Research Methods (PSY 308)
Asking the Right Questions

Read the following passage from The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (by Oliver Sacks). You should play the role of the doctor. Your task is to decide what is going on. To do so, you need to ask questions. To get good answers, you have to ask good questions. What are some of the questions you should ask?

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The Scenario

Natasha K. Was 90 years old and came to the clinic where neurologist Oliver Sacks worked. She noted that a year or two previously, she experienced a reawakening of sexual feelings and desires.

She thought it was “Delightful!” and said that the thought it was wonderful feeling “frisky.” Initially she enjoyed it, but then she wondered if something was wrong. Her friends started to worry and said that it wasn’t normal for a women of her age to be feeling so sexual

After her friends expressed concern, Natasha convinced herself that she must be sick or, as she put it, “You're feeling too well, you have to be ill!”

'And how did you feel?'

'I was taken aback. I'd been carried along, and it didn't occur to me to question what was happening. But then I did. I said to myself: "You're 89, Natasha, this has been going on for a year. You were always so temperate in feeling--and now this extravagance! You are an old woman, nearing the end. What could justify such a sudden euphoria?" And as soon as I thought of euphoria, things took on a new compexion..."You're sick, my dear," I said to myself. "You're feeling too well, you have to be ill!"'

What questions would you ask?

Write them down and say why they might be useful questions.

(Last modified: September 12, 2005)