‘Precious’Case Conceptualization

‘Precious’ Case Conceptualization


In the movie, Clarice Precious Jones, identified by the name Precious, faces myriads of problems. To begin with, she is obese, a condition that makes her classmates ridicule and make fun of her. At one time, when her teacher asked the students to write letters on the board, Precious wrote the letter ‘F’. Her classmates laughed at her and linked the letter ‘F’ to her fatness. Besides, Precious is illiterate, and this results to ridicule from her peers, mother, and the society. Mary, her mother, claims that her daughter is a failure in all aspects. Evidently, Precious can neither read nor write, and makes no commitment towards achieving the same. Instead, she has a crush on the mathematics teacher, Mr Wicher, whom he protects and supports in every situation by slapping students who give negative responses. The illiteracy state of Precious is worsened by constant daydreams and fantasies that make her believe that she will one day move away and live together with her math teacher in Westchester.

It is also evident that Precious and her family live in abject poverty, and this seems to be the root of all challenges she faces. Poverty is highlighted by the fact that she lives in Harlem, which is one of the ghettos in New York City. The family’s poor state is worsened by the fact that Precious’s mother is unemployed and depends solely on welfare. Moreover, for a long time, Precious has been subjected to physical, mental, and sexual abuse from her parents. Mary, who is her mother, is violent towards her and punishes her frequently, and this was the cause of Mongo’s out-of-hospital birth. Precious is obliged to perform every duty in the house while Mary pleasures herself in bed and this is despite the fact that they live in the same house. Delegation of responsibilities is essential in family situations, and the lack of the same in Mary’s family is evident. At one time, Mary hits Precious with a heavy pan, and this instance highlights the myriads of challenges and constant abuse she face. In addition, Mary insults Precious verbally when the latter directs Mr Lichtenstein to their house. This is owed to Mary’s feeling that additional visitors would jeopardize the welfare check payment. Furthermore, Precious is subjected to verbal abuse from Mary, who attributes the loss of her husband to the presence of the former in the house.  This is coupled with insults about her failure to benefit from school, fatness, and undesirability. Moreover, her father, who impregnates her not only once but twice, sexually abuses Precious. Mongo, the first child of Precious, has Down syndrome, a condition that prompts his stay with the grandmother. However, Mary claims responsibility for Mongo’s upkeep to receive more benefits from the welfare, and this worsens the situation in the family forcing Precious to walk out in search of a new house.  Precious’s second pregnancy at the age of 16 results in trauma, and this influences the shift to an alternative school despite resistance from her mother who believed that the change would compromise the receipt of support from the welfare.  It is also notable that Precious’s depression is worsened by the death of her father and the realization that she is HIV-positive. Typically, individuals’ depression levels are heightened once they realize that their parents cause their troubles. To add to Precious’s miseries, she feels that she is not loved by those around her despite Blu Rain’s assuring her of love. She cites incidences of ridicule from her teachers, peers, classmates, parents, and other members of her community.

Irrefutably, the challenges faced by Precious can be attributed to several environmental conditions. First, she is overweight, and this can be attributed to the fact that she feeds on unhealthy diets, which is influenced by poor conditions in which she and her family live. Poor sanitation and the consumption of foods with high fat and sugar content are common in slums, and this underlines the obese condition of Precious. Moreover, Precious’s illiteracy is owed to the fact that she joined school late, and her family was so poor that they could not afford to take her to a special school. The physical and verbal abuses from the mother are influenced by the fact that she snatched her husband from another woman. Notably, the society’s hatred towards Precious resulted in her depression.

In spite of the challenges that Precious faces, she exhibits several strengths, which influence her acceptance by classmates and teachers. First, she is hard working, and this is evident in her progression from a reading score of 2.8 to 7.8. Besides, she believes that she will progress from eight-grade to high school and college. Second, she is honest, and this makes her Ms Weiss’s friend. At the welfare center, Precious tells Ms Weiss about the physical, mental, verbal, and sexual abuses that she went through while staying with her parents, a move that underscores her honesty.

