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Case Study Development & Theoretical Explanation

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Case Study Development and Theoretical Explanation

Terri L. Green

Argosy University Online Program

Author Note

PSY 381: Abnormal Psychology - Module 2 Assignment 2


The main purpose of this paper is a great insight and preparation tool for the reality of a career in psychology. I will start out with providing a fictitious but original case study, and the specific disorder will not be identified until the second section of this paper. This case study will provide some detailed elements that are utilized for the assessment process. Then, the second half of this paper a theoretical analysis of this fictitious case and suggested treatment recommendation will be made based on the diagnosis and theoretical orientation applied. Lastly, I will conclude with personal statement based upon the compiled research obtained for this case study.

Case Study Development and Theoretical Explanation

Case Details

Presenting problem and history of problem: A 36 year old Caucasian female, was referred by her primary care physician to mental health professional for excessive fear, worry, and concern of having a brain tumor. At every appointment the patient presents localized pain in the right temple of head and insistent that she has a brain tumor and excessively recommends that more testing needs to be completed. All blood work and imaging scans were negative and with reassurance that all diagnostic testing was negative results the patient is still adamant that there is a brain tumor. The patient has been experiencing the same symptoms consistently for approximately a year and a half.

Prior treatment history: The patient has no previous history of mental illnesses nor prescribed any psychotropic or antidepressant medications.

Medical history: The patient has no prior sever physical illnesses or disabilities. A year ago she presented a skin lesion on the left forearm to primary care physician and was referred to dermatologist who removed the lesion and had the removed lesion sent for further testing and all results were negative for any cancers. Again, after reassurance that the skin lesion was not fetal/not cancerous the patient was insistent that the test results were wrong.

Family and developmental history: The patient has one immediate family, living relative, an older brother. The mother past away at the age of 33 years old from suicide, the patient was three years old when the mother past away. The father past away at the age of 67 (six years ago) from lung cancer and he was a two pack-a-day smoker. The patient has no other health history on immediate family. The patient has no recollection of her mother’s suicide and insist that her father raised her and her brother with consistency and normalcy within their middle-class community. Lastly, the patient says that there was never any sexual or physical abuse from the father.

Educational history: She speaks of having no issues with learning or behavior, past or present but was and continues to be a shy and quiet individual socially. She graduated high school and has obtained an associate’s degree in business administration.

Work history: The patient has had a continuous solid work history with no supervisor or employee issues. After a year of inconsistencies with emergency medical appointments the supervisor had terminated her employment. She is now in-between employment as of six months ago.

Legal history: The patient has no past or present legal issues.

Sexual relationship history: Approximately seven months ago, the patient suffered from the results of a divorce from her husband of ten years. She speaks of a lot of verbal exchanges over financial issues and of her excessive medical seeking which led up to her husband filing for the divorce. No children are involved, nor has the patient ever been pregnant and no physical violence occurred in the marriage.

Theoretical Analysis & Treatment Recommendations

When we reevaluate this case’s main points a better understanding of the theoretical analysis and treatment recommendations can be approached. For starters, when separating the entirety of the case into the top five urgent components for diagnosis and treatment the analysis shows the patient:        

1.) At age 3, lost mother to suicide 2.) Never received any form of mental professional help previous to the present date 3.) Father past away from lung cancer six years ago

4.) Symptoms started a year and a half ago 5.) The preoccupation and behaviors has interfered with relationships and employment.

Now, the diagnosis of illness anxiety disorder based on criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, the diagnostic criteria includes the following;

The patient:

  • Is preoccupied with having or obtaining a serious illness.
  • Has no or few somatic symptoms.
  • Is exceedingly anxious concerning their health and easily distressed about personal health matters.
  • Is repetitively checking health status or maladaptively evades hospitals and medical appointments.
  • Has been overly occupied with illness for a minimum of 6 months, while the particular illness feared might modify throughout that time frame. (APA, 2013)
  • The symptoms are not better clarified by an alternative mental disorder such as, “somatic symptom disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety, body dysmorphic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, delusional disorder, somatic type,” APA, 2013.

These five points are in theory, the most crucial to address for causation and successful treatment outcome of this disorder. The psychodynamic approach assist in filling in the rooted childhood experience of never having the symbolized mother figure. For instance, Erik Erikson suggested a psychoanalytic theory of psychosocial growth containing eight stages that starts from infancy through adulthood. Throughout each phase, the individual goes through a psychosocial predicament. These predicaments that one goes through might have a positive or negative consequence for development of their personality. (Butcher, Hooley & Mineka, 2013)

The patient speaks of her socialization from childhood through adulthood as being a shy, quiet and reserved individual. So, as Erikson’s theory points out that the psychosocial growth influences ones personality and the patient was never a social child or adult.

In addition, McLeod (2007) mentions on Erikson’s theory, “According to Erikson, the ego develops as it successfully resolves crises that are distinctly social in nature. These involve establishing a sense of trust in others, developing a sense of identity in society, and helping the next generation prepare for the future,” McLeod, 2007. Thus, the patient’s unresolved issues with her mother’s suicide at such a young age, left her to never emotionally confront and resolve issues throughout her childhood or adulthood due to a lack of trust in others, a lack of ego and identity development to better cope with past and present issues.



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