Three keys to family resilience assessment

Social Work

Antonio Case Study

Define resilience and then discuss both adaptive and maladaptive functioning in Antonio’s family based on Walsh’s, “three keys to family resilience”

Instinctively resilience is about being able to be flexible and also about the ability to be capable of adapting. it’s about the ability to take in malfunctions and still remain on task. It is also about the ability to organize along with the capability to learn, change and (Neil Adger on Social Resilience, 2010). In the case of Antonio, his father Daniel does not show any resilience at all. He appears to have a problem dealing with change. He seems to be happiest when things go his way and no alterations are involved.

The three keys to family resilience are belief systems, organizational resources and communication processes. Belief systems comprise making sense out of crisis and challenge, maintaining a positive outlook of hope and having transcendence and spirituality. Organizational resources include suppleness and stability, connectedness to leadership and kin, social and economic resources. The communication processes includes apparent, reliable messages, emotional sharing together with humor, joy and respite along with mutual problem-solving (Walsh, 2010).

Antonio’s mother displays adaptive behavior in her belief system. Adaptive behavior is a kind of behavior that is utilized to adjust to an additional type of behavior or circumstances. It is often described by a kind of performance that permits a person to change an unhelpful or troublesome performance to something more positive. These actions are most often social or personal actions (Kendall, 2008). Hilda displays an outlook of hope and has a very strong tie to her spirituality. Hilda also shows adaptive behavior in regards to her organizational resources. She has strong ties to her family and relies on them heavily for support. She believes very much in the institution of marriage and believes that she needs to do whatever she can to uphold the promises that she made before God.

In the area of communication processes, Antonio’s parents display maladaptive behavior. A maladaptive behavior is an action or mannerism that is not adaptive. It is counterproductive to the people. Maladaptive actions are frequently utilized as a gauge of irregularity or mental dysfunction (Kendall, 2008). Hilda and Daniel do not appear to communicate well at all. There seems to be more arguing and fighting that anything else. Hilda does whatever she can to make Daniel happy and yet no matter what she does it is not good enough to please him. He has issue with change and conflict and does not do a good job of communicating his feelings. Instead he often lashes out with violence.

3A. Identify three defense mechanisms that Antonio uses, providing an example of each and explaining why it’s either adaptive or maladaptive.

Defense mechanisms often start as healthy adaptations in order to deal with concern, sorrow, terror, irritation or harm They are used to protect ones self against danger and to evade or manage dominant, frightening feelings. Defense mechanisms help a person to preserve self-esteem and an optimistic sense of self (Mannelli, n.d.) Three defense mechanisms that Antonio uses are splitting, omnipotent control and devaluation and idealization.

Splitting is a primitive defense mechanism in where a person transfers experiences or people into all-good and all-bad groups with no room for uncertainty. It is thought to derive from a time prior to a child developing object constancy. Children are thought to see their mother as all good when they are made happy and perceive her as a bad mother when they are aggravated. They have not yet developed the ability to understand that she is the same person in each circumstance whose attendance feels good and bad at times (Mannelli, n.d.). This can be seen in the case when Antonio is so attached to his mother when she is dropping him off at daycare. He wants so bad to spend all of his time with her that he become upset and angry when she leaves him, even it is only for a few hours. This behavior is maladaptive because it does not allow for Antonio to gain any good from the socialization process at daycare because he spends the majority of his time angry at this mother for leaving him.

Omnipotent control is a childish state of showiness, where the fantasy is that one is in control of all they come in contact with. This is a usual stage of expansion for children but as they grow up, they shift this defense into a stage where the main caregiver is thought to be all-powerful, developing into the real but unpleasant fact that no one’s authority is unlimited. It is hypothesized by psychologists, that the sentiment that one’s power is not boundless and that it is essential developmentally, where the child can liberally enjoy the fantasies of one’s own all-powerfulness and next, that of the caretakers on whom one relies (Mannelli, n.d.). Antonio displays this defensive mechanism when he acts out his fantasies with his super hero toys. He sees his dad as being evil and his mother as the hero. This behavior is adaptive in that it allows Antonio the occasion to work through the feelings that he has about his father and his abusive behavior.

Idealization and devaluation are thought to originate from a child’s want to believe that the caretakers, mommy or daddy, can guard them from dangers. Children are scared to confront the realism of unfriendliness, sickness, death, and other fears for the first time, and idealization of the caretakers guards them against devastating fear and permits them to feel sheltered, cushioned from too harsh a blow from reality (Mannelli, n.d.). Antonio is seen as idealizing his mother. He always wants to spend all of his time with her and not very often with anyone else. He feels that his mother can protect him from his father and thus she is his hero. This behavior is maladaptive in that it does not allow Antonio to develop any social relationships with other people including his teachers and his peers.

Part B

2B. What is Antonio’s current level of ego mastery? Incorporate a discussion of his ego strengths and weaknesses to support the answer

The ego tries to autonomously master its surroundings and communications. In mastering the ego a sense of one’s effectance has to be cared for (Bracey, 2010). A fit ego in a child is believed to drive that child to the next level of development, with each level presenting new chances. The ego plays a major role in the growth as it struggles for fitness and mastery of the surroundings. Societal institutions and caretakers offer positive support for the growth of personal efficiency (Greene, 1999). In this case Antonio has not yet mastered his ego. This can be seen in the fact that he has trouble forming social relationships with anyone other than his mother. People’s ego strengths comprise the relative intactness of reality testing, the relative intactness of thought procedures, the relative intactness of interpersonal associations and the relative intactness of the variation of reality. The ego weaknesses include the mixture of poor desire control and poor frustration acceptance, the liking to use primitive ego defenses, the syndrome of identity dispersal and sentimental unsteadiness (Goldstein, 2001).

