Psychoanalytic, Existential, and Family Therapies Case Study
Asma is a 40-year-old woman who feels depressed and unhappy person, and she is unable to explain why. Since her parents divorced when she was still young, she believes that she made her parents do so as they constantly quarreled because of her. In some instances, the parents told her that she was the problem child in the family because of her behavior. Throughout her childhood, two elder brothers bullied Asma. The brothers did not like Asma and kept on telling her that she was a very stupid girl. When she got married, her husband abused and left her by getting married to another woman. This made Asma divorce her husband 10 years ago.
Although Asma feels so down, she has many friends. Usually, on weekends, Asma ensures that she spends ample time with her friends by attending parties and visiting shopping malls. Her friends really like spending their time with Asma because she makes them happy by making fun of them and avoids arguing with them. However, owing to the bad experiences she underwent, Asma has become skeptical because she believes that the world is wild and dangerous. In her confession, Asma notes that she is an aggressive and angry person. At times, Asma feels like screaming without any apparent reason. Moreover, Asma seems to be a hard-working woman who is obsessed with work. Asma is working hard to be rich and attain success in her life. Owing to her hard work, many people admire her success. Given that, she has spent a lot of her time working, she has become a successful businesswoman who lives a luxurious life. Often, whenever she goes to sleep, Asma experiences tensed muscles that make her shake. Asma believes that no one has compelled her to live a lonely life. To cope with loneliness, Asma likes writing poems because it is her passion.
While sleeping, Asma dreamt of a tiger chasing her. As she ran into her house to rescue herself, she found three children standing before a strong and brave man who was in the sitting room burning her money. Although the man was burning her money, she was not worried because she felt that her children were safe and secure.
Analysis of Case Using Theories
The Psychoanalytic Approach
The psychoanalytic approach holds that human behavior depends on the preconscious, conscious, and unconscious drives of the mind. In his psychoanalytic theory, Sigmund Freud argues that libido is a drive that determines the life instincts of a person and consequently personality. From a psychoanalytic perspective, the human mind comprises of id, ego, and superego. The id is the unconscious part of the mind that seeks pleasure. Analysis of the case shows that what Asma does emanate from the id. In the case study, it is evident that Asma is working very hard to be successful in life, and what drives her is the id, the pleasure principle of the mind. Asma likes working because she spends most of her time doing business, which has made her become a very successful businesswoman. Her friends admire her hard work and achievements.
Additionally, Asma enjoys a luxurious life because she likes attending parties and shopping with friends on weekends. As she lives a lonely life, Asma spends her time writing poems because she is very passionate about them. According to Alfred Adler, what motivates people to be successful in life is the feeling of inferiority. Poor parenting, bullying experiences, and abuses in marriage have made Asma feel inferior. Thus, to overcome the feelings of inferiority, Asma works very hard to become superior. Alfred Adler holds that thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, and convictions reveal personal goals, which shape personality and lifestyle. From the case study, one can infer that Asma believes in hard work as a means of achieving success and independence in life.
According to Carl Jung, libido is the psychic energy that drives people to execute certain psychological activities. From the case study, Asma perceives herself as an unhappy, depressed, aggressive, and angry person. In this view, psychic energy enables Asma to perform self-analysis and realize that she is psychologically unhealthy. Asma is an unhappy, angry, aggressive, and depressed person because of the experiences that she has undergone in life. Sigmund Freud asserts that the sexual stages that people undergo have a significant impact on the development of personality. During her childhood, Asma’s parents saw her as the problem child in the family as the case study shows that her parents divorced because of her. Her brothers bullied Asma and called her a stupid girl. Moreover, when she got married, Asma endured abuse from her husband who later abandoned her by getting married to another woman. Owing to such bad experiences, Asma has lost trust and has become a very skeptical person. She believes that the world is a wild and dangerous place where she is unable to live peacefully. The psychoanalytical theory holds that a person has latent content due to repressed feelings. Asma has repressed feelings, which make her be a very skeptical person who is scared of the world.
