Celeste Adames and Paola Santos wrote this report from the point of view of a public health psychologist. You will find evidence from a variety of sources to assess the current health of the American Dream. Imagine that the United States of America is a person. How healthy is this person, physically, mentally, and emotionally?
Client Name: Mrs. American Dream
Description of client: Mrs. American Dream was born in the United States in 1931.
She is 85 years old. She is a little underweight, but a clean, conservative person. She is German and Chinese. She wears the latest fashions trends. She talks in a way that was very professional, but also down to earth and humble. She kept jumping at the sound of someone coming in through the lobby door.
Presenting problem: Mrs. American Dream made this appointment a couple weeks before election night. She mentioned that she’s starting to feel that it’s her fault that America is going down the drain. She knows her economy is horrible and not everyone is being treated equally. She is blaming herself for the way America is divided and not one nation. She’s feeling useless because she’s at a loss for what to. Also, trying to keep the economy growing is starting to take a toll on her mental health. In an article, “Wealth, Well-Being, and the New American Dream”, David G. Myers talks about how being wealthy does not determine true happiness,“but in the long run, wealth is like health. Its utter absence can breed misery, but having it doesn’t guarantee happiness. Happiness seems less a matter of getting what we want than of wanting what we have” (David G. Myers). In the United States Declaration of Independence, it states that our unalienable rights are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Mrs. American Dream puts others before herself which is now making her quite paranoid when she believes something isn’t its’ best which is not the pursuit of happiness. Moreover, I noticed that she is not able to experience true happiness because she’s too focused on being wealthy. Mrs. American Dream wants everyone to be able to achieve what they believe is their dream by pushing themselves to their breaking point which has now backfired on her.
History: Mrs. American Dream’s childhood was full of violence due to her constant need to take land and resources that did not belong to her. She has experienced many near-death experiences which can explain her paranoia. She’s has had other countries invade the land which called for constant changes in her life. She was always expanding and moving in her teenage years because new resources were discovered. Gold was a huge change for my client because her family became rich within a couple months after it was discovered. Before she made it to her late-30s, she didn’t have any money saved and she went bankrupt which was the start of her chasing after the American Dream. The campaign image shows that there’s only one type of “American family.”
The image is showing that America is only white, blonde, well-dressed, good-looking small families. “Make America Great Again” makes assumptions that America is a bad place because of people in her community. (Trump Campaign). This supports my diagnosis because she talks about how her family could take anything they wanted whenever. She talks about gaining power and losing it. She grew with thinking that anything she wanted belonged to her and it was for her to take. Mrs. American Dream was raised to believe that she was only to talk rich white and fit people. She was taught to be better than everyone else.
Personality features: My client is very conservative with herself and words, she doesn’t explain much about her emotions. She is manipulative, but also honest. She treats everyone like very good friends, almost family, but she uses them to get to where she wants to be. She has a lot of confidence that she can achieve what she wants by using people. She owes a lot of people money because she promises that when she makes it to the top, she’ll pay them back. She feels horrible about it and thinks about every person she owes every night. She has a very ambitious attitude but gets a little discouraged when something doesn’t go the way she wants it to or when it’s not as easy as she thought it was. Her childhood community is very disconnected to her because she couldn’t afford to live in that neighborhood anymore. She’s felt an emptiness since not being around the familiar town and people. She feels lost most of the time and depends on people to make things right for her. Now living in her neighborhood, she feels isolated and hesitates on depending on others for help. Adele Nazarian writes an article, “Rising Prices Pushing Blacks out of Oakland, Too” where she explains that “Oakland has lost approximately 10 percent of its African Americans in the last decade”. The rising prices of homes in Oakland make them unavailable for residents to afford, making them have to move out of town (Adele Nazarian). Mrs. American Dream was terrified and worried about not being able to afford her childhood home anymore so she believed she had to move out of town in order to live an easier life. Her catastrophic thoughts of not being able to support a family in her future frightened her to move out of a home she lived all her life which now makes her feel like she betrayed her family. She stresses herself out with her constant thoughts of not being able to do afford something that she doesn’t really need which always has her anxious and jittery.
