1. Problem Identification – (Diagnosis) Use DSM-5
2. Thematic Grouping – (4D’s Danger, Dysfunction, Distress and Deviance)
3. Theoretical Inferences – (Theory and Therapy) Sum it up! cite, cite, cite…
George Lopez Show’s George Lopez
Introducing the Character
George Lopez is the main character in the George Lopez Show, a sitcom that aired on ABC television between 2002 and 2007 and that is now in syndication. It is a “slice of life” show featuring a predominantly Mexican and Mexican American cast. The program features George Lopez, who manages an airplane parts factory; his wife, Angie, who works in the home; their children, Max and Carmen; Mr. Lopez’s mother, Benita (Benny); and Angie’s father, Victor (Vic) Palermo. The show is family-oriented in nature. It centers on the daily struggles of the Lopez family and the dysfunctional circumstances that bring them together—and the resulting squabbles and frictions within and across the generations, which are oftentimes humorous, but occasionally serious. The central comedic tension is between Mr. Lopez and his proud and judgmental father-in-law, Vic, who, is a retired physician. Dr. Palermo had always hoped that his daughter would achieve better marital and life status than she did, and thus, George Lopez is forever trying to live up to his father-in-law’s expectations of him. Similarly, Angie’s mother-in-law, Benny, is forever criticizing her daughter-in-law’s cooking, housekeeping skills, and ability to be a good-enough wife to her son. The children, Max and Carmen, struggle with day-to-day adolescent dilemmas and typically provide Mr. Lopez the opportunity to prove his worth, both as a parent, person, and comedian. The following Basic Case Summary and Diagnostic Impressions present our portrayal of the George Lopez Show’s main character at a recent counseling session as a result of increasing clinically significant distresses related to his complex family life.
Basic Case Summary
Identifying Information. George Lopez is a 48-year-old Mexican American male who resides in a socioeconomically middle-class household comprising his wife, two children, mother, and father-in-law. Mr. Lopez identifies himself as Roman Catholic. He manages the warehouse at the Power Brothers Aviation Company, where he has progressively advanced through the ranks over his 25-year employment with them. He presented as notably conscious of his appearance, including his average height and weight, recently graying hair, and what he described as “my Mexican features.”
Presenting Concern. Mr. Lopez was urged to attend counseling by his wife, Angie, who has become increasingly concerned with the frequency of her husband’s headaches and episodes of fatigue, anxiety, and moments of low mood that have bothered her husband since recent changes at work. These changes include corporate cutbacks that have resulted in ongoing furloughs. As a result, Mr. Lopez now has a 1-day furlough without pay per week, along with 1 paid day of working at home instead of at his office. Further, because the manager’s position may be permanently cut in the near future, Mr. Lopez feels there is great pressure to compete to “be in the inner circle.” As a result, he recently has been encouraged to play golf, play tennis, meet for martinis, and join the Kiwanis Club with his upper-management bosses. He describes this as “like crossing the border again into a whole new world. How does a guy like me hang out with guys like that?”
During the intake, Angie noted that her husband, who typically does not talk about his feelings, has become increasingly irritable, distractible, inattentive at home, and withdrawn from the family, particularly on weekends when he prefers to retreat to the den to watch sports and drink beer with his friends from work. When queried, Mr. Lopez admitted that “I have a lot of responsibilities and a family to support . . . so I like blowing off steam and I get a little cranky once in a while. And okay, sometimes my mood isn’t so happy.”
Background, Family Information, and Relevant History.
George Lopez was born in Tijuana, Mexico, the youngest of three sons to his father, Hernando, who abandoned the family soon after his birth, and mother, Benita (Benny), who worked a number of odd jobs in order to keep her family together. By the time George was 7 years old, his mother began drinking heavily and experienced bouts of depression.
Mr. Lopez attended the Rodrigo Escobar Elementary School in Tijuana where he reports that he was often chastised by his teachers for inattentiveness, failure to focus on his studies, and his seemingly insatiable need to be the center of attention. Nevertheless, Mr. Lopez’s memory is that among his endearing childhood qualities were his charm, eloquence, and ability to, as he recalled, “play to my audience.” During his middle school years at Tijuana Middle School, Mr. Lopez displayed a propensity for comedy and took an active role in the widely popular school talent shows. It was around that time that he began doing stand-up comedy routines on the streets of Tijuana, which, to his surprise, provided a relatively stable income for his family. By the time Mr. Lopez was of high school age, he had become disinterested in school and recalled that “I was making more money performing on the street than my teacher who was busting her ass in the classroom.” However, with the encouragement of his mother, who by that time had been hospitalized several times for the effects of alcoholism, Mr. Lopez persevered in completing his studies.
After graduating from high school, Mr. Lopez crossed the border into the United States and began doing stand-up comedy in local bars, in street festivals, and at local colleges. To his surprise, he became very popular. When Mr. Lopez met Angie, he was 21 and looking forward to a career in comedy; however, they soon had their first child, Max, and his wife convinced him that the family needed him to get a steady job. As a result, he began working in the maintenance department at the Power Brothers Aviation Company, where he quickly earned the respect of his employers and the friendship of his coworkers, who found him funny and loyal. Over the next several years, Mr. Lopez worked diligently at the aviation company while doing occasional evening and weekend stand-up. He advanced to the position of plant manager.
Around that time, Mr. Lopez and his wife were expecting their second child. Mr. Lopez recalls that this was a cause of great stress for him because “I could barely support us with one child . . . how was I going to take care of two children?” Additionally, soon after the birth of the Lopez’s second child, Mrs. Lopez’s father and his own mother came to live with the family to help out with the child-rearing. However, (a) the friction between him and his father-in-law, who never thought him a good enough husband, and (b) his own mother’s constant criticism of his wife have made the household a highly stressful environment. For some time, Mr. Lopez has been occasionally drinking and staying out late after work and has been increasingly irritable when home. He reports having told his wife in the past year that he wanted to quit his job in order to pursue a fulltime career as a comedian “because at least there I was having fun.” At the same time, until his recent job changes, Mr. Lopez appears to have been managing his multiple but normally expected occupational stresses, culturally appropriate household stresses, and other pressures relatively successfully.
Problem and Counseling History.
Mr. Lopez volunteered that he agreed with his wife that he has been having difficulties adjusting to the results of his job cutbacks and furlough, including (a) being at home 2 extra days per week; (b) attempting to work in his home and family environment one of those days per week; and (c) managing financially with 1 day’s furlough. He agreed that his mood has been notably low at time, “really nervous” at other times, and increasingly irritable and “moody.” In addition, he volunteered that he was experiencing problems with his entry into upper-management culture, which he described as “white country club culture, you know?” As described, he sees this as a new and challenging social, economic, and cultural transition on which his job future might depend.
At the same time, during the intake interview, Mr. Lopez appeared ambivalent about the need for counseling and made it quite clear that he was not the problem and that “I just need a little chance to blow off steam.” He was sarcastic throughout the session, making jokes about his family and his circumstances asserting that “this therapy would make a funny routine for my stand-up.” He avoided talking in any greater depth about his past or his recent bouts of irritability and often made unpleasant remarks about his father-in-law, who “I can’t seem to please no matter what I do, especially now that I’m furloughed.” He was, nevertheless, oriented in all spheres, articulate albeit glib, and noted that “if I could only get over this bump, I would be as healthy as a bull.” Toward the end of the session, Mr. Lopez suggested that his father-in-law and mother should probably get married and move into their own home “and leave us the hell alone.”