The Mercurial Abbie

The Mercurial Abbie.

Abbie was in her 20s and she thoroughly enjoyed her work in the events management industry. She was the life of her team with her vivacious and melodramatic personality. She particularly thrived on parties and outings, where she inevitably became the centre of attention, especially endearing herself to new acquaintances. However, her colleagues soon discovered that Abbie’s stories and tales became more bizarre as time went on. This came to light when her colleagues were unable to corroborate a few of her stories and discovered that they were grossly exaggerated. At times, she would dramatically create a scene in order to retain focus on herself; her favourite ploy was to do a provocative dance routine.

When decision-making was needed, Abbie would be at sixes-and-sevens, and seemed easily swayed by others; unable to come to a firm decision and stand by it. Particularly with people in authority, she invariably deferred to them. As a result, her feelings and opinions are remarkably malleable, and in the space of a few minutes she would either hit rock bottom or be in the seventh heaven almost simultaneously. Furthermore, Abbie had a predisposition to consider relationships as more intimate than they really were; where mere acquaintances were regularly referenced as close and cherished friends or companions.

During our sessions, when she was describing a personal incident, her emotions were turned off and on, apparently at will: she would be tearing at one point, and almost immediately, laughing within a couple of seconds later. Her dramatisation of events and stories elicited a sense of disbelieve, and at times I wondered whether Abbie was faking these accounts and feelings. A typical exchange would go like this: “Abbie, you said you were deeply moved by so-and-so’s story, and you actually wept. Which part of the story moved you?” I enquired. There was a long period of silence before she replied, “I don’t know. I just cried.” “What about the incident that made you feel so happy. What were you happy about?” “I have no idea!” she said.

Abbie’s closest friend and colleague accompanied her for our sessions. Abbie was always well dressed, and obviously paid a lot of attention as to how she looked, and the impression she made on those around her. Her dalliances with the opposite sex within her social, occupational and professional circles were legend among her friends and colleagues. This sudden decision to consult arose from the repercussions of some of these relationships: Abbie had confessed to her friend that she had been sleeping with several of her male colleagues and acquaintances in the preceding months. One of her partners had passed on HIV to her – she did not know who it was, nor to whom she may have inadvertently infected. Considering her tragic health prognosis and histrionic psychopathology, her treatment regime was checkered and long haul.