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CASE ANALYSIS assignments

{based on readings from Sattler, D., Shabatay, V. & Kramer, G. (Eds.) (1998), Abnormal Psychology in Context. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin}


These 4 case readings correspond to some of the disorders we’re covering in class. You’ll enjoy reading them. The readings provide a “first-person account” of selected disorders that we’re covering in the course. My intent in including them in this course is to offer you a more personal perspective on the disorders we’re covering. First-person accounts provide more richness and immediacy than a traditional textbook can. The selections are brief and they read easily. My hope is that you’ll allow them to sink in and affect you.

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The segments to write about are as follows:



Featured Diagnosis Author Pages
Case #1 Panic Disorder


Harrison 1-8
Case #2 Major Depressive Disorder


Wurtzel 65-74
Case #3 Borderline Personality Disorder


Kaysen 151-159
Case #4 Schizophrenia


North 119-130





In your paper, you’ll respond first by writing a couple of paragraphs on your own personal reactions to the story presented. I want you to write a bit about what impact the reading has had on you – your reaction to it. Demonstrate that you’ve grasped what the author has to say, then reflect on how this has altered your own thinking about the disorder.

Report on what surprised you, or what questions were raised for you by the reading, etc. Are any of those questions answered by your readings? If so, answer your own questions. Engage in critical thinking; are there aspects of what was written that you think should be challenged or questioned? What aspects of the story did you personally find most difficult to relate to? What aspects were you able to relate to?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Over



In the second part of your paper, you’ll engage in a case analysis of the story presented. There’s a specific format I’d like you to follow for this portion. You’ll need access to DSM diagnostic criteria for the designated disorder to complete this portion. Those criteria can be found in your main textbook in this week’s chapter; they’re in a sidebar near the discussion of the diagnosis in question.


Your case analysis will be evaluated in this way:


1. Clarity of writing (3 points)

· Deductions are made for problems with grammar or sentence structure, lack of proofreading, ideas that are expressed confusingly, etc.


2. Diagnostic Criteria (2 points)

· What are the DSM symptom criteria for the disorder? Describe those criteria, but don’t use any terminology you don’t understand. For any terms that are unfamiliar to you, look them up and state them in your own words. I realize that asking you to list the criteria yourself might seem like busywork, but the intent is to facilitate storage of that information, as well as give you an opportunity to look up and clarify any terminology that is unfamiliar to you.


3. Symptoms (10 points) – most important component of the paper!

· Using those diagnostic criteria, analyze the case presented to determine which symptoms are present and which are not present. That is, determine the presence or absence of each symptom listed in the DSM criteria. Support your conclusions by referring to specific information given in the case report . (e.g., “He offers evidence of memory impairment when he mentions that he was frequently forgetting where he had put things in his office.”). Make explicit connections between the DSM criteria and the information presented in the case by giving specific examples/illustrations. Be thorough.




Please structure your responses to the diagnosis question using the format illustrated below.


This is made-up example, but it illustrates how to be very specific in (1) identifying what each criterion is, and (2) specifically addressing whether or not there is evidence that the author meets each criterion. If you say that they DO meet a criterion, provide specific supporting evidence from the reading to support that claim.


A diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder requires:

A. Five or more of the following:

1. Depressed mood most of the time – Blanche repeatedly complains about how she feels “just horrible” and “miserable,” such as in the scene where she turns down the date with Franklin, and the scene where she tells her doctor it’s hopeless. Blanche also said that Sally, her co-worker, “was always asking if she could help me, and she said she noticed I’d been crying more often at work” (p. 43).

2. Lack of interest or pleasure in activities – Blanche used to be very involved in her charity work, but after the breakup she stopped going to the Center, complaining that “it’s just all too much to deal with” (p. 38). She also used to very sociable, but she uncharacteristically turned down the invitation to Franklin’s party.

3. Significant weight loss or appetite loss – There’s no specific evidence in the story of these changes.

4. Insomnia or hypersomnia – Blanche frequently describes sleeping late into the day, to the point that it interferes with her ability to get things done. For example, she says “I just could not summon up the energy to get out of bed” (p. 34). This is consistent with the hypersomnia criterion.

… and so on with the remaining criteria

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