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Treatment of a Case Study: Evaluating Mental Illness from Contrasting Perspectives

Case Study

Treatment of a Case Study 

Choose a case study of an individual who is suffering from a mental illness and evaluate it with reference to two contrasting perspectives on mental illness.


You should consider the case from contrasting perspectives and evaluate the consequences of those different perspectives.


This is one way you could construct the essay:

Case Study

Choose an example of a circumstance where someone could be viewed as suffering from a mental illness. You could choose observations of real events, or you might choose a representation of ‘mental disorder’ that has been portrayed in film or literature. Students are advised to NOT choose themselves. Discuss the patient’s current presentation and symptoms. The symptoms can be psychological e.g. the patient is unable to form stable, fulfilling relationships, or they are on the grip of paranoid fantasies (e.g. conspiracies who are after them) or physical (e.g. the patient feels that they are missing their right hand or they have auditory hallucinations and so on). You need to choose an example that contains a reasonable amount of detail that will enable you to be able to pay some attention to what might underlie such events.

Comparison of different ways of understanding mental illness

Having chosen your example, you then need to think about how the problems that the individual was facing could be understood in terms of two contrasting perspectives.


You might choose a biological; a psychiatric, a social; a social constructionist; a psychoanalytic perspective. Each perspective will have different implications in terms of treatment, care and the overall evaluation of the patient’s mental state. A psychiatric perspective might focus on the alleviation of symptoms (e.g. hallucinations), whereas a behavioural one might strive to give the patient more insight into their condition. Students need to explain how each perspective allows us to get an understanding of the patient (think in terms of how different professionals might view the same patient). It is very important to make links between the chosen approach and your case study, by using examples from the case study to support your claims.

Critical Analysis

In this section,you are asked to reflect on the implications of the two chosen approaches to our understanding of mental disorders. Students are particularly encouraged to think of the two approaches they have chosen in terms of arguments and counter-arguments. What are the benefits of each model? And what are there implications? How do they account for the patient’s perspective? How do they understand ‘recovery’? At last, how do they impact treatment?


1. Describe and examine in detail different approaches to mental disorders.

2. Explain and analyse a case study from contrasting points of view. 

3. Reflect on the phenomenology of mental disorders and gain an understanding of how different professionals think about ‘diagnoses’, treatment and ‘illnesses’ of the mind, by making links between theory and practice.

4. Critically explore models of thinking about mental disorders, theory, research and clinical practice 

5. Think in a reflective and reflexive manner about the complexity of psychological phenomena.

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