Assessment 2. Case Study
Word Count: 2,189
"Anorexia is a puzzling disease, full of contradictions and paradoxes. These youngsters willingly undergo starvation, even to the point of death". (Bruch 2001, p.3) This paper will present an interview questionnaire with Emily, who has suffered from an eating disorder for many years. The paper will also identify the issue at hand and outline my approach to developing the questionnaire. I will give an overview of the theories of Erik Erikson, a psychoanalytic theorist and Albert Bandura a social learning (or cognitive) theorist, identifying from the theories the areas focussed on for the interview. The paper will give an analysis of my interview, comprising 15 questions, and relate those, and the responses to the theories of Erikson and Bandura. Finally, I will conclude that Emily's answers to the questions, and her view of her issues may be reasonably explored and argued through either of theories of Erik Erikson or Albert Bandura.
The developmental issue, which I have outlined, is of Emily, a twenty-three year old woman who has suffered from the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa since her teens. After seven years of struggle she has finally contained the destructive desires that drove her to starve herself, in an attempt to be thin, and therefore "beautiful and more acceptable". Hunger is a primitive need, asserts Hall and Ostroff (1999), to willingly starve oneself creates an aura of intrigue, and possibly admiration from peers; and usually desperation from parents or caregivers who are often powerless to effect a change. Emily was happy to discuss her issues, and had her own reasons as to why, and how the disorder began for her.
In order to undertake these questions, I familiarised myself with the concept of qualitative research which, as discussed by Silverman (2004), can take the form of an interview, exploring the context, situations and phenomenon specific to a subject in a holistic way. This qualitative research involved the exploration of how we construct our view of the social world with our respondents. From this it is possible to develop a background around which research can be analysed. The questionnaire originally began as a series of open questions to elicit the responses that would be pertinent to the matter at hand. As the interview progressed, some of the questions evolved from a natural course of the interaction.
Erik Erikson was a developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst recognised for his theory on social development, and for coining the phrase "identity crisis". According to Sigelman and Rider (2009), Erikson asserted that personality develops through eight logical psychosocial stages from birth to death. Each of Erikson's stages of development is marked by a conflict, and resolving that conflict results in a favourable outcome. As noted by Guntrip (1985), all of the stages in Erikson's theory are present at birth, but unfold according to an inherent biological plan, adjusted by nurture, or upbringing, which will vary according to values and cultures, and through interaction with peers and society. Each stage builds on those that preceded it, and paves the way for subsequent stages. According to Erikson, a crisis is not a catastrophe, as such, but a turning point of increased openness and enhanced potential, Weiten (2007). Ideally, the crisis in each stage should be resolved by the ego, that is the perception that we develop of our self, in order for development to proceed correctly, Guntrip (1985). The outcome of one stage is not permanent, but may be changed by later experiences. Everyone has a mixture of the qualities reached at any given stage, but personality development is considered successful if the individual has more of the "good" traits than the "bad".