Interpersonal Communications Issue Scenario Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2550 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Psychology

Interpersonal Communications Issue Scenario

Background of Interpersonal Scenario

Two acquaintances of mine are brothers Paul and Frank, aged 24 and 22, respectively. They have a severely dysfunctional relationship with a high level of mutual resentment, distrust, and, at times, outright hostility. Both live at home with their mother, Brenda, aged 52 in a two-bedroom apartment where they have lived since 2000, when Paul and Frank were 14 and 12, respectively. Prior to that, they lived with Frank Sr., from whom Brenda received a divorce in 1999.

After graduating from high school in 2005, Paul attended a community college trade school in another state, supporting himself and a small apartment nearby working as a printer during the overnight "graveyard" shift from midnight until 7:00 AM. After achieving his degree, he worked briefly at en entry-level job in his field, but the economy severely harmed the industry and most employers had no choice but to reduce their personnel, beginning with the newest hires. Paul had planned to simply keep the apartment he rented while in school even though it was in a bad neighborhood where he knew almost nobody, support himself with his first job in his field, and either find a better apartment if he stayed at that job or use it as a stepping-stone to a better job closer to his home. Both brothers were very close to their mother and both also saw their father regularly, although usually separately.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Interpersonal Communications Issue Scenario Background of Interpersonal Assignment

Frank delayed college to try to become a male fashion model or an actor and earned very little money from intermittent work waiting tables and retail clothes sales. His parents supported him for two years after high school and only succeeded in getting him to enroll in community college was by threatening to put him out unless he agreed to either get a fulltime job to support himself while living at his mothers or go to college. Frank continued living in the room that he shared with Paul until Paul left for college almost four years ago. He converted it from a room setup for two to share into a single person's room even before Paul finished school, making it very unpleasant for Paul during the long holidays.

Paul avoided making a problem over it when visiting, mainly to respect his mother's wishes and to avoid causing conflict that would inevitably involve her and cause her significant stress and anxiety. He slept on the living room couch during visits and most of his belongings that Frank had packed up from their old room while Paul was away were in large plastic storage containers under the couch. That uncomfortable arrangement seemed to work for holiday visits but now that Paul had no reason to continue living in the town where his school happened to be and where he had found his first job.

The discussion of Paul's moving back into his mother's apartment incensed Frank and he refused to even consider it. He told his mother that he would prefer to quit school and live in a homeless shelter until he could afford an apartment as a waiter than live with Paul again. Brenda, who was always overprotective of her boys, would have been hurt the most by this, and although Paul never believed that Frank would actually so it, he knew that calling Frank's bluff would terrorize his mother nonetheless.

Paul was unable to find decent work for several months but he eventually managed to find another overnight printing job; unfortunately, that meant he could not sleep in the living room during the day because it was impossible to avoid being woken up continually even though he is a fairly heavy sleeper. Eventually, Brenda gave Paul her bedroom so he could sleep during the day to work at night and she slept in the living room on the couch at night. Reviewing the development of the interpersonal relationships involved provides insight into various areas of personal psychological development and communications dynamics that are attributable to self-concept and self-esteem in the individual (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2008; Branden, 2008).

Self-Concept - Development, Maintenance, and Role in Interpersonal Relationships

Frank Sr. And Brenda had had a very volatile marriage in which Frank routinely used his boys as pawns to provoke incidents to establish himself as the better parent in the boys' eyes and he also regularly used his favoritism of one boy over the other to manipulate them as well. He rarely praised his sons; in fact, the closest either one of them ever received to a compliment was when Frank Sr. chastised the other, such as by telling Frank, "You're just like your mother; you don't know how anything works. Paul is like me: he can fix anything" and by telling Paul, "You lose things because you're a slob; look how neatly Frank keeps his things in there."

Because Frank Sr. perpetually withheld praise or positive encouragement of any kind, both Paul and Frank developed a general sense of personal inadequacy. They expressed (and overcompensated) for them in very different ways, but those differences were simply expressions of their interests and idiosyncrasies; in principle, both Paul and Frank felt that they were never "enough" of whatever it was they were supposed to be (Branden, 2008). To make matters worse, Frank Sr. was notorious for retaliating against his boys for showing affection for their mother, although he did it indirectly. For instance, if they seemed to have enjoyed seeing their mother or they spoke of plans they had made with her, Frank Sr. would punish them by being cold and distant, and by criticizing and even insulting them purely as a means of lashing out at them in anger. Typical examples would include the way he told Frank that his nose was way too big to be a model and the way he told Paul not to waste his time dreaming about being a pilot because he was "blind as a bat without those glasses."

Both Paul and Frank developed intense reactions to any type of criticism, although they responded in characteristically different ways. As is so often the case in human psychology, their responses to the same circumstances represented polar extremes of the same underlying emotions (Gerrig & Zimbardo, 2008). Specifically, when Paul encountered even the subtlest criticism (such as corrections from teachers), he experienced strong feelings of inadequacy and failure; it also predisposed him to periodic bouts of depression. He generally hid his feelings from others and isolated himself. He suffered insults in silence as well and he began using alcohol to self-medicate to insulate himself against the symptoms of depression.

Both brothers are highly competitive, especially amongst themselves but also in relation to others. They also express this in very different ways. Paul responds to highly flattering remarks or observations of others by becoming depressed at their success relative to his. Frank is equally moved by his awareness of flattery or the good fortune of others but instead of being depressed by it, he sometimes simply adopts that which he covets. For example, one of his high school friends came from a much wealthier background and was an accomplished hockey player. When Frank went to summer camp as a teenager, he created a false persona of coming from a wealthy family and being a high school hockey star. He even went so far as to take the varsity jacket that he stole from his friend Charles, sew a patch over Charles' name on the lapel, and wear it in camp where nobody knew him or where he went to high school at home.

Paul craves positive feedback from others and makes friends rather easily, largely because the only criterion for friendship with him is the apparent desire to interact with him. Meanwhile, Frank has developed a volatile temper and is easily angered to the point of lashing out verbally, even toward authority figures such as teachers, work supervisors, and customers. He tends to be very defensive in general, always suspicious of the criticism and ulterior motives he imagines that other people in his life (and sometimes, even strangers) have with respect to him.

If there is a way to interpret a comment or gesture as an insult, Frank will find it; however, he seems oblivious to the degree that he invites negative interactions through a tone of defensiveness and sarcasm. As is often the case in dysfunctional interpersonal communications styles, Frank projects some of his own worst characteristics that he has suppressed from his consciousness onto others (Branden, 2008; Crain, 1995). Frank has difficulty trusting people; he tends to assume others have an ulterior motive for seeking his company but (paradoxically) chooses friends on the basis of how he might benefit from knowing them.

Perceptions, Emotions, and Nonverbal Expression in Interpersonal Relationships

Frank Sr. never chastised his sons directly for enjoying their time with their mother; instead, he took out his anger by purposely doing (or buying) something special for the other son, making sure to do so in… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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