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The Case Study of John


The case study that was selected was the case of John. John for the most part has considered himself successful and prides himself on being able to pay his bills and maintain a job with clout. He has found an identity within his job, which satisfies his lifestyle to the degree that it appears to be inseparable. At the moment John is going through a transition within his four-year-old job, which he believes will result in him being terminated. John is a father of two and married for ten years. He hasn’t slept, feels tired and for the most part stressed out all together. At the moment, he appears to be in a state of flux and is lost within his concerns, which he thinks about constantly.



For the most part, John’s case will be observed through Maslow’s Personality Theory of Human needs. John is going through a transition that not only can affect his job, but will affect his ability to pay his bills and keep his house. It’s important to point out, that regardless of John’s salary, he is paying a $7,000 monthly mortgage and is the only one working in his household, as his wife is a stay at home mother of two children.


John is concerned that a big merger from his bank into a bigger corporate entity will result in him losing his job. He has been stressed out by constantly worrying about the upcoming merger. He has been contemplating moving out of his house and frantically awaits his employer’s decision as to whether or not the proposed job cuts will affect him or not.


Observing John’s case within the Humanistic approach of Maslow, we can observe the theoretical structure and place John’s problem within it. Abraham Maslow developed a theory of personality based on human needs (Maslow, 2014). This hierarchy of needs as observed by Maslow, indicates that humans have a level of needs that must be met in order to have a healthy personality (Maslow, 2014). The hierarchy consists of the following levels as seen in figure 1.1.


(Figure 1.1)


The basic necessities here relate to basic human needs of hunger, water and survival. The next level is that of shelter and the human need to feel security and protected. Next up, the need to feel wanted and loved by someone. As humans are social animals, points of relations and identification comes within the concept of acceptance (Maslow, 2014). For the most part humans identify with others of their ilk. People want to find others that share similar interests and thus be accepted by them as well. The level of esteem is self confidence, the necessity of being respected by others. This is the most sensitive level within the hierarchy because it is fragile and constantly in fluctuation. The esteem or the ego for the most part is much like a child, it is interdependent on the thoughts one has of themselves and how others see and treat the individual as well (Jung, 1981). The level of esteem correlates with identity, interdependence and achievement (Maslow, 2014). Ego is affected by many things. It is the hardest and most difficult part of the persona to strengthen and the easiest to break (Jung, 1981). For this part of the individual to be truly satisfied, the aforementioned levels within the hierarchy must be met and strongly grounded. This is at cause of the ego taking so much work in order to achievement not only an understanding of its composition, but knowing that it is fragile and must be protected when needed.


From here, self actualization is the peak of this hierarchy. Some individuals never really reach this particular level of awareness within the self, but it consists of every level before it, being satisfied and solid, in order to provide the foundation for it. Self actualization consists of being self aware of one’s true purpose, achieving one’s fullest potential and reaching one’s ultimate purpose (Maslow, 2014). Satisfying each level within Maslow’s theory, will result in a healthy personality and stable and grounded individual (Maslow, 2014).


It should be observed that John is 42 years of age, male and perhaps identifies himself within his job and also places his happiness within his achievements as well. Given the information provided within John’s case, his problem is directly related to the potential loss of his job.



In order to resolve John’s problem within a therapeutic approach, one would have to acknowledge the problem at hand. Within a clinical setting session work on a weekly basis would be used in order to have John come to a particular realization. Using Maslow’s theoretical approach, John’s problem begins with the very basic human necessities. These needs are the Physiological and Safety Needs. Rightfully so, this begins to affect his esteem and his need of belonging (Maslow, 2014). Essentially one affects the other and observing John’s case a little further, the problem can eventually, of its doesn’t already affect his focus and identity comes into question as well.


It would be proposed that John truly observe his basic needs first. If they are being threatened of there is fear of loss here, John must look at the bigger picture. While it is of course interrelated, his family is there and this should be considered his identifying point of interest. In a sense, unity would help to satisfy the love and safety needs, even if in part. What is not known, is whether or not John is fixated on the idea of being the sole provider or not. Ultimately this would indicate a broader observation within his personality, as to whether or not John is an alpha male. Regardless of this unknown, it is clear that his problem rests within the security of his job. To further the action plan, John would be advised to look at similar jobs that are available, that he can secure within this process. This would help him find or acquire a level of security that could essentially provide a level of relief and satisfy the first two levels of needs. This will motivate John as he will not be relying on the others to determine his future. This puts the control back into John’s hands. Essentially through the session work, empowerment would be a focal point. Taking from the humanistic school of thought, primarily from Carl Roger’s Person Centered Therapy, John would be instructed to trust himself and go with what he feels is right (Rogers, 2007).


This intuitive display will hypothetically result in John taking control within a situation that he felt was out of his hands. Building this type of confidence will help John relieve a good amount of stress and worries. This will also result in a better situation within his home and with his family. It will also be advised that John communicate with his current employer about his concerns. Furthering this, John will open a line of communication with his employer and establish a sense of clarity. Along with this and throughout the session work, John’s ego and esteem must be recomposed. Within the process of his job, John has lost a sense of self.  This self, connected with his job, seems to have defined him. Perhaps this is an opportunity for John to reach a point of self awareness and actualization. Perhaps his calling is in something else. This would be talked about with John, in order for him to see potential opportunity, within a situation that he may not have seen it before.



All in all the theory based on human needs is accurate within John’s case study. His security has been stripped at the potential loss of his job. His esteem has been shattered, the potential loss of love and belonging along with the thought of not having food and providing for his family as he did before (Maslow, 2014). Theoretically, the framework provided by Maslow works perfectly. However, it seems that it doesn’t truly look at the more abstract aspects of the human personality. Though Maslow’s approach derives within the Humanistic School of Thought, there must be a fusion within therapeutic approaches in order to truly conduct an effective plan. Nothing within Maslow’s approach denotes the building of the self through therapeutic confidence. By this, it should be observed that if the individual comes within a state of flux and is broken on some level or another, he/she must be built back up. The humanistic school of thought observes the individual and not the condition or the state of the individual. Often it felt as if Maslow’s approach is more scientific and cold, rather than providing the individual with power and warmth so to speak.


It is to be observed, that adding aspects, or including the approaches of Carl Jung and Carl Rogers helps to satisfy a deeper understanding of the ego or esteem and proving the individual with self confidence. Also, by encompassing an array of humanistic approaches, John could possibly reach self actualization faster than just relying on Maslow’s theory. While Maslow does approach human composition within a systematic scope, John’s problems exist within a multitude of levels, which need to be remedied cohesively (Maslow, 2014). One could observe that John’s problem extends into a personality crisis and the loss of confidence because he relies on his job to satisfy his happiness and to supply him with a sense of personality.



In conclusion, John’s case is general within the aspect of societal expectations. This pressure placed on the individual to provide, to be productive and to uphold their household is perhaps one’s greatest stress. Aside from the mortgage payment alone, which one could observe that as a main point of stress, what is John’s lifestyle? Does he need everything that he has at the moment in terms of physical things? While perhaps this part would not be included directly within the therapeutic approach, it is a factor. The reason why it wouldn’t be talked about directly, is because people begin to identify the things that they own, with a loose sense of achievement. By asking John to cut back on his expenditures, it’s as if asking John to cut back on life. It seems abstract to think of the things one owns in such a manner, but it definitely is a huge part of one’s life.


The things one owns eventually becomes the master and the individual the slave. This should be carefully observed within this and most other case studies. However, society and the pressures of such place this right upon one’s shoulders. While it shouldn’t be that way, it most definitely is. Most people define who they are through what they do. In John’s case, he carried a pride in being able to pay his bills because his job made him what he thought he was. This identity, which is false within its premise, is the very root of the problem John experiences. For the most part, it should be observed, that by looking inward and trusting the intuition, one can not only find their own way, but evaluate if the life being lived is one of choice or one built by the expectations of others.






Jung, Carl. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. [Kindle Edition] Princeton:

Princeton University Press, 1981.


Maslow, Abraham. Toward a Psychology of Being. New York: Sublime Books, 2014.


Rogers, Carl R. Client-Centered Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications, and Theory. United

Kingdom: Constable, 2007.







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