PERSONALITY INTEGRATION IN PATIENTS WITH UNEXPLAINED SOMATIC SYMPTOMS
The theoretical and methodological basis of the authors' study was a model of personality integration by Sheldon and Kasser (1995, 2001), considering personality integration as dependent on two personality constructs: congruence and coherence of strivings (in terms of Emmons 1986, 1992). While the strivings construct proved to be a predicator of well-being and health, no previous research was done to measure the construct in patients with somatoform disorders. In their study, the method of Sheldon and Kasser was applied to compare measures of personal strivings of female somatisers (patients with at least one unexplained physical symptom with a minimum of 6 months duration and paired controls. No member of either group had ever been under psychiatric care and all of them were drug free for more than 2 weeks. Results: external determination, extrinsic vertical coherence and the summed coherence were significantly higher in the S group. Higher order strivings positively, and lower order strivings negatively correlated with several psychological immune system measures in the control group, while much fewer correlations have been found in the somatisers. The NEO-PIR Neuroticism scale was correlated with extrinsically determined strivings in the controls but not in the somatisers. Conclusion: Somatisers seemed to be at a lower level of personality integration and showed a higher level of motivation (perhaps to meet the experimenter's expectations). These characteristics might contribute to the pathology both as causal and maintaining factors.
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