The Case Study of Dibs

Psychodynamic Approach- Psychoanalysis treatment

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  • Created by: Hannah
  • Created on: 07-05-10 19:04



  • to help Dibs who was locked in his own world displaying disturbed behaviour (playing alone, viololence as he did not want to go home)
  • Axline wanted to find a way for Dibs to express himself and unlock his personality.
  • to see if play therapy would help Dibs find his 'self.'
  • Background:
  • 5 years old when study started, 6 when it ended
  • teachers thought Dibs had a low mental ability and parents thought he was brian damaged
  • Father- a scientist, Mother- a surgeon who had to give up work when he was born so seemed to resent him
  • teachers believed he was like he was due to a poor relationship with his parents
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Method and Procedure:

  • Axline watched Dibs in the classroom, the took him into a playroom at school to see how he would react
  • Dibbs's mother allowed him to have a weekly play session with Axline but she would not be interviewed. Later she was interviewed and Axline gathered data from her
  • Dibs was observed in these play sessions by Axline and researchers behind a 1 way mirror. Notes taken.
  • Axline did not ask Dibs, his parents and the teachers anything- she waited for input
  • lots of toys in the play room and Dibs could play with what he liked and say anything.
  • Axline did not want to research Dibs, she wanted to help him- she did not interpret what he said or wanted so she did not push thoughts or actions onto him.
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Case notes

  • Dibbs had all the material things he could want at home. He had a grandmother who he loved very much but did not see enough of
  • when therapy started, behaviour difficult for the family and school- he physically fought when something was asked of him such as taking his coat off
  • he only talked rarley and did not want to go home. Teachers could not tell if he could read or not.
  • Therapy showed that Dibs was a gifted child. He was very advanced for his age in reading, spelling,etc. It took the duration of the therapy to find this out and he got put in a school for gifted children where he thrived.
  • Throughout the thearpy, Axline repeated to Dibs what he was saying or asking for. No questions were asked and he was allowed to to what he wanted
  • Dibs talked alot about locked walls and doors and evidence of his poor relationship with his parents were demonstrated through him playing- he buried a toy soldier who he named Papa.
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  • Axline avoided interpreting Dibs's words and actions as she wanted him to work through his feelings himself- to say what he thought was important and for her to stay in the background providing opportunities
  • Dibs did not need anymore input to his superego by Axline imposing the rules
  • Dibs talking about walls and locked doors was a linked to his father locking him in the cuboard so him buying the soldier symbolised his anger at his father
  • Parents then realised they played a part in his problems so from then on helped with the 'healing.'
  • Dibs's mother visited Axline once during the therapy- she had been frightened Dibs was not mentally able so taught him to read at the age of 2.
  • Dibs appeared over stimulated which was part of the problem. Dibs's mother began to show him affection and their relationship got better
  • his father showed him affection too and started to listen to him which improved his relationship with his father.
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  • Axline does not mention pyscho. approach but a way of interpreting this is the id, demanding gratification, part of his personality was overpowered by the superego who controlled him. The ego should have balanced the 2 but was unable to. so Dibs was full of anger and confusion shown by his anti-social behaviour
  • Oedipus complex- him burying the father but Dibs's issues with parents not an unconscious desire
  • interpreted as cathasis so the unconscious desires disappeared and Dibs moved on- he went home a happier child and find the balance he needed
  • interpreted as Dibs having desires in the unconscious that needed to be revealed so even though problems were real rather than symbolic, they were inaccessible until released through play
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  • Dibs's ego was helped by his parents working through their fears about his abilities and working through their own fears
  • Play therapy allowed catharsis- he acted out his fears and frustrations.
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  • play sessions were recorded, observed and notes were taken. hight amount of rich, in depth qualatative data
  • different methods- interviews, observation and play therapy data has high validity. There was more than one source of where the data came from- parents, teachers
  • Dibs did not know he was being observed so less chance of demand characteristics
  • Experimenter biased- Axline wanted to help Dibs not try to prove a theory or research him so less chance of experimenter biased in the results as they are records of observations not trying to prove a theory. Also morte than one researcher so less chance of experimenter biased
  • Backs up Freud's theory of cathasis and shows that psychoanalytic treatment works. She also linked it to his theory- cathais, personality structure, role of the unconcious
  • Ethically- gained consent from parents to study him and publish story, confidentiality- names and words were changed to keep the family anonymous
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  • Axline was a participant observer so may have affected Dibs's play- demand charac.
  • difficult to test for reliability- there will never be a case exactly the same as Dibs so study cannot be repeated
  • Dibs's words cannot be scientifically measured to back up Freud so less credibility and reliability
  • difficult to apply study to the theory- Axline presents the study of Dibs getting over his problems- she does not use theories or concepts to explain the play therapy.
  • study is more descriptive than explanitory so does not really back up or build a theory.
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