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From Therapy to Research: A Patient’s Legacy, Article Critique Example

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Article Critique

The article “From Therapy to Research: A Patient’s Legacy,” written by Gary Brannigan focuses on Jerry Phares, a psychologist and past professor at Kansas State University, along with a man named Karl. Karl was a patient of Doctor Phares, and became a bit of an experiment for Phares as well. Karl was a complicated patient and required a lengthy series of diagnostic tests and background interviews in order for Doctor Phares to get a firm understanding of what Karl’s issues were.

Phares couldn’t decipher whether or not Karl was a classic psychotic patient or a neurotic patient. Karl was a 23 year old male with a history of being in the armed forces during the Korean War. His mother was a shut in with no social life and Karl had little memory of any other relatives. Karl had no reasons for joining the army other than the decision seeming appealing at the time.

Now came the time for Phares to treat Karl. Phares had to develop some sort of therapy that he felt would benefit a patient like Karl, but was stumped at how to approach the problem. Phase trusted in Dr. Julian B. Rotter, professor of psychology and director of the psychology department at Ohio State University, to consult with him on Karl’s case. Rotter was a noted theorist and Phares had heard of him due to his newfound research regarding social learning.

Phares and Rotter teamed up to create a collaborative social learning approach that fit best for Karl. They concluded that Karl was a young man with low expectations of himself, lacking goals, ambitions and desires. Phares and Rotter struggled to come up with a treatment plan that Karl would be apt to engage with, and thus benefit from. Karl had no peers in his life, no real emotional connections, and without meaningful ties to another human being, who did Karl have to impress? Who was had expectations of Karl? No one. All of these issues made Karl a very difficult patient to approach treating.

Phares and Rotter devised a therapy program for Karl that relied on social interaction, new life experiences he had never tried, and incorporated a therapy approach that rewards positive behavior and punishes negative behaviors. This approach to treating Karl was a flexible and new psychological approach for Phares, and only a tested approach by Rotter. The use of social therapy with Karl was a method of psychotherapy that relied on Karl’s ability to gain relationships with others as well as passions and hobbies- things that would give him meaning in life, as well as ambition.

Karl’s main problems revolved around his social and sexual relationships, as well as his ability to get and maintain a job. Phares and Rotter hoped that this innovative therapy would help Karl foster new relationships and find a job.

The treatment started and Phares and Rotter began to monitor Karl’s progress- slowly but surely they watched this shy young man come out of his shell, but eventually his progress came to a halt. Rotter and Phares had to re-examine their therapy process for Karl and find out where the problem lied. They came to the conclusion that Karl truly believed his action had no relation to whether or not he would be successful. Without any ability to judge whether or not his actions would be harmful or helpful, Karl had no motive to act one way or another.

Phares and Rotter concluded from their case with Karl that the important elements in social psychology are not just behavior and reinforcement of the patient, but the patient’s own belief of the importance in their behavior that leads to change.

 

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