Academic journal article Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy

Cognitive Organization in Sociotropic and Autonomous Inpatient Depressives

Academic journal article Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy

Cognitive Organization in Sociotropic and Autonomous Inpatient Depressives

Article excerpt

Blatt, Beck, and others theorize the existence of two depressive states (labeled anaclitic/sociotropic and introjective/autonomous) as well as corresponding personality types vulnerable to these forms of depressive affect. This study tested two hypotheses. First, we hypothesized that there would be a significant degree of convergence between the two most popular measures of these depressive states in the categorization of inpatient subjects. Second, we predicted distinctive cognitive vulnerabilities underlying these two clinical subtypes. Sixty-three diagnosed inpatient depressives were administered the Depressive Experiences Questionnaire (DEQ) and the Sociotropy-Autonomy Scale (SAS). The Implication grid (Impgrid) technique was then used to assess presumed cognitive vulnerabilities. Results provided little support for the proposed convergent validity between subscales of the DEQ and SAS, perhaps resulting from the unreliability of the former measure. As predicted, however, hypothetical shifts on achievement constructs oh the Impgrid precipitated more cognitive change for autonomous individuals as identified by the SAS than did shifts on dependency constructs. In contrast, for sociotropic subjects shifts in both the dependency and achievement domains carried similarly substantial implications for their self-construing.

Contemporary research in psychopathology often posits a psychological predisposition toward depression and focuses on the depressive personality as one such predisposing factor (Akiskal, 1985). The present study attempted to extend our understanding of the personality styles associated with depression, especially as formulated from a psychodynamic perspective by Blatt (Blatt, 1974; Blatt & Maroudas, 1992; Blatt & Shichman, 1983) and from a cognitive perspective by Beck (1983). In addition to assessing the convergence in personality subtypes posited by the two theories, this research also attempted to clarify the cognitive vulnerabilities associated with each, using concepts and methods originating in personal construct theory (PCT; Kelly, 1955; Neimeyer & Neimeyer, 1992,1995). Specifically, we examined whether depressed individuals manifesting either dependency or self-critical personality styles would show greater implications of change in their self perception specific to their proposed area of vulnerability.

Psychodynamic Formulations of Depressive Personality Types

The study of depressive personality formation has a long history within the psychodynamic literature (Arieti & Bemporad, 1980; Bibring, 1953; Bonime, 1982; Chodoff, 1972). Perhaps the most systematic work on depressive personality development has been based on Blatt's conceptualizations (Blatt, 1974; Blatt & Maroudas, 1992; Blatt & Shichman, 1983). Blatt hypothesizes that, as a consequence of impairment in the development of object representations at various levels, two major depressive character types are formed: anaclitic and introjective. The anaclitic depressive is concerned most acutely with issues associated with dependency. Events that are interpreted as forms of rejection, loss, or abandonment are viewed as significant threats to continued functioning.

Introjective depressives are characterized by feelings of "worthlessness, guilt, and a sense of having failed to live up to expectations and standards" (Blatt, 1974, p. 107). Because introjective depressives have, in their view, failed to live up to self and other imposed standards, they develop a highly self-critical posture vis-a-vis themselves. Failure or frustration experienced by these individuals in the achievement domain is considered a threat to their successful functioning. Research on the anaclitic/introjective distinction has relied on the Depressive Experiences Questionnaire (DEQ, Blatt, D'Afflitti, & Quinlan, 1976a), a 66-item inventory for identifying depressives who display the personality features described by Blatt. …

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