28 May 2022


Psychosocial Development Case Study Assessment

Format: APA

Academic level: Master’s

Paper type: Case Study

Words: 2275

Pages: 8

Downloads: 0

The growth of a normal human being from childhood to adulthood has usually been characterized by numerous developmental stages. These are important factors of development that will usually characterize an individual’s maturity from one stage to the next. The movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” portrays stages of development among the numerous characters that are portrayed. The following paper will focus on three characters identifying their various life stages and the roles they play in the family. Fotoula is the 30-year-old Greek woman succumbing to the pressure from parents and relatives to get married. Kostas better known as Gus is her father and has been a key factor in her decision to get married as soon as possible. Nick Portokalos is the third character in focus who is the younger brother to Fotoula. 

Fotoula “Toula” Portokalos-Miller 

Fotoula is a 30-year-old Greek woman that has been brought up in a culture where it is important to embrace family. This is where the young woman has been used to the idea of a close-knit relationship between herself, her siblings, parents and the entire extended family. She plays the role of a daughter and a waiter in the restaurant owned by the family. She has been working at this family business all her life and as a result she has failed to achieve the cultural expectations of a Greek woman (Jones, 2015). This is because she has not yet gotten married, had multiple children and feed them until she dies. 

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According to Erik Erikson’s psychosocial stages of development, Fotoula is at the “intimacy versus isolation” stage. This is a period in early adulthood where individuals seek to blend their identities with that of friends a strategic means of fitting in (Jones, 2015). This is identified as the period of life between 20 and 39 years. Individuals at this stage will usually struggle being on their own as they seek to get romantic partners in their lives. A person will also want to be accepted into a social group this may be friends or even family. The main goal of individuals at this stage is getting married and settling down into a family. 

It is no wonder that Fotoula wants to be like her elder sister Athena and the rest of the Greek women. The young woman believes she is a failure as she has not been able to find a handsome Greek boy to marry her and make Greek children with him. According to the young woman, she has always been unable to fit in to various social groups in her life because of her Greek culture. The fact that she has always wanted to do things differently seems to make her experience this isolation from social groups (O’ Connell, 2006). The pressures from her family also propel her to desire for a life outside the family business so as to lead her own life. 

Through the psychosocial stage of “love: intimacy vs. isolation”, the individual will likely have to balance between work, family and dating life. However, Fotoula seems to experience a lot of involvement of the family in all her aspects of life. Her family is at work as she is working the family business and also in her dating life as they pressure her to get married like her elder sister. It is evident that culture is an important factor in the development of an individual’s vocational choices (Smith & Yang, 2009). The Greek culture maintains that Toula should be a housewife and give birth to numerous children. At thirty, she believes that she has not achieved this and would instead have to live contrary to the dictation of her culture. 

Kostas “Gus” Portokalos 

Kostas Portokalos better known as Gus is the father of Fotoula and Athena Portokalos. He is the husband to Maria who also the mother of his children. Gus is heavily consumed by his beliefs of his Greek culture from which he draws numerous perspectives of the world and the expectations of each individual. He is currently experiencing a psychological crisis as his daughter Fotoula has not yet gotten married and continued to live with them (Smith & Yang, 2009). He believes that she is a shame to his family as she is expected to marry and have numerous children just as her sister has done. Gus is constantly arguing with Fotoula on her choices of following Greek culture rather than follow her dreams of a career. 

In the psychosocial developmental theory, this is identified as the stage of “care: generativity v. stagnation” (Jones, 2015). This is period in life between 40 and 64 years old or the middle adulthood. The individuals within this stage of life will usually seek to guide members of the next generation to follow in their footsteps. This may be identified by a parent seeking to help their grown children to become responsible adults and relinquish their roles as central controllers of their adult children. This is where the parents begin to let go of their adult children to become responsible of themselves. The individual is also tasked with the prospect of focusing on their spouses and reversing their roles with aging parents. 

According to the film, My Big Fat Greek Wedding , Gus is depicted as having the role of a father at the stage of guiding the adult child to become more responsible. It is seen here that Gus believes that Fotoula is acting contrary to the expected role of a woman in Greek culture. This is where Fotoula’s only desire is to improve herself physically and intellectually through getting an education. Instead Gus believes that she should be more like her elder sister and focus on getting married to a man with a Greek origin. Therefore, when she begins dating Ian Miller, he is against the union and prompts other family members to introduce her to a Greek man (O’ Connell, 2006). 

There is an existing interrelationship between work, family and other roles in his life. It is evident that work has little influence in the life of Gus as he has already created a successful business that he has used to raise his children while also taking care of the aging parent, Yiayia. As depicted in the film, the middle aged man has strong beliefs about family and how an individual should behave. His beliefs are engraved in Greek culture prompting majority of his actions (Smith & Yang, 2009). He is seen to be unable to relinquish his role as a primary caregiver in the life of Fotoula as he continues to compel her numerous decisions. He does not believe in her getting an education but would rather she become a wife and mother. 

Nick Portokalos 

The third character in this discussion is Nick Portokalos who is the younger brother of Fotoula. He also works at the family restaurant together with his sister and parents. According to the depiction of the character in the film, he seems to be struggling with finding his identity and the place he fits within the family. Little focus is given to him particularly by his father and he resorts to focusing on his artistic abilities (O’ Connell, 2006). This is a psychological crisis as it demonstrates an individual’s transition from childhood to adulthood. Through finding an identity, a person is capable of following a particular career path, interacting with family and fitting in to a selected cohort of friends. 

In the psychosocial developmental theory, Erik Erikson identifies this stage as “fidelity: identity vs. role confusion” (Jones, 2015). Though the crisis primarily begins at the age of 13 and ends at 19 years, Erikson identifies that this may be prolonged depending on the individual into later years. This may extend to the late twenties of an individual. The theory requires an individual to know themselves in terms of personality and vocational skills. The individual is required to demonstrate responsibility for one’s own duties as an adult and a potential professional. Additionally, one should be able to make wise choices of friends and romantic mates who align with their values and desires in life. This is a molding process before the intimacy stage. 

The character is depicted to be less theatrical than the rest of the Greek Family. In this case, the entire family is seen as an exaggeration of the Greek culture at times making their actions appear silly. The family has been involved in numerous theatrics of being loud, eating too much and expressing their emotions through touch. The above is not the Nick’s character and like his sister he seeks to act contrary to this expectation. Parents are considered significant influences in his life where depending on whether they appreciate his tasks will determine if he pursues a particular vocation (O’ Connell, 2006). This is an important factor that propels the individual to overcome identity crisis. 

Nick’s family, work and other relationships have a significant impact towards realizing his identity. The father has been has rarely acknowledged his talent in his artistic works. This is seen where he does not acknowledge the fact that he has improved the menu cover and instead criticizes it by asking where he gets it from. This is a clear indication that he has not followed the cultural practice of the Greek people which is eating and creating a similar business as his father’s. However, he embraces the culture by incorporating his art in the restaurant. Nick’s relationship with his elder sister, Fotoula, influences him to become humble and appreciate his vocational skills (Smith & Yang, 2009). She affirms that he indeed has a special skill in artwork. 

Functioning As a Family Unit 

The above named characters have been seen to have a strained relationship as members of the family. The father is seen to be the major influence in the lives of both the son and daughter. Gus does not appreciate the choices that Nick and Fotoula are making in their adulthood years. In each case he seems to identify them as a disappointment of his upbringing techniques. He believes that their failure to adhere to his beliefs as Greek children as neglecting the culture that he adores (Smith & Yang, 2009). In this regard, he believes that their eldest sister, Athena, is the perfect child as she has critically followed the Greek traditions and played her part of the traditional woman as is expected of her. Nick and Fotoula are seen to have a good relationship as they support each other towards achieving the goals of their different developmental stages. 