Case conceptualization and treatment plan

Cognitive theory

The cognitive theory or approach states that emotions and behaviors of human beings are determined by thoughts (McLeod, 2009). In the movie, Precious is involved in several negative behaviors that can only be attributed to the negative thoughts she has in mind. For instance, while in class, she slaps students who respond to Mr Wicher, whom she has a crush on, with cuss words. Thus, the act of hitting the students is influenced by the thoughts that she and Mr Wicher will move and live together in Westchester. Moreover, in the movie, Precious walks out of her parents’ house in search of a new house where she hopes to live peacefully with her children. Without a doubt, the move was influenced by the thoughts that Mary was up to no good and would do everything to make her unsuccessful. Also, while at the welfare office, Precious makes confessions about the mistreatments and abuses she went through while staying with her parents. It should be noted that her confessions were influenced by the thought that Ms Weiss would help her out of her troubles, and this is in line with the cognitive theory, which opines that human emotions and behaviors are determined or are as a result of thoughts.

Precious’s actions mentioned above would have been avoided. The move to confess and give revelations of the mistreatments and abuses she faced while at home would be prevented through reconciliation between her and the mother. On the other hand, avoiding physical, sexual, and verbal abuse would prevent Precious’s walkout from the family as she would feel loved and part of the family. Arguably, Precious had the thought that she would live with her teacher, and this was due to depression, which later resulted in incessant daydreams and led her to slap classmates unnecessarily. Apparently, the provision of guidance and counseling would help Precious address her depressions. In the end, the conflicts between her and classmates would be prevented.

Psychodynamic theory

The psychodynamic theory states that personality of individuals can be explained regarding conscious and unconscious forces. According to the theory, an individual’s decisions can be made by the id, superego, and ego. The theory links childhood experiences to personality (Mander, 2000). With these perspectives in mind, several decisions made by Precious were guided by the id, superego, and the ego. Precious’s decision to walk out of her parents’ house must have been influenced by the ego, which plays an integral role in mediation and conforms to the demands of reality. Besides, her childhood experiences of physical, sexual, mental, and verbal abuse must have played a role in shaping her personality. During adulthood, Precious had the belief that the society hated and was cruel towards her, and this is despite an assurance by Ms Rain that her classmates and the community truly loved her. As a result of the society’s hatred, Precious never cared for her peers at school, and this is seen when she slapped and mistreated them on several occasions.

Precious’s negative personality and approach to life would be avoided if she was treated kindly by her family and the society. An appropriate intervention to her negative personality and attitude towards life would be to enhance the relationship between her and those around her. First, it would have been important for her to relate well to her classmates, and this would have helped address the incidences where she was ridiculed because of her size.

Behavioral theory

Being one of the theories that give explanations of human behavior, the behavioral approach makes an assumption that the behavior of an animal or human is learned rather than being inherent. The theory articulates that human actions are consequences of the history of an individual (Sapp, 2004).  Put simply, people exhibit particular behaviors because they either learned it from their family members or they behaved in a similar manner during childhood. In the movie, Precious is seen to exhibit a broad range of behaviors. At some point, she does not relate well with those around her and prefers to spend most of her time in solitude. She must have learned this from Mary, who never wanted visitors at her place due to the fear that her survival on the welfare would be in jeopardy. Moreover, Precious reacts angrily to her teachers and classmates, a behavior she must have learned from her mother who was ever angry and abused her verbally and physically.

It is notable that Precious’s negative behaviors and attitudes caused the erosion of her relationship with those around her. For instance, her classmates ridiculed her because of her size and illiteracy. Through guiding and counseling Precious and her classmates on the significance of interactions, the conflicts between them would have been avoided.  Besides, the negative personality and attitude of Precious would be addressed by introducing her to an alternative class at an earlier stage where she would come to terms with her life and the challenges she had gone through. Moreover, taking her through guidance and counseling sessions would help her overcome the depressions and trauma that played an integral role in her negative personality and attitude.

Narrative theory

The narrative theory also gives an explanation of the actions or behaviors exhibited by individuals. According to the narrative theory, there is an assumption that narratives influence or help individuals come to terms with essential elements of experience such as change, time, as well as process (Louchart & Aylett, 2004). It is argued that narratives give an account of the incidences that happened to people and how they reacted to the same. Undoubtedly, stories influence individuals’ behavior either positively or negatively. In the movie, the stories, or narratives from her peers, parents, and teachers influence Precious’s behaviors. For example, Ms Blu Rain welcomes Precious to her house and introduces her to mature narratives. Precious listens to stories about the lives of other people, and these, impact on her behavior and attitude positively. While living with Ms Rain, Precious relates well with those around her and makes significant progress in reading and writing. Moreover, she appreciates those around her and accepts to take care of her children despite the fact that they are products of incest. However, there are narratives that have adverse impacts on the life, attitude, and behaviors of Precious. For instance, Mary introduced her to insults and abuses that played an integral role in her involvement in unacceptable behaviors. The fact that Precious does not live happily and is depressed can be attributed to Mary’s teachings. The depression influences her negative attitude and actions, and thus, she does not relate well to her peers.

