Identified Patient Role–Case Study

Example of EFT with Identified Patient Role:

“Susan’s” father was an alcoholic with three children. He was emotionally volatile and verbally and physically abusive to his youngest child—Susan—and to his wife. The oldest child, a boy, was the one who did everything right: he excelled in school and sports and was his father’s favorite. He worked hard at keeping it that way. He never cried or showed weakness of any kind. Susan, on the other hand, felt all the family tension and anxiety in her body. Her mother, because she was afraid of her husband, was not able to protect herself or her child from her husband’s unpredictable violence.  Her father used to tell Susan that she would never amount to anything because she was so weak and incompetent. He also told her that no man would ever want her. Susan became increasingly unable to be effective in the world and was afraid of people in authority, including her husband. She tried to work in the healthcare field, where she was responsible for people, but whenever someone had a big emotion—sadness, fear, anger—she would forget what she knew, become dizzy, numb, panicky, and feel completely incompetent. She felt, at the same time, completely responsible for knowing what to do to help people and completely unable to do so.

We worked on a number of specific incidents having to do with her father and some having to do with her mother and sister. Here are some excerpts from more general, family dynamics sessions.

  •  “Even though I felt, and feel, like a failure when I heard, and hear, my father saying I can’t do anything right, I deeply and completely accept and love myself anyway—myself as a child and myself now.”
  • “Even though I believed I was weak and couldn’t do anything right when my father said that to me, I realize that what he wanted me to do was not right for me; some part of me knew that and refused. Some part of me knew what was right for me, and I did that instead.”
  • Tapping on: I believed I was weak; I believed I was wrong; I believed I couldn’t do anything right. I realize now that I was never weak. I realize now that he tried to make me do what wasn’t right for me. Some part of me knew it, even back then. Some part of me knew what was right for me and I was following that. I was always strong in being me.
  • “Even though I was given the role of the weak and incompetent one, and this became my identity in the family, I realize now that this is not actually who I am personally and I give myself permission to give up the role and to be who I really am. Tapping: I’ve had the role of the weak and incompetent one, and, in some ways, I’ve carried it to this day. I’ve thought that’s actually who I am. I know now that it’s a role that was given to me unconsciously. I forgive my family for giving it to me and for holding me to it. I forgive myself for taking it on and living it to this day. I give myself permission to let it go and I choose to be free to once again live who I really am.
  • “Even though I’m afraid to give up this role—because, without it, who am I?—I deeply and completely love and accept myself and give myself permission to give it up.”
  • “Even though I was so scared and felt it was my fault when my father yelled or hit me, I realize now that it was never about me at all, and that he knew all along that it was not about me.” Tapping: He knew it was not about me; he knew I was fine. He knew it was his own problem. He knew that he was unhappy and angry and frustrated and took it out on me; he knew what he was doing and the evidence was his apologies afterward. He knew it was about him and not about me. I know this now. I forgive him now, so that I can go on with my life free and separate from his unhappiness.

The patterns she learned with her father in order to survive are still present today with her husband. Although her husband is not like her father, when he shows “negative” emotions: anger or being upset, she reacts with fear and with feeling wrong and like a failure.

  •  “Even though I learned as a child that my only survival was to disappear away from my father and away from myself, and there’s still a part of me that’s living from that time and place, I’m committed to staying right here now with what I feel and think and know.”
  • “Even though I feel unsafe when my husband is angry, and it brings back the danger of living with my father, I completely accept myself and I completely accept my husband. Tapping: when my husband is angry (specific incident), it has more to do with him than with me. I choose to stay committed to myself and to the relationship with my husband. I choose to see the distinction between my father and my husband. I realize that my father was dangerous and my husband is not, and I give myself permission to let my father-fear go.

Over time, Susan has been able to realize that she is not totally responsible while simultaneously feeling totally incapable. She is living more from a place of partnership—in her family and in other settings. She has more trust that other people will do their part and she can just be who she is and express that. She is also able to speak up more when she sees an injustice happening or when she doesn’t feel right about something, or to just say what she is feeling or thinking.



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