Written Assignment #3: Case Study
Abnormal Psychology Case Study
Written Assignment #3: Case Study
Please review the following very carefully. This is your largest assignment this term and will take some time as it requires that you do a little bit of research.
Your assignment is to write a case summary on an individual you think may meet (or not) the criteria of a particular disorder discussed in Abnormal Psychology. Keep in mind that you can skim over the chapters we didn’t cover. – For example, perhaps you know someone who you think may have some sort of gender disorder but you’re not familiar with the clinical symptoms. For time’s sake we won’t be covering Chapter 13, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the info listed there as a starting point and refer to that particular chapter as you reference your paper.
The purpose of this assignment is to provide you with a greater understanding of the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of a particular disorder, as well as to familiarize you with the process of preparing a case summary. It is hoped that this assignment will help you to personalize the course material by recognizing that we are all regularly confronted with varying degrees of normality and abnormality in our daily lives. What is “normal” anyway?
Based on the material covered in the text and in class, identify an individual in your life who may meet a couple, many, or possibly all, of the criteria and characteristics of a particular disorder or behavior pattern. This may be a person with whom you presently have daily contact or someone that you haven’t seen or spoken to in many years. Although frequent and direct contact with this person will likely enrich your experience and make it more detailed, it is not necessary for you to have direct contact with this person or to communicate with them about this assignment. (If you choose to communicate with this person about this assignment, be sure to tell them that you are not conducting a psychological assessment, providing an official diagnosis, or making treatment recommendations. Rather, tell the person that the purpose of this assignment is to help you think critically and systematically about human behavior in the context of the course material.) Please also use caution in that if you are presenting on a person who is very close to you, you do not let your emotions about your case subject get the best of you as this is a professional, clinical write up and not a personal memoir. Please see your Assignments folder to see some examples of case summaries.
After you have identified a subject, prepare a detailed case summary. Please be sure to protect the anonymity of your case subject by not using his or her real name or any identifying information (including pictures) in your summary.
*Do not write on someone who has already received an official diagnosis and/or is currently being treated, as YOU are the diagnostician in this scenario.
Your case summary should include the following 5 sections:
1. Demographic Information: Include demographic information on your case subject such as (but not limited to): age, gender, race or ethnicity, grade level or occupation, marital status, religion, etc. You can also comment on family dynamics, home life, important hobbies, environmental issues that directly affect your “client”, physical health issues that could be impacting your client’s mental health, medications, drug/alcohol use, etc. In other words, include anything that paints a clear picture of your subject. Be as thorough and detailed as possible as this background information can be very important.
2. Symptoms: Include any symptoms or abnormal behavioral you have observed or they have perhaps reported (i.e., what they do and/or say that you think is “abnormal” or “atypical”). Be sure to use specific, objective (measurable) descriptors of their behavior, such as “Susie washed her hands 7 times in the 20 minutes that I chatted with her at her apartment”, or “My subject has met with her best friend for coffee twice a week for the past 5 years, but hasn’t gone out for coffee in the last 2 months”. Try to find precise examples, or “proof”. For example, “My client previously enjoyed her once a week Pilates class but has not attended in 3 weeks.”– Avoid subjective, emotional judgments and opinion statements, such as “I think he’s crazy,” “She acts weird, bizarre, strange,” “Timmy is cute, but he’s like the devil’s child”, “She’s just adorable!” etc. If, for example, one were to say, “My case subject often holds a negative view of herself”, you need to back it up with something concrete. – In other words, how do you know this? Remember, one person’s definition of “negative” (among many other descriptive words) might be totally different than another. Again, precise and detailed examples portray the most accurate information to your reader. Also important to note can be how long the symptoms have been happening (2 weeks? 7 years?). You can quote your client as well, when appropriate.
3. Diagnosis: Provide a “diagnosis”. You can start by referring to the pages in your text that list the “Dx Checklist” to help you come to your conclusion. (For example, the Dx Checklist for Schizophrenia is listed on table 14-1, page 422). However, that is only a start; for this paper you are required to refer to the actual DSM-5 as you work on this project. Referencing the DSM-5 will be a huge help to you. It will also make this assignment much easier and interesting for you, and will certainly enrich your experience while writing this case study. The DSM-5 contains information that you will not find online or in other books/sources. You will not earn all of the points possible without the help of this text. Western’s library as well as the Public Library both have this publication. (If you are not in La Crosse, check your nearest local library.) This book is typically in the “Reference” section of libraries and does not leave the building.
