Abnormal Psychology: Case Study Examples | Free Essay Example (2022)

These abnormal psychology case study examples cover four different psychological disorders. Check out this sample essay if you’re interested in mental illness and therapy.

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Table of Contents

  1. Case Study One: Margaret

  2. Case Study Two: Lillian

  3. Case Study Three: Jim

    (Video) Case Study Abnormal Psychology

  4. Case Study Four: Janet

  5. Works Cited

Case Study One: Margaret

In most cases psychologists draw their diagnostics by conducting an interview with their clients like the one conducted by Louise on Margaret. This is based on the fact that understanding ones problem from the horse’s mouth is easier. There are various factors that may be deduced from such an assessment. For example Louise was able to identify many changes that her client has undergone and the difficulty she faces in dealing with them.

There are also social factors that can not be understood otherwise that impact greatly on many people with psychological disturbances. It was also as a result of this assessment that the client reported her recent memory loss that shows her awareness of her abnormal conditions. Therefore this assessment was meant to determine what ails Margaret and thereafter draw some useful therapies to help her go back to normalcy.

In her conclusion Louise drew some conclusions concerning Margaret’s condition. Margaret reported some changes in her menstrual periods. She noticed a change in her moods which has partly contributed to her moodiness although this could be as a result of hormonal imbalance due to menopause considering Margaret’s age.

Further, Louise underlined Margaret’s dealing with her son being away and her inaccessible daughter as she is too much preoccupied with her child. Margaret is diagnosed to be struggling with this change of life hence her condition.

Louise also drew from Margaret that she has become frequently forgetful and she is aware of it. She is also aware of her change of mood and reaction towards her daughter which she does not want her to discover. This could be attributed to her general feeling of anger and loss thus; she has lost interest in life.

This show of self awareness is depicted when Louise asked her about her anger towards her daughter. She burst to tears because Louise had discovered her true feelings towards her daughter which she was concealing. The reactions portrayed by Margaret during the assessment are the best example of another dimension of Margaret’s psychological assessment.

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Margaret portrays anger and sadness following her relation with her daughter. She believe that her daughter rushed into marriage and she is now less concerned about her. It was also concluded that due to pervasive anxiety she loses sleep, overeat, over drink, has spasmodic moods and memory distractions. As a result of this she has gained extra weight that she sees as part of her problem.

(Video) Abnormal psychology case study MDD

In the Margaret’s assessment, psychological testing is vital because it would test her take on her condition. For example whether she appreciates change or to whom does she hold responsible for her condition. Self proclamation is important as it is out of such discussions that a professional draws conclusions on how to handle the situation.

This is called mental status evaluation in which the coherence in thought is assessed. Due to her history of her family, she could be judged as having depression. Margaret’s father is reported to have died when she was three and this led to her mother being away from home most of the times. That could be the reason for her unconscious suppressed desire not to separate from her children.

Physical screening for Margaret is necessary in order to diagnose various possible complications that may be evident as a result of the signs and symptoms she narrated. There are several problems that could be confirmed in the course of medical examination. Medical testing could rule out her biological hormonal imbalance following the previous hormonal test done to the patient (Halgin and Whitbourne 21).

Considering her age and the frequent premenstrual moodiness, it is logical to rule out hormonal imbalances related to menopause. Possible complications for Margaret’s case include memory lapse due to memory losses witnessed and neurological malfunction. Physical examination may also be useful in confirming the reason for her overweight and the increased appetite that has devastated her sex life.

Case Study Two: Lillian

Case two illustrates Lillian’s defense in life where she draws confidence in herself by her personality disorder. Her defense of splitting is her major preoccupation in dealing with her situation. Right from the onset, she complains and enquires as to why her life is being made difficult by what she refers to as some idiot.

What follows is a description of how other people have blocked her way always. Her description of the event that unfolded in the coffee line proves that she is the problem but her weaknesses are evident on her mistreatment and blame on others. This way according to her, she is not the problem, the problem is from without.

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Lillian is also very sensitive on matters of gender discrimination as she cites that her former boss treated her badly because she was a woman. She resorts to finding solution in the workers union. This is a commonsensical issue but she doesn’t care anyway because she is not the problem. Her problem is proved further by the fact that she currently does a housekeeping job even after college education.

