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Abnormal Psychology Case Paper
(40 points) you will choose, and review ONE case study provided. You will be responsible for reviewing the case and assigning multi-axial diagnoses. You will also be responsible for providing a rationale for the diagnoses, as well as a discussion of rule outs, differential diagnoses, and prognosis. This assignment should be 2-3 pages in length (typed, double-spaced, one-inch margins in APA format)
Case Summary #1
Robin Henderson is a 30-year-old married Caucasian woman with no children who lives in a middle-class urban area with her husband. Robin was referred to a clinical psychologist by her psychiatrist. The psychiatrist has been treating Robin for more than 18 months with primarily anti-depressant medication. During this time, Robin has been hospitalized at least 10 times (one hospitalization lasted 6 months) for treatment of suicidal ideation (and one near lethal attempt) and numerous instances of suicidal gestures, including at least 10 instances of drinking Clorox bleach and self-inflicting multiple cuts and burns. Robin was accompanied by her husband to the first meeting with the clinical psychologist. Her husband stated that both he and the patient’s family considered Robin “too dangerous” to be outside a hospital setting. Consequently, he and her family were seriously discussing the possibility of long-term inpatient care. However, Robin expressed a strong preference for outpatient treatment, although no therapist had agreed to accept Robin as an outpatient client. The clinical psychologist agreed to accept Robin into therapy, if she was committed to working toward behavioral change and stay in treatment for at least 1 year. This agreement also included Robin contracting for safety- agreeing she would not attempt suicide.
Clinical History Robin was raised as an only child. Both her father (who worked as a salesman) and her mother had a history of alcohol abuse and depression. Robin disclosed in therapy that she had experienced severe physical abuse by her mother throughout childhood. When Robin was 5, her father began sexually abusing her. Although the sexual abuse had been non-violent for the first several years, her father’s sexual advances became physically abusive when Robin was about 12 years old. This abuse continued through Robin’s first years of high school. Beginning at age 14, Robin began having difficulties with alcohol abuse and bulimia nervosa. In fact, Robin met her husband at an A.A (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting while she was attending college. Robin continued to display binge-drinking behavior at an intermittent frequency and often engaged in restricted food intake with consequent eating binges. Despite these behaviors, Robin was able to function well in work and school settings, until the age of 27.
She had earned her college degree and completed 2 years of medical school. However, during her second year of medical school, a classmate that Robin barely knew committed suicide. Robin reported that when she heard of the suicide, she decided to kill herself as well. Robin displayed very little insight as to why the situation had provoked her inclination to kill herself. Within weeks, Robin dropped out of medical school and became severely depressed and actively suicidal. A certain chain of events seemed to precede Robin’s suicidal behavior. This chain began with an interpersonal encounter, usually with her husband, which caused Robin to feel threatened, criticized or unloved (usually with no clear or objective basis for this perception. These feelings were followed by urges to either self-mutilate or kill herself. Robin’s decision to self-mutilate or attempt suicide were often done out of spite- accompanied by the thought, “I’ll show you.” Robin’s self-injurious behaviors appeared to be attention-seeking. Once Robin burned her leg very deeply and filled the area with dirt to convince the doctor that she needed medical attention- she required reconstructive surgery. Although she had been able to function competently in school and at work, Robin’s interpersonal behavior was erratic and unstable; she would quickly and without reason, fluctuate from one extreme to the other. Robin’s behavior was very inconsistent- she would behave appropriately at times, well-mannered and reasonable and at other times she seemed irrational and enraged, often verbally berating her friends. Afterwards she would become worried that she had permanently alienated them. Robin would frantically do something kind for her friends to bring them emotionally closer to her. When friends or family tried to distance themselves from her, Robin would threaten suicide to keep them from leaving her. During treatment, Robin’s husband reported that he could not take her suicidal and erratic behavior any longer. Robin’s husband filed for divorce shortly after her treatment began. Robin began binge drinking and taking illegal pain medication. Robin reported suicidal ideation and feeling of worthlessness. Robin displayed signs of improvement during therapy, but this ended in her 14 months of treatment when she committed suicide by consuming an overdose of prescription medication and alcohol.
