Personality psychology

Cathy is a businesswoman who runs her own cakes and pastry store. She is 58 years old, of medium build; she weighs 155 pounds and is 5 feet and 7 inches tall. She has short blond hair, fair complexioned with the usual freckles one sees on Caucasian women and with blue eyes. She is married with two sons and 2 daughters aged 28, 26, 20, and 18. She has been married for 30 years and used to be an elementary school teacher until she decided to pursue her hobby in baking.

She has a degree in Math and graduated from a community college where she met her husband who is an English teacher. She resides at (county) and had been living in this place all her life. She grew up in the same place; she is well known in the county and has been an active member of some local organizations. She used to teach in the local public elementary school handling Grade 4 math for 20 years until she decided to start her own business. Cathy is the third child of four siblings; she takes after her mother who was petite and blond.

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Physically, Cathy is undergoing several changes brought about by menopause, like her mother she only started feeling symptoms of menopause when she was 56 as she was a late bloomer. She does feel tired and uncomfortable at times but due to her job and a supportive family, the discomfort of menopause seemed lesser than a year ago. She was also diagnosed with type 2 diabetes four years ago which did not came as a surprise because both her parents have diabetes. Sometimes she wonders if she would be well enough to still take care of her family and that she wants to see her children get married and to have grandchildren.

At 58, Cathy is according to Erik Erikson is in the middle adulthood stage and with it comes the issue of generativity versus stagnation wherein a person is concerned with being able to guide the next generation (Erikson & Erikson, 1997). True enough, Cathy feels that her eldest daughter, an ER nurse should get married soon so she would be able to guide her in the early years of her marriage. Since being diagnosed with diabetes she had been very conscious of her diet and even has put her whole family to a sugar controlled diet. In her store she began baking treats that had less sugar in it or was sugar-free.

She feels that since diabetes runs in the family, her children also are predisposed to develop the disease thus she wants to make them aware of how one’s diet can lead to diabetes. Cathy is also looking forward to a trip that she and her husband have planned for the next summer. Her husband is retiring and she thinks that this is a good opportunity for them to reconnect. Freud often emphasized that difficulties or preoccupations in adulthood is brought about by that person’s childhood and painful memories would lead to the blocking out of that memory in adulthood (Reef, 2001).

Cathy’s need to take care of her family, her husband and even her adult children may be a compensation for not being taken cared of or nurtured when she was younger because their youngest sibling was very sickly and her parent’s attention was always focused on her brother. Cathy had always been good at school. She was the quiet and intelligent child at school in her younger years, she was not very active in school activities but she always had excellent grades. She also was better at math than at any other subject; she liked working with numbers and early on knew that she wanted to study something about math.

She planned to take up accountancy but then changed her mind and was inspired to teach kids when she did a school report on elementary teachers. Her desire to be a teacher was probably based on her need to nurture and care for others, something that was lacking in her own childhood. Cathy’s cognitive abilities may be regarded to belong to the formal operational stage of Piaget’s cognitive stages of development which is indicated by being able to think abstractly, to make deductive reasoning and to formulate and test hypothesis (Wadsworth, 1996).

She was a math teacher for 20 years and through experience has been able to develop strategies to make math more fun to learn. She tried out different approaches and studied those that were more effective and begun using it more. Sternberg’s theory of intelligence says that intelligence is made up of three elements; the componential, experiential and contextual (Sternberg, 1988). Although her work as a teacher was very satisfying, there was a point in her life when she decided to try something new and pursue her baking talents.

Analyzing this development, it seemed that Cathy was able to effectively use her componential intelligence wherein she was able to use her math and verbal skills in teaching. But after some time, the creative side of her took over, the experiential intelligence. Baking is a skill that not all can really be successful at, only those who have the passion and understanding of the art of baking can be as successful as she is. Her ability to come up with great sweet treats presented an opportunity to start a business and she did this as a fulfillment of one of her talents corresponding to contextual intelligence.

Behaviorism had often emphasized that the environment shapes the behavior of the individual (Benjafield, 1996). In this case, Cathy who lives in a town where she grew up and familiar with has imbibed the social norms of the community. This is why as she became older, she had become more active in community activities as she have felt that the older generation should be able to set examples to the younger generation. Her desire to become a grandmother may also be an indication of a societal pressure wherein all of her friends already have grandchildren and she feels left out when all they talk about their grandchild.

B. F. Skinner (Benjafield, 1996) in his operant conditioning had emphasized how rewards and punishment influences behavior. Emotionally, Cathy is able to connect with her husband and her children but is slow to warm up to other people. But since she has a good relationship with her family, this reinforced her belief in her ability to relate to other people while she remembered that when she was younger and was withdrawn and aloof she felt isolated, hence it seemed like she was punishing herself for it.

At present her days revolve around her family, her store and her community involvements. At this age, she feels that she has accomplished some of the things she had desired in her life. Although some have not been realized yet, but she feels that it is all part of life. She has become who she is because of her past and she accepts it and is open to the idea that she may face more changes as she gets older.