Case Studies

Bertha Pappenheim, Freud’s Anna O., during her stay at Bellevue Sanatorium in 1882. The name Anna O. was constructed by shifting her initials B.P. one letter back in the alphabet to A.O. Pappenheim 1882 by Albrecht Hirschmüller: Physiologie und Psychoanalyse im Leben und Werk Josef Breuers. Jahrbuch der Psychoanalyse, Beiheft Nr. 4. Verlag Hans Huber, Bern 1978. ISBN 3456806094. Licensed under Public Domain viaWikimedia Commons

Dodge Morgan (1932-2010), at the age of 54, sailed solo around the world in 150 days. During the trip, he participated in an intensive psychological case study including psychological testing, the results of which were published in an entire special issue of the Journal of Personality (by William Nasby and Nancy Read, December 1997, Volume 65(4), 757-1111, with an editorial introduction by Dan McAdams and Steve West). Read about his remarkable life in The Lives They Lived year-end retrospective from the New York Times (December 21, 2010) and in his New York Times obituary (September 17, 2010). Results were also presented by Charles Palus, Bill Eaton, and Randy Eaton in an article in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science (1990, 26, 501-527), and in a book, Understanding Executive Performance: A Life-Story Perspective by Charles J. Palus (1991).

Freud: The Case of Herr E Doug Davis of Haverford College, reconstructed this case study from Freud’s Correspondence with Wilhelm Fleiss. Filled with self-analysis and counter-transference, the case reveals as much about Freud himself as about Herr E.

Freud: The Case of Little Hans Mark Holah posts a brief synopsis of this classic case study in which Freud aims to cure a 5-year old boy of his phobia of horses. The case is a good example of the Oedipus complex and development during the Phallic Stage.

Freud’s Case of Little Hans; A BBC Special BBC radio host Claudia Hammond presents a series on case studies that have made a significant contribution to psychological research. In this episode, which originally aired May 28 2008, she describes background and new findings related to the case of Little Hans, a.k.a. Herbert, the child of Freud’s colleague Max Graff. Information recently released from the Freud Archive suggests that problems in the Graff family — rather than an Oedipus Complex — could explain Hans’ fear of horses. Includes a discussion of the implications for therapy with children today. (29 minutes; listen on line).

In Character: Tricksters, Vamps, Heros, Scamps From Darth Vader to Scarlett O’Hara, the best fictional characters reflect something about who we are and how we got here. In Character, a [2008] six-month series from NPR, explores indelible American characters from fiction, folklore and pop culture. Hear experts discuss the psychology of characters such as Vernon Waters (A Soldier’s Story), Willie Stark (All the King’s Men), Charlotte (Charlotte’s Web), Auntie Mame, Uncle Tom, Henry Fleming (The Red Badge of Courage), The Joker, Norman Bates, Nancy Drew, Jo March (Little Woman), King Kong, Mr. Spock, Carrie (Sex and the City), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ricky Ricardo, Charlie Brown, Fred Sanford, Indiana Jones, Dora the Explorer, Mama Rose, Hanibal Lecter, Portnoy, Eric Cartman (South Park), Walter Mitty, Catwoman, Blanche DuBois, Captain Ahab, Barbie, Harriet the Spy, Hester Prynne (The Scarlet Letter), Elmer Gantry, Darth Vader, Gordon Gekko (Wall Street), Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp, Cookie Monster, George Jefferson, Willy Loman (Death of a Salesman), Huckleberry Finn, Scarlett O’Hara, Pollyanna, Holden Caulfield, The Lone Ranger, Lassie, Bugs Bunny, and others.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Case Study Using CBT The Australian Institute of Professional Counselors presents this excerpt from a counseling session of an actual client to illustrate the four basic steps of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: identify the automatic thought, question the validity of the automatic thought, and challenge core beliefs. Posted March 22, 2010.

CBT in Action: A Case Study Dr. Nicholas Jenner, a counseling psychologist, illustrates how the use of Daily Mood Sheets can help clients see the the feelings, emotions, caused by a triggering event. He presents this case study of “Jodie” and how she was able to recognize her problematic thought patterns and where they came from through therapy.

