bad bossReady for another practice question? Here's a vignette about an truly awful boss. No reason!

A client reports that her boss changes his mind every day, likes to sow chaos and discontent among his employees, and is incapable of apologizing when he gets things wrong--even when he makes a staff member cry. The client wants to know what this cluster of behaviors is called. What can the social worker tell the client is the boss's likely diagnosis?

A. The boss has antisocial personality disorder.

B. The boss has narcissistic personality disorder.

C. There is not enough information to diagnose the boss.

D. The boss has impaired empathy.

What do you think?

As with a lot of social work exam vignette questions, you may find yourself recalling situations and people similar to those that appear in the vignette. "I've had a boss just like that...and he definitely had NPD." So you select answer B. But be careful! While bringing your personal experience into a question may give you helpful clues, adding details to what's in the vignette can get you into trouble. Is there really enough information in the vignette to meet criteria for narcissistic personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder? Let's see...likes chaos, changes mind, can't apologize. Sounds like a deeply terrible boss. But given what's presented here, it's not possible to determine whether he meets DSM criteria for either disorder. There's just not enough information presented.

So that leaves two answers to choose from--no diagnosis or impaired empathy. The boss certainly sounds like he has impaired empathy. But you're being asked for a diagnosis; "impaired empathy" isn't a diagnosis.

In your work, clients may have asked you to diagnose a coworker or loved one based upon reported details. Even if you have a strong suspicion, the answer there is most likely going to be the same as the answer here: unless you've had a chance to sit down and formally assess the person, not enough information to diagnose.

That's one more type of question you're ready to face on the ASWB exam. The more practice questions to encounter the better. Get started with more than 900 practice questions by signing up. Happy studying and good luck on the exam!

June 20, 2018
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