Case Study

Case Study

Alexia is a 32-year-old, divorced woman who is employed as an administrative assistant at a local human services program. She lives with her 11-year-old daughter, Christina, in an apartment located near her job. Although she makes a relatively low salary, Alexia has managed to support herself and her daughter without financial support from Christina’s father. Alexia was married briefly to Christina’s father when she was 20, but she left him after he became physically and sexually abusive toward her. She had almost no contact with him for many years. Her mother, a widow, is a strong support for Alexia and Christina, as is her sister, Daniela. Alexia reports growing up in a working class family and states that her childhood was “fine” despite her father’s occasional drinking binges, when he’d spend all afternoon and evening at a neighborhood bar with his friends, and her mother’s “occasional bad depressions.”

About a month ago, Alexia was physically assaulted while walking home from work. The attacker stole the small amount of cash she had after hitting her hard in the head and threatening her with a gun. Alexia did not report the incident to the police because “the cops won’t do anything anyway.” Since the assault, Alexia has had difficulty falling asleep at night. She tells you that having a few drinks usually helps her with this, and she insists that she is not an alcoholic because her father was one, and she acts nothing like him. When you press her for details about her drinking, Alexia admits that she drinks about 5-6 beers most evenings, sometimes with some sleeping pills or tranquilizers that she bought from a friend. She has missed a few days of work and is worried her boss is going to fire her. Alexia also said she’s been feeling guilty and hopeless lately that things will never get better and worries about the kind of life she is providing for Christina.

When you asked Alexia if she has ever been in trouble with the law, she mentioned that when she was a teenager she got caught selling marijuana and painkillers – she had been worried about her parents’ financial situation and figured she could help out when a neighbor approached her with this “business opportunity.” After getting caught selling, she was enrolled in a mandatory substance abuse treatment program and put on probation. She recalls disliking her “stuck up, clueless” probation officer and thought the treatment program was useless. At this point, she stated that therapy is a “rich people’s thing” and that talking to you about her life feels pointless.

Use what you’ve learned about perception of self and others; culture and co-cultures; empathy and more to answer the following questions about the case study.

What individual factors are influencing Alexia’s problem(s)?
What societal factors are influencing Alexia’s problem(s)?
How does Alexia’s case show the connection between individuals and society? Include causes and consequences of her problems in your analysis.
Evaluate Alexia’s social status and how her treatment by various systems (education, health care, criminal justice, government) may be influenced by her status.

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