Antonio is lacking in his ego strength to foster interpersonal relations. He only wants to socialize with his mother. He never formed any strong relationships with the caretakers at daycare and only formed a half hearted relationship with one of his peers. Antonio also demonstrated weak ego displays in the fact that he often demonstrated signs of frustration and used primitive ego defenses in order to help him cope with the problems that were going on at home. He often has bouts of crying and acting out that showed his lack of impulse control.

3B. Does Antonio have a good fit with his environment? Include 4 ecological concepts in the answer, and how would a Deep Ecology or Eco-Feminist perspective enrich the assessment of Antonio? Be specific.

Human ecology is the systematic appliance of ecological concepts, main beliefs, and theory and research methods to the study of human populations and communities. Human ecology looks at the manner in which human population resource associations affect the variation of human populations to dissimilar ecosystems. It also looks at the role that the resource necessities desired to maintain a population play in shaping local differences in continuation, labor allotment, technology, reproductive actions, residential allocation, household composition and arrangement, community social and political association, inter-population relations and other social behaviors (Abruzzi, 1982). In this case Antonio does not have a good fit with his environment. His household composition is not ideal since his father is abusive which has lead to his mom and dad being separated. He has problems developing healthy interpersonal relationships with his teachers and peers due to the fact that he has an issue with always wanting to be with his mother. The family’s social organization was not the best considering the fact that when his mother decided to leave the father they ended up in utilizing services from the city. This leads one to believe that they are not very well off financially and the mother has not real education in order to obtain employment since she is currently attaining administrative assistant training. Antonio also has issues with controlling his behavior when in the daycare environment, as he frequently has violent outbursts and crying spells.

If one were to assess Antonio from an Eco-Feminist perspective one would be better able to understand Antonio and his present behavior. Ecofeminism is the social movement that regards the domination of women and nature as unified. It is one of the few movements and analyses that in fact connect the two movements. Lately, ecofeminist theorists have extended their analyses to reflect on the interconnections flanked by sexism, the domination of nature, and also racism and social dissimilarities (What is Ecofeminism, n.d.). Daniel spent a lot of time suppressing Hilda in his behavior that he was the man and she was the woman and what he said went. She was always trying to tip toe around in everything that she did in order to not upset him. He had a very sexist attitude toward his family and this considerable affected Hilda and Antonio in the social inequalities that they endured.

Part C

C2. What are at least two strengths and weakness of each of the major theories (systems, ecological, classical psychoanalytic, ego psychology, object relations, and attachment) for under standing Antonio’s case.

There are many strengths and weakness of major sociological theories that can be used to understand Antonio’s case. Strengths of the systems theory include that it can go further than presenting difficulty and probe into other more sweeping troubles and concerns and distinguish the worth of the social context, particularly the involvement of official and unofficial social systems. Weaknesses of this theory include that it can refute personal responsibility for change and can sustain the status quo. The ecological theory takes culture into consideration and treats the internal and external environment as mutually interdependent, but it is thought to be broad and hard to study and verify. The classical psychoanalytic theory has had some experimental support in definite regions, such as oppression and obsession. It also has had huge explanatory power and has something to say on an enormous assortment of topics. Weaknesses with this theory are that it has been accuse of being unquestionable and thus hypothetically unscientific and it has been looked upon as unscientific for the reason that he founded his theory on studying an irregular section of people. In the ego psychology theory emphasizes that some mental purposes can be measured to be basic and sees defenses as artificial functions that guard the conscious mind from alertness of forbidden desires and thoughts. Weaknesses include that it is too narrowly focused on individual pathology and does not sufficiently deal with the impact of the social environment. The object relations theory stresses interpersonal relations, above all in the family and particularly between mother and child and proposes the remains of past relationships affect a person in the present. The weaknesses are that this theory looks at people in a clinical setting as opposed to a natural environment and clients often influenced by social worker perceptions. The attachment theory has common sense appeal and observes people in their natural environment but it is based upon nature vs. nurture and is based on behaviors that occur during momentary separations rather than during non-stressful situations (Goldstein, 2001).


“Neil Adger on Social Resilience.” (2010). Retrieved December 2, 2010, from Ecological

Sociology Web site:

Kendall, Diana. (2008). Sociology in our Times. Belmont: Thompson Wadsworth.

Mannelli, Sandra. (n.d.). What Are Defense Mechanisms Anyway? Retrieved December 3, 2010,


Goldstein, William N. (2001). A Primer for Beginning Psychotherapy. New York: Brunner-


Bracey, Tracy. (2010). Ego Psychology. Retrieved December 3, 2010, from

Green, Roberta R. (1999). Behavior Theory and Social Work Practice. Hawthorne: Walter de


Abruzzi, William. (1982).”Ecological Theory and Ethnic Differentiation among Human

Populations.” Current Anthropology, 23: p.13-31.

What is Ecofeminism? (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2010, from Web site:

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