Hurricane Katrina has clearly become one of the most notorious disasters of the decade, having brought destruction and taken many people’s lives. Even those, who managed to survive the cataclysm, had to suffer through a very complicated period of drastic changes in their lives.
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A graphic example of such a tragic change, Patrick, a man of 35, had to face a major challenge in the process of adjusting to new living conditions, dealing with the PTSD, integrating into the new social environment and handling the emotional insecurity issues, which the changes in his life and the following stress triggered.
The research question, which is going to be answered in the given study, therefore, can be out in the following way: what are the possible intervention methods, which can be applied to solve the problem of PTSD, shock, depression triggered by the death of a family member, and the changes in the social, economic, financial and cultural environment of the patient, who has suffered a cataclysm (Hurricane Katrina in the specified case).
At the time that the hurricane struck, Patrick was 26 and had enrolled in a bachelor course by 2005. However, as the disaster occurred, Patrick had to terminate his studies and move to the place that as safer. Unfortunately, the patient had also lost his sister to the catastrophe; since the two were very close, Patrick suffered an immense shock followed by depression and years of self-accusation.
As soon as the patient moved to Texas, he started feeling completely out of place due to the rapid change of the environment and the immersion into an entirely different culture. As a result of the patient’s inability to adjust to the new environment and the focus on his family tragedy, Patrick stopped being an active member of the community and take part in the social life of the latter.
The following move to New Orleans only made the process of acculturation even more complicated and added the feeling of uncertainty to the range of Patrick’s issues. Combined with the disappointment about his loss of the opportunity to get a Bachelor’s degree and, therefore, rather gloomy career prospects, this emotional strain triggered a neurosis in the patient.
It should be noted that two key developmental periods can be identified in the patient’s state. The first period concerns the life that the patient used to lead before Hurricane Katrina struck and changed it completely, and the second one is represented by the time slot, on which the patient was trying to adjust to the changing sociocultural and economic environment.
Considering the issue from the age perspective, one should add that on the specified time slots, the patient was 26 (early adulthood) and 35 (adulthood) correspondingly.
The course of the cognitive development of the patient seems to have been altered significantly. Before the accident, the patient displayed rather even cognitive evolution, with a very strong tendency to abandon the adolescent egocentrism and become more independent, as well as more mature.
The accident, however, made Patrick regress to the previous stage of developing a personal fable (Pfeifer & Peak, 2012). Consequently, even though much time has passed since Hurricane Katrina, Patrick still feels insecure when making adult decisions and being independent.
As far as the social changes are concerned, the patient is obviously experiencing a shock after the recognition of his failure to gain the desired position in the society. Seeing how hard the realization of the necessity to abandon his bachelor studies was for Patrick, one may suggest that the patient simply fears to embrace the possibility of getting a less promising job and being less successful in his career.
Indeed, Patrick was obviously trying to explore the further academic opportunities. Hence, his social status, which was comparatively high, dropped significantly as he had to cease his studies. The bitter realization of the missed opportunities must be one of the keys to the current deplorable state of the patient, especially to his depression.
The fact that the recent intervention has addressed this problem is very important in the further recovery of the patient (Berk, 2014); by acknowledging his potential and getting his priorities straight, the patient could pull himself together and start working on his personal and professional development; however, combine with the rest of the issues, which the patient has to face at present, the problem concerning the drop of Patrick’s social status is yet to be addressed.
A closer look at the biological development of the patient shows that he currently has no signs of underdevelopment whatsoever. Therefore, most of the problems faced by Patrick concern his inability to confront his fears and face the necessity to let go off the past.
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As far as the emotional development of the patient is concerned, the differences between the two periods are evident. Before the hurricane occurred, the patient was passing the stages of emotional development in a rather efficient manner.
A closer look at the emotional evolution of the patient will show that up until 2005, he had been communicating with his family members (particularly, with his sister) rather closely and based their relationships on complete trust and empathy.
In addition, the social aspect of the educational environment, in which the patient used to be, could also be characterized quite positively; with impressive academic success and the creation of strong links between him, his peers and his teachers, Patrick could be described as rather sociable and easygoing person. Compared to the specified progress, the changes, which the following developmental stage has inflicted on him, are truly drastic.