Case Summary #2
At the time of his admission to the psychiatric hospital, Carl Landau was a 19-year-old single African American male. Carl was a college freshman majoring in philosophy who had withdrawn from school because of his incapacitating symptoms and behaviors. He had an 8-year history of emotional and behavioral problems that had become increasingly severe, including excessive washing and showering; ceremonial rituals for dressing and studying; compulsive placement of any objects he handled; grotesque hissing, coughing, and head tossing while eating; and shuffling and wiping his feet while walking.
These behaviors interfered with every aspect of his daily functioning. Carl had steadily deteriorated over the past 2 years. He had isolated himself from his friends and family, refused meals, and neglected his personal appearance. His hair was very long, as he had refused to have it cut in 5 years. He had never shaved or trimmed his beard. When Carl walked, he shuffled and took small steps on his toes while continually looking back, checking and rechecking. On occasion, he would run in place. Carl had withdrawn his left arm completely from his shirt sleeve, as if it was injured and his shirt was a sling.
Seven weeks prior to his admission to the hospital, Carl’s behaviors had become so time-consuming and debilitating that he refused to engage in any personal hygiene for fear that grooming, and cleaning would interfere with his studying. Although Carl had previously showered almost continuously, at this time he did not shower at all. He stopped washing his hair, brushing his teeth and changing his clothes. He left his bedroom infrequently, and he had begun defecating on paper towels and urinating in paper cups while in his bedroom, he would store the waste in the corner of his closet. His eating habits degenerated from eating with the family, to eating in the adjacent room, to eating in his room. In the 2 months prior to his admission, Carl had lost 20 pounds and would only eat late at night, when others were asleep. He felt eating was “barbaric” and his eating rituals consisted of hissing noises, coughs and hacks, and severe head tossing. His food intake had been narrowed to peanut butter, or a combination of ice cream, sugar, cocoa and mayonnaise. Carl did not eat several foods (e.g., cola, beef, and butter) because he felt they contained diseases and germs that were poisonous. In addition, he was preoccupied with the placement of objects. Excessive time was spent ensuring that wastebaskets and curtains were in the proper places. These preoccupations had progressed to tilting of wastebaskets and twisting of curtains, which Carl periodically checked throughout the day. These behaviors were associated with distressing thoughts that he could not get out of his mind, unless he engaged in these actions. Carl reported that some of his rituals while eating was attempts to reduce the probability of being contaminated or poisoned. For example, the loud hissing sounds and coughing before he out the food in his mouth were part of his attempts to exhale all of the air from his system, thereby allowing the food that he swallowed to enter an air-free and sterile environment (his stomach) Carl realized that this was not rational, but was strongly driven by the idea of reducing any chance of contamination. This belief also motivated Carl to stop showering and using the bathroom. Carl feared that he may nick himself while shaving, which would allow contaminants (that might kill him) to enter his body. The placements of objects in a certain way (waste basket, curtains, shirt sleeve) were all methods to protect him and his family from some future catastrophe such as contracting AIDS. The more Carl tried to dismiss these thoughts or resist engaging in a problem behavior, the more distressing his thoughts became.
Carl was raised in a very caring family consisting of himself, a younger brother, his mother, and his father who was a minister at a local church. Carl was quiet and withdrawn and only had a few friends. Nevertheless, he did very well in school and was functioning reasonably well until the seventh grade, when he became the object of jokes and ridicule by a group of students in his class. Under their constant harassment, Carl began experiencing emotional distress, and many of his problem behaviors emerged. Although he performed very well academically throughout high school, Carl began to deteriorate to the point that he often missed school and went from having few friends to no friends. Increasingly, Carl started withdrawing to his bedroom to engage in problem behaviors described previously. This marked deterioration in Carl’s behavior prompted his parents to bring him into treatment.
