Specificities of Defense Mechanisms in Bipolar Affective Disorder

Departments of Psychology, University Hospitals of Lausanne, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
The Journal of nervous and mental disease (Impact Factor: 1.69). 09/2009; 197(9):675-81. DOI: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181b3b224
Source: PubMed


Defense mechanisms as a central notion of psychoanalysis have inspired various levels of interest in research in psychotherapy and psychopathology. Defense specificities have only recently been investigated systematically with regard to several clinical diagnoses, such as affective and personality disorders. For the present study, 30 inpatients diagnosed with Bipolar Affective Disorder I (BD) were interviewed. An observer-rater method, the Defense Mechanisms Rating Scales (DMRS), applied to session-transcripts, of assessment of defenses was used. A matched, nonclinical control group was introduced. Defense specificities in BD encompass a set of 5 immature defenses, of which omnipotence is linked with symptom level. The level of the therapeutic alliance is predicted by mature defenses. These results are discussed with regard to the psychological vulnerability of BD, and treatment implications for psychodynamic psychotherapy with such challenging patients are evoked.

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