A comparison of defensive behavior in schizophrenic, neurotic and normal subjects



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This study was concerned with differences in defensive behavior among schizophrenic, neurotic, and normal subjects. The initial procedure undertaken was to analyze and refine scales previously developed for determining four types of defensive behavior from Rorschach data. Thereafter, the primary purpose was to use these refined scales to explore the differences in degree and complexity of defensive behavior found in schizophrenic, neurotic, and normal groups. In addition, a more extensive investigation was conducted to define the behavior of the normal group in terms of the use of specific defenses and the types of defensive behavior revealed in test instruments of differing structure. The sample consisted of 30 good prognosis schizophrenics, 30 poor prognosis schizophrenics, 30 neurotics, and 30 normals. There were 60 males and 60 females with an age range from 18 through 45. No significant differences in sex distribution, age, or intelligence were found among the four groups. The procedure involved administering the Rorschach test individually to each subject. The Wiener, Carpenter, and Carpenter (1956) sentence completion test was also given to the normal and schizophrenic groups. The Rorschach test data were analyzed by means- of defensive scales which had been developed previously and were refined for use in this study. The original scales for measuring repression, denial, projection, and intellectualization which had been formulated on a purely rational basis were refined by subjecting each item to an empirical analysis. An attempt was also made to improve the scoring procedure by substituting percentage scores for ratings. The sentence completion test was scored according to a rationale developed by Rudie and McGaughran (1961). The results indicated that the normal group exceeded both schizophrenic groups in total defensiveness. The normals were significantly higher than the good prognosis schizophrenics in the use of all the defensive operations except projection. There was no significant difference between the two groups on projection, although there was a slight trend in the direction of greater usage by the schizophrenics. Defensive rigidity was manifested by the neurotics who employed a single, favored defense to a significantly greater degree than did the normal group. There were no significant differences between the normals and the good prognosis schizophrenics on projection and repression in the sentence completion data. However, the results indicate that the normals used intellectualization more than did the schizophrenic group. In the normal group there was a slight correlation between Rorschach defensive scores and sentence completion defensive scores for intellectualization and repression. Although the correlation was modest, it reached a significant level. Inter-scorer agreement on the revised defensive scales for the Rorschach test as determined by Spearman rank correlation coefficients ranged from .78 to .91. There was 77% interjudge agreement as to category assignment on the sentence completion test. The results of this study appear to substantiate the hypothesis that normal individuals employ both a larger amount and a greater variety of defensive behavior than groups exhibiting behavior disorders. The results also suggest that the Rorschach test is a reliable instrument when the judgments to be made are expressible in behavioral terms that are sufficiently public to derive frequency count data.



Schizophrenics, Neurosis