The character in the movie acrimony who will be our client is Melinda. In the movie, Melinda has two sisters: June and Brenda. Melinda also has a mother who dies in the early stages of the movie. She gets married to Robert, but they later divorce after she realizes that he refused an offer from Prescott and that he was also having an affair with Diana (an employee of Prescott).
Melinda is depicted as a woman who is unable to control her anger and fury. One of the actions that can be attributed to this fury is the accident which she caused after she discovered that her husband was cheating on her with Diana. She rammed her car into the RV where she stayed and ended up being fatally injured. The same anger drove her into pouring hydrochloric acid on Diana's wedding gown. Her emotional balance is further destabilised when she learns that Diana is pregnant. Although she is prevented from attending the wedding, she sneaks into the boat which Robert and Diana were using to go to their honeymoon. She starts a commotion which ends up with her shooting Robert and finally being drowned in the lake after her leg is caught in the anchor chain.
Melinda's Crisis and Theories Explaining it
What Melinda is passing through can be described as a dispositional emotional crisis (Apter, 2016). This type of crisis occurs when an individual is exposed to an acute external stressor that they are unable to cope with (Jacobs, 1999). The inability to cope with negative emotions which are catalyzed by external factors forces an individual to do certain actions which end up harming themselves or other people (Cohen and Willis, 1985). Melinda is a perfect example of a person undergoing a dispositional emotional crisis. After knowing that her husband was cheating on her, she rammed her vehicle into her RV and ended up being fatally injured. She also ended up causing harm to others after she sneaked into the boat that Robert and Diana were using for their honeymoon and caused a commotion where she ended up drowning after she shot Robert.
There are several theories which can be used to describe the emotional crisis that Melinda is passing through. These theories include the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behavior, the theory of collective social forces, the psychache theory, hopelessness theory, cognitive deconstructive theory and the escape theory of suicide (Healy, 2014).
Importance of Using Theories
Crisis theories provide a better explanation of human behavior (Payne, 1998). These theories will, therefore, enable the social worker to properly explain the crisis that the client is passing through (Lewis, 1997). They also provide a blueprint with which the social worker can use to determine what type of crisis that the client is passing through (Hepworth et al., n.d). Identification of the crisis will, therefore, lead to administration of the most appropriate intervention to help the client to recover from the crisis that he or she is passing through (Payne, 1998).
The theory that I would use to explain the crisis that Melinda is passing through is Edwin Shneidman's psychache theory. According to the theory, a human being will only commit suicide if the emotional crisis that they are undergoing is psychologically painful (Shneidman, 1993). He defines psychache as an unbearable feeling of anger, guilt, shame or depression that a person experiences (Troister and Holden, 2010). He further goes on to say that the pain is so intense that the person resorts to suicide as the only option to help them relive the pain (Leister, 2000). According to the theory, there are three factors which affect an individual's propensity towards committing suicide. These factors are; constriction, press, and perturbation (Shneidman, 1993). Constriction occurs when an individual's mind becomes myopic and makes decisions based on one single event (Leister, 200). Perturbation is the state of unrest where one has an internal force that drives him to do something that will resolve the uneasiness that they are currently experiencing (Hofmann, 2007). Press, on the other hand, is defined as the pressure or the weight that someone is subjected to when they are experiencing an emotional crisis. These factors are given a scale of one to five each (Troister and Holden, 2010). A person with a score of 5-5-5 is likely to commit suicide if they are not subjected to an effective intervention procedure (Reynaga-Abiko, 2004).
Our client Melinda on several occasions in the movie exhibited the characteristics mentioned above. The first instance is when she rammed her vehicle into her RV. This action could have potentially ended her life. Her decision to ram her car into the RV is an indicator that she had suicidal tendencies. She might have made that decision as a result of intense emotional stress (press) which made her to see ramming the vehicle into the RV as the only option (Constriction) that could help her to resolve the uneasiness (perturbation) that she was feeling internally.
My rationale for choosing this theory is that it provides me with the correct procedure of correctly identifying the crisis that the client is passing through. It also provides a framework for determining the degree of emotional crisis that the client is in and therefore providing a baseline which can be used to inform the intervention measures to be employed when helping the client cope with the crisis that they are undergoing.