Patrick faced the death of one of his family members, whom he had grown very attached to, not to mention the fact that he had also lost most of his social contacts. Here the cessation of his emotional intelligence growth stems from.
The patient’s record shows that Patrick has attempted at adapting towards the environment of Texas, yet had very little success in blending with the local residents and acculturating in the local environment; partially because of the difference between his environment and that one of Texas, and partially because of the stress that he had suffered, he failed at accommodating in the specified regions.
Which is even more upsetting, the patient is hardly capable of getting used to the realm of his home, i.e., New Orleans. It can be assumed that the rapid change in the environment, i.e., Patrick’s moving from the South to the North and then returning to New Orleans has triggered a dissociation in the cultural context (Schneider, Lam, Bayliss & Dux, 2012).
Seeing that the PTSD issue is only one of the numerous problems that the patient is suffering from at present, it is suggested that new elements should be introduced to the intervention.
While helping the patient adjust to the idea of losing his property and the chances to build his career fast, as well as allowing him to recognize his ample capabilities in terms of employment, it will also be essential to address the loss of his relative, as well as the state of cultural shock, which he is currently in.
To be more exact, the fact that Patrick is focused on searching for the available job options may seem positive only at the first glance. On a second thought, the process of integration into the society does not seem to be happening.
Without the death of his sister being addressed in the intervention, the process of searching for a job and the willingness to plunge into the working process signifies that the patient is trying to oust the feeling of guilt and repress the painful memories instead of coming to grips with the latter and realizing that what happened was not his fault.
Consequently, it is obvious that the PTSD syndrome has not been treated properly and that the patient has entered the sublimation state (Eglinton & Chung, 2011).
Addressing the cognitive problems faced by the patient will require the application of a CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy). Particularly, the PTCI (Post-Traumatic Cognitions Inventory) must be used in order to help the patient get rid of the emotional and psychological trauma, thus, recovering his cognitive development.
According to the existing evidence, though used primarily for addressing the PTSD issues in children and adolescents, the specified approach also has a positive effect on adults: “Up to 15% of participants would improve sufficiently to lose their diagnosis of PTSD after symptom monitoring; CBT would result in greater improvements in symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety” (Smith, 2007, p. 1051).
As it has been stressed above, the key problem of the patient is that he is attempting at defying his current problems, therefore, bottling his emotions inside instead of searching for an emotional relief. As a result, the PTSD rates are getting increasingly high.
First and foremost, a series of therapy sessions based on a patient-centered approach must be carried out so that Patrick could get rid of the feeling of guilt, which he is currently under. The choice of the therapeutic strategy was predetermined by the fact that the patient needs to explore his self and learn more about emotional control.
In addition, it is obvious that Patrick needs to learn to navigate in the realm of his emotions, which means that he must be introduced to the concept of emotional intelligence (Schweizer & Dalgleish, 2012).
The meta-cognition process, which will be launched thereafter, will help the patient analyze the mechanism of his own emotions and, therefore, handle the latter more efficiently. Consequently, it will be possible to introduce the patient to an appropriate coping mechanism, which will help him come to terms with the loss of his beloved sister.
As far as the psychosocial issues are concerned, it can be suggested that the patient should try searching for new contacts and new friends to make. With the adoption of modern technologies, particularly, the social network, the process is most likely to accelerate. Finally, the few biological issues, which Patrick as recently encountered, can be solved with the help of pharmaceutical treatment.
Berk, L. E. (2014). Development through the lifespan. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Allyn & Bacon.
Eglinton, R. & Chung, M. C. (2011). The relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder, illness cognitions, defence styles, fatigue severity and psychological well-being in chronic fatigue syndrome. Psychiatry Research, 188(2), 245–252.
Pfeifer, J. H. & Peak, S. J. (2012). Self-development: Integrating cognitive, socioemotional, and neuroimaging perspectives. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 2(1), 55–69.
Schneider, D., Lam, R., Bayliss, A. P. & Dux, P. E. (2012). Cognitive load disrupts implicit theory-of-mind processing. Psychological Science, 1(1), 1–6.
Schweizer, S. & Dalgleish, T. (2012). Emotional working memory capacity in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Behaviour Research and Therapy, 49(8), 498–504.
Smith, P. (2007). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for PTSD in children and adolescents: A preliminary randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 46(8), 1051–1061.