Schemas represent a stable vision of oneself. Young's schema questionnaire-s3 (YSQ-s3) presents 90 perceptions of oneself, specifying 18 early maladaptive schemas (EMS). We studied the intensity and inter-relations of these 18 EMS and how they pool together into a specific domain.
Two hundred and ninety four subjects (294 patients from a French private practice in psychiatry and 12 volunteers) filled in a French version of the YSQ-s3. Item scores range from 1 to 6. Only the scores of 4 "true for me during most of my life" or higher were kept for the statistical analysis. Data analysis was conducted using descriptive statistics, principal component analysis (PCA) and hierarchical clustering analysis (HCA).
The EMS mean scores ranged from 3.4 to 12.9 and standard deviations from 5.9 to 9.7. EMS score correlations range from 0.009 to 0.55. The principal component analysis (PCA), that provides linear combinations of each EMS score, yields only one meaningful component. Indeed, the screen plot that provides the eigen values associated with each principal component, suggests keeping only the first component. This component presents a size-effect and represents the "global scores intensity". The hierarchical clustering analysis (HC) fits the 18 EMS in 5 domains (r(2)=0.4): (1) "avoidance" (with 3 EMS: emotional deprivation, social isolation/alienation, emotional inhibition), (2)"give" (with 1 EMS: self-sacrifice), (3) "take" (with 3 EMS: entitlement/grandiosity, insufficient self-control/self-discipline, approval-seeking/recognition-seeking) (4) "awareness" (with 8 EMS: abandonment/instability, mistrust/abuse, defectiveness/shame, dependence/incompetence, vulnerability to harm or illness, enmeshment/undeveloped self, failure, subjugation) (5) "faith" (with 3 EMS: negativity/pessimism, unrelenting standards/hyper-criticalness, punitiveness). When the HC analysis is applied to the population (n=294), it yields 6 classes of patients. The mean score of the 5 domains, described above, can describe these classes.
These 5 domains do not completely fit Young's five "primary infantile needs" domains. Only 2/3 of the EMS are correctly attributed to the "primary infantile needs" domains. The 5 domains seem closely related to the 5 dimensions of the NEO-PI-R or to the 5 domains of personality disorders (criteria b) described in the DSM-5. In our understanding the dimensions "avoidance, give, take" represent 3 types of relationship to others (on behavioral level). The dimension "awareness" represents the fears and losses (on the emotional level) and "faith" represents beliefs and consciousness (on the cognitive level). The intensity of the 5 domains inside each class of patients could guide the clinical interpretation, specifically for personality disorders.