Neurotic Defenses in Obsessive Compulsive and Hysteric Patients Expressed in language Behavior
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The present study attempts to bring additional evidence to bear upon the generally accepted hypothesis that: (a) psychoneurotic groups show observable differences in neurotic behavior in certain particulars, and (b) that such differences are dynamically related, in a systematic and defineable manner, to motivational sources. According to psychoanalytic theory, the sexual and aggressive impulses are the two main sources of motivating energy in the psychic structure of personality. Actual deprivation,m or the threat of deprivation to satisfaction of the needs which derive from sexual and aggressive impulses constitute the primary sources of emotional conflict and anxiety. The deprivation of these needs is accomplished either by an inhibition of their expression by internal conditions or their prohibition by external circumstances or both. Defense mechanisms are developed as a means of avoiding the anxiety and obtaining satisfaction of these needs in a manner not inconsistent with such obstacles. The hysteric neurosis is considered to result when those defense mechanisms which mediate satisfaction of the sexual source of motivating energy no longer operate effectively in coping primarily with sexual problems. The obsessive-compulsive neurosis is considered to result when those defense mechanisms which mediate satisfaction of the aggressive source of motivating energy no longer operate effectively in coping with aggressive problems. From a review of the literature, studies were cited which illustrated that there are meaningful relations, empirically derived, between certain language constructions and inferred functions of personality. "Grammatical categories tend to be acquired in a relatively fixed order," and once acquired, they tend to remain as relatively constant characteristics of an individual's language behavior subject to individual differences. Language studies demonstrated that this constancy is subject to disturbance by the nature of the language task to be performed and subject to changes in the internal conditions of the personality. A study of the analysis of language forms by Balken and Masserman (1940) demonstrated characteristics by which the anxiety neurotic, the obsessive-compulsive and the hysteric can be identified when samples of their language are obtained by the TAT method. The eight language constructions which best identified the groups constituted the variables used for analysis of the data in this experiment. Three best identified the TAT protocols of the anxiety neurotic, three best identified those of the obsessive-compulsive, and two best identified those of the hysteric. The meanings of these languages constructions were shown to correspond to the clinical characteristics which differentiate these groups and to conform to their postulated underlying dynamics. Considering intensity of theme without overlap of the kind of situation illustrated, the four beset sexual and four best aggressive cards were objectively chosen from a previously judged set of eight sexual and nine aggressive pictures. The experimental conditions under which these stimuli were used to obtain the language sample were considered to differ from the TAT method in one respect, namely, that pictures with specific rather than relatively vague and amorphous themes were used and, therefore, the obtained differences in the language form of the hysteric and obsessive groups should be attributable to the changed conditions in the TAT method. The hypothesis stated that the groups would have more anxiety generated and be more defensive in coping with pictures which are more closely associated with the psychogenic basis for their respective neuroses. The present study predicted the changes which would occur in the language pattern when an hysteric and an obsessive-compulsive group responded to the experimental cards in the place of TAT cards. For the language variables characteristic for each group and for the variables typical of an anxiety condition, the hysteric group was expected to give higher scores to the sex cards and the obsessive group to five higher scores to the sex cards and the obsessive group to five higher scores to the aggressive cards. Comparisons were made between the groups for the total test, the aggressive and sexual card sets, and within each group for the sex and aggressive sets. 1. The results of the study have shown that they two diagnostic groups, the obsessive-compulsive and the hysteric, will differ in the degree to which they utilize certain grammatical ratios and language forms in stories given in response to predominantly sex theme and predominantly aggressive theme picture-stimuli. 2. Failure of some of the language variables to make clear-cut distinctions between the two groups makes confirmation of the general hypothesis that the obsessive-compulsive tends to be concerned primarily in coping with aggressive impulses and the hysteric as being concerned in coping primarily with sexual impulses only incompletely supported. 3. The study indicates that the tendency for certain kinds of language forms to predominate in the spoken language of a particular group is a selective process and not generalized to all classes of picture-stimuli. Thus certain language forms tend to some into excessive use or become characteristic of the spoken language only when that group is responding to picture-stimuli related in theme to underlying personality factors regarding which the group in question needs be defensive. 4. It can be concluded that these language structure characteristics differ in their reliability as tools for measurement of personality characteristics other than language and tend not to be applicable to a variety of stimulus situations but to be limited in scope. The conclusions from the data are limited by: 1. A lack of adequate frequency of response for some of the language variables such that they were of little help in providing answers in terms of measurable data to certain questions raised by the study. 2. There was no control on a possible carry-over effect of response from one type of card to the next since the cards were presented as sexual theme and aggressive theme alternately and an uncontrolled factor mat have been thereby introduced. 3. Limitations in availability of hysteric male subjects kept the size of the samples undesirably small and to this extent reduced confidence in the results. 4. The results can be applied only to the types of groups studied. Many of the language constructs analyzed show a discriminatory power which strongly suggests the desirability for further research with other diagnostic groups. The study suggests an avenue for further research in personality on the meaningful relationship between the stimulus, the defensive process activated, and certain features of the symptom formation peculiar to the diagnostic group in question. The possibilities for use of a TAT-like stimulus situation for research on additional classes of stimuli in addition to the sex and aggressive theme cards used here are accentuated. Research requiring the analysis of verbal data has been hampered by the necessity of rating scales and a maximum of subjective evaluation. The development of criteria for agreement upon the significance of verbal content is a particularly exacting task. In the area of projective testing the TAT is a prime example. The use of language structure as a method for analysis of this type of data can provide a basic model for more objective evaluation. Also as Frenkel-Brunswick points out: "The formal elements of personality style, since they are not as directly threatening as its content are not subject to censorship as is content" (21, p. 408). The present research provides additional evidence in support of the analysis of language structure as an available source of data which enholds the possibility for revealing hitherto obscure relationships in the study of personality. The interpreted results of the variance factor and its possibilities for helping obtain evidence on a concept of shift of defense illustrates another research possibility which derives from the data.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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