Personality and object relations in patients with affective disorders: Idiographic research by means of the repertory grid technique

H. Böker, D. Hell, K. Budischewski, A. Eppel, F. Härtling, H. Rinnert, F. Von Schmeling, H. Will, F. Schoeneich, G. Northoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: This paper presents an idiographic approach to evaluate the self concept and the self-object-relationship of patients suffering from affective disorders. Methods: Significant dimensions of the personality and the object relations of 127 depressive patients and 34 orthopaedic patients were investigated with the repertory grid-technique. The self concept and the object relations were compared by means of nomothetically used idiographic results after recovery from manifest depression. Results: 'Low self esteem' was frequently found in patients with a long lasting course of illness and the ICD-10-diagnoses of 'bipolar affective disorder' and 'dysthymia'. The object relations of the depressive sample were characterised by the dimension 'symbiotic near'; 'ambivalent' and 'indifferent' partnership relationships were found much more frequently in the controls. Conclusions: The idiographic results help to differentiate the spectrum of affective disorders. They underline the importance of the interpersonal dimension of depression and may be used as a basis of a therapeutic appraisal. Limitations: The repertory grid-technique may not be used as a diagnostic instrument. However, the combination of idiographic results with further clinical informations enables the multidimensional assessment of the self concept and psychosocial coping mechanisms. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-59
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Affective disorders
  • Idiographic method
  • Object relations
  • Personality
  • Repertory grid-technique

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Neurology
  • General Psychology


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