Dream analysis is an important aspect of psychoanalysis as it reveals what is in the unconscious mind. In the dream, Asma saw a tiger chasing her. Analysis of the dream from the psychoanalytic approach indicates that the tiger represents a wild world. Basing on her childhood experiences, Asma underwent numerous bad experiences. The divorce of her parents, bullied by her brothers, and abuse by her husband are some of the major experiences that have influenced her personality. The wild world has made Asma be cynical whenever she interacts with people. Hence, the tiger is an image that represents the wild world, which seems to threaten her life. Moreover, in the dream, Asma saw a brave and strong man who was with the children in her house. Although the man was burning her money, Asma did not worry because she felt that her kids were safe and secure from the tiger. According to Jungian therapy, images that people perceive in dreams are equal to real images. Further analysis of the dream shows that Asma felt secure and safe despite the fact that she saw the man burning her money. The dream shows that Asma needs a man who can make her feel secure and safe from the wild world that torments her.
The Existential Approach
The existential approach to the case study conflicts with that of the psychoanalytic approach. While the existential approach asserts that humans have the freedom to resolve dilemmas that they encounter and define their destiny, the psychoanalytic approach confines humans to the psychological drives that are subject to human experiences. Abraham Maslow is a prominent existentialist who came up with the theory of human needs. The theory postulates that human needs have a hierarchy that determines their satisfaction. Although Asma lives a luxurious life because she can afford to attend parties and buy whatever she needs, she still has some needs unsatisfied according to Maslow’s theory. At the physiological level of needs, Asma does not enjoy her sleep because she is unhappy and depressed. Additionally, during sleep, Asma experiences tensed muscles, which make her shake. At the safety level of needs, Asma is a successful businesswoman, but she has no family to provide safety. Likewise, at the belonging level of needs, Asma does not enjoy sexual intimacy because she divorced her husband 10 years ago. Furthermore, Asma does not trust anyone because she is very cynical. Although her friends respect and love her, Asma has low self-esteem because of the confidence she has lost in people. Therefore, the existential analysis of the case study shows that Asma has not satisfied all her needs according to Maslow’s theory, and thus unable to achieve self-actualization.
The person-centered therapy by Carl Rogers says that people are born with innate characteristics of self-actualization. However, correct self and social self are two forces that determine whether one can achieve self-actualization or not. The true self comprises of actual feelings and actual intentions that one expresses to self. In contrast, the social self is the concept of self from the perspective of other people. In this see, Carl Rogers argues that the presence of incongruence between the true self and the social self causes repression of feelings and helps prevent one from achieving self-actualization. From the case study, the true self of Asma shows that she is a depressed, aggressive, angry, and lonely lady. However, the social self portrays Asma as a jovial, happy, and satisfied lady. The presence of incongruence between the true self and the social self shows that Asma represses her feelings and expresses social aspects of lifestyle. Basing on Gestalt therapy, repression of feelings occurs because one does not want to accept reality. The reality is that Asma is usually depressed, unhappy, angry, and lonely, yet she cannot clarify why. Instead, she represses sad feelings and expresses happy feelings whenever she is with her friends. Therefore, the person-centered theory and the Gestalt theory effectively explain why Asma’s friends
perceive her as a content individual, yet she confesses that she actually is depressed, unhappy, intense, and angry.
The systemic family concept holds that households are social techniques that influence how family interrelate collectively. The systemic family concept examines the type of the interrelationships that family have throughout their lifetime. Since a grouped household determines the character and behavior of an individual, the systemic family concept postulates that the type of relationships influences human being development. Since Asma lived in a family where they quarreled and later on divorced, it implies that she received poor parenting. Her depressive disorder, anger, and unhappiness emanate from the experiences that she underwent when her mother and father quarreled and eventually divorced. Furthermore, during her childhood, her brothers bullied Asma and called her a stupid woman because they hated her. In this view, Asma endured the ordeal during her childhood, which ranged from poor parenting to bullying.
When Asma got married, she did not enjoy her marriage because her spouse abused and remaining her for another woman. By getting married, Asma expected to live a happy life, but it turned out to be a painful one. Before divorcing her spouse, Asma must have endured the abuses to the point where she gave up on her marriage life. In this perspective, systemic family therapy examines the nature of relationships that a husband and a wife have with the objective of analyzing how they contribute to divorce. Therefore, systemic family members therapy efficiently describes the experiences that Asma underwent, and thus provides effective therapy for her.