Case Studies

Topics: Schizophrenia, Major depressive disorder, Cognitive behavioral therapy Pages: 7 (2164 words) Published: December 23, 2012
For each case, include the following:
An analysis of the situation and possible causes for the subject’s behavior A preliminary diagnosis of the subject’s disorder using the symptoms he or she displays The set of therapies you suggest for helping the subject deal with his or her symptoms

Case Study Number One: Karen

Karen is a 30-year-old single woman. She was referred to a psychiatrist after six visits to her primary care physician complaining of headaches, body aches, sharp pains above her left ear, and a ringing in both ears. She was convinced she had a brain tumor, but a CAT scan revealed no physiological cause. During the interview, Karen mentions that she doesn’t like being in a hospital “because being in a hospital puts you at risk for so many other diseases.” When pressed, she mentions swine flu, avian flu, and AIDS. Karen does not use illegal substances or alcohol. She carries hand sanitizer and discreetly spritzes it on her hands about every ten minutes or so. Part way through the interview, Karen put on sunglasses “to block the fluorescent rays” from the overhead lamps. Family History: Father died three years ago of cancer. Mother is still alive. Grandmother committed suicide at 31 when mother was eight. Grandfather is still alive, with history of alcoholism.



Karen has frequently sought medical assistance for a problem that does not exist physiologically. She interprets her aches and pains as severe, and they seem to persist despite visiting her doctor multiple times, having had tests and CAT scans that reveal no physiological known cause. She has an aversion to hospitals and feels being in them puts her at risk of contracting many other diseases. Frequent use of hand sanitizer is suggestive of an obsessive compulsion to keep herself free from germs. The wearing of sunglasses to block out the florescent lights, is also suggestive of an obsessive desire to protect herself from developing a brain tumor from the lighting.

Karen's psychological issues could stem from her father’s death from cancer. She may be unconsciously aware of using her symptoms as a way of coping with the emotional distress of her father’s death. She may also fear that she could become an alcoholic like her grandfather, and why she avoids the use of alcohol and drugs. Karen's grandmother committed suicide at the age of 31, and this could be contributing to her distress with the knowledge she is single, and nearing the age that her grandmother committed suicide.

Karen seems to be suffering from the common type of somatoform disorder of hyphochondriasis, also called hypochondria. She believes she is suffering from a serious physical illness (the brain tumor),


even though no medical evidence of a tumor can be found. Her life is impacted by her being overly concerned with a variety of different diseases that could be caught while in a hospital, and she takes great pains to keep her hands clean and prevent the rays from the fluorescent lights. Karen also exhibits signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder, with her obsessive hand sanitizer usage, and avoidance of alcohol and drug usage. This may be her way in attempting to control things that she really has no control over. This could stem from her father’s cancer, her grandfather's alcoholism or her grandmother’s suicide, which were things that were out of her control.

Many different types of therapy could be beneficial for Karen’s condition. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) would probably be the best type of therapy, as it focuses on changing the beliefs, attitudes, and automatic types of thinking that create and exacerbate people's problems. It would help her recognize the behaviors that are detrimental, look at them realistically, and change them. Incorporating behavior modification by using fear-reduction methods such as...
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