ObjectivesThe notion of intrapsychic conflict has been present in psychopathology for more than a century within different theoretical orientations. However, internal conflicts have not received enough empirical attention, nor has their importance in depression been fully elaborated. This study is based on the notion of cognitive conflict, understood as implicative dilemma (ID), and on a new way of identifying these conflicts by means of the Repertory Grid Technique. Our aim was to explore the relevance of cognitive conflicts among depressive patients.DesignComparison between persons with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder and community controls.MethodsA total of 161 patients with major depression and 110 non-depressed participants were assessed for presence of IDs and level of symptom severity. The content of these cognitive conflicts was also analysed.ResultsRepertory grid analysis indicated conflict (presence of ID/s) in a greater proportion of depressive patients than in controls. Taking only those grids with conflict, the average number of IDs per person was higher in the depression group.In addition, participants with cognitive conflicts displayed higher symptom severity. Within the clinical sample, patients with IDs presented lower levels of global functioning and a more frequent history of suicide attempts.ConclusionsCognitive conflicts were more prevalent in depressive patients and were associated with clinical severity. Conflict assessment at pre-therapy could aid in treatment planning to fit patient characteristics.Practitioner points Internal conflicts have been postulated in clinical psychology for a long time but there is little evidence about its relevance due to the lack of methods to measure them. We developed a method for identifying conflicts using the Repertory Grid Technique. Depressive patients have higher presence and number of conflicts than controls. Conflicts (implicative dilemmas) can be a new target for intervention in depression. Cautions/Limitations A cross-sectional design precluded causal conclusions. The role of implicative dilemmas in the causation or maintenance of depression cannot be ascertained from this study.
BackgroundDepression is one of the more severe and serious health problems because of its morbidity, disabling effects and for its societal and economic burden. Despite the variety of existing pharmacological and psychological treatments, most of the cases evolve with only partial remission, relapse and recurrence.Cognitive models have contributed significantly to the understanding of unipolar depression and its psychological treatment. However, success is only partial and many authors affirm the need to improve those models and also the treatment programs derived from them. One of the issues that requires further elaboration is the difficulty these patients experience in responding to treatment and in maintaining therapeutic gains across time without relapse or recurrence. Our research group has been working on the notion of cognitive conflict viewed as personal dilemmas according to personal construct theory. We use a novel method for identifying those conflicts using the repertory grid technique (RGT). Preliminary results with depressive patients show that about 90% of them have one or more of those conflicts. This fact might explain the blockage and the difficult progress of these patients, especially the more severe and/or chronic. These results justify the need for specific interventions focused on the resolution of these internal conflicts. This study aims to empirically test the hypothesis that an intervention focused on the dilemma(s) specifically detected for each patient will enhance the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for depression.DesignA therapy manual for a dilemma-focused intervention will be tested using a randomized clinical trial by comparing the outcome of two treatment conditions: combined group CBT (eight, 2-hour weekly sessions) plus individual dilemma-focused therapy (eight, 1-hour weekly sessions) and CBT alone (eight, 2-hour group weekly sessions plus eight, 1-hour individual weekly sessions).MethodParticipants are patients aged over 18 years meeting diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder or dysthymic disorder, with a score of 19 or above on the Beck depression inventory, second edition (BDI-II) and presenting at least one cognitive conflict (implicative dilemma or dilemmatic construct) as assessed using the RGT. The BDI-II is the primary outcome measure, collected at baseline, at the end of therapy, and at 3- and 12-month follow-up; other secondary measures are also used.DiscussionWe expect that adding a dilemma-focused intervention to CBT will increase the efficacy of one of the more prestigious therapies for depression, thus resulting in a significant contribution to the psychological treatment of depression.Trial registrationISRCTN92443999; ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01542957.
