For my personality assessment, I interviewed Sarah, a senior at xxxx High School. Sarah is the middle child of three girls, and her parents have been separated for 5 years. She and her younger sister, Jess, live with their mother, and their older sister Amy lives in Arizona, where she is in college. Sarah is involved in many activities at the school, such as Indoor Drum Line, Band, Art Program, Choir, Theater and National Honor Society. Next year, Sarah plans to attend Tyler, where she will major in Photography.
Father’s Background Sarah’s grandfather XXXXXX was the son of Italian immigrants. Because of this, he spoke very little English. He smoked and drank heavily, which led to many medical problems. In the 1 940s, Dewey married Olive, who was a German and also smoked heavily. They had three children together: Tom, Linda and Kim. Among the variety of medical problems that Dewey had late in life, one of them was Raynod’s Syndrome, which was a circulatory disorder preventing blood from flowing to his legs, which caused them to rot away and become useless. When this became very bad, Olive began cheating on Dewey with the telephone repairman, Vern. Olive left Dewey in 1979 and moved in with Vern. This caused a lot of friction in the family, because Tom and Linda were angry at their mother, and stayed with Dewey to care for him, while Kim went to live with Olive and Vern. When she realized that Dewey was not going to live much longer, Olive went back to him, and he died in 1980. Most of the family felt that she only returned so she could collect the insurance money. Soon after Dewey died, Olive and Vern went to Atlantic City, and got married.
Much like her father, Sarah’s Aunt Linda also had many medical problems. She had Osteoporosis, Lupus, and a nervous system virus that she caught when she was a teenager. She did have good medical care, though, because her husband Jack is a doctor. They had a daughter in 1983, even though the doctors warned her that she might not survive the birth. After many years of problems with Pennsylvania’s health system, they moved to Richmond, Virginia, where Jack knew a doctor who was a specialist studying the virus Linda had. Although most of the victims of this virus die within a year of contracting it, Linda survived into her forties, dying on Christmas in 1998.
Sarah’s Aunt Kim’s life was also a bit out of the ordinary. She also had Lupus when she was young, and did many drugs when she was younger, especially marijuana and cocaine. Sarah said she was not sure, but she might still smoke marijuana. Kim lived with her mother and Vern until she was thirty-five. Although she never got married, she does have an adopted Vietnamese daughter. Sarah said that Kim always was competing with Linda for attention, up until Linda’s death. She described how her Aunt Kim had a wheelchair, even though she had no medical need for it. She would keep it in the trunk of her car, and would get out, walk to the back of the car, get the wheelchair out and then use it as if she had a problem requiring it.
Mother’s Background Sarah’s maternal grandfather Joseph Paul dated her grandmother, Mary Emily since they were in high school. Joseph served in World War II, and while he was there, Mary lived in a home for war wives in Florida. They had four children together, a son and three daughters. Their son David died in a car accident in 1977, and all three daughters went on to many Italians, which was interesting, because Joseph was stationed in Italy during the war, and this led him to become very racist towards Italians. Joseph died of heart disease in 1994, and this left Mary feeling very alone. She would often talk about how her only company anymore was her cat, and said that when the cat died, she would probably commit suicide. The rest of the family thought that this was probably just eccentricity caused by her old age, but Mary was recently diagnosed as being clinically depressed.
Sarah’s Aunt Diane was married to Joe, with whom she had three children. Joe was an alcoholic, and was very abusive towards Diane. They divorced in 1985, and Diane is now engaged to Vince. Sarah’s Aunt Norma is one of Sarah’s favorite relatives. After seeing Wyoming on a family cross-country trip when she was a young girl, she decided she liked it there, and went to the University of Wyoming when she graduated. After getting a chemistry degree, she came back home and got a job in a chemical plant in New Jersey. There she met her husband Carm, and they have three kids together. Eventually, they both got jobs as chemistry professors at Vanderbilt University in
Tennessee. This upset Sarah, because she does not get to see her Aunt Norma nearly as much as she would like.
Immediate Family Sarah’s parents have had a rather turbulent relationship. She describes her father Tom as being spoiled as a child, and a generally negative person. She gets along with her mother Linda much better, though, partially because of their shared interest in art. Linda went to xxxx University to get a degree in speech therapy, and this is where she met Tom. They married in 1972, and he joined the National Guard to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War. Tom was an alcoholic, and this led to many problems. Sarah said that her parents always fought a lot. Sarah’s older sister Amy was born in 1975, and Sarah was born in 1980. After having two children, Linda went back to school, to Delaware County Community College, to get a degree in biomedical technology. Tom did not want her to go back to school, but Linda felt that this new degree would help them make more money. After getting a job as a biomedical technician, Linda had her third daughter, Jess, in 1984. Soon after this, in 1986, Linda and Tom separated. Sarah described this time as being the “girl house,” where they had a lot of fun, because it was the four girls. The fun was over for the girls in 1990, when Linda and Tom got back together. Tom left for good, though, in 1994, and Linda is now engaged to Art.
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Sarah is very close to her older sister Amy, and looks up to her for a variety of reasons. She says that when she thinks of her parents, she thinks of her Mom and Amy, and saw her dad as more of just the babysitter. The girls did not like Tom very much, because he was very demanding, critical and strict. Sarah respects Amy for having the courage to stand up to Tom, when she did not. She recalled a period of about a year when Amy cut her hair short, dressed like a boy, and insisted on being called “Danny,” because she thought that her dad had wished she were a boy. Amy went to Penn State after High School, but dropped out after a year or two. After that, her father did not take her goals very seriously, so he did not pay much attention when she said she would like to move to the West Coast. Both parents were very surprised, then, when she enrolled as a theater student at Arizona State University. This is another reason Sarah feels close to Amy, because they share an interest in the arts. In 1996, a close friend of both Sarah and
Amy committed suicide, and that greatly upset them both. Amy flew home for the funeral, even though her dad said she should not.