IMPORTANT: Include detailed information about your diagnosis (or the diagnosis being studied) that caused you to rule out other disorders that are similar. Be sure to state your rationale for your diagnosis as well as your reasons for eliminating competing diagnoses. The DSM-5 will be vital in helping you through this process. Your grade on this section of the paper is going to be based upon your ability to display logical and critical thinking. Be sure to include a statement regarding the severity of his or her symptoms (e.g., are any aspects of social, educational, or occupational functioning impaired?) *ALSO: If your subject does not meet the criteria for any diagnosis, then discuss the additional criteria that would be necessary for a more definitive diagnosis. In other words, what is missing? Again, the diagnostic criteria listed in the DSM-5 will help you link all of these pieces together.
4. Treatment: Include information on potential treatment options. These options will be based upon your potential diagnosis and your rating of severity, as well as your client’s personality. Be sure to provide a rationale for the particular treatment(s) you recommend. Be sure to also provide a rationale for any treatment(s) you chose NOT to recommend. This section will require research outside of your text book and outside of the DSM-5. However, be careful when/if using internet sources. Avoid sites like Wikipedia and .coms. Instead, try .edus, .orgs, and counseling pages. Note: This section is where most students tend to lose the most points.-Again, what you want to avoid is telling an emotional story. Instead, this is a professional case study you are presenting to colleagues. For example, you don’t want to say “So my best friend really acts nutty sometimes and needs a shrink!” Instead, one might professionally write; “Research shows (insert your reference here) that group therapy can be effective for PTSD, however, I do not recommend this for my client due to his aggressive, hostile tendencies.” (Those measurable aggressive hostile tendencies would already be explained above in #2, your symptom section). Because you are all new to this, there really is no right or wrong answer, but you must JUSTIFY your treatment. I am looking for your thought process and how you came to the conclusions you did. If your subject does not meet the criteria for any diagnosis, and therefore you don’t feel treatment is needed for this person, explain your rational and what treatment options could potentially be available for your subject should it be needed in the future. What does the research show to be successful?
5. References: Include a reference section for any material that you cite in the body of your paper. You may certainly use your Comer text, however please note that a minimum of 3 other references is required outside of the textbook. In order to earn full points, one of the 3 references MUST be the DSM-5, but do not list the DSM-5 if you did not use it. (Keep in mind that I do not take kindly to academic dishonesty, nor does Western.) I reference the DSM-5 directly while grading each of your papers and due to the information included in the DSM-5 which cannot be found anywhere else, I can easily decipher if it has actually been used in your research. Please provide appropriate citations throughout the case summary to support your conclusions. Your case summary should be approximately three to five double-spaced pages, size 12 font.
For those who may struggle with writing, have not taken a college-level writing course yet, or who would just like some general assistance, please utilize the writing lab for help. APA is recommended, however, I recognize again that not all of you have had a college writing course yet, so I am not super strict about that. – Above all just please be careful to not plagiarize, and give credit where credit is due. REMEMBER!–A second set of eyes can only help boost your grade as far as spelling, grammar, and other errors. Therefore, it is highly recommended that everyone get at least one draft critiqued by the writing center before handing in your final paper. This is a simple task that doesn’t take much effort and IT WILL HELP YOU! I read these very carefully and critically and am looking for you to prove your effort on this assignment as it builds on everything you have learned so far this term.-I’d like you to prove to me that you now have a better understanding of how human behavior (abnormal or not) is analyzed as well as the complicated process of diagnosis and treatment planning.
The grading rubric is as follows (but of course, please also refer to the information given above):
10 points Demographic information section is accurate, logical, well-written,
organized, and illustrates a complete background of the client.
10 points Symptom section is accurate, logical, well-written, and organized,
citing specific examples of measurable behavior. (This is a good
place to put quotes from your “client” should you have any.)
10 points Diagnosis section is accurate, logical, well-written, and organized,
specific to criteria for ruling out other diagnoses and accurately
reporting the current diagnosis. (This is the place to reference the
10 points Treatment section is accurate, logical, well-written, and organized
with discussion specific to recommendations. Clear explanation and
rationalization for why you are prescribing the particular treatment.
For example, if you are recommending psychotherapy, what kind?
(cognitive, behavioral, group, etc.) Are there any specific techniques
you would avoid and why?
10 points Reference section is accurate, logical, well-written, and well-
organized alphabetically. Minimum of 3 sources listed, including the
DSM-5 (worth 5 points). Citations are present in the body of the
paper where/when appropriate. Paper is double spaced with size 12
font with little to no spelling and grammatical errors.
50 Points TOTAL