DreamBank Welcome to The DreamBank, a collection of over 16,000 dream reports in English (and another 6,000 in German). The reports come from a variety of different sources and research studies, from people ages 7 to 74. They can be analyzed using the search engine and statistical programs built into this site. Based on the research of Adam Schneider and G. William Domhoff Psychology Department, at UC Santa Cruz. Includes transcriptions of the dream journals of real people including Freud and Jung and others here.

The Five Factor Model: Johnny Carson Marianne Miserandino, Arcadia University, noticed that the obituary of Johnny Carson is filled with personality descriptors making it a useful illustration of the five factor model of personality, personality stability, personality change, and personality coherence. (For the full description of how to utilize this obituary as a case study see Miserandino, M. (2007) Heeeere’s Johnny: A Case Study in the Five Factor Model of Personality, Teaching of Psychology, 34(1), 37-40.See also this NPR interview with documentary filmmaker Peter Jones Johnny Carson: ‘King Of Late Night,’ A Man Unknown. May 14, 2012 (runs 9 minutes, 33 seconds).

The Five Factor Model: Nicholas Claus: Big Five for the Big Guy Heather A. Haas wrote this humorous “case study” of Santa Claus using the big five. Find out whether the big guy is high or low on Extraversion Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism and Openness and the “evidence” she used to make her judgements in Dialogue, the newsletter of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, volume 19 (1), Spring 2004, p. 24-25, 21.

Grant Study Men: Interview With Two Participants. Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and historian Donald Cole reflect on their lives, careers, and experiences as participants in the Grant Study. (Ben Bradlee was known as Frederick in Vaillant’s book “Adaptation to Life”).

Horney: The Aggressive Personality of Donald Trump. Donna Ashcroft created this slide presentation describing Horney’s concept of the Aggressive Personality and provides evidence to illustrate this personality with examples from Donald Trump’s behavior and personality.

Identity Crisis: David Doug Davis, Haverford College, shares these notes from his Foundations of Personality class. This study is based on a case applying Erikson’s theories from M.B. Bowers. (1974). Retreat from sanity: The structure of emerging psychosis. Baltimore: Penguin.

Identity Crisis: Nancy Doug Davis, Haverford College, shares these notes from his Foundations of Personality class. This study is based on a case applying Erikson’s theories from M.B. Bowers. (1974). Retreat from sanity: The structure of emerging psychosis. Baltimore: Penguin.

This image is in the public domain from Wikimedia.

Letters from African-American Women The Duke University Libraries has had a long-standing reputation for their digitization projects, and this collection is certainly one of their best. This particular segment of their work focuses on the lives of African-American women, and it contains the full-text memories of Elizabeth Johnson Harris, slave letters from Hannah Valentine, and a rather unusual stand-alone letter from Vilet Lester. Hannah Valentine was born in 1867 to former slaves, and visitors can read her 85-page handwritten memoir here. In her memoir, she talks about the importance of religion in her life, and there are also a few poems by her as well. The letters from Hannah Valentine, a house slave, reveal a rare firsthand glimpse into the lives of slaves in Virginia. Finally, the very unique letter from Vilet Lester offers just a slight, but revealing glimpse, into her life in Bullock County, Georgia in 1857. [KMG] (Copyright 2010 Internet Scout Project – The Internet Scout Project, located in the Computer Sciences Department at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, provides Internet publications and software to the research and education communities under grants from the National Science Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon foundation, and other philanthropic organizations. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of any of our publications or web content provided this paragraph, including the above copyright notice, is preserved on all copies.)

Narcissism: Vladimir Putin, Narcissist? Writing for the The Atlantic, Joseph Burgo examines how the concept of narcissism might provide insight into the Russian leader. Published April 15, 2014.

Narrative Psychology: Courtship Narratives The University of Texas PAIR Project, according to their website, is a long-term study of courtship and marriage that began in 1981 with 168 newlyweds. We collected information on the couples’ courtships and early marital experiences, and followed couples across the years to their eventual relationship destinations. The site presents excerpts from the case studies of 7 couples who later divorced. The narratives are from their courtship period.

Needs: Earnst Doug Davis at Haverford posted these notes, described as Robert White’s biographical presentation of “Earnst,” a subject in the classic study Explorations in Personality, by H.A. Murray’s group at the Harvard Psychological Clinic in the 1930s. Includes a brief background, autobiography and responses to selected Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) cards. Illustrates Murray’s theories, needs, press, and the TAT.

