Case studies are far more difficult than conventional research papers or journal articles. They require not only a strong grasp of the scientific method and the existing literature on a topic, but a humanity that allows the writer to confront their individual subject warmly and get to understand them in a multidimensional way.
Each individual case in this world is unique in a myriad of ways, so every individual case study should be a unique work of both art and science. Unfortunately, a great number of scientists and writers fail to see their subjects as fully formed, complex individuals with a multiplicity of traits. If you can pay close attention to your subject’s variation and humanity, you can write a truly unique and riveting case study paper. Here is how.
Do not approach your case study subject as a mere example or illustration of a disorder or disease. They are unlikely to be a textbook, stereotypical case of what the condition is like. The whole point of a case study paper is to demonstrate how a condition or setback interacts with a particular individual’s environment to create more complications, and possibly to promote growth and development.
To shed some light on these factors, you should spend some quality time with your case study subject. Play cards or watch television with them, and offer to help them complete chores around the house or move through the obligations of their day. This will endear you to your subject, and it will allow them to open up to you more. You will also learn more about the case study subject than you might learn in a formalized, uncomfortable interview. As a friendship develops with your subject, more and more information will become clear. Some of it will be relevant to your paper.
Research all the medical and psychological conditions that you case study subject suffers from. Again, make sure to see your subject as a human with a multitude of challenges, motivations, and wonderful qualities, rather than a textbook case. Think about how your subject’s comorbid disorders might interact with one another, to create entirely unique sets of problems.
Finally, you must write about the social setting that your subject is in, and how it influences their condition and their quality of life. Consider the influence of family support, poverty, living conditions, social and personal traumas, and so on.
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