Abstract: Possible influence of defenses and negative life events on patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: a pilot study

Psychol Rep 2002 Dec;91(3 Pt 1):963-78

Sundbom E, Henningsson M, Holm U, Soderbergh S, Evengard B.

Department of Psychology, Umea University, Sweden. elisabet.sundbom@psy.umu.se

13 patients with a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome and two contrast groups of conversion disorder patients (n = 19) and healthy controls (n = 13) were assessed using the projective perceptual Defense Mechanism Test to investigate if specific defense patterns are associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. Another objective was to assess the possible influence of perceived negative life events prior the onset of the illness. The overall results showed significant differences in defensive strategies among groups represented by two significant dimensions in a Partial Least Squares analysis.

Compared to the contrast groups the patients with chronic fatigue syndrome were distinguished by a defense pattern of different distortions of aggressive affect, induced by an interpersonal anxiety-provoking stimulus picture with short exposures. Their responses suggested the conversion group was characterized by a nonemotionally adapted pattern and specific constellations of defenses, associated with interior reality orientation compared to the patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and the healthy controls.

Rated retrospectively, the group with chronic fatigue syndrome reported significantly more negative life events prior to the onset of their illness than healthy controls. For instance, 5 of the 13 patients reported sexual assault or physical battery as children or teenagers compared to none of the healthy controls. A significant association was found between defense pattern and frequency of reported negative life events. However, these retrospective reports might be confounded to some extent by the experience of the patients’ illness; for example, the reports may be interpreted in terms of present negative affect.

PMID: 12530752 [PubMed – in process]

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Leave a Reply