Taking the Patient’s History

Taking the Patient’s History

Ashford University

PSY 303

Taking the Patient’s History

Identifying Information

Name: Virginia Woolf

Date of Birth: March 28, 1882

Gender: Female

Ethnicity: White

Patient Location: London England

Virginia Woolf, born Adeline Virginia Stephen was born on March 28, 1882, to Sir Leslie and Julia Stephen of London, England. Virginia Woolf was a distinguished English novelist, critic, and essayist.

Chief Complaint/ Presenting Problem

Mrs. Woolf is complaining of headaches, sleeplessness, inability to concentrate, anxiety, nervousness, extreme excitability, and feeling intolerably depressed. Mrs. Woolf stated that she has thought of and attempted suicide in the past. The patient also revealed that she has been dealing with symptoms of depression since the age of 13 following the death of her mother in 1895, and symptoms resurfaced again in 1897 following the death of her step-sister Stella for who she was very close. She is finding it hard to control symptoms and fears that she will lose her sense of self and be forced to forgo writing.

Personal History

Mrs. Woolf grew up in a wealthy well-educated family in South Kensington London, England. She lived with her parents Sir Leslie and Julia Stephen, and her siblings three full siblings Vanessa Bell, Thoby Stephen, and Adrian Stephen, and four half-siblings George, Stella, and Gerald Duckworth, and Laura Makepeace Stephen. Mrs. Woolf was the youngest of the eight children. Mrs. Woolf did not receive a formal education she was tutored at home by her parents and obtained the majority of her education by reading from her father’s library. However, when Mrs., Woolf was 15 she did attend Kings College London where she took Greek, Latin, and German classes. Mrs. Woolf states that she prefers to keep the company of individuals who are of equal or higher intelligence as herself and does not care to engage with those who are of a lower class. Mrs. Woolf married Leonard Woolf in 1912 at the age of 30 years old, prior to her marriage to Leonard she was proposed to one other time by Lytton Strachey and would have probably accepted his proposal, however, he withdrew due to the fact that he was openly homosexual. Mrs. Woolf had an array of friendships that included individuals such as T.S. Eliot with whom she would attend dinner parties and the like.

Family History

There was quite a large gap in age between Mrs. Woolf’s parents at the time of her birth in 1882 her father Sir Leslie Stephen was age 50 and her other Julia Stephen was age 36. Mrs. Woolf was mainly cared for by her mother Julia Stephen, however, following the death of her mother in 1895, Mrs. Woolf was looked after by her older half-sister Stella Duckworth. Sadly, shortly after their mother’s death in 1895 Stella also passed away leaving Mrs. Woolf to be looked after by her older sister Vanessa Stephen. Mrs. Woolf and her full-blooded siblings Vanessa, Thoby, and Adrian would often join forces to separate themselves from their older half-siblings; however, the tides were ever turning as sibling rivalries took place. Mrs. Woolf comes from a wealthy well educated upper-class family. She spent time helping with the family newspaper. Her family would spend the summers on the Cornwall Coast and the winters in their London home near Kingston Gardens. Mrs. Woolf remembered her half-sister Laura Makepeace Stephen whom she states was looked up in the attic like a monster before her parents sent her off to an insane asylum when Mrs. Woolf was 13 years old, she stated that she used to make jokes in order to separate her own issues from those of her half-sister.

Therapy History

When Mrs. Woolf had her first manic episode at the age of 13 after her mother passed away she was treated by Dr. Seton the family physician who prescribed fresh air and exercise. After the death of her father in 1904 Mrs. Woolf required hospitalization for a short time due to a manic episode that lasted for many months. Following her hospitalization a psychiatrist by the named of George Savage provided therapy. Dr. Savage treated Mrs. Woolf with what is called the “rest cure”. The “rest cure” prescribed by Dr. Savage required her to stay in bed for long periods of time (six weeks to two months), only being allowed to move in order to brush her teeth. Mrs. Woolf was diagnosed with manic depression and bipolar episodes.


Encyclopedia of World Biography. (2019). Virginia Woolf Biography. Retrieved from https://www.notablebiographies.com/We-Z/Woolf-Virginia.html

Koutsantoni, K. (2012). Manic depression in literature: the case of Virginia Woolf. [Journal Article]. Medical Humanities, 38(1), 7-14. https://doi.org/10.1136/medhum-2011-010075

Reid, P. (2019). Virginia Woolf. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Virginia-Woolf/Major-period

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