Before this, she has gone down the stairs and lost six jobs in ten years. Her social life is limited to her drinking friends, unstable lasting sexual relationships with men she meets at the bar. She uses her drugs to soothe her nerves. This is helpful because it would be worse if she reduces herself to depression due to self blame. This is necessary from her point of view because she feels better about herself when she does so.

Lillian’s constant anger in borderline personality disorder may be natural or inborn. History proves that Lillian even before her father died she would conflict with her mother where her father sided with her. This proves that she could have natural tendency to have bouts of anger. Her father could have been that kind as demonstrated by his support and siding with her in her row with her mother. If her father did not see any cause of hunger in her daughter both could have something shared.

There is also a possibility that Lillian’s condition could be as a result of disappointment and many failures in life. Lillian has had a string of disappointment in her employment. She losses jobs and has plummeted to a position of a housekeeper. This could turn her to anger.

In her social life, we are also told that she feels guilty often but her defense is her unconscious transfer of that blame to a second person’s act. This way she is elated and soothed that she is clean. Therefore there is a possibility that Lillian’s anger could be both as result of some existential factors and inborn.

(Video) Case Studies of Mental Disorder & Abnormal Psych, "Learning DSM-5® by Case Example" | APA Publishing

Lillian border line personality disorder was depended on taking very many other factors constant. “It was only drawn from her blame on others and dominance of anger fluctuations from hope to disappointments in relationships, workplace conflicts, drug use and lack of self appraisal” (Halgin and Whitbourne 21).

It never considered that this could be an inborn condition. There could also be a possibility that her condition is worsened by her drug use however mild. Differential analysis could therefore ignore some important parameters influencing some situation.

Her antisocial personality disorder was ruled regardless of her self blame sometimes. She has failed to relate well with people at work, friends and even her mother because of this condition. This leads her to blaming everyone for some cause. For instance she feels her mother favors her siblings; she thinks her boss at work hates her because she is a woman and generally feels victimized by other people’s acts. Lillian justified her misbehavior as drug use as a response to the stress caused by other people who she finds as a problem.

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Lillian’s anxiety disorder is born of her desire to expect too much from others. She expected too much of a laxity from her boss that she had to be sacked. she expects too much from her mum and also from the society especially from the union representative and thus it is hard to avoid disappointments and disillusionments

Case Study Three: Jim

In Case three we are introduced to Jim and his situation that requires psychotherapy. A very good example of a vegetative sign of depression is his inability to sleep which is consistent. This is accompanied by his extreme feeling of despair and anxiety. Sigmund Freud, an expert in the field of psychoanalysis would analyze depression as anger turned against self. This can apply to Jim because he is blaming himself for ruining his girlfriend’s life when he abandoned her.

There is also the issue of body and mind struggle. Normally the two entities coordinate harmoniously to produce the normalcy in life. However, his case is different with all the depression. His mind contemplates suicide in order to punish himself and as a result he has shed off much of his weight. Jim’s body and mind, as result of this struggle and depression are now enemies.

Another struggle between his mind and body is seen whenever he comes up with a painting. He literally ends up destroying it. There is a contest and infighting of his mind and body and thus he poses the biggest danger to himself more than to anyone else. It is for this chief reason that the clinical findings prescribes that protective hospitalization is required until medication and psychotherapy work on him.

A mood congruent delusion is a state where by some one is inconsistent in their usual mood that affects the reinterpretation of things in another way. For example Jim is not consistent in his former behavior when he started looking at himself as a destroyer. His way of perception changed as a result of his depression and self blame. He has conceptualized a world of depressed thoughts and thought patterns that are confirming his melancholy.

Actually all what Jim ails from is anger. He is for sure angered at himself for ruining his girlfriend’s life. That is why he has had relentless attacks of himself resulting to depressed behavior, thought processes and mood fluctuation. There is some evidence of concealed anger in Jim. One reason he can conceal this is because he may have loved his girlfriend so much that hurting her would devastate him too.

Secondly he sees himself as selfish when he turned down her request. He might have deep seated regrets as to why life let him meet a girl who did not understand him when he presented his case.

He may conceal this because first he has himself to blame and has made out his decision though unconsciously to punish himself. This leads him to spend most time fantasizing his physical health and contemplating suicide. His dreams at night would reveal his concealed fears and desires as it is theorized by Sigmund Freud in his interpretation of dreams.

