Rose Case Study

Learning Goal: I’m working on a psychology case study and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.

Rose is a 60-year-old woman who has been having serious attacks of dizziness and shortness of breath as Thanksgiving approaches. Rose is usually active and energetic. In the past, she looked forward to entertaining her family, which used to include three married daughters, one married son, their spouses, and their children. However, her son has recently been divorced. Feelings between him and his ex-wife are bitter. Any attempts on Rose’s part to communicate with her former daughter-in-law or granddaughter are met with an outburst of hostility from her son. Although Rose is very fond of her daughter-in-law and granddaughter, she knows that she cannot invite them to the family gathering without stirring up intense conflict with her son. Rose’s daughter suggests having dinner at one of their homes to prevent the conflict. They hope the solution will take some of the pressure off their mother and ease the attacks. Rose agrees, but her attacks continue.

Case discussion

How are the biological, psychological, and societal systems involved in Rosa’s situation?

We might hypothesize that her physical symptoms – dizziness and shortness of breath – are due to an inability to resolve a difficult family conflict. Psychological and societal demands may elicit responses from the biological system, as they commonly do, and people under stress. The biological system often alerts a person to the severity of a threat or crisis through the development of physical symptoms. Rose might visit her family doctor in order to evaluate whether her symptoms are the result of high blood pressure or early signs of heart disease. There may be a medication that can help reduce the symptoms allowing Rose to have to feel less anxious and more confident about her role in the family.

Rose’s psychological system is involved in interpreting her son’s behavior which she views as forcing her to choose between him and her daughter-in-law and granddaughter. She might also use psychological processes to try to arrive at a solution to the conflict. So far, Rose has not identified any satisfactory solution. Although she can avoid the conflict most of the time, the impending Thanksgiving dinner is forcing her to confront it directly.

The psychological system includes Rose’s self-concept, as well as her emotional state. Through memory, Rose retains a sense of her family at earlier periods, when they enjoyed greater closeness. Having to face a Thanksgiving dinner, at which she will feel angry at her son or guilty about excluding her daughter-in-law and granddaughter, places her in a fundamental conflict. The Thanksgiving meal is also a symbolic event representing Rose’s idea of family unity, which she cannot achieve. Rose will lose the sense of family unity, and she is trying to preserve

This is societal system influences the situation at several levels. First, there is a societal expectation regarding the mother role: Mother is nurturing, loving, and protecting. But Rose cannot be nurturing without sending messages of rejection either to her son or to her daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Second, social norms for relating to various family members after divorce or unclear. How should rose to behave toward her son’s former spouse how to relate to her grandchild if her son is no longer the child’s custodial parent Rose is confused about what to do third the thanksgiving celebration of social, religious, and cultural significance this family ritual was performed and ROZES home and she was a child, and she has carried it through in her own home as an adult now however she is being forced to pass the responsibility for this gathering to her daughter before she is ready to do so and as a result, Rose is likely to feel a special sense of loss.

Respond: To the five questions below

  1. How does this case illustrate the interconnections among the biological, psychological, and societal systems?
  2. Given what you know about the assumptions of the psychosocial theory, how might Rose’s stage of development influence her perceptions of the situation and her approach to coping with this conflict?
  3. How might you pose a research question based on the information raised in this case study? (For example, how likely is it that parents experience health problems following their child’s divorce?)
  4. How might Rose’s social support system, especially her daughters, be involved in helping her cope with this conflict
  5. How might the current conflict impact future psychosocial development


  1. How does your culture view the stages of life? Other their special ceremonies for birth, wedding, coming of age, etc…)
  2. How do these cultural beliefs influence the way you make meaning of your current stage of life?
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