NPR: Radio Diaries The NPR project Radio Diaries encourages teenagers, seniors, prison inmates and others whose voices are rarely heard to document their lives for public radio. Their stories are often powerful, surprising, intimate, and timeless, illustrating many aspects of the self, including self-concept, self-esteem, and social identity.

Personality Disorders in the Media The Psychology in Action webpage, presents this look at famous characters who may fit the criteria of a personality disorder. Summarizes the criteria and the evidence for schizoid, schizotypal, antisocial, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic, and dependent personality disorders. Posted October, 2013.

Research Methods: The Great Parking Debate: A Research Methods Case Study The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science presents this vignette to teaching principles of hypothesis testing: Two friends debate whether people leave their parking spaces faster if others are waiting. They decide to see if they can design a study to test their ideas. In this interrupted case study, students develop a research question and hypothesis and consider how to test a hypothesis. Students read about what researchers have done to answer the research question and identify and evaluate different research designs. Students are also asked to evaluate data. Developed for a use in an introductory psychology course to cover terms and concepts related to research methods, the case could be used in other introductory science classes, early in research methods courses, or in upper-level social science courses. Includes teaching notes and answer key.

Richard III: Psychopath or Mere Control Freak? Psychologists Weigh In Was England’s King Richard III (1452–85) a murderous psychopath? Thanks to Shakespeare’s play, the hunchbacked monarch has gone down in history as the heartless ruler who ordered the murders of the brother and young nephews who stood between him and the throne. However, psychologists Mark Lansdale and Julian Boon of the University of Leicester re-analyzed Richard’s character using biographies and other written accounts. They conclude that the king likely suffered from anxiety, not psychopathy. in this summary from the APA Monitor on Psychology, June 2013.

Sex and Gender: Who Was David Reimer? In 1967, an anonymous baby boy was turned into a girl by doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital. For 25 years, the case of John/Joan was called a medical triumph — proof that a child’s gender identity could be changed — and thousands of “sex reassignments” were performed based on this example. But the case was a failure, the truth never reported. Now the man who grew up as a girl tells the story of his life, and a medical controversy erupts. See also a transcript of the NOVA program Sex: Unknown from October 30, 2001 and the article Being Brenda, and a story about David’s suicide.

Therapy Case Notes Psych Central presents Therapy Case Notes a new blog where Joseph Burgo highlights interesting interactions in psychotherapy sessions — things that shed light on a particular issue or dynamic within the therapy session. The purpose is to try and demystify psychotherapy, and demonstrate the powerful healing abilities of the process.

Twilight Deconstructed Drawing on classic theorists including Carl Jung, Karen Horney, Erik Erikson, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and others, Donna Ashcraft takes a psychological and feminist approach to understanding the Twilight characters in her book Deconstructing Twilight: Psychological and Feminist Perspectives on the Series. Thanks to her publisher, Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., you can read and download a PDF of Chapter 7 in which she uses Karen Horney’s 10 neurotic needs to understand the dynamics between Bella and her parents, Bella and Edward and more. (opens in PDF format)

Various Perspectives: Eleanor Roosevelt A popular assignment is to have students analyze the life of Eleanor Roosevelt from various perspectives or theories of personality psychology. There are many sites out there with information about Eleanor Roosevelt. In addition to the White House listing (above) she was also listed as Time Magazine’s 100 most important people of the 20th Century. Students can find websites of their own choosing or you may want to send students to the same 2-3 sites so that they are all working with the same information.

Various Perspectives: The Grinch After watching the 25 minute video of the classic Christmas story How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss, students analyze the Grinch’s personality and change of heart using theories and terms from personality including Freud, Adler, Horney, Maslow, and Rogers. A great end-of-the-semester review.

Why Was Darth Vader So Evil? Blame His Lack of Parental Care, Say Psychologists Why was Darth Vader such a bad dude? According to a team of psychologists led by Peter Jonason, it’s down to his lack of parental care: the fact he was separated from his mother at age 9, and his father’s absence. The researchers believe such circumstances can catalyse the emergence of the Dark Triad of personality traits: Machiavellianism, Narcissism and Psychopathy. These traits are usually seen as negative, but Jonason and his colleagues believe they may be an adaptive response to tough early circumstances that signal to a child life is bad. From BPS Research Digest, August 5, 2014.

David Prowse as Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. Darth Vader by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia