When A Man Loves A Woman
Client Description and Analysis
Dr. Eileen O’Mara
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Alice Green is wife to Michael Green, and mother to 6-year-old Jess and 4-year-old Casey. Alice lives in San Francisco in a beautiful home. She is able to have the help of a nanny, and depends on her nanny while Michael is gone, sometimes for weeks at a time. This leads to Alice feeling lonely and isolated. Alice grew up in a household with an alcoholic father and a mother who enabled his drinking and blamed Alice for his need to drink. Her mother has never been good for Alice’s self-esteem, often being critical of Alice in front of her children. Jess takes a protective stance over her mother, letting both Alice and Michael know of her disapproval of how Alice’s mother treats her. Alice has grown up unsure of her self-worth, which has caused her to use alcohol as a means of escape.
Alice was given her first beer at the tender age of 9. This early exposure to alcohol has led Alice down a path of severe dependence. In the clinical setting, Alice would be diagnosed as a type B alcoholic. A Type B alcoholic refers to a more severe alcoholism with an earlier onset, more-impulsive behavior and conduct problems or disorders, more co-occurring mental disorders, and more severe dependence (Inaba & Cohen as taken from Babor, Dolinsky, Meyer, et al, 1992).
Alice works as a middle-school counselor. She complains about her job being stressful, and complains to Michael that her job is emotionally draining and that the kids she works with don’t seem to listen to her advice. Again, here is an example of an outside influence affecting Alice’s self-efficacy. When Alice drinks, she becomes, at first, fun and playful. However, this quickly turns into aggressive behavior as she becomes more and more intoxicated. In one particular scene, she eggs a car whose alarm goes off continuously. She even talks Michael into participating in this with her. He obliges unwillingly, and throws a few eggs himself, more to appease Alice than for his own desire. Here, Michael is acting as the enabler. He continues with this behavior the next morning when he wakes up a hung-over Alice with a kiss and a cup of coffee, telling her he will start her shower. He does not show anger or disappointment in these earlier scenes, in fact, he seems to use this as his role in the marriage. He likes feeling like he can always “fix” Alice after a night of drinking. He knows she is drinking excessively, but doesn’t know how to help her. Finally, after being asked by a co-worker to get a drink, she comes home very late without calling Michael to let him know where she is or what she is doing. He had a trip that had to be cancelled because Alice was not home when he needed to leave. It is when Alice comes home that
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Michael finally shows some disdain towards Alice. Yet when she starts to bang her head against the wall, literally, he quickly forgives her.
The couple decides to go away to Mexico to have some time together, and Alice drinks heavily while they are there. There is a scene where Alice falls into the water while standing in a rowboat. She becomes indignant, telling Michael not to tell her to sit down, and falls into the water. Michael has to dive in after her now unconscious figure sinking to the bottom. The next morning in the pool, Michael asks Alice why she drinks so much and what is going on with her. She does not give him a direct answer; she just says she promises to him, the girls, and herself that she will stop drinking so much.
When they return from their trip, the next scene shows Alice lying awake in bed, shaking. She is in obvious withdraw, and finally gets up and grabs a hidden bottle of Vodka from a clothes drawer, and goes outside to the trash can, where she goes to throw the