Alice Camporesi


Losing It

Social Psychology

Attribution error: while reading the case we are pushed to think that everything
that is going on with Katharina is sourced by external factors such as extreme stress,
long hours, the recent death of the father and the break-up. Even Harry, when trying to
make sense of the situation, attributes her behaviors to the tensed relationship
between Roland and Katharina. The idea that something could be going on within
Katharina (bipolar illness, manic depression etc) is never suggested.

Cognitive dissonance: it is quite evident that Harry tries to reduce the cognitive
dissonance of the idea he has of Katharina vs her current behavior by avoiding to face
the situation.

Expectations: the expectations Harry and other employees of Pierce have on
Katharina put her in a stressful situation and as they are not fulfilled due to her recent
behaviors, she enters in a loop where anyways people now are expecting her to
behave in a crazy way, so that is what she does.


Anxiety: Katharina shows an obvious form of anxiety which is both neurotic and
reality in the sense that it makes her fear that something bad in the surrounding world
is going to happen, but the fears are neurotic since they do not reflect an actual
threaten. She sees signs everywhere and this feeds her anxiety. She is also projecting
what seems to be internal anxiety (coming from where is not really clear) to external
sources: “someone is going to die”.


Problem atic behavior: even if the origin of Katharina’s behavior is not well-defined,
the people around her are providing some sorts of encouragement to it by not
intervening in the situation as soon as it is clear that she is going through something
out of the ordinary. When Harry refuses to hear the problem and to take immediate
action he is providing a reinforcement to her behavior by not trying to stop it....

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