PART 1: Case Description
Larry Harris is a 72-year old retired American soldier who spent nearly third quarters of his life serving his country. His life story is one of the most intriguing narratives you can ever hear since it is coupled with chilling experiences about war, deaths, and love. Larrys place is just a few blocks from my place, and I was more than happy to secure an interview with him and to be able to hear from the veteran himself about his life as a soldier. When I was growing up, he was rarely at home, so I never got an opportunity to know him very well. Therefore, I was determined to make the most out of this interview by asking as many questions as I could. In this article, we will discuss Larrys experiences from his early childhood all the way to his later adulthood and later conduct a critical theoretical analysis of Larry Harriss life.
Larry Harris was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on February 10, 1945. His father was a small-scale businessman with a retail shop on the outskirts of the city of Atlanta. His mother, on the other hand, had no job but spent most of her time selling goods with her husband in the retail shop. However, Larrys father was an alcoholic who would get very aggressive when drunk. In fact, Larry explains that his father had a habit of physically abusing his mother whenever he was drunk. He says that the environment in his home during his early years was toxic since his parents used to fight daily. Larry adds that he was just a 7-year old boy then and there is nothing he could do but helplessly watch as his father physically abuses his mother. The most painful memory Larry recalls and would never forgive his father for is when he saw her mother bleeding after his father hit her with a blunt metallic object. His mother lost a lot of blood and was it not for the good neighbors who took her to the hospital immediately she would have died that night. After this incidence, Larrys mother decided to divorce his abusive husband, and together with Larry, they relocated to Chicago, Illinois. Larry explains that the idea of becoming a soldier later in life came because of the experiences he encountered in his early childhood. He says that he heard soldiers were courageous people and he wanted to be one so that he can protect her mother from abusive people such as his father. Life in Chicago was very hard since her mother didnt have a stable job and sometimes they would sleep on an empty stomach. Larry narrates that he was touched with how her mother was struggling to make ends meet and being the only man in the family he decided to also look for a living to sustain her mother and himself. However, getting a job in Chicago especially as a 15-year old in the 1960s was an uphill task. But he had this friend Max who introduced him to some guys who were involved in illegal drug selling business. Larry highlights that illegal drug selling business in Chicago was a very lucrative business and the cartels would employ teens to peddle the drugs since authorities would least suspect children for selling the drugs.
Larry and Max were involved in the business for approximately three consecutive years, and they were making good money. In fact, Larry explains that he was earning enough money to sustain his family and he would save the rest. However, on 10th June 1964 something happens that completely changed his life. Max was shot dead by unknown people, but he later learned that it was the members of the rival gangs who wanted to control the illegal drug business. Knowing that he was probably going to be the next victim, he decided to quit the business. He confessed that the death of Max affected him a lot and it took him several years to come to terms with the reality. He felt that he was responsible for Maxs death since it was supposed to be his shift but Max wanted to help him that day since her mother was sick. But after a series of psychological therapies, Larry was back on his feet, and he wanted to make something out of his life. After completing high school, he joined the Quartermaster school which is found in Fort Lee, Virginia. This is a military training center which is meant to transform civilians into soldiers. Larry humorously explains that soldiers are very different from the normal civilians. In his words, soldiers are people who have been trained to be disciplined and most importantly they are mentally and physically tough. However, they are humans, and they have feelings too. He narrates that he would never forget the Vietnam War since it caused a lot of adverse impacts on his life. He lost a lot of team members in the Asian country and was lucky to get out of that nation alive. Although he had participated in several other wars, Vietnam War was the most dangerous one. When he came home after the war, he was never the same, and as if that was not enough he was told that her mother and the only member of his family had also died. Larry confesses that he was depressed with the turn of events to the point where he was starting to have suicidal thoughts. He felt lonely, anxious, and hopeless and his health started deteriorating. He also began experiencing hallucinations. Larrys friends were a concern with his condition, and they decided to seek medical assistance for him since the problem was now becoming a mental issue. Thank goodness, he was able to receive quality treatment, and after a while, he was getting better. When I asked him why he never married, Larry explains that he was a very workaholic person in his mid-adulthood and he never got an opportunity to find a special person in his life. He also adds that it is sad that he has to live the rest of his life alone and without a kid or even a grandchild of his blood and flesh. But he plans to have an adopted child in future. During our final moments of the interview, Larry Harris explains that his philosophy is never quit, never accept defeat. He coined this personal motto from the soldiers creed and told me that it had done wonders to him. This motto has motivated him to stay positive and to fight depression and other mental health challenges. Larry also highlights that life is not easy and advises young people to be mentally healthy and socially active so that they do not end up like him. He concludes that if he were given a chance to live forever, he would want to raise children of his own. But now age has caught up with him, and the only option he has is adoption.
