Case study marilyn monroe

I have chosen to do my case study paper on Norma Jeane Mortensen Baker, better known as Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn was born on June 1, 1926, in Los Angeles, California. She was born to Gladys Mortenson Baker, a single mother and never did learn the true identity of her father. Gladys suffered from psychiatric issues her entire adult life and these affected her abilities to ever really be a stable mother to Marilyn. (Marilyn Monroe Biography) Gladys put Marilyn into foster care for several years, eventually taking her home with her.

Gladys ended up having a mental breakdown, witnessed by the very young Marilyn, that put Gladys into a state hospital for some time. (Marilyn Monroe Biography) This made Marilyn a ward of the state and Gladys’s friend Grace Goddard, became her guardian, until she married in 1935 and nine year old Marilyn was once again put into foster care. Marilyn suffered verbal and sexual abuse in the foster care system. Shortly after Marilyn turned sixteen, on June 19, 1942 she married James Doughtery, a neighbor of Grace Goddard’s Aunt Ana, as this was the one way she would be able to get out of the foster care system permanently. Grace and her Aunt Ana encouraged the couple to date in the hope that they would marry, as Grace was moving to the east coast and Ana was getting to old to care for Marilyn any longer. (Doll, 2010) In 1943 James joined the merchant marines and was sent overseas.

During this time Marilyn went to work in a defense plant. She was discovered by an army photographer while working there. (Doll, 2010) These pictures lead to a magazine cover and her modeling career. With Jim being away overseas so much and a new career to focus on Marilyn became solely focused on modeling and moving to acting. The modeling agency told Marilyn her chances at acting would be better if she were single, with Jim being gone over the last several years Marilyn had no trouble moving to Nevada and filing for a divorce. (Doll, 2010) Marilyn starts to make her mark in the acting career with several movies such as “All About Eve, Monkey Business, How To Marry A Millionaire and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” (Marilyn Monroe Biography) In 1951 Marilyn had attracted the attention of Joe DiMaggio and he set out to arrange a date with her. Marilyn was 26 years old and fell head of heels for the 38 year old DiMaggio. They eloped to San Francisco in 1954, and married at city hall. (Marilyn Monroe Biography)

DiMaggio unfortunately had a different idea about the marriage then did Marilyn, as he disapproved of her ambition and image. During filming of “The Seven Year Itch” the best known scene in which Marilyn’s skirt is blown up from a sewer grate pushed DiMaggio over the edge and a very public argument ensued. This preceded the divorce 9 months after the marriage took place. (Marilyn Monroe Biography) Marilyn moved to New York and started her own production company which helped produce “Bus Stop”, for which she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress. Marilyn then marries Arthur Miller in 1956. She discovered she was pregnant and also diagnosed with endometriosis which lead to an ectopic pregnancy. She tried again and it ended in a miscarriage, this started to take a toll not only on her marriage, but her mental state as well. In 1959 she stared in ‘Some Like It Hot”, which she earned another Golden Globe for. She also suffered another miscarriage during the filming and her dependence on pills to wake her up and pills to put her to sleep was getting worse and her husband was not dealing with her.

By 1961 Marilyn’s emotional state and addictions ended with her in Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic, and they refused to allow her to leave. She contacted Joe DiMaggio, who still loved Marilyn, and he was able to get her released into his care. (Marilyn Monroe Biography) On August 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe’s lifeless body was discovered by her housekeeper and her death was ruled a suicide. Joe DiMaggio claimed the body and arranged the private funeral. She was interred, in a crypt at Westwood memorial Cemetery and DiMaggio had a dozen red roses delivered three times a week for over twenty years. (Marilyn Monroe Biography) It is very clear to see that Marilyn had a very difficult childhood that affected her greatly. She seemed to always be looking for love, a sense of belonging and security. From the psychodynamic approach with Marilyn’s childhood it is very easy to see that her childhood had a major effect on her, her entire life. By not bonding with her mother and having a very unstable home situation, by being moved from one foster home to the next and even in an orphanage, the basic need of bonding with a care giver, security and love were not there in her crucial early years of development.

Then you add in the verbal and sexual abuse she suffered in these places and you can see how some of her behavior, choices and mental state became so unstable. The psychodynamic approach applied to Marilyn’s adulthood, validates the effects of her childhood tremendously. She was always looking for love and acceptance. She was driven in her career to be successful, so she would be loved, wanted and have a family. When these things fell apart or were not going well she turned to barbiturates to help her sleep and then amphetamines to wake up. She then started adding alcohol to the mix on a regular basis also, which is well known as a dangerous combination. This combination would make her feel more depressed and unloved and ultimately lead to her accidental death at the very young age, of 36.


  1. Doll, S. (2010, April).
  2. Marilyn Monroe’s Early Life. Retrieved Novemeber 29, 2012, from how stuff works:
  3. Marilyn Monroe Biography. (n.d.). Retrieved Novemeber 29, 2012, from
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