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Question: eva works in a top law firm she is hugely...

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  • Eva works in a top law firm. She is hugely successful and has been made partner at the age of only thirty. She comes to therapy because she recently collapsed on stage at a conference where she was delivering a keynote speech. It was hugely embarrassing but also deeply mysterious. The doctors could find nothing wrong. Eva interprets it as almost a deliberate act of self-sabotage. She registers an impulse in herself to let her firm down, to fail and mess up – like she has never done before.
    She doesn’t know where the impulse is coming from but, after too long of being very good, there’s an occasional – but powerful – longing to try to be bad. On one occasion, she rather enjoyed taking a day off work, pretending she was ill in bed, and then spending many hours with a girlfriend at a shopping mall instead. But she became terrified that wind of her ‘bad behaviour’ might reach her colleagues.
    Eva’s parents were immigrants. From the first, they instilled in her a ferocious work ethic. When Eva’s father left the family, her mother had to support three children on her own. Eva was the eldest. She remembers hearing her mother wake up at 4 a.m. to start her first shift.
    There was little room for laughter. Eve took school very seriously, desperate to get good grades, and pulled herself through university, working in the evenings and at weekends in a care home. There has been a lot of disappointment in Eva’s mother’s life. Eva always struggled hard to ensure she would not be another.
    Now her mother, who lives very near her, expects to hear every detail of her daughter’s life and invariably has a lot of very firm advice about what Eva should do.

How would we explain Eva’s behaviour from a psychoanalytic and humanistic psychology perspective?

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