David Kopacz, MD
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The Trials and Tribulations of Writing a Case Study

Presented upon receiving the Merton Gill Case Study Award,
Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago
Chicago, Illinois | June 1997

Abstract: This presentation is not identical to the case study, which is an examination of an individual who I will call M. The reason for this is concern for M’s confidentiality. I have not yet obscured the details of this case enough to present it in an open forum such as this. So, we decided to have a forum on Dr. Gill and the case study. I will, in effect, be attempting to speak about the case without revealing M.  Thus, the title of this presentation is The Trials and Tribulations of Writing a Case Study, while the title of the case study is Sadomasochism and the Dehumanizing Effects of Trauma. This sets up an unusual situation in which I will try to represent some truth of the narrative, while avoiding, and even intentionally disguising, the historical details of the case. This is an issue of great concern in presenting a case study. I find it ironic that I have written a detailed case study and that I cannot present it as written, particularly given my interest in trying to return our departmental Clinical Case Conference to clinical material, rather than its drift into research presentations. This interest in the case presentation is something that I have also tried to encourage this year in the residency through the initiation of the Residents' Case Conference series.

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