Case studies are particularly useful in revealing the origins of abnormal behaviour. Through building up a long and detailed case history, case studies can be used as an aid to understanding and helping the client. Such research can also be called action research as the researchers involvement is consciously trying to change the persons behaviour.
A major strength of this case study was that it provides lots of data. It contained an in-depth picture producing rich qualitative data (e.g. the interviews and hypnosis) and also lots of quantitative data such as the results from the psychometric tests. Thigpen and Cleckley also involved Eve's relatives to help verify certain recollections, and to add information, and in this way throw light on the case. They also asked independent experts to give a variety of tests including an EEG test, psychometric tests and projective tests.
Case studies only relate to one individual and we have to be careful generalising from the findings. We have no way of assessing how typical this individual is of other people with multiple personality and therefore we have to ask whether this study is unique to Eve or whether we can generalise it to other cases.
If the study is retrospective (if the individual is asked to look back over his/her life) then memory may not be accurate and indeed, people may deliberately mislead the researcher. The data may therefore be unreliable.
The close relationship between researcher and participant may introduce bias. For example, in this case study, the moment that Eve Black appears can be seen in a different way to that described by the therapist. For example as Eve crossed her legs ‘the therapist noted from the corner of his awareness something distinctly attractive about them, and also this was the first time he had received such an impression’. For the therapist this as a change in her personality, but more objectively it could be explained as a change in his... [continues]
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