There several other theories which can be used to explain the emotional crisis that our client is undergoing. The inter-personal theory by Thomas Joiner which argues that an individual must first be used to physical pain or the fear of death for them to fatally harm themselves is a good example of such theories (Joiner, 2009). Another theory which can be used to explain our client's crisis is Roy Baumeister's theory of escape which states that suicide is a gradual process where an individual pass through various steps before finally reaching the stage where they have no other option but to commit suicide (Saleebey, 1996). Finally, David Rudd's Fluid Vulnerability model can also be used to explain our client's crisis. According to him, the factors that influence one to commit suicide and determine the severity of the period during which the person is likely to commit suicide are fluid (David et al., 2018). Therefore, one can only be exposed to the risk of committing suicide for as long as those factors remain at their peak.
The rationale for choosing these theories is that they are useful in providing a detailed explanation of the emotional crisis of our client. They also provide different ways of explaining the same crisis. They can, therefore, be useful in helping me gain better understanding of the crisis that my client is experiencing. I will, therefore, be better placed to come up with the most effective intervention procedure that will help the client to cope with the situation that she is in.
The first step in helping my client to cope is first to understand her view of the problem that she was going through (Bonnele, 1997). I will do this by asking open-ended questions which will help the client voice her opinions out. Something that will not only help me know how she viewed herself and the problem that she was passing through but also have a therapeutic effect on the client (Dunne, 1992). After understanding the problem, I will assess the environment that my client is in to ascertain whether there are factors which might jeopardize her safety (Fleischmann et al., 2008). Such factors include loneliness or the want to inflict physical harm on self (Juhnke, 2010). It is during this step that I, in collaboration with the client will develop a safety plan which the client can use whenever she is pre-disposed to danger. A hotline number which she can call whenever she is overwhelmed will also be essential at this stage.
Once her safety is guaranteed, we can proceed to provide support to the client to enable her cope with the crisis (Tang et al., 2013). In the case of my client, her two sisters could be a very valuable resource which can be exploited in helping her recover. I would also recommend that she joins other support groups where she will be able to share her experiences with other people and learn what they do to cope with their crises (Mann, 2008). After identifying the support groups, we can then examine alternative measures to use whenever she is overwhelmed. These alternatives can include positive thinking, coping mechanisms and even immediate situational support (WHO, 2012). Once the alternatives have been identified, I will then help the client come up with short-term goals which she can implement. This plan would factor in the additional resources that she can use and the coping mechanisms that she can exploit whenever she is overwhelmed. Finally, I will help the client to commit herself to use positive corrective measures whenever she is overwhelmed. I will stress on the fact that she only chooses the measures she believes she can effectively use. Her commitment and acceptance to positively deal with the crisis will be essential in helping her to manage her emotional crisis (Trimble et al., 2000).
My rationale for choosing this intervention method is that it is centred on the client. The method seeks to understand what the client passes through and guarantee her safety. It will also provide her with effective support groups and alternative measures which she can use whenever she is in a crisis. Finally, it will equip her with techniques she can use to manage her crisis.
Appraisal of the Intervention
According to literature, when this method was used, more than half of the patients who were subjected to this form of intervention did not attempt to commit suicide or inflict harm on self (Zalsman et al., 2016). It shows that this method is effective in helping clients to cope with the crises that they find themselves in. Researchers have also argued that when this method is used as an intervention, suicidal patients are better placed to identify risk factors that may induce a suicidal effect and initiate coping strategies that will enable them cope with the imminent crisis that that may come afterward (Wenzel and Beck, 2008).
The implication that this intervention will have on the social work profession is that it changes how social workers define a client's crisis (Hofmann, 2007). Social workers using this intervention to treat clients will now strive to understand the problem that the client is facing from the client's perspective (Hofmann, 2007). It will enable them to modify the proximal and distal process used when dealing with a client who is in a crisis (Wenzel and Beck, 2008). Better understanding of a client's crisis and the use of appropriate corrective measures will eventually contribute to a reduced rate of suicide attempts by vulnerable patients.
Melinda; our case study client from the Acrimony movie is experiencing an emotional crisis that makes her to have suicidal characteristics. We use theories to explain better what Melinda is experiencing and also to be able to come up with an appropriate intervention procedure which will help her to cope with her crisis. Edwin Schneidman's psychache theory which states that a person will only commit suicide if the crisis he or she is undergoing is psychologically painful is used to explain what our client Melinda is passing through. To help our client cope, we use a six-step intervention procedure. The six steps include: defining the problem of the client, ensuring the client's safety, providing support, examining alternatives, making plans that the patient will use when in a crisis and finally committing the client to thes...
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