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Borderline psychopathology and the defense mechanism test
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
1992 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The main purpose of the present studies has been to develop the Defense Mechanism Test (DM1) for clinical assessment of severe psychopathology with the focus on the concept of Borderline Personality Organization (BPO) according to Kemberg. By relating the DMT and the Structural Interview to each other, the concurrent validity of the concept of Personality Organization (PO) for psychiatric inpatients has been investigated. Two different assessment approaches have been used for this purpose. One has been to take a theoretical perspective as the starting-point for the classification of PO by means of the DMT. The other has been a purely empirical approach designed to discern natural and discriminating patterns of DMT distortions for different diagnostic groups. A dialogue is also in progress between DMT and current research on the Rorschach test in order to increase understanding of borderline phenomena and pathology.

The overall results support Kemberg's idea that borderline patients are characterized by specific intrapsychic constellations different from those of both psychotic and neurotic patients. Both the DMT and the Structural Interview provide reliable and consistent judgements of PO. Patients with the syndrome diagnosis Borderline Personality Disorder exhibit different perceptual distortions from patients suffering from other personality disorders. The classic borderline theory is a one-dimensional developmental model, where BPO constitutes a stable intermediate form between neurosis and psychosis. The present results suggest that a two-dimensional model might be more powerful. Hence, the level of self- and object representations and reality orientation might be considered both from a developmental gad an affective perspective across varying forms of pathology.

Kemberg suggests that borderline and psychotic patients share a common defensive constellation, centered around splitting, organizing self- and object representations. This view did not find support. The defensive pattem of the BPO patients is significantly different from the PPO defensive pattern. The BPO patients form their self- and object images affectively and thus the self- and object representations would seem to influence the defensive organization and not the other way around. The results have implications for the procedure and the interpretation of the DMT e.g. one and the same DMT picture can discern different kinds of personality; reactions other than the operationalized defense categories in the DMT manual can be valid predictors of PO; some of the DMT defenses described in the manual have to be reconceptualized such as isolation, repression and to some degree denial. Multivariate models are powerful tools for the integration of reactions to DMT into diagnostic patterns.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 1992. , 65 p.
Keyword [en]
Defense Mechanism Test, defense mechanisms, percept-genetics, Structural Interview, Borderline Personality Organization, Borderline Personality Disorder, Principal Component Analysis, PLS-discriminant analysis
National Category
Applied Psychology
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-100698ISBN: 91-7174-643-9OAI: diva2:793483
Public defence
1992-02-28, Hörsal E, Humanisthuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15

Diss. (sammanfattning) Umeå : Umeå universitet, 1992, härtill 4 uppsatser.

Available from: 2015-03-19 Created: 2015-03-06 Last updated: 2015-04-10Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Personality organization defined by DMT and the structural interview
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Personality organization defined by DMT and the structural interview
1990 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, ISSN 0036-5564, E-ISSN 1467-9450, Vol. 31, no 2, 81-8 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The psychoanalytic concept of Personality Organization (PO) may be operationalized by means of a Structural Interview as well as by means of psychological tests. The present study utilized the Structural Interview and a projective test called the Defence Mechanism Test (DMT) to operationalize the PO concept on a sample of 50 psychiatric inpatients. The reliability of the PO judgements were found to be acceptable for both the Structural Interview and the DMT. The validity, which was estimated as the correlation between the two methods, was also found to be substantial. The conclusion is that the concept of PO may be reliably operationalized for psychiatric patients and seems to have concurrent validity. Both the DMT and the Structural Interview may be used for differential diagnosis of PO.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley, 1990
Borderline, DMT, Structural Interview, reliability, validity
National Category
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-36466 (URN)10.1111/j.1467-9450.1990.tb00819.x (DOI)2218440 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2010-09-30 Created: 2010-09-30 Last updated: 2015-03-19Bibliographically approved
2. Psychodynamic features in borderline personality disorder identified by a subliminal test, the Defense Mechanism Test.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Psychodynamic features in borderline personality disorder identified by a subliminal test, the Defense Mechanism Test.
1989 (English)In: Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, ISSN 0001-690X, E-ISSN 1600-0447, Vol. 80, no 1, 101-5 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Twenty-seven psychiatric inpatients, diagnosed according to DSM-III and the Diagnostic Interview for Borderline (DIB), and 7 healthy controls were tested with the Defense Mechanism Test (DMT), a test of subliminal perception based on psychoanalytic theory. In the test a specific stimulus is presented subliminally in a tachistoscope and the patient's perceptual distortions are registered. Patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) were compared with patients with other personality disorders, patients with schizophrenic disorders and healthy controls. Specific perceptual distortions were identified among patients with BPD. Some individual DMT signs correlated with some deviant behaviors as identified by the DIB. The findings supported the psychodynamic validity of the concept of borderline personality disorder. It is concluded that DMT is a promising research instrument that provides an empirical approach to crucial psychodynamic phenomena.

urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-36467 (URN)2669443 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2010-09-30 Created: 2010-09-30 Last updated: 2015-03-19

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