(Video) Case study clinical example: Session with a client with Bipolar Disorder (fluctuations in mood)

From the onset, Jim was judge for himself and he declared his guilt and assigned himself punishments. He no longer finds need or pleasure in company. He spends time smoking cigarettes and thinking about his death. As a result of this self guilt, he has declined eating thus lost a good deal of weight. He has also undertaken unconscious self punishment of neglecting his hygiene and general normal life as he has imprisoned himself in bed where he buys a lot of time to think about his worthlessness and pain.

Another punishment he has subjected himself to is to destroy his creativity’s products. Whenever he does a work he destroys it at the end of the day. There is also psychological punishment where his conscious is always tormented by nightmares of some gruesome women attacking him and that reduces him to crying like a child. This can be associated by his suppressed desire to punish himself and whenever this happens Jim feels that his selflessness deserved punishment.

Case Study Four: Janet

In the forth case, the precipitating stressor event that might have kicked of Janet schizophrenic episode can be noted from the history his parent gave. There was a time when she is reported to have scratched her wrist with a razor in an act that is termed as self destructing. Then there was her being separated from her family members who used to care and support her. There are other factors that are noted in her history to have been repressed causes.

She is reported that from the time she was young the girl had been shy, socially awkward and sensitive. This historic evidence shows that she has had that condition but under the cause and understanding of her family members, it had been contained. Moreover when she was seven years she had gone slowed school. The family undertook a therapy that was corrective to the situation.

In her adolescent she frequently argued with her mother although this can be attributed to hormonal changes that are experiences by many adolescents, the argument reportedly resulted to self harm. She was more provocative and worrisome although this behavior just popped in and disappeared later. Another behavior was that Jane would behave eccentrically as engaging in complex rituals to trigger her sleep. Sometimes she would not want to be seen eating, a clear indication of her psychosocial malfunctioning

Another factor that may have triggered her condition may be was her roommates and new environment. She was, on joining college, introduced to an environment which she was not probably used to. She was then left to be controlled by her long encased schizophrenia. Janet’s primary delusion is her attempt to rescue herself from some inner dangers and fears.

Her delusion interprets her parents and nurses as threat geared towards sabotaging her idealized salvation which is to be actualized through Dr. M. It started earlier when she would quarrel with her mother. At this age it did not come out clearly as at those formative stages her condition would retreat.

Her confidence and overexcitement in justifying her condition is rife with evidence that she is no longer self sensitive. She fantasizes with Dr M whom she has assumed as a sole hope in bringing about salvation in the world. Her delusion has reduced the world to herself. To her, the world is under attack by same threatening unknown and can be saved only when her desire to unite with Dr. M come to a reality. This is her ultimate optimism and desire to be saved or reserved.

Her delusion and hallucination fit together so that she misinterprets real life as attack. This can be traced back from when she was young. She could not understand her mother and they would pick quarrels that sometimes resorted to self destruction. The world she has been living is therefore not the real world. Her hallucinations are evident in the way she interprets Dr. M. She has conceived a Dr. M who is being blocked to reach her, even after she was instructed by a voice to merge with him and save the world.

The mistaken sensory perceptions and the way she interprets reality as a threat makes the two to fit together to produce a kind of Janet we see.

Her hospitalization saves her and others because she is a danger to others and her self. She has a terrifying intrinsic experiences described as command hallucinations. These hallucinations instruct her to do anything to herself and others. When she perceives everyone as a danger there is a possibility that she can attack anyone under the influence of her delusions. This can also be because her reality is faulty and her judging reality is misleading.

(Video) ⚠️ Four Ways to Define Psychological Abnormality ⚠️ Abnormal Psychology ⚠️ Psychopathology

Works Cited

Halgin, Richard, and Susan Whitbourne. Abnormal Psychology: Clinical Perspectives on Psychological Disorders. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.


How do you write a case study for abnormal psychology? ›

How to write a psychology case study
  1. Gather information to create a profile for a subject. ...
  2. Choose a case study method. ...
  3. Collect information regarding the subject's background. ...
  4. Describe the subject's symptoms or problems. ...
  5. Analyze the data and establish a diagnosis. ...
  6. Choose a treatment approach.
Aug 4, 2021

Which is the best example of a case study psychology? ›

One of the most famous case studies in psychology is that of Chris Sizemore. She was one of the first people to be diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, now called dissociative identity disorder. In her case, the “alter” personalities were all merged into one personality over which she had control.

