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Freud divided human behavior into conscious and unconscious dimensions. The goal of psychoanalysis, to this therapist, was to access the inner emotions and thoughts of the individual that he or she was unacquainted with; the latter is the unconscious (Friedman & Schustack, 2011). Therapists ought to move beyond a person’s conscious behavior because this is the element that the individual shows openly.
In Asma’s case, the patient has no idea why she feels lonely and depressed. It is essential to unmask the unconscious to get to the root of her problem. The goal of therapy should be to create a healing experience by exposing these hidden emotions and thoughts. This could be done through the use of a range of techniques that could highlight the patient’s unresolved developmental or traumatic experiences. It is only after dealing with these latent issues that the external symptoms of depression can disappear.
This school of thought may also provide insights into the personality dimensions of the patient. Asma appears to have an imbalance in her ego, id, and superego. The pleasure component of her personality, which is the id, appears to play a minimal role in her psychological life. She works all the time, and only dedicates a small portion of her time in pursuit of pleasure. Furthermore, her superego, which governs one’s morality, appears to be on overdrive.
Asma focuses too much on behaving in a socially acceptable manner. She avoids friction with her friends and only seeks to please them. Additionally, she has centered her life on appearing successful to other people by acquiring material things. Therapy should focus on rectifying the ego by identifying and unraveling the defense mechanisms that the ego used to protect Asma.
Some of the defense mechanisms that are evident in the case are a rationalization, repression as well as reaction formation. Asma feels that the path she chose as a successful businesswoman must come at the expense of happiness in other components in her life. Therefore, she has rationalized her existence to cope with her lonely circumstances.
Additionally, repression is evident because she has not confronted the divorce she experienced as well as the one she witnessed between her parents. Most of the rejection and experiences she had as a child have been repressed and could be overcompensated by her material success.
Dream analysis is one of the techniques that the therapist can use to determine her unconscious behavior. Asma stated that a tiger is chasing her in her dreams. Since this is a dangerous animal, it could signify some of the past experiences that caused her to regard the world as dangerous, such as sibling bullying and her parent’s divorce.
Someone burns her money but she does not seem to mind means that the things that she focuses on now are not that important. She felt safe with the person who burnt her money. This could signify her desire to find a more fulfilling substitute for her world of work.
Parapraxes may also assist in this case study. During the therapeutic process, the psychoanalyst should watch out for slips of the tongue so that he can unravel the unconscious. Even transference may be a reality in this case because the patient has transferred her dependence on the family to her work.
The experience will be the heart of this analysis as her relationship with her ex-husband mirrors what occurred in her childhood. When he cheated and abused her, it reinforced the notion that the world is dangerous. The manifest contents in the dream are the ones Asma remembers, and these provide an insight into her life.
According to this school, every human being possesses psychic energy. This energy is restless and is always in the process of improving itself through individuation and self-realization. One’s psychic energy may cause the person to feel depressed on the one hand and excited in another parameter. Asma has stated that she is in a state of depression. She has an imbalance in her psychic energy that has manifested as an abnormality. The goal of therapy should be to restore balance in this energy.
Jung asserted that all human beings have a collective unconscious, which is responsible for the generic beliefs and images that people have about their world (Schaster, 2009). The way one acts is determined by one’s collective unconscious.
Therefore, Asma’s way of thinking and feeling is also a product of her culture. Some of the things that she values such as career or material success stem from her collective unconscious. Her interpretations of the meaning of family and their opinions on her life were also an element of her collective unconscious.
In this school of thought, stages of development also play a critical role in determining what the source of the abnormality is. Unlike Freud who focused on associating a child’s development to their sexual transference, Jung felt that the social bonds between a client and their past associates determine how the personality manifests. Asma seems to be stuck at her childhood level where she was the problem child and was bullied. Transference may have occurred in her relationship with her husband. This could have caused her distrust of people.
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Self-realization occurs when the self emerges. This will come at the expense of the shortsighted ego. The client appears to have lost touch with her inner world. Asma needs to bridge the gap between these two components because she has focused too much on the external. While the world judges her as a success, she is still in need of staying true to her real self.
Adler explained that humans live a purposeful, conscious and goal oriented life. The personality was united rather than divided as in Freud and Jung’s case. He also added that the goal-oriented focus might become excessive in some instances and suppressed in others. It appears as though Asma’s goals revolve around aspects that she can control like her work. However, she lacks direction about her social and love life.
Asma’s style of life was determined by her childhood experiences as well as her goals, which Adler called the fictional finalism. The person’s inferiority complexes affect their style of life.
In Asma’s case, her childhood experiences could have caused her to feel inadequate both intellectually and socially. Therefore, she must have chosen a style of life that compensated for those inadequacies. Her fictional finalist may be evident in the form of the career goals she selected for herself. These choices must be linked to her feelings of depression during therapy.
One’s social interest and interactions with others can also highlight some of the sources of psychological abnormality. Asma is highly social and has a series of friends. However, because these social interactions are superficial, the client cannot get adequate fulfillment from them. Adler claimed that one of the three tasks in life was social interaction. Since this parameter lacks depth, then Asma finds that something is missing in her life.
Birth order also has a role to play in this arrangement as Asma was a girl among two boys. This caused her to become susceptible to bullying. She will need to relate this to her current experiences.
Every individual has a free will which determines the choices that one makes. Therefore, existential therapy dwells on discovering the choices that one has to live a free life. Unlike the psychoanalysts, who dwell on the past, the existential school emphasizes the importance of the present or the here and now (Diamond, 2007).
Self-awareness is realized when the person has a great insight into themselves. The client must let go of the obligations that held her hostage. This will allow her to live freely. Asma appears to be limiting the choices she has concerning her life as she only dwells on one component.
Existential anxiety focuses on confronting one’s emotional fears. By dealing with these issues head-on, one can then overcame those fears. Asma appears to be avoiding aspects of abuse, anger, and betrayal in her marriage. Rejection and shame as seen in the family are also a problem. She must come to terms with those elements to get out of her depression.
In this therapeutic approach, a person has an authentic self and an inauthentic self. This also mirrors the social self and the true self. Asma appears to place too much importance on her social and inauthentic self. She must define what it is she values and then work toward embracing it.
Diamond, S. (2007). Anger, madness, and the daimonic. The psychological genesis of violence, evil and creativity. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Friedman, H. & Schustack, M. (2011). Personality: Classics theories and modern research. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Schaster, G. (2009). Psychology. NY: Worth Publishers.