough to be bailed out by his mother who mortgaged their house. The whole incidence frustrated his mother who blamed him for following in his father's footsteps. It is clear that James' father's drinking habit led him to crime (to finance his drinking habit and ultimately led to separation from his wife).

Origin of problem (2)

Thorburn (2005) adds that another reason that could contribute to James' problem is the fear of loss or self. The fear generates from the fact that James never had the chance to establish his sense of self in the course of his upbringing. The early messages that he received from his parents were confusing. This led to the creation of values and beliefs in his mind that he could have learnt through example. When a child suffers neglect, he automatically self-parents himself. His vulnerable state of selfhood developed much stronger inner messages than the exterior ones. James' alcoholism and involvement in crime emanated from his weak decision making mechanisms. The weak system relied on self-knowledge and instincts, instead of relying on the lessons from school.

Effects of alcoholism

Alcoholism normally has strong negative impacts on marital unions. Because of his father's drinking, James' parents separated (Heath, 2005). This is because of the constant fights that resulted because his father was drunk most of the time. Around 66% of divorced and separated women and around 50% of divorced or separated men have been victims of alcoholism at some time. The vice comes with a significant portion of human violence. The perpetrators are normally under the influence of alcohol. Studies reveal that alcohol is a key tenet in 68% of assaults, 62% of manslaughters, 48% of murders, 54% of robberies and 44% of burglaries. The violence and impaired judgment induced by alcohol results to the alcohol related crimes. Researches on domestic violence constantly document high levels of alcohol and other forms of drug abuse (Floyd & Seale, 2002).

A different social environment

Removing James from his home as a juvenile would have exposed him to burglary to a wide extent. The partial parenting that he received from his mother worked to prevent James' total condemnation in alcohol and crime. The reality that he had a family to return to after work limited his involvement in burglary. Heath (2005) maintains that recent research has shown that full time criminals perpetrate the majority of the crimes committed. They do not have another source of income apart from crime. Separating James from his house would be tantamount to eliminating the only source of worth that he had. His abuse and low-self-esteem made him feel so inadequate about many things. Thus, his home remained his only source of worth (the only reason that might have kept him from indulging in full-time burglary).

Reaction formation

The statements made by James about responsibility are not just an act of shifting the blame. Upon a closer analysis, his sentiments bear some truth. Children of an alcoholic parent are at the utmost risk of developing the same addiction. This is because of the genetic and environmental impacts of growing up with the vice. The fact that James saw his father practice alcoholism interpreted the behavior as acceptable, and consequently adopted it. The violence with which he grew up with made him feel neglected and with no positive example to imitate. The pressures associated with single parenting, for instance stress and financial constraints distorted his perception completely, making it easy for him to indulge in alcohol abuse and crime. His statement echoes deep frustration and anger toward his father and mother. His burglary has taken a dangerous twist, and this seems to trigger his resentment against himself, as well. The smallest amount of structure and communication the family provides determines whether the child would indulge in deliquescent activities or not. The nature of the family does influence positively or negatively, the formation of juvenile delinquency of a child. The family is the cornerstone of human society. Children brought up in homes with considerable conflicts, inadequately supervised, or who experience some form of rejection is most vulnerable. Analysts suggest that justice for the juveniles result and the young steered on the right path if the families of the juveniles are involved. A better understanding of the family unit would greatly aid in dealing with the majority of the juvenile crimes (Heath, 2005).

Reaction formation is a phenomenon that decreases anxiety by assuming the opposite feeling, behavior of impulse. For instance, when an individual treats an enemy with friendliness while hiding the actual feelings of hate, we say the individual has formed a reaction. Reaction formation takes place when a person is compelled to do or say something that is the opposite of what they desire. It acts as a defense against a certain feared social punishment. For instance, if one expects some castigation for something, one may visibly act in a manner that reflects a distant stand from the feared position (Edwards, 2007).

James reaction toward his mother's sentiments shows some form of reaction formation. He extols the vices of irresponsible parenting upon rebuke for his alcoholism and burglary. He shifts the responsibility by blaming his behaviors on his parents. In simple terms, he is telling his mother to blame his behavior on his father and their constant domestic violence. This seems to give him comfort and take away the guilt brought about by his lifestyle. He is covering up something unacceptable by maintaining an opposite stand. James reiterates that drinking and crime was the only life that he knew because of his father's alcohol problem. This could be a conscious concealment, or a subconscious one, where the victim is not aware of the real cause of his problem (Edwards, 2007).

Personality theory

Personality psychology deals with the personality of human beings and its individual distinctions. It mainly focuses on building of a coherent picture of an…

Sources Used in Document:


Plant, M.A., Peck, D.F., Samuel, E., & Stuart, R. (2000). Alcohol, drugs, and school-leavers.

London: Tavistock Publications.

Thorburn, D. (2005). Alcoholism myths and realities: Removing the stigma of society's most destructive disease. Northridge, Calif: Galt Pub.

Floyd, M.R., & Seale, J.P. (2002). Substance abuse: A patient-centered approach. Abingdon,

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