What is an example of abnormal psychology? ›

Anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder. Neurodevelopmental disorders, such as intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder. Neurocognitive disorders including delirium.

How do you answer a case study question in psychology? ›

There are several steps to writing an answer to a case study assignment:
  7. STEP 7: SUBMIT.

How do you start a case study essay? ›

How to write a case study response
  1. Introduction. Introduce the main purpose of the case study and briefly outline the overall problem to be solved.
  2. Description. Write a brief description of the case under discussion giving an outline of the main issues involved. ...
  3. Discussion. ...
  4. Conclusion / Recommendations.
Feb 10, 2022

How do you write a case study report example? ›

Writing up your case study
  1. Introduce the topic area of the report.
  2. Outline the purpose of the case study.
  3. Outline the key issue(s) and finding(s) without the specific details.
  4. Identify the theory used.
  5. Summarise recommendations.

What is an example of case study method in psychology? ›

A case study example could be that a researcher wants to study the onset of severe anxiety by a teenager following a natural disaster. This is an example of an explanatory case study, as the researcher will explain that the anxiety was a direct cause of the natural disaster.

What are examples of abnormal thoughts? ›

Other types of thought disorder

Paraphasic error: constant word mispronunciation or slips of the tongue. Stilted speech: using unusual language that's overly formal or outdated. Perseveration: leads to a repetition of ideas and words. Loss of goal: trouble maintaining a topic and an inability to come to a point.

What are the examples of abnormality? ›

Abnormal Psychology Disorders include anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, mood disorders, personality disorders, schizophrenia, delusional disorders, substance use disorders, dissociative disorders, and impulse control disorders.

What is considered abnormal behavior in today's society? ›

' In the DSM-5, abnormal behavior is characterized by four general criteria: maladaptive behavior, personal distress, statistical rarity, and violation of social norms. In this article, we're going to talk about each of these.

What is the best way to answer a case study question? ›

To answer questions on a case study examination in the best possible way, read or listen for the topic sentence. This is usually the first sentence in the introduction or first paragraph. This sentence presents the problem and thus holds key information; it tells you what the problem is about.

Where can I find case study solution? ›

You can find Harvard case solutions (HBR Case Solutions) at TheCaseSolutions.com - Number 1 website in Case Study Solutions. All solutions are done from scratch and are plagiarism free. Turnitin Reports are also provided as proof of originality of the work being done.

What are the 3 methods of case study? ›

He has helpfully characterised three main types of case study: intrinsic, instrumental and collective[8]. An intrinsic case study is typically undertaken to learn about a unique phenomenon. The researcher should define the uniqueness of the phenomenon, which distinguishes it from all others.

What are the 4 most important parts of case study? ›

The 4 Essential Elements of a Great Case Study
  1. Showcase the Problems You Answered. The customer has come to you with a problem or need for you to solve and you knocked it out of the water! ...
  2. Tell The Story of Your Customers' Experience.

What is the format of case study? ›

Follow these rules for the draft: Your draft should contain at least 4 sections: an introduction; a body where you should include background information, an explanation of why you decided to do this case study, and a presentation of your main findings; a conclusion where you present data; and references.

Where can I find free case studies? ›

Some organizations offer "free" case studies and materials for idea generation.
Free case study websites
  • BusinessEthics.ca. ...
  • Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative -- Case Studies. ...
  • Ethics Unwrapped. ...
  • Knowledge@Wharton. ...
  • Merlot OER Case Studies. ...
  • MIT LearningEdge Case Studies. ...
  • SHRM Case Studies (Human Resources) ...
  • World's Best Case Studies.
Aug 25, 2022

How do I choose a case study topic? ›

How To Choose Good Case Study Topics?
  1. Choose something that inspires you.
  2. Narrow things down to reflect your main idea the best way possible.
  3. Explore similar research ideas on the topic.
  4. Identify the problem(s) and opinions related to your chosen subject.