Case Summary #3
Mr. Ben Simpson is a single, unemployed, 44-year-old Caucasian man brought to the emergency room by the police for striking an elderly woman in his apartment building. His chief complaint is, “That damn bitch. She and the rest of them deserved more than that for what they put me through.” The patient has been continuously ill since age 22. During his first year of law school, he gradually became more and more convinced that his classmates were making fun of him. He noticed that they would snort and sneeze whenever he entered the classroom. When a girl he was dating broke off the relationship with him, he believed that she had been “replaced” by a look-alike. He called the police and asked for their help to solve the “kidnapping.” His academic performance in school declined dramatically, and he was asked to leave and seek psychiatric care.
Mr. Simpson got a job as an investment counselor at a bank, which he held for 7 months. However, he was receiving an increasing number of distracting “signals” from co-workers, and he became more and more suspicious and withdrawn. It was at this time that he first reported hearing voices. He was eventually fired and soon thereafter was hospitalized for the first time, at age 24. He has not worked since
Mr. Simpson has been hospitalized 12 times, the longest stay being 8 months. However, in the last 5 years he has been hospitalized only once, for 3 weeks. During the hospitalizations he has received various antipsychotic drugs. Although outpatient medication has been prescribed, he usually stops taking it shortly after leaving the hospital. Aside from twice-yearly lunch meetings with his uncle and his contacts with mental health workers, he is totally isolated socially. He lives on his own and manages his own financial affairs, including a modest inheritance. He reads the Wall Street Journal daily. He cooks and cleans for himself.
Mr. Simpson maintains that his apartment is the center of a large communication system that involves all the major television networks, his neighbors, and apparently hundreds of “actors” in his neighborhood. There are secret cameras in his apartment that carefully monitor all his activities. When he is watching television, many of his minor actions (e.g., going to the bathroom) are soon directly commented on by the announcer. Whenever he goes outside, the “actors” have all been warned to keep him under surveillance. Everyone on the street watches him. His neighbors operate two different “machines”; one is responsible for all his voices, except the “joker.” He is not certain who controls this voice, which “visits” him only occasionally and is very funny. The other voices, which he hears many times each day, are generated by this machine, which he sometimes thinks is directly run by the neighbor whom he attacked. For example, when he is going over his investments, these “harassing” voices constantly tell him which stocks to buy. The other machine he calls “the dream machine.” This machine puts erotic dreams into his head, usually of “black women.”
Mr. Simpson described other unusual experiences. For example, he recently went to a shoe
store 30 miles from his house in the hope of buying some shoes that wouldn’t be “altered.”
However, he soon found out that, like the rest of the shoes he buys, special nails had been
put into the bottom of the shoes to annoy him. He was amazed that his decision concerning
which shoe store to go to must have been known to his “harassers” before he himself knew
it, so that they had time to get the altered shoes made up especially for him. He realizes that
great effort and “millions of dollars” are involved in keeping him under surveillance. He
sometimes thinks this is all part of a large experiment to discover the secret of his “superior
At the interview, Mr. Simpson is well groomed, and his speech is coherent, and goal directed. His affect is, at most, only mildly blunted. He was initially very angry at being brought in by the police. After several weeks of treatment with an antipsychotic drug that failed to control his psychotic symptoms, he was transferred to a long-term care facility with a plan to arrange a structured living situation for him.
Video Paper Requirements 40 points (select ONE movie and answer all the questions and other information you research to support your answers) The paper must be in APA format.
Select one of the following movies and answer the discussion questions that
follow in APA format report.
Girl Interrupted (1999 Drama; Angelina Jolie, Winona Ryder,
Fatal Attraction (1987 Thriller/Drama; Glenn Close, Michael
Natural Born Killers (1994 Thriller/Drama; Woody Harrelson,
American Psycho (1999 Drama/Suspense; Christian Bale)
Must answer the following questions in your APA formatted paper.
Primal Fear (1996 Drama/Suspense; Richard Gere, Edward Norton)
Me, Myself and Irene (2000 Comedy; Jim Carey, Renee Zellweger)
Identity (2003 Thriller; John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peete)
Fight Club (1999 Action/Drama; Brad Pitt, Edward Norton)
Secret window (2004 Thriller; Johnny Depp, John Turturro)
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