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Gudmund J. W. Smith Ingegerd M. Carlsson (Eds.

Process and Personality
Actualization of the Personal World With Process-Oriented Methods

Edited by

Nicholas Rescher Johanna Seibt Michel Weber

Advisory Board

Mark Bickhard Jaime Nubiola Roberto Poli

Volume 17
Gudmund J. W. Smith
Ingegerd M. Carlsson (Editors)

Process and Personality

Actualization of the Personal World
With Process-Oriented Methods

Frankfurt I Paris I Ebikon I Lancaster I New Brunswick
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Introduction 1
Gudmund Smith and Ingegerd Carlsson
1. What is perceptgenesis really about? 7
Gudmund Smith
2. Perceptgenesis: its origins, accomplishments and propects 23
Juris Draguns
3. A mosaic of seven perceptgenetic themes 51
Ulf Kragh
4. A note on the concept of stimulus in perceptgenetic theory 65
Anders Zachrisson
5. Defense mechanisms in psychosomatic groups: a heuristic 77
Mikael Henningsson
6. Defense mechanisms and posttraumatic symptoms among 91
male Bosnian and Croatian refugees in psychiatric treat-
Gunilla Kivling Bodn and Elisabet Sundbom
7. Influence of gender and age in the defense mechanism test 113
among adolescents and adults
Per Fransson and Elisabet Sundbom
8. Mature and immature defenses. A study of repressors and 127
trait anxiety groups
Ingegerd Carlsson and Fredrik Neuman
9. Heart rate variability during the meta-contrast technique 143
Peter Jnsson
10. Perceptgenetic techniques in the study of cognitive styles 167
and defense mechanisms: from assessment toward psycho-
Uwe Hentschel and Juris Draguns
11. Which type of norm for S-CWT research? 191
Alex Rubino, Federica Tozzi & Alberto Siracusano
12. Pilots and ground officers investigated by process tests of 201
creativity, extraversion, and stress control
Ingegerd Carlsson, Gunilla Amnr & Gudmund Smith
13. Vision forming and brain storming: different aspects of 221
creativity captured by a perceptgenetic measurement and
other measurements of creativity
Eva Hoff and Ingegerd Carlsson
14. Something old, something new, something borrowed, some- 241
thing blue: microgenesis in the 21st century
Joseph Glicksohn
15. Actualization and causality 263
Jason Brown
Name Index 289
Subject Index 296
Contributors 299

Among all people who inspired and helped organize the meeting in Del-
phi, the breeding ground of this book, we particularly want to thank Dr.
Dimitri Kyriazis, himself an expert in the application of the DMT.
Gudmund Smith and Ingegerd Carlsson

The present book is an extended as well as updated version of contribu-

tions to a conference on microprocesses, or perceptgeneses, as termed in
the present context. The conference was held in Delphi, Greece, October
2000. Most participants in the conference are represented in the book but
additional researchers in the field were invited to contribute. The book is a
collection of theoretical essays and original empirical work especially writ-
ten for the illumination of a subject particularly urgent when the attention
of psychological inquiry, as the present authors see it, has for a long time
been focused on surface phenomena.
We know how differentiated and complicated the processing of sense
impressions is and how difficult to uphold a strict distinction between
stimulation, on the one hand, and processing, on the other. Such a distinc-
tion is still often maintained in present-day theorizing. Still, many of us
pride ourselves on the victory of rationalism over subjective speculation in
psychology. But even the so-called cognitive revolution has left much of
the traditional infrastructure intact. Starting with sense data as the source
of mental life, certain traditionalists strive to follow how these data are
processed by various receptors, organized centrally according to principles
reminiscent of classical associationism, and stored in chambers of memory.
To be sure, during the last years there have been efforts in all camps of
research to operate with a more differentiated model of perception and sen-
sory data processing. For example, it is interesting to note that, after dec-
ades of resistance to any intimation of the existence of processes beyond
conscious control, experimentation on subliminal stimulation has mush-
roomed during the nineties. At the same time as the existence of an uncon-
scious world has become an irrefutable empirical fact, it is difficult for
many to explain why subliminal processing does not necessarily produce
the same results as found at the supraliminal level and hence that the pre-
conscious world may not be an enfeebled copy of the conscious one, but
something qualitatively different.
2 Gudmund J.W. Smith and Ingegerd Carlsson

The relevant adjustments recently introduced into the theoretical main-

stream have long been anticipated by proponents of perceptgenesis (or mi-
crogenesis), as will be partly documented in the contributions of this vol-
ume. But adjustments alone will not dothere are, in fact, four rather
fundamental theoretical presuppositions and tendencies that need to be
First, psychologists tend to operate with an all too simplified model of
the storage of information, a picture of memory which has as its precur-
sor the theory of engrams inherited from Plato. Memory is often thought of
as a locker, or a system of lockers, and the deposits in these lockers are re-
garded as accessible in principle. If not, it is not uncommon to borrow the
concept of repression from psychoanalysis to account for the unavailabil-
ity. But the notion of 'repression' as used in cognitive psychology has none
of the dynamic underpinnings of the original concept.
Second, psychologists tend to operate with a strict and often artificial
distinctions. For example, the 'memory system' is distinguished from the
'perception system', and these in turn are taken to be separate from per-
sonality, which is presented as a theoretical category of its own. Given
these distinctions, the connection between these factors is difficult to ex-
plain and usually ignored. Feelings and emotions, in particular as they af-
fