An approach that considers the biological dimension of human behavior closely linked with and inseparable from, psychological, social, and spiritual systems is known as the bio-psycho-social-spiritual approach (Hutchison, 2008). The bio-psycho-social-spiritual approach applies to the personal dimension and the environmental dimension. The biological, psychological, and spiritual person are a part of the personal dimension. The social structure of a person is a part of the environmental dimension. By using a multidimensional approach it will help us to understand Rick Bragg's behavior and the changing relationships of Bragg and his environment over time.

Risk Factors
Protective Factors

-aggressive beahvior
-father's death-TB
-violent behavior
-grandfather's death-cirrhosis of liver
-no regular medical check ups
-impulsive behavior
-avoids alcohol
-healthy stature, big, strapping as teen and adult
-family members have musical talent
-grandfather was tall
-intellectual processing
-self regulation

-father unstable
-lack of coping skills
-father's PTSD
-father’s abuse/neglect
-subject to discrimination
-mom missed some achievements
-did not attend father’s funeral
-father never apologized for abuse/neglect
-formed barrier between himself and privileged
-exposure to traumatic situations
-guilt for leaving home and family for work
-negative thinking
-mom good role model
-mother exhibits resilience despite abuse and absent father
-Miss Abigail (grandmother) was a strong role model
-strong bond with mother (caregiver)
- did not put himself above blacks
-perseverance exists within family
-self confidence
-coping skills
-upward mobility
-Harvard 1 year program for writers
-determination and will power
-Pulitzer Prize

-never learned to properly express himself
-working class family
-education was not a priority
- never believed he was good enough
-lived in a poor rural community
-limited opportunities
-absent father
-high stress environment from infancy to early adulthood
-always had poor housing
-from a divorced family
-looked down on because of his southern accent
-mom's family were all dropouts so they could work
-acceptable to drink
-unstable childhood
-education was not as rigorous as a privileged student
-limited social interaction other than family growing up
-he is outcasted by society for being poor
-murder suspect due to income status and social class
-dropped out of college
-he got divorced
-commitment issues with female relationships
- white privilege
-valued education
-self regulation
-all family were hard workers
-uncles were father figures and good role models
-extended family always helped; good support system
-he was a good reader as a child
-stops being mean to the black family down the road
-mom goes back to school
-played on the basketball team at school
-wrote for the high school paper
-community support from the college fraternity
-once his career advanced social class was not as much of an issue
-got awards
-professor acknowledged his talent
-got non-labor job at local newspaper
-got married
-he rose from poverty
-won Pulitzer Prize
-strength in family
-adapted to different social groups
-his mom got acknowledgement from people of every social class after
-Bragg won the Pulitzer
-Nieman Fellowship

-felt he couldn't depend on God
-didn't share the same religious experiences
-grandmother's death
-Mother believed strongly in religion
-church he attended with aunt made him feel like a family
-believed God existed
-sense of purpose(fix the pain his father caused his mother)
-loyalty to his mother
-took father's qualities that he inherited and channeled them into constructive success
-music with his grandmother
-reading books
-car accident


The prevalent biological risk factors are alcoholism and impulsive behavior. Growing up in the rural south drinking likker was part of "being a man". Alcohol and whisky in particular consumed Charles's life and then Mark's. Charlie's alcoholism led him to both physically abuse Margaret, neglect his sons, refuse to contribute financially to the family and disappear for long periods of time. Charles died at an early age due to his severe degree of drinking. Mark, Rick's younger brother was troubled as a youth and fell into alcoholism as an adult. Rick took after his father with his own father impulsive demeanor. As a teen he used to race his car all the time. One night he was racing and a police car came after him. He tried to get away and then he ended up wrecking. From the looks of the car afterwards, everyone said he was lucky to be alive."The Lord was riding with you, son. You should be dead" (Bragg, p. 113). Hutchison (2008) states “perssons of lower incomes engage in riskier health behaviors and lifestyles”.
Bragg's strongest protective biological factors were his ability to avoid alcohol and his intellectual processing ability. Self-regulation is an integrated learning process, consisting of the development of a set of constructive behaviors that affect one's learning. These processes are planned and adapted to support the pursuit of personal goals in changing learning environments. Self-regulation involves controlling behavior, motivational beliefs, and cognitive strategies for learning. People with high levels of self-regulation have good control over the attainment of their goals (Zimmerman, 1989). I feel that his ability to self regulate his feelings and to stay focused on his goals were what helped him to achieve the goal of buying his mother a house someday.