Fotoula is on the transition into a life of marriage. This transition is noted to have a significant impact in the functioning of the family. Hereby, getting married will enable her father and the rest of her family to believe that she is on the route to achieving her goal as a woman in the Greek society. This transition is also affected by the fact that she is marrying a foreign man (Smith & Yang, 2009). Her father views this action as contrary to the expectations of the culture as she is abandoning her people. However, her future husband is able to correct this error by joining the Greek Orthodox Church so that he can win over the hearts of Fotoula’s family. This will enable him to be associated with the Greek culture and the religion they practice. 

Gus on the other hand is on the transition to relinquish control over his already grown children. Gus is having a major problem in accepting the fact that Fotoula and Nick are already adults capable of making their own choices. Instead he seeks to control every decision they make as he is constantly correcting them and noting that they are making errors (Ungar, 2008). Once Gus accepts that he cannot control them, his children will be able to live happier lives. Acknowledging Nick’s vocational skills will enable him to avert an identity crisis and allow him to be his own man and not a replica of his father. Accepting the future husband of Fotoula will enable her to be happy in her own right and not just follow the instructions of her father. Gus will also be able to appreciate his wife Maria through concentrating on their relationship rather than that of their children. 

Last but not least, Nick is transitioning to realize his identity and his role in the world. This is where he can become more outspoken like other members of the Portokalos family. The young man is constantly receiving negative remarks from his father who does not acknowledge that he is seeking his own path into adulthood. The father should be able to affirm that indeed he is skillful in creating artwork. The young man will be able to avert identity crisis and become a responsible adult in the society. Through realizing his identity, Nick will be able to swiftly move into the intimacy stage and not prolong it further than necessary (Ungar, 2008). The young man will also be able to experience a better and healthier relationship with his father. Both will be able to work together as they identify ways they can improve the family business that he may inherit from him. 

Wellness and Resilience 

The concept of wellness and resilience identifies the ability of the members of the community to effectively manage to adjust their attitudes and behavior to the challenges and changes that take place in life. Through the psychosocial developmental process, individuals should have the capacity to adjust from one stage to the next. Some of the challenges associated with wellness and resilience include the differences observed between different generations in a community, cultural barriers between different culture groups and failure to seek help in a family (Cadell, Karabanow & Sanchez, 2009). The different perspectives of various generations may hinder resilience in a community as each age group does not want to embrace the changes taking place. Culture may also prevent the occurrence of change as seen where Gus does not want his daughter to marry a non-Greek man. His failure to acknowledge the changes in his life and that of his children prevents him from being resilient and achieving wellness in his community. Nevertheless, the close knit relationship observed in the Greek family has helped in fostering the resilience and wellness observed in the community. 


The above discussion is a clear demonstration of different stages in psychosocial development in a family unit and the community at large. The discussed characters in the case study have presented the intimacy vs. isolation, generativity vs. stagnation and identity vs. role confusion stages. These different stages have significant influence on the future experiences of the family unit as a whole. As a result, it is importance to build resilience within the community and cultural groups such that all members may realize emotional and mental wellness in future experiences. Resilience will effectively harbor a healthy relationship among its members in future interaction. 


Cadell, S., Karabanow, J., & Sanchez, M. (2009). Community, empowerment, and resilience: Paths to wellness.  Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health 20 (1), 21-35. 

Jones, S. A. (2015). Psychosocial textbook (4th Ed.). Any Town, NY: Publisher. 

O’ Connell, D. (2006). Brief literature review on strength-based teaching and counseling . Retrieved from www.metrac.org/resources/downloads/strength.based.learning.lit.review.pdf 

Smith, T. J., & Yang, L. W. (2009). Wellness and resilience. Counseling Quarterly, 15 (4), 300–310. 

Ungar, M. (2008). “Resilience across cultures.”  British journal of social work , 38 (2), 218-235. 

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