Deliberate self-harm in female patients with affective disorders: investigation of personality structure and affect regulation by means of operationalized psychodynamic diagnostics

Heinz Boeker, Holger Himmighoffen, Miriam Straub, Christian Schopper, Jerome Endrass, Bernhard Kuechenhoff, Silvan Weber, Daniel Hell
Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 2008, 196 (10): 743-51
This study investigated psychodynamically relevant dimensions in female depressive patients with and without deliberate self-harm (DSH). DSH is often observed in depressive patients and frequently shows a correlation with personality disorders. Forty female depressive patients with and without DSH were investigated after recovery from acute depressive pathology by means of "operationalized psychodynamic diagnostics" (OPD). Patients with DSH had a significantly lower level of integration in the OPD dimension "structure," and their "interpersonal relationships" showed dysfunctional interaction patterns. They also had a significantly higher rate of personality disorders. These results underline the significance of aspects of personality structure in female depressive patients with DSH, and enable a deeper understanding of their dysfunctional defense strategies, the connections with underlying disturbed affect regulation, and vicious circles in the therapeutic transference-countertransference relationship. OPD has been shown to be a useful tool for empirical research into therapeutically relevant dimensions of personality.

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