Diagnosis: Paranoia, Post Traumatic Stress, Depression
Personal strengths: Some of my client’s personal strengths are finding answers to problems that she’s been struggling with. She’s independent enough to realize when she needs help and knows how to get it. She is strong and doesn’t give up when she wants something. She works hard and reaches her goals. I think that what she wants the most in life is to be happy, have a family and a great job. She wants to be the best at what she at her career. Her life goal is to be successful and rich. Mrs. American Dream has a side that never gives up in the case of J.Cole. J. Cole has not only seen different perspectives but experienced. He knows the struggle of getting where you want to be. ( NPR Staff, J.Cole;upstart rapper). Mrs. American Dream is a very hard worker who likes to get things done before they need to be. However, she does struggle to accomplish that which is a big stressor. Her constant stress to get things done and right wears her down mentally and physically without her being sure of it.
Treatment plan: Mrs. American Dream first needs to apologize to all the people that she has hurt and taken advantage of. She needs to accept that things aren’t always going to go her way. She needs to learn how to respect everyone equally. Mrs. American Dream needs to realize that taking advantage of people all the time will not get her to where she wants to be in life. She needs to continue to make amends and rekindle relationships with people she ignored for no reason. Moreover, she needs to believe that she can work through financial problems on her own. She needs to understand that the world has changed, there’s not wars/battles all the time, nobody is out to get her all the time. She needs to set short-term goals for herself in order to accomplish something at least every month because she mentions she gets pride from accomplishing things. However, she needs to realize not everything can be its best. Furthermore, growth will not be suspected if she continues to wear herself doing jobs that are taking a toll on her physical and mental health. Debbie Elliot writes an article on a middle-aged couple whose plan was to settle down and live an easy, comfortable retired life, but cannot due to financial struggles. In “Mississippi Couple Lament Loss of the American Dream, Janis Gallatas rhetorically asks, “just because I got hurt doing what you asked me to do, and I can’t do it anymore, does that justify cutting my pay in half to where I can just barely survive?” (Debbie Elliot). Mrs. American Dream constantly pushes herself to accomplish a goal. No matter how big or small, she gets it done. However, she pushes herself so much, she doesn’t know what her limit is. She mentioned that a week before she came to this appointment, she had a mental breakdown in the shower. She didn’t realize she wasn’t in the shower screaming for about 2 hours until her husband came home from work. American Dream is working too much, the only other thing she has time to do is sleep. She doesn’t eat 3 full meals a day and only gets about 5 hours of sleep. Mrs. American Dream is barely surviving, dragging and going along with each day as it comes.
Progress milestones: In about 1 month, I hope my client has a reasonable daily life schedule; working less and sleeping more. She should gain about 15 pounds by then if she’s eating 3 full meals a day. Furthermore, I expect to see her have a genuine, uplifting attitude. Within a month, Mrs. American Dream should be more interactive with not just her life and work, but her husband’s and neighbors. I hope she is still not isolating herself from her community. I expect Mrs. American Dream to have apologized to all the people she’s taken advantage of. She should hopefully be feeling mentally lighter and free.
Prognosis: I believe that Mrs. American Dream will be able to recover in about 6 months-1 year depending on her effort to become better. If she wants to become better as bad as she feels the need to work all the time, she will be just fine. However, after 6 months, she will need to watch out for triggers that might make her relapse. As long as she knows what she wants and the obstacles that will get in her way, Mrs. American Dream will get better and be okay.
Respectfully, Celeste Adames & Paola Santos
Mary Pipher. “One Account. All of Google.” Google Docs. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2016.
Nora-Thatcher, Helena. “One Account. All of Google.” Google Docs. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2016.