Jonathan Franzen's novel, Freedom, contains a wealth of material for the therapeutic evaluation of Patty Berglund in psychological, theological, and social terms. Much of this is provided by Patty herself in her book within a book, the memoir "Mistakes Were Made" (which was, the subtitle notes "Composed At Her Therapist's Suggestion"). In the two sections of the novel which feature Patty's narration, the principal difficulty lies in deciding how reliable a narrator she is. One trend which becomes clear is that she is more comfortable when she directs her energy outwards than when she obsessively analyzes herself.
A basic description of Patty Berglund at the beginning of Freedom would make the following points. She is a housewife in St. Paul, Minnesota, frustrated by the limitations of her position. She does not love her husband, and has never really had strong feelings for him, having been much more attracted to his college roommate, Richard Katz, a rock musician. At school, she was an excellent basketball player but, due to an injury, she never found out whether she had what it takes to be a professional. She is prone to self-pity and self-examination, and uses sarcasm to keep others at bay.
A psychological profile of Patty would certainly include the trauma of a teenage rape, which was exacerbated by her parents' apparent indifference. Patty is well aware that this left her with low self-esteem, which she analyzes in relation to the way she receives compliments:
“Wow, thank you so much for the compliment!" Patty answered brightly, to end things. At the time, she believed that it was because she was so selflessly team-spirited that direct personal compliments made her so uncomfortable. The autobiographer now thinks that compliments were like a beverage she was unconsciously smart enough to deny herself even one drop of, because her thirst for them was infinite.
This passage more than hints at the connection between Patty's teenage trauma her current excessive drinking. Her self-awareness on this point makes her seem a reasonably reliable, if somewhat self-pitying analyst of her own failings.
Theologically and socially, there is a strong element of Puritanism in Patty's redemption through work which is philanthropic and spiritually rewarding. It was partly through boredom, idleness, and continual introspection that she fell into infidelity. Her affair with Katz was an attempt to revisit the past. Patty's self-evaluation in the second part of "Mistakes Were Made" is more positive than it is in the first, because she is now working with children and making a difference in their lives.
Patty is a dynamic character and any description or self-evaluation, would change over the course of the narrative. At the beginning of the novel she is insecure, traumatized and bored, turning to alcohol to fill the void in her life. By the end, she has made peace with her imperfections, and those of her husband, and turned her energies outwards. One of her greatest weaknesses was always that she was too prone to introspection, and it is a positive thing when she becomes too busy for obsessive self-evaluation.