How do you prepare for a case study? ›

Preparation for the case study
  1. Listen to the interviewer and ask questions. ...
  2. Structure the problem and form a framework. ...
  3. Think before speaking. ...
  4. Focus on high-impact issues. ...
  5. Generate a hypothesis and explore options creatively. ...
  6. Demonstrate business judgment. ...
  7. Make quick and accurate calculations.

Can I do a case study on myself? ›

you can absolutely do it, some of the greatest achievements in science and medicine were accomplished this way. you are definitely going to need a research advisor.

Is case study an essay? ›

Case studies are essays that seek an answer to a problem or puzzle. Case studies take extensive amounts of research and analysis into a subject, person or group to identify and answer a case problem. In most forms of writing, you'll often be advised to only research as much you need to write the essay.

How long should a case study be? ›

Most case studies should be at least 500-1500 words long. But you can increase the length if you have more details to share.

What is case study in psychology PDF? ›

It aims at obtaining a complete. and detailed account of a social phenomenon or a social event of a social unit. In case study, data. be collected from multiple sources by using any qualitative method of data collection like interviews, observation and it may also include documents, artifacts etc.

What makes a behavior abnormal? ›

Violation of Social Norms. Violation of social norms is a definition of abnormality where a person's thinking or behavior is classified as abnormal if it violates the (unwritten) rules about what is expected or acceptable behavior in a particular social group.

What are the causes of abnormal behavior? ›

What Causes a Behavioral Disorder?
  • Physical illness or disability.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Brain damage.
  • Hereditary factors.

Which statement is the best definition of abnormal behavior? ›

Which statement is the best definition of abnormal behavior? It is a rare or irregular manner in which a person acts.

What are the 4 D's of abnormal psychology? ›

Psychologists often classify behavior as abnormal using 4 D's: deviance, distress, dysfunction, and danger. Providing a straightforward definition of abnormality is tricky because abnormality is relative, but the definition has several primary characteristics.

What is an example of personal distress? ›

Personal distress refers to selforiented feelings in response to perceiving another in need. For example, empathy and sympathy responses reflect moderate sympathetic arousal whereas personal distress reflects over-arousal.

What are the 6 models of abnormality? ›

They said that abnormality can be indicated by several of the following: suffering, maladaptation, vividness and unconventionality, unpredictability and loss of control, irrationality and incomprehensibility, observer discomfort, and violation of moral or ideal standards.

How does culture affect abnormal behavior? ›

Culture is related to mental health and substance use on several different levels. First, community members from different ethnic or cultural groups may have a higher risk of mental health or substance use problems because they may experience a greater number of stressors, such as discrimination and isolation.

How do psychologists decide what is abnormal? ›

The standard criteria in psychology and psychiatry is that of mental illness or mental disorder. Determination of abnormality in behavior is based upon medical diagnosis. Statistical Infrequency: Statistically rare behaviors are called abnormal.

What is danger in abnormal psychology? ›

Dangerousness refers to when behavior represents a threat to the safety of the person or the safety of others.

How do you pass a case study interview? ›

Case interview tips
  1. Understand the issue; ask clarifying questions as needed.
  2. Identify the underlying assumptions.
  3. Summarize specific issues and findings.
  4. State your recommendations.
  5. Outline next steps and expected results/impacts.

What is the focus question asked in a case study? ›

Your case study should focus on one problem, so ask what problem the user was trying to solve. This question will give the reader (and you) insight into how people perceive and use your product.

How do I find a case study online? ›

Finding Case Studies on the Free Web

There are a few noteworthy sites that provide free online access to case studies, including: MIT Sloan School of Management LearningEdge Case Studies. The New York Times Case Studies. The Case Centre - Free Case Collections.

What is a case study abnormal psychology? ›

Description. Case Studies in Abnormal Psychology presents actual clinical cases, providing developmental histories essential to appropriate diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders.

What is the case study method in psychology? ›

The case study method often involves simply observing what happens to, or reconstructing 'the case history' of a single participant or group of individuals (such as a school class or a specific social group), i.e. the idiographic approach.

What are the steps of case study method? ›

A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods, but quantitative methods are sometimes also used.
  1. Step 1: Select a case. ...
  2. Step 2: Build a theoretical framework. ...
  3. Step 3: Collect your data. ...
  4. Step 4: Describe and analyze the case.
May 8, 2019


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