Thigpen and Cleckley

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  • Created on: 26-04-11 11:37

case study of Eve

The aim of this case study was to provide an account of the treatment of a 25-year-old woman who was referred to Thigpen and Cleckley because of 'severe and blinding headaches'.

The psychiatrists used a case study method. This consisted of interviews with the patient and her family, hypnosis, observation, EEG tests and a number of psychometric and projective tests including, memory tests, ink blot tests and intelligence tests.

The patient (referred to as Eve White in the study) had been referred for therapy to one of the authors because of ‘severe and blinding headaches’. At the first interview she also complained of ‘‘blackouts’’ following her headaches.

However they were puzzled that Eve White had no memory of a recent trip. The therapists used hypnosis and the amnesia was cleared.

Several days after a visit to the therapists, a letter from Eve White appeared at the therapists’ office. The letter concerned her therapy and was written in her usual handwriting, but at the bottom of the page there was a paragraph that looked like a child had written it.

On her next visit Eve White denied sending the letter, though she recalled having begun one, which she never finished and thought she had destroyed. During the interview, Eve White who was normally very self-controlled became distressed and asked whether hearing an occasional imaginary voice made her insane.

She reported that she had on several occasions over the last few months briefly heard a voice addressing her. During this conversation Eve White, as if in pain suddenly put both hands to her head. After a tense moment of silence her hands dropped, and the therapist observed a ‘quick, reckless smile’ and in a bright voice she said: ‘Hi there, Doc’!

To the therapist it seemed that the usually conventional and retiring Eve White had changed into a carefree person. She also seemed to have a very different physical presence in terms of manner, gestures, and eye movements. When asked her name she immediately replied that she was Eve Black.

The therapist noted that this new person ‘had a childish daredevil air, an erotically mischievous glance, a face marvellously free from the habitual signs of care, seriousness and underlying distress’. The voice and language structure were also very different, and to the therapist it appeared to be an entirely different woman.

Over the next 14 months, during a series of interviews totalling approximately 100 hours, extensive material was obtained about the behaviour and experience of Eve White and Eve…


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