PART 11: Theoretical Analysis
Social Cognitive theory
This view was developed by Albert Bandura and focuses on several factors of human agency. It is important to understand that human agency occurs as a result of multiple core aspects that operate through functional and phenomenal consciousness. These aspects include self-regulation by self-reactive influence and temporal extension of the agency through forethought and intentionality. This view distinguishes among three types of agency that is the proxy agency, direct personal agency, and collective agency. Agency is those activities that are done by people intentionally. In fact, it embodies the belief systems, endowments, distributed structures, and self-regulatory abilities through which individual influence is exercised. The core aspects of agency allow individuals to play a part in their self-renewal, adaptation, and self-development with changing periods. In our case study above we notice that when Larry was a teen, he was involved in illegal drug selling business until his best friend Max was killed. Just after the death of Max, he decided to quit the lucrative business to avoid the same fate that hit his friend. This act of quitting the illegal business is what we refer to as the agency. It is imperative to know that the human behavior is controlled and shaped mechanically and automatically by the environmental stimuli. Larry realized that the environment was not conducive anymore for conducting the business. According to Bandura (1986), the agency does not only involve the deliberate capability to make action plans and choices but also the capability to regulate and motivate their execution. He adds that people are self-examiners of their functioning. Larry Harris assessed himself and decided to make a critical decision of quitting the job.
During this period, Larry was in novice or early adulthood (17-22 years) which is the transition period from adolescence to adulthood. He explains that after quitting the illegal drugs business, he wanted to make something out of his life. He wanted to have a good life like the rest of the people. Well-being in novice adulthood is associated with intellectual assets, social assets, and psychological assets. Therefore, he had to make the right choices in his life which included joining the Quarter school a military training school. In this theory, socio-structural components use psychological procedures of the self-system to generate behavioral effects. Socio-economic status, economic conditions, family and educational structures affect character hugely through their influence on peoples standards, aspirations, affective states, sense of efficacy, and other self-regulatory factors. A lot of the choices made by Larry during his early adulthood were personal decisions. We should also note that this theory acknowledges the critical responsibility of evolved components in human change and adaptation, but refutes one-sided evolutionism where it is believed that evolved biology molds behavior. Bandura (1986) also explains that this theory subscribes to a view of the emergent interactive agency where cognitive processes are seen as new brain events that exert determinative impacts. He adds that cerebral, motor and sensory systems are mechanisms that people use to complete the goals and tasks that give satisfaction, direction, and meaning to their lives. In fact, studies on brain development explain that by regulating their activities and motivation, people generate the encounters that create the functional neurobiological substrate of psychomotor, social, symbolic, and other skills. However, it is crucial to know that the nature of these encounters is largely dependent on the kinds of physical and social settings people construct and select. When Larry Harris joined the military school, his environment suddenly changed. He says that the place has been designed to transform civilians into soldiers. What this means is that the social environment in the military school was different from the one he was used to while still a civilian. He stopped thinking like a civilian and start acting like a soldier.
This theory also explains that the human mind is creative, generative, reflective, and proactive, and not just reactive. We can relate this to Larrys decision to look for a job after he was done seeing her mother struggle to make ends meet for her family. Although he was only a 17-year old boy, Larry felt that he had a moral obligation to feed his family. So, what are the functional circuitries of self-reflection and self-appraisal? Well, it is evident that Larry Harris made a lot of crucial decisions during his early adulthood which was personal choices and was influenced by the surrounding physical and social environment.
Continuity theory states that older people will often maintain the same relationships, behaviors, and activities as they did in their earlier years of life. This theory is crucial because it describes how individuals grow old. Through continuity theory, we learn that the internal structure of a person such as an individuals personality characteristics does not change throughout an individuals lifetime (Nel, 2016). The theory evaluates the external structures and internal structures of continuity to explain how people adapt to their conditions and set their object...
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