Your task is to look for Freudian interpretations of the boy’s and his mother’s behavior.
In particular, look for:
- oral themes
- anal themes
- phallic themes
- primary process thinking
- repetitions of words and phrases
- contradictions in what the boy and his mother say
Write an analysis at least three paragraphs long, ending with a hypothesis of the reason the boy is experiencing his difficulties.
St. Paul Street (number unknown)
Baltimore, MD (zip code unknown)
I interviewed the patient first and then his mother.
Glen is a tall, well-built, handsome young man with blond hair, blue eyes, and a mustache. He was dressed in sporty clothes and looked kind of depressed. He was slouched on the chair most of the appointment and very rarely smiled. He told me he is 17 years old and a senior in high school. He’s in a city public school and he didn’t know the name of the school nor its number. He did not know either his home street number, his zip code, or his telephone number.
When I asked Glen what his problem was he said that his mother thinks he is crazy. When I asked why she thought that he said, “I make bombs.” I inquired then when he started making bombs and he said at the age of 6 when his mother gave him a chemistry set. He said he loves making them and seeing them smoke, stink, and flare up. The reason he is sent to see me today was that he threw a smoke bomb in the school prom last year. “Proms stink; they’re stupid,” he said. He told me that the school officials were annoyed at him, wanted to kick him out but he managed to talk them into not doing it. I asked the patient then if there were any other problems at school or at home and he said that at home there were none. He lives alone with his mother, it’s working out all right, and in school, his grades are okay. When I asked him if he ever had any trouble with the police, he said, “not yet.” When I wondered why he seemed to imply he might have trouble, he then told me that he sets fires and that he’s a pyromaniac. He said that he has set only small fires at home but sets fires in garbage cans.
At some point here, early in the appointment, the patient said that he was warm and he took off his windbreaker, underneath which he had a gray T-shirt, on the back of which was written “Eat Me” and on both sleeves and on his upper left chest were written words which I forgot.
I asked the patient about his family then and he said that his mother works for the hospital and he does not know her age. When I inquired about his father he said that he ran off with a guy when he (the patient) was 3 years old and he never heard from him.
In the future Glen could not say what he would like to do except that he wanted to “get rich.” When I asked him what he would do with a lot of money he said “have fun and travel.” He hasn’t traveled much in his life except for going North several summers where he went to a camp since the age of 14. At camp what he enjoys the most are the bon fires. I inquired more specifically about his grades in school and he said that he made Bs and Cs in chemistry, his favorite subject, and did poorly in gym, his worst subject, because the “locker room stinks. It smells like old socks.”
He told me that he does not like football, baseball, or any ball games but when I asked about his hobbies he said he likes riding, swimming, and he loves to ski. He also likes to hang out with friends, drive around, and drink beer. When I inquired if he drank a lot he said never more than 2 beers on a weekend and when I asked him if he could drive he said no, he could not, he much preferred being driven around. He says he loves to eat and he likes to play with his lab. When I asked him if he likes reading he said yes, he reads very fast, reads three or four books a week and his favorite books are science fiction and the classics (but he hates poetry). I asked him if he likes music and he said yes and he especially likes Beethoven because that music is “fiery.” When I asked about his hands, he said he was good with his hands and when I inquired about collections, he said he collected everything. He collects all the junk he can and his mother doesn’t even come in his room because she would get lost in his junk.
We talked then about friends and he said that he makes friends easily but he has never had any close friends. In the past, he did have buddies but only for brief periods at a time. When I asked him if he dated he said no and then he said, “not many girls like to be seen with me because I’m odd.” When I wondered what made him feel he was odd he said that he doesn’t like the music they like nor the places they like. When I said that he must feel lonely he said no, he did not feel lonely but he felt alone.
I inquired about religion and he told me that he was a WASP but was not religious.
After getting this information, I asked him to draw and he was unable to think of anything to draw as a free choice drawing. I asked him then to draw a house and he drew a sort of an Eskimo igloo, a half-circle with a little appendix ∩__ . When I asked him to draw a tree, he drew the number 3 [apparently poking fun at Dr. Godenne’s European accent], and he completely refused to draw a person, saying that he could only draw a stick person and then refusing to do so.
After seeing the patient, I saw his mother who is a short, very neatly dressed, quite tense and attractive woman who constantly reassured me and herself that Glen was a good kid. She started the appointment by saying, “he’s a really good kid but he threw a bomb in school and the school wanted to kick him out but I managed to have them keep him if I accepted to send him to a psychiatrist.” Apparently the school is about to start now and in order for Glen to be readmitted, he has to see me. The mother said that she worries a lot about Glen because he’s the only person she has. She has no family nearby and Glen is everything for her. She says that she’s worried that he could become as irresponsible as his father or his friends and then I asked about his father and she said, “I was knocked up in high school and as soon as I got pregnant he left.”
I omitted to ask if she was married to him or exactly the circumstances of his leaving. Towards the end of the appointment, however, she said that he was a good guy while he was with her and she asked me if Glen had talked about his father because apparently he tells people that his father “left him to go and live with a queer” and that this is absolutely not true.
Mrs. Stewart said that she works as an aide at a hospital and then talked about how people in hospitals really have problems and how her problems are minimal compared to the problems she sees. She talked for instance about people dying of cancer with a lot of pain, no family, etc.
Mrs. Stewart told me that her son spends a lot of time in his basement lab and locks the door and won’t let her in so she has no idea what he does. When I asked her about friends she said that he has no girlfriends and no boyfriends however she added, “they toot their horn and he is gone.” She said that she was afraid that he could get hurt if he knew how to drive so she hasn’t let him take his driver’s test because he’s too irresponsible.
The birth and development seems to have been normal although the mother said that the delivery was very painful. She was only 16 when she had Glen. She couldn’t say much about the developmental milestones and when I asked about the toilet training she said that often in the morning his bedsheets are wet. It wasn’t clear to me if the mother meant that he urinated or had wet dreams. When I asked if he ever had any accidents, illness, or injuries, she said that she won’t let him drive because she is afraid that he could have an accident. He had his tonsils out at the age of 6. He has had no severe illnesses.
I finally wondered if he had ever been away from home and the mother said that he’s gone to the Poor Boys Camps organized by the police since the age of 14 and enjoyed it. I forgot to ask the mother from what time on Glen went to school and if he had any separation anxiety.
Mrs. Stewart said a little bit about her family. She was an only child, both her parents are dead, they were very strict so she tries not to be strict with her son, Glen. She said for instance that she has no curfew for him although she knows that he comes home every night because when she goes to work he’s in bed but she has no idea at what time he comes home.
Mrs. Stewart then asked me if she could come back to see me because she has nobody to talk to. I accepted to see her again. She showed surprise when I said that I felt that Glen should be in treatment because he has problems. Finally she was upset that the interview was ending and before leaving she gave me a big hug.
The understanding I have with Mrs. Stewart is that I see Glen once more then will refer him to another therapist and go on working in treatment with her.
Ghislaine D. Godenne, Ph.D.