Application of Behavioral Theories to Human Experience
Taking a flashback in my life only brings out the many problems I faced as a child. Confronting my personal problems at a very tender age made me insightful beyond my age. Personally, I came from a well-to-do family, one that was characterized by domestic violence. Hell broke loose when my grandmother, the only person who would protect me passed on when I was six. The violence abated until I was fourteen, a time when I was brave enough to defend myself. My turning point in life occurred when I was seventeen years. That year I failed my public examination, my parents got divorced, and I was diagnosed with a hemorrhagic stroke on the left side of the brain. All these happened in a year, yet, my story did not end there.
After these ordeals, it dawned on me that life was too short and I needed to do something meaningful with the rest of my life. I had to strive to be a better person and bring a change in young people’s lives using my experiences of life, especially those who are victims of domestic abuse. I then enrolled to work as a program worker where I provided after-school services. My most memorable experiences are those times when interacted with students and parents as well as witnessing their lives change. Shortly, I realized that I was lacking some knowledge and skills on how to respond to people’s changing needs and social-cultural contexts. Therefore, I enrolled for a counseling course that enriched my understanding of those aspects. During my master’s graduation ceremony, I was appreciated some of my transformed students because they knew the kind of contribution I would make to the society. This has encouraged me to strive for my dream.
Later on, worked as a hotline counselor where I learned about integrity and respect towards my clients and realized that that counseling was not enough for all the problems people face. Were it not for studies on social work, I would not have gotten the chance to address people’s social problems and their causes, effects, and solutions. Therefore, I want to pursue my career as a social worker in the future because this is what I love to do.
Comparative Analysis of the Event
There are numerous behavior theories that are applicable to this personal experience. Two behavioral theories will be used to explain why this experience happened, predict its consequences, describe actions are taken, and alternative actions that might have been taken.
1.0 Psychoanalytic Theory
This is a personality theory by Sigmund Freud which is based on the idea that people are motivated by unseen forces that that are normally controlled by the rational thought and the conscious (Business Jargons, 2018). According to Sigmund human behavior is controlled by three major mind components which are Id, Ego, and Super Ego.
Why the Experience Happened and the Need to React to It
Using the psychoanalytic theory several explanations can be advanced why the experience happened and why several people reacted the way they did. The experience that led to my turning point was initiated by domestic violence that I experienced in my childhood. Being a child, my behavior can be explained by the Sigmund third model of mind which is unconscious up until six years when my grandmother passed away. The unconscious component contains a repository of the processes that drive our behaviors, including people’s instinctual and primitive desires (Mcleod, 2013). It is that instinctual desire that I felt I need someone to protect me and that informed by behavior then.
Although the violence abated until I was fourteen years those experiences were alive in the mind but just in a repressed state. I was able to remember them at the new age because they were already stored in the preconscious, also known as subconscious, where which is a place where everything that we are able to recall or retrieve is stored (Mcleod, 2013). When several occurrences happened in a row, the bubble of repressed past violent events erupted guided by the Id. Basically, the Id operates at the unconscious level and it solely focuses on the simple instinctual desires and drives.
At fourteen, I was in a position to defend myself to some extent because I could now use one of the two biological instincts that constitute Id which is Eros. This is the instinct that someone uses to survive and it is the one that drives us to pursue or engage in those activities that are deemed life-sustaining (Ackerman, 2018). The events that happened at the age of seventeen that brought the turning point in a way that repression could no longer be a defense mechanism for my conflicting Id, Ego, and Super Ego. Repression refers to a mechanism that is unconscious whereby the ego tries to push or dislodge threatening or disturbing thoughts out of the conscious (Mcleod, 2013). Aided by Super Ego which is where morality and higher principle reside in the mind, I chose to embrace a morally acceptable way which entailed striving to be a better person and bring a change in young people’s lives using my experiences of life. Otherwise, if I did not make that decision, Thanatos, the second Id’s biological instinct could have informed my behavior. Thanatos is an instinct that drives aggressive, destructive, violent behaviors (Ackerman, 2018). It is due to this death instinct that I reacted by transforming myself to be better a better person. Those whom I attended to also reacted positively and transformed also.
I predict that since I have discovered my purpose, Ego will continue to inform my behavior as it serves to check and meet the demands of Id in the most socially acceptable manner. It is in tune with reality as it is a reality tester regulates the relentless and punishing superego as well as demands of external reality (Kenny, 2016). I am also likely to embrace sublimation as a defense mechanism to that event because it entails acting on a substitute to satisfy an impulse in a socially acceptable manner where I will channel my energy in my career in social work (Ackerman, 2018).
Actions in Response
In order to respond to this situation, I decided to do something meaningful with my life and sought a job that would eventually see me assist other victims of domestic violence like me. It is these actions that pushed me to pursue counseling and a career in social work. An alternative action that I could have taken is seeking counseling help on how to resolve the conflict between the unconscious and the conscious that I went through.
2.0 The Theory of Empowerment
The event that happened when I was seventeen and the subsequent behavior formation that followed episodes of domestic violence during my childhood can be explained by the theory of empowerment. This theory attempts to address issues such as deprivation of rights, social inequalities, and the differences that exist among individuals, groups, and communities in a society. It is oriented towards the achievement of a high level of social justice and human empowerment. The process of empowerment leads to changes in the approach to social resources as well as an increased social power of deprived people and entities (Radovic, 2008).