Sarah is not as close to her younger sister. She says that it is hard to communicate with Jess because she does not like to talk about her problems, but Sarah always tries to help. They are growing closer, though, now that they are in High School together, and are involved in some of the same activities. Jess does not like Art, her mom’s fiancée, but Sarah says that is because Jess can only remember how they stopped having fun when their Dad came back to live with them, and is afraid that will happen again if Art moves in.
Diagnosis For my analysis of Sarah, I conducted a series of personal interviews, and I had her take the Social Networks inventory and the YSQ-L2. I diagnosed her with a mixed personality of the Paranoid and Schizoid personality disorders. This was because though she did meet some of the requirements of these disorders, she did not meet enough to qualify for either, and she also was completely contrasting certain requirements of both.
For the Paranoid personality disorder, she met requirements one and two:
(1) suspects, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming, or deceiving him or her
(2) is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends or associates.
I feel that this can be attributed to the many times that Sarah has been hurt in the past. She gave many examples of past significant others using her, and greatly hurting her. This can be seen in her answers in the Mistrust or Abuse section of the YSQ where over half of the answers were high, having three 5s and four 6s. Sarah told me that she has a hard time trusting others because of her past experiences, and that is why she does not have many close friends. That can be seen in the Social Networks inventory, where other than inanimate objects like her jeep, her camera, drums, and her pet toad, the only person she rated as being extremely close was her boyfriend, with whom she said she had her first good relationship in years.
Although she meets criteria one and two, Sarah is the opposite of criteria five and seven:
(5)persistently bears grudges, i.e., is unforgiving of insults, injuries, or
(7) has recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding fidelity of spouse or sexual partner.
Sarah told me that one of her best friends, another student at XXXXXX, is someone that she hated for a long time, because they once were a couple, and he hurt her very much. She realizes that people change, and because of this she is very forgiving. She also completely trusts her current boyfriend. She actually feels like the bad one in the relationship, because she expects the relationship to end when she goes to college and he is still in high school. She feels bad because she is his first real girlfriend and does not want to hurt him like she has been hurt in the past.
For the Schizoid personality disorder, Sarah meets requirements one and five:
(1) neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including being part of a family
(5) lacks close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives.
This can be seen in Sarah’s Social Networks inventory as well. She says that she does not have many close friends because she has a hard time trusting others, and most of her friends feel that they are much closer to her than she really lets them be. She does say that the group of people closest to her is her immediate family. She also does not seek close relationships, either. For the ideal dream quadrant, other than her younger sister and her boyfriend, she does not want anyone to be very close to her. She even says that she wishes some of her best friends and her dad were not as close to her as they already are. This is probably because Sarah feels like she loses all the people that are really important to her. She has lost her favorite two aunts; Linda died and Norma moved away. Her parents divorced and her father moved to Delaware. Her sister who she was very close to moved to Arizona, and one of her closest friends who she greatly looked up to and respected committed suicide. Sarah seems to not desire close relationships because, as can be seen on her YSQ, she has strong feelings of abandonment. She expects all of her important relationships to came to an end, and to avoid being hurt by losing the important people in her life, she avoids having important people from the start.
Although she meets criteria one and five, Sarah contrasts criteria two and four:
almost always chooses solitary activities
(4) takes pleasure in few, if any, activities.
As I have previously stated in the beginning of this paper, Sarah is very active in her High School. She is involved in many organizations, ranging from academic, to musical, to artistic groups. Of the activities that she is part of, the ones that she seems to enjoy the most are those that rely heavily on the perfonnance as a group, not as an individual, such as the Band, Choir, and Indoor Drum Line programs. So it can actually be seen that, other than her artistic endeavors, Sarah rarely chooses any solitary activities.
Theorist I based my analysis of Sarah on the works of Carl Rogers. Rogers was a humanistic psychologist who developed person-centered therapy. I chose Rogers because is optimistic view of humans and their ability to change and improve their personality. Rogers took a phenomenological approach to understanding the personality, because he felt that you could only understand the personality by understanding how the person views important events in their life. Rogers also felt that there was a strong need for positive regard to make the person feel valuable, and help the to reach the ultimate goal of becoming a fully functioning person.
Carl Rogers greatly preferred person-centered interviews to psychological tests and laboratory experiments when treating a patient. This was because he felt that the psychologist was only an aid to the process, and the only person truly capable of changing their personality were the patients themselves. Because of this, I based the majority of my work on my interviews with Sarah, but because of time constraints I did give her the Social Networks inventory and YSQ tests.
I believe that Carl Rogers would have felt that the important people in Sarah’s life leaving her for various reasons caused her lack of many close relationships and mistrust of others. This left her need for positive regard neglected, and according to the phenomenological approach, from Sarah’s point of view all she saw was that the important people in her life were abandoning her. I feel that if she were a patient of Rogers’, he would try to aid her in realizing, through a series of person-centered interviews, that the reasons for those important to her leaving were not because of anything she did, but because of outside factors over which she had no control.
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Duveyoung, Edg. (1996-8). Retrieved December 8, 2002, from http://www.iqtest.com