The psychological risk factors of poverty and the role of his abusive/neglectful father were important factors in Bragg's life. Rick Bragg's childhood was characterized by poverty. Calhoun County was a poor county in Alabama as well. It didn't help that Charles was abusive. He was never home and brought only stress and pain to the Bragg home. The Bragg home had two rooms, with Margaret, Sam, Rick and Mark crowded together. Margaret didn't own the home they lived in, as it was owned by Bragg's aunt and uncle. The family was also reliant on family and the government from money, food and clothes. When Bragg was rounded up with the other poor, black and mentally handicapped kids as suspects for a murder that was obvious none of them committed, Bragg realized that he was being discriminated against and vowed to get out of poverty. Bragg's sense of his poverty and his determination come through strongly in the book. His sensitivity to poverty also convinced him that "rich people are boring," and helped him to cover the forgotten poor that led to his Pulitzer Prize."The only thing poverty does is grind down your nerve endings to a point that you can work harder and stoop lower than most people are willing to." (Bragg, p. 25)
One of the protective factors that I feel had a huge impact on him was sublimation. Sublimation is converting an impulse from a socially unacceptable aim to a socially acceptable one for example an angry young man becomes a star as a journalist (Hutchison, 2008). Another protective factor that I feel made a huge impact on his success was his upward mobility. Upward mobility often refers to someone moving up in a social class to that of their parents by getting out of their community and distancing themselves from the family and area they grew up in. Upward mobility is more than just an individual effort. Often it is through the support of family, a mentor, and sometimes just plain luck (Andersen & Taylor, 2008).

The social risk factor that affected Bragg the most were the fact that he was outcasted lots of times from social groups for being poor and having an absent father. The family was reliant on family and the government from money, food and clothes. Bragg didn't realize how poor he was until high school when his girlfriend broke up with him when she met his family and visited his home. From then on, he wouldn't date women who turned their nose up at him. He used to bring girls home almost as a test to see if they would turn their nose up at his lifestyle. The girls he brought home almost always did. Bragg experienced the hierarchy of class in Calhoun County. He never got along with the rich, who often spoke differently and dressed differently than he did. Bragg's mother could only find jobs doing back-breaking labor for low wages. She picked cotton until the cotton picking machines took over; afterwards, she picked tomatoes and pecans off the ground. She would also wash clothes. Bragg also suffered because his mother was scorned in the community due to her divorce, placing those who maintained their marriages despite serious dysfunction over those who got away. When Bragg left Calhoun County, he carried the chip on his shoulder of someone at the bottom of the social hierarchy.
The protective factor that was his biggest attribute to his success was being a part of the newspaper at his high school. Once he took that journalism class he found his calling for something he was successful at and enjoyed. Education ended up being his path to success. He then went on to classes at the community college which led him to a job as a sports journalist.

The spiritual risk factors were the fact that didn't have the same religious experiences as others. Bragg describes one of his experiences at church by stating it was one of the most amazing experience of his life. He was viewing the only baptism he ever saw; the faces of the baptized were so enraptured and genuine that Bragg has never seen so much sincerity since. As for Bragg, he wanted to feel what they were feeling, but the feeling never came and eventually he stopped going to church. It was then that he had a spiritual disconnect religiously. Now he thinks you just have to be a good person to go to heaven. "I just sat there. I could have pretended--I think some did pretend--but what good would that have done. I sat, as the Sundays drained away. I never felt so alone before. I don't think I ever have, since." (Bragg, p. 88)
The spiritual protective factor that drove Rick Bragg was his sense of meaning and purpose in life. As stated by Hutchinson (2008) spirituality is a purpose or directions to one's life. Bragg always felt responsible for his mother. She thought she was a failure and he was out to prove her wrong, to show that he could amount to something and that he could take what was bad in his father and turn it into something good. He was determined to escape poverty and spent years saving up whatever extra money he had in the hopes of one day buying his mother a brand new, giant house. Bragg knew that he couldn't fix the past, but he intended the house to be a symbol, a representation of how the Bragg's were "getting even with life." Margaret Bragg's life had not been kind or easy but she bore its burdens with grace, strength and unfailing love for her sons. To Bragg, it would be unjust for such a good woman to die with so little. When he won the Pulitzer, he took Margaret on her first trip over three hundred miles away from her house. She flew on her first plane, rode in her first taxi, and took her first elevator ride. Margaret was overwhelmed by New York City's skyscrapers and by how kind Rick's editors and work associates were to her. But most of all now people from all social classes spoke to his mother and gave her the recognition she deserved.


Andersen, M., & Taylor, H. (2008). Sociology: understanding a diverse society (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Learning, Inc.

Bragg, R. (1997). All over but the shoutin. New York: Vintage Books.

Hutchison, E. D. (2008). Dimensions of human behavior: Person and environment (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks , CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Hutchison, Elizabeth D. (2008). Dimensions of Human Behavior: The Changing Life Course (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Zimmerman, B. J. (1989). A social cognitive view of self-regulated academic learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 329-339.