Get help Liberty-University PSYC 430 Module 4 Case Study. Forty-seven-year-old Ellen walked hurriedly to her car. She had just finished teaching a three-hour class in American Literature at the university where she was an Associate Professor and it had gone well. She was able to forget about her depression for a while and stop obsessing about suicide. As Ellen drove down the highway and got onto the interstate for her 45-minute drive home, she felt the pall of sadness that had overtaken most of her life in the past month. In a one-week period her mother, with whom she had not had a close relationship, died after a lingering illness and her latest boyfriend, Harry, a fellow English teacher, began dating one of his students. Clearly, their relationship was over. She felt that the night Harry told her about his “love” for a student that her life had hit rock bottom.
Ellen had found, though, that thinking about suicide helped her feel better. She had a .22 revolver that she liked to shoot at targets, but she had heard that it was not a good idea to attempt suicide with a .22 unless one was a good shot. So Ellen had taken to fantasizing about buying and learning to shoot a bigger gun, maybe a 9 mm or a .38-caliber revolver. Since she and Harry were no longer an item, maybe that is how she could spend her weekends. She lived near a big gun shop that had targets set up and she could practice until she felt she was accomplished enough to turn the gun on herself. Then she would pick a day when Harry had a class scheduled. She would leave a note in his box, go in back of the Humanities Building where the English classes were held, and pull the trigger at a time when it would disrupt one of Harry’s classes. Yes, Ellen thought, I should go to the gun shop Saturday. Because Ellen was so in touch with her feelings, she noticed that this thought – of buying a new gun – lifted her spirits.
She put a Rolling Stones CD into the player and sang with it all the way home. Ellen was the third child in a family of four, three girls and a boy. Her older brother, Alfred, and sister, Jean, were 12 and 10 years older than she. Her younger sister, Joyce, was 7 years younger. Ellen did not remember anything related to her brother when she was at home except when he left to fight in the Korean War. She recalls her mother and Jean being distraught, and Alfred’s girlfriend and her family being sad. All she remembers about Jean was her wedding, at the age of 19, to her childhood sweetheart. She remembers almost nothing about Joyce, except that her parents seemed to dote on her. Ellen’s father, Fran, was a binge-drinking alcoholic. About three times a year he went on binges. There he learned to work (and work on) heavy equipment like bulldozers and cranes.
He owned some expensive equipment and was self-employed, mainly doing road construction. But when he went on his binges and was out of work for two or three weeks, the banks often repossessed his equipment and he lost the jobs. Frequently the family had to move, as Frank and Ellen’s mother, Evelyn, would miss a rent payment or two. Evelyn was the middle child of 13 children. She too, came from an extremely poor family. She and Frank married when she was 16 and he was 18. Evelyn was a quiet, unassuming person, and religious fanatic – involved in a fundamentalist sect. But she never condemned Frank and was long-suffering. Evelyn worked menial jobs for as long as Ellen could remember. By the time Ellen was 8 years old, she was coming home from school to an empty house that she had the obligation to clean. She cooked dinner and did the laundry. She recalls no affection from either parent, but she does remember harsh physical punishment for “talking back” to them or complaining about going to church.