Fibromyalgia is a syndrome characterized by the presence of diffuse and chronic musculoskeletal pain of unknown etiology. Clinical diagnosis and the merely palliative treatments considerably affect the patient's experience and the chronic course of the disease. Therefore, several authors have emphasized the need to explore issues related to self in these patients. The repertory grid technique (RGT), derived from personal construct theory, is a method designed to assess the patient's construction of self and others. A group of women with fibromyalgia (n = 30) and a control group (n = 30) were assessed using RGT. Women with fibromyalgia also completed the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire and a visualanalogue scale for pain, and painful tender points were explored. Results suggest that these women had a higher present self–ideal self discrepancy and a lower perceived adequacy of others, and it was more likely to find implicative dilemmas among them compared to controls. These dilemmas are a type of cognitive conflict in which the symptom is construed as “enmeshed” with positive characteristics of the self. Finally, implications of these results for the psychological treatment of fibromyalgia are suggested to give a more central role to self-identity issues and to the related cognitive conflicts.
The purpose of this study was to explore the content of personal constructs in people diagnosed with bulimia nervosa (BN). We expected to find differences in the predominant content of the construct systems between women with and without BN. We analyzed the constructs elicited using the repertory grid technique from 120 women aged between 18 to 45 years, divided into two groups: a clinical group of women diagnosed with bulimia (n = 62) and a control group of university students (n = 58). The constructs were categorized using the Classification System for Personal Constructs (CSPC), composed of six themes which are broken down into 45 categories. For this study, a new area called “Physical” was included, and it consists of three categories. The results indicated that women diagnosed with bulimia used significantly more constructs related to the body, while the control group used more constructs from the personal area. In addition, the congruent constructs from the clinical sample were predominantly moral, or related to values and interests, while discrepant constructs were personal and physical. The findings provide evidence for the clinical use of the CSPC as an instrument for exploring the content of personal meaning systems. Understanding the patient’s personal constructions about herself and others is useful for treatment. Moreover, it is important for clinicians to explore the content of constructs related to symptomatic areas, which could be hindering change, and focus on them to facilitate improvement.
SUMMARYA method for studying cognitive conflicts using the repertory grid technique is presented. By means of this technique, implicative dilemmas can be identified, cognitive structures in which a personal construct for which change is wished for implies undesirable change on another construct. We assessed the presence of dilemmas and the severity of symptoms in 46 participants who met criteria for dysthymia and compared then to a non-clinical group composed of 496 participants. Finally, an analysis of the specific content of the personal constructs forming such dilemmas was also performed. Implicative dilemmas were found in almost 70% of the dysthymic participants in contrast to 39% of controls and in greater quantity. In addition, participants in both groups with this type of conflict showed more depressive symptoms and general distress than those without dilemmas. Furthermore, a greater number of implicative dilemmas was associated with higher levels of symptom severity. Finally, content analysis results showed that implicative dilemmas are frequently composed of a constellation of moral values and emotion, indicating that symptoms are often related to moral aspects of the self and so change processes may be hindered. Clinical implications of targeting implicative dilemmas in the therapy context are discussed.Key words: Dysthymia, Repertory Grid Technique, cognitive conflicts, implicative dilemmas, content analysis, personal constructs. RESUMENEn este estudio se presenta un método para el estudio de los conflictos cognitivos utilizando la técnica de rejilla. Por medio de ella, se identificaron los dilemas implicativos, una estructura cognitiva en la que un constructo personal en el que se desea un cambio se asocia con otro constructo en el que el cambio no es deseable. Se evaluó la presencia de dilemas y la gravedad sintomatológica en una muestra de 46 participantes que cumplían criterios diagnósticos para la distimia y se comparó con un grupo control compuesto por 496 participantes. Por último, se llevó a cabo un análisis del contenido de los constructos personales que forman los dilemas. Se encontraron dilemas en casi 70% de la muestra clínica frente a 39% de la muestra control y en mayor cantidad. Por otro lado, los participantes de ambos grupos con este tipo de conflicto mostraron un nivel mayor de sintomatología depresiva y malestar general que aquellos sin dilemas. Además, se encontró una alta correlación entre el número de dilemas implicativos y la gravedad de los síntomas. Los resultados del análisis de contenido mostraron que los dilemas estaban frecuentemente formados por una constelación de valores morales y constructos emocionales indicando que a menudo los síntomas están asociados a aspectos positivos del sí mismo, por lo que el proceso de cambio puede verse bloqueado. Se discuten las implicaciones clínicas de abordar los dilemas en el contexto terapéutico.
Resumen Abstract Course of eating disorders (ED) in patients treated in Day Hospital is analyzed by evaluating 24 women at baseline and approximately 3 years after initial assessment, in several variables
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