March 1986

An Empirical Study of the Relationship Between Diagnosis and Defense Style

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital, Montreal.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1986;43(3):285-288. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1986.01800030103012

• The relationship between DSM-III diagnosis and defense style was studied in a sample of 74 psychiatric patients. The subjects completed a self-administered questionnaire composed of 81 statements about behaviors, thoughts, and feelings, which were designed to reflect various unconscious defense mechanisms. Factor analysis yielded four defense styles ranging on a continuum from primitive to mature. Patients' defense styles were compared with their diagnoses on axes I, II, and IV of DSM-III. Significant relationships were found between defense style and only one diagnosis, major affective disorder. The fact that DSM-III diagnosis could not predict defense style suggests that diagnosis and defense style are two independent dimensions. If this can be confirmed by further, more adequate studies, a sixth axis reflecting psychodynamic formulation would provide additional information necessary for therapeutic planning.