Precious’s negative attitude and approach to life and poor relationship with peers would be avoided if she related well with her mother. Besides, if the father played a role in Precious’s upbringing, she would be aware of what leads to a happy life.

Person-centered approach

The person-centered approach explains and deals with the ways in which people view themselves consciously rather than how counselors (McLeod, 2008) interpret their unconscious thoughts and ideas. It is argued that the approach provides individuals with the opportunity to develop a sense of self, and this enables them to realize how their feelings, attitudes, and behaviors are impacted negatively (McLeod, 2008). In this context, it is agreeable that Precious’s actions, feelings, and attitudes must have been affected negatively by the incessant challenges she faced. As mentioned earlier, she suffered sexual, physical, mental, and verbal abuse from her parents and these made her develop a sense of self. The realization of a sense of self, forced Precious to walk out of her mother’s house in search of a new home. Besides, the development of a sense of self influenced her confession to Ms Weiss about the abuses and challenges she faced while staying with her parents.

As seen above, Precious’s decision to walk out of her parents’ house and to confess to Ms Weiss about her challenges would have been avoided. A possible intervention to the same would be reconciliation between Precious and her parents. Put simply, her father should have apologized and care of his daughter’s children. Moreover, her mother should have reconciled with Precious rather than abuse her physically and verbally on several occasions. It cannot be doubted that the incessant physical and sexual abuses played an integral role in Precious’s walkout from her parents’ house. In addition, the establishment of a good relationship between Precious and the parents would have prevented the confessions made to Ms Weiss. It is evident that the confessions compromised the financial support that Mary received from the welfare, and this would have been prevented.

Structural Family

The structural family therapy (SFT) focuses on the interaction among the members of a family and underscores the significance of communication among them (Vetere, 2001). According to SFT, there is an embodiment within the relational therapies’ paradigm shift that distress can be understood not only in the relationship contexts from which it arises but also in the perception of the potentiality that relationships are the cause of distress (Vetere, 2001). Put simply, the way in which family members interact could impact an individual’s attitudes and behaviors negatively. In the movie, the family of Precious is in conflict, and this is highlighted by the fact that her father impregnated her. On the other hand, the mother has the perception that Precious snatched her husband, and this, results in the insults and abuses that make the life of Precious difficult. In line with the arguments of SFT, the distress or depression that Precious undergoes is as a result of familial conflicts. Not only does she hate her mother for beating her incessantly but she also hates her father for impregnating her at a tender age, which forced her out of school at some point.

The hatred and familial conflicts seen in the movie were avoidable. One of the interventions that would have been fundamental in the solution of the domestic problems is reconciliation between Precious and her parents. After the impregnation, the father would have apologized to Precious and the mother to end the incessant conflicts and disagreements that followed.

Family systems

The family systems theory also gives explanations for the attitudes and behaviors exhibited by individuals in various contexts. The theory provides a suggestion that individuals cannot survive or be understood unless they exist as members or part of a family and not in isolation (Regina, 2011). The theory states that interconnectedness and interdependence, which are fundamental to the existence and survival of individuals, can only be exhibited when people live happily in a family. Arguably, without a family, individuals are likely to exhibit negative attitudes and behaviors, which could result in their isolation from other members of the society. In the movie, the family of Precious is in constant conflicts, and thus, interconnectedness and interdependence of the members are jeopardized. This has contributed or played a role in Precious’ exhibition of harmful attitudes and behaviors. For instance, she has a crush on her mathematics teacher, and this is unacceptable in the society today. Moreover, she does not relate well with her peers and instead slaps them unnecessarily.

Precious’s exhibition of negative attitudes and behaviors due to family conflicts and disagreements would have been avoided. One of the interventions in addressing these problems would have been to ensure that there is love and affection within the family members. Through this, physical, sexual, mental, and verbal abuses directed at Precious would not have been witnessed.




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