Case # 3

In the third case, Janet was the only child from her parents' marriage, which ended abruptly with her father's death when she was 11 years old.  Life was difficult for her and her mother afterward, as there was no insurance on the father and the mother was forced to go to work in non-skilled employment, keeping her away from home long hours.   The loss was especially hard for Janet, who had been a "daddy's girl."   Janet became a latch-key kid who made up the deprivation she was experiencing at times through minor juvenile delinquent activities, such as stealing make-up from the local drug store.  As an adolescent, she became somewhat promiscuous in her search for someone whom she felt would meet her needs.  There was a teenage pregnancy in which the child, a boy, was given up for adoption.

Her first marriage with Steve seemed good for a few years, but in actuality, both of them had developed episodic alcohol abuse problems.  They made friends with another couple, Mary and Ralph, with whom they frequently partied.  Steve's work resulted in some travel, and at such times Janet continued to spend time with her good friends.   In time, however, Janet began to turn to Ralph and to have an affair with him, and, unknown to her at the time, Mary and Steve were also having an affair with each other.

The two couples divorced their original spouses and married each other.  This resulted in tremendous turmoil for the children in these families even though they had become good friends prior to the remarriages.  Sharing parents was not what the youngsters had in mind, and the attention of the adults was, in actuality, shifted away from the children since the adults were immersed in their own conflicts.

Ralph had an opportunity to move to another state continuing with his job, and felt that perhaps this would give him and Janet a fresh start.  A custody battle then ensued, and Steve and Mary ended up with custody of all the children except for Ted, who was Ralph's and Mary's 16-year-old son.  Janet had two sons, ages 17 and 12 at the time.  The 17 year old, Tony, was so upset over his mother's remarriage that he refused to have any contact with her, and he quit school and went out on his own.   The 12 year old, Jim, was to spend the summers with his mom.

The move with Ralph and Ted to another state required much adjustment for Janet, who had been used to semirural living and who now found herself in a congested metropolitan area where there were no neighbors or friends, just a more anonymous and impersonal environment.  Ralph frequently traveled in conjunction with his job, leaving Janet and Ted at home alone.  The two had enormous conflicts at first.  Then, during their first summer in their new home, Jim came to visit his mom.  The visit went well, but after he left to go home, Janet found herself increasingly depressed.

Ted proved to be her best consolation, and in the process, their relationship began to develop into a sexual one.  Soon they were having intercourse on a regular basis whenever Ralph was away.  Ted eventually shared what was happening with a friend who then told a teacher.  The teacher made a report and Janet was arrested.

Janet's MMPI indicated some tendency to exaggerate her complaints but was probably valid.  The most prominent feature of the profile was a very elevated scale 4, followed by elevations on scales 3 and 9.  She appeared to be highly impulsive individual with low frustration tolerance who tended to engage in denial or acting out as primary mechanisms for dealing with conflict.  She did not appear to be psychotic.   There was a mix of histrionic and borderline personality features.

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