Why the Experience Happened and the Need to React to It
The experienced happened because I was initially deprived of many rights and privileges. First, my right to security was not guaranteed as I grow up in an insecure home full of domestic violence. The only safe haven I had, my grandmother die and I was left exposed. The divorce of my parent when I was seventeen further left me exposed alongside other factors that augmented the occurrence of that life-changing event. The personal experience happened as a result of a psychological need to be empowered to overcome my childhood problems. In my case, empowerment theory that advocates for application of effort to exert control and influence that affects one’s life (Zimmerman, 2000). Upon realizing that life was too short I concluded that I needed to do something with and all that I needed was empowerment.
I reacted by finding a job that would entail serving others as a program worker because I knew that by helping others to overcome like me, I would not only be empowering myself alone but also them. Other close to me reacted by embracing value orientation of empowerment by setting goals, objectives, and strategies to implement change, and that is why they recorded remarkable change (Zimmerman, 2000).
I can predict several consequences following through the application of the empowerment theory in my life. First, through empowerment, I anticipated gaining skills to enable me to cope with memories of childhood experiences and exposure to problems. Second, having empowerment myself, I predict that I will be able to use that experience to empower others who have to go through what I went through as a child. Third, through the intrapersonal component of the theory of empowerment, I predict that I will develop a package that includes my personal appraisal, motivation, and the agency to change my life (Sheldon, 2016). Other people who I interact with are likely to benefit through the behavioral component of this theory because from my assistance they will be able to take individual-level actions that demand leadership that benefits not only them but also the community at large (Pinto, Rahman & Williams, 2014). Therefore, I predict that with empowerment the people I will be serving will be able to overcome the problem and experience a behavior change as I did.
Actions in Response
In order to empower myself the first action I took is decided to make my life meaningful and help others overcome similar challenges. This action is what prompted the second action which was to seek employment as a program worker, to help others. One of alternative action that I should have taken is to see a professional counselor to advise me accordingly on how to take care of my behavior as I try to help others attain empowerment through behavioral changes.
The Preference among Behavioral Theories
Since all aspects of behavioral change cannot be fully explained by a single theory. However, I prefer the psychoanalytic theory to the theory of social empowerment to explain the behavioral changes in my personal experience because the theory offers a better explanation of behavioral development in human beings. The psychoanalytic theory possesses some key advantages that make it a better choice for explaining my personal experience.
Starting off with psychoanalytic theory by Sigmund Freud, we can see several advantages that make it useful for this personal experience. First, the theory enables one to realize that a person’s development is informed one’s childhood events. In my case, the problems I experienced as a child greatly informed my behavior later in life. Second, the theory presents the Id component which helps in explaining why one’s behavior, experience, and cognition are largely determined by irrational drives which are largely unconscious like in my case in needed security and support something which triggered the turning point. Third, this theory enables someone to identify several defense mechanisms, unlike other theories. For instance, before my turning point most of the time I used repression instead of confronting my problem this informing my behavior then and sublimation after the turning point. Fourth, the psychoanalytic theory seems to have an explanation as to why people show different behaviors at different points in time and this is because the Ego is usually in conflict with the Id and the Super Ego trying to establish a balance where socially acceptable behavior can thrive. Lastly, unlike in other theories, this theory provides the transition between phases in behavior change due to the action of Ego that regulate the Id component and moderate Super Ego because it is driven by a reality principle.
The psychoanalytic theory, however, has a shortcoming when it comes to explaining my personal experience. Using this theory it is not easy to demarcate the extent of its three major components which are Id, Ego, and Super Ego because the Ego happens to be a battleground for the forces of the other two components. As such it is difficult from my situation to determine with certainty where ego comes into play and without the effect of the other components.
The study of human experience that triggers the development of human new behaviors is a complex undertaking that raises a number of questions including the following;
How effective are the theories that explain human behavior in capturing events that underlie human experience credited change in human behavior?
Is change of behavior that causes empowerment in human beings or it is empowerment that changes one behavior going based on the action of the theory of human empowerment in explaining changes in human behavior?
Would it be correct to argue that in Psychoanalytic theory the Ego is the most important component of that behavioral theory as it forms the interface between Id and Super Ego which are extreme behaviors in the scales of what can be termed as socially acceptable behavior initiators?
Does the psychoanalytic theory fail in explaining how socially acceptable behaviors are maintained since it does not state which among its three components reinforces both positive and negative behaviors?
From the preceding discussion on the application of theories to personal experience that leads to behavioral transformation two theories stand out and these are the psychoanalytic theory and the theory of empowerment. The former uses its three main metaphorical parts of the mind to explain human behavior as affected by operations of these parts which are Id, Ego, and Super Ego. The most important influence of human behavior according to this theory lies in what is captured as a conflict between the conscious and the unconscious. The is based on the idea that human behavior is mostly driven by unconscious irrational drives and it is the efforts to bring those drivers into awareness that triggers defense mechanism such as repression and sublimation discussed in this chapter. However, it has been demonstrated that the Ego plays a critical role moderating the Id and Super Ego this leading to socially acceptable behavior.
Although the empowerment theory attempts to address issues such as deprivation of rights, social inequalities, and the differences that exist among individuals, groups, and communities in a society, it does not make an attempt to explain the innate mechanisms behind the development of human behavior. It is only oriented towards the achievement of a high level of social justice and human empowerment. However, the process of empowerment leads to changes in the approach to social resources as well as an increased social power of deprived people and entities. This theory delves more on motivation to pursue empowerment which depends on behavioral changes due to personal experiences rather than explaining the principles behind those behavioral changes.
From this discussion, I have learned that no single theory can conceivably explain how personal experiences inform one’s behavior. Any theory that does not employ the cognitive aspect of human behavior like the empowerment theory can explain behavioral changes but not the mechanisms that underlie these changes and this psychoanalytic theory stands a better chance of performing that function.
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