Emotional Expression

From a young age, who people become is affected by the people around them.The example that others set for them makes a huge impact on what they will strive to be as well as strive not to be.

Also, some characteristics must be learned in order to come out in people, so if nobody in someone’s life models that specific trait, it will never be taught.Some of the most common traits lacking in today’s society are those of sympathy and empathy.Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel Speakand modern sources explore how social support at home and school affect one’s ability to express emotions. Speak and the article “The Influence of Perceived Familial Emotional Support in Childhood on Adult Health-Related Behaviors” by Adriana Maldonado, explore the importance of social support at home. In Speak, when Melinda is close to her worst, instead of the support from her parents increasing, it decreases, causing her serious depression and self destructive behavior to escalate; “I draw little window cracks of blood, etching line after line until it stops hurting.

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It looks like I arm-wrestled a rosebush. Mom sees the wrist at breakfast.Mom: ‘I don’t have time for this, Melinda'” (Anderson 87). Melinda’s mom acts as though her child’s depression and emotional distress is to her a very low priority and even a bother to her. She expresses no empathy or sympathy, setting a horrible example for Melinda, who has no choice but to learn from her parents.Readers can infer that Melinda’s mother’s parents were neglectful to her because she too has not learned important skills, as mentioned in Maldonado’s article;”The parent child relationship serves as the context in which children learn important health enhancing, social, and psychological tasks.

That is, parents are regarded by children as models and at the same time, they provide guidance, direct instructions and teaching” (Maldonado 47). Not only is Melinda not receiving positive support and guidance, but is actually being treated with inhumane disregard.Indirectly, her mother is telling her to keep her problems to herself, and that they are not important. Without positive support and modeling from her parents, Melinda will never get better or even feel the need to get better.Familial support is most important in times of need or despair, especially from a figure that one looks up to. Speak and the article “Social Isolation, Psychological Health, and Protective Factors in Adolescence,” by Jennifer A.

Hall-Lande show the importance of social support in school and with peers.At the start of the novel it seems as though Melinda has at least one true friend, Heather, to give her the proper support socially. Suddenly this changes drastically, and the effects are seen immediately: “I think it’s time for us both to admit that we..just.


..different. Me: ‘You mean we’re not friends anymore?’ Heather:..

.’We were never really really friends, were we?'” (Anderson 105).Melinda is immediately affected by this because Heather was one of the very few people she had trusted.Not only that, but she realized right away how very lonely she was without Heather.It made her feel as though no one truly cared.

Without her only close friend, Melinda’s struggles grow because according to Hall-Lande’s Article, “Adolescents who do not report having close friendships consistently have… issues of self-esteem, perceptions of social competence, and internalizing problems such as depression” (Hall-Lande 2).It is evident that Melinda falls under this category, and not by her own choice or fault.Melinda’s tendency to skip school develops soon after she loses Heather.Readers can infer that this is because she feels she can no longer handle school without a friend to support her.The less Melinda attends school, the more she isolates herself, which leads to lower self-esteem and deeper depression. Social support from peers has such a critical role in adolescent health, and without it comes a cascade of negative effects, as illustrated by Melinda’s increasing struggles once she loses Heather’s friendship.

Speak and the article “Effects of Different Sources of Social Support and Social Conflict on Emotional Well-Being,” by Antonia Abbey, show that a lack of social support affects one’s ability to express emotion. Throughout Anderson’s novel, a lack of social support for Melinda is seen from her parents and peers.Because of this, there are very few times where Melinda even considers opening up, or sharing her emotions. These rare occasions occur when Melinda feels safe due to a sliver of social support or caring. Because she is so used to negative feedback, however, she doubts the safe feeling as well as her own ability to share; “This isn’t going to be easy.

I’m sure they suspect I was at the party… But I want to tell them everything… How can I talk to them about that night? How can I start?” (Anderson 72).Sharing negative emotions that make one feel vulnerable takes practice as well as an immense feeling of safeness and trust.If one such as Melinda experiences this opportunity rarely, the courage to begin opening up will never come.Without ever beginning, one cannot practice, leading to no progress in healing.It is a vicious cycle.

According to Abbey, “Social Support may moderate the effects of stress on affect and well-being by providing individuals with information that improves coping strategies, by providing encouragement to continue coping attempts” (Abbey 113).Had Melinda had more consistent, stronger social support, her ability to cope with her traumatic incident, as well as her depression, would have been a much lighter burden to carry.The positive result of social support is immediately seen when Mr. Freeman complements Melinda on her work and growth, and she answers with legitimate responses that keep the conversation going.Not only does she Converse with him, but she opens up about how she feels about her art.Had this support come from her peers and parents in relation to Melinda’s more serious problems, she would have been in a better place mentally and emotionally.Expressing emotions is a challenge to all, and without social support, it is virtually impossible. tomorrow People’s ability to express feelings, both positive and negative, is greatly affected by the amount of support received from people in their lives.In today’s society, the ability to express emotion, as well as each individual having social support is seen as a priority in many schools. A variety of instruments are put in place and carried out throughout one’s time in school.

Most schools are a part of PGC, (Peer Group Connection.)This program teaches important communication and leadership skills to faculty and student leaders who in turn apply it in the classroom. Even from a young age, students are encouraged to share their feelings, whether it is in show and tell, or circle time.The purpose of these activities is to train students to express themselves.Also, numerous schools require team building for their students, especially in transitional periods in their lives.This can help to create friendships between new people, or simply causes all the students to be more comfortable with each other.

This strengthens bonds and helps to build a network of social support that allows students to express emotions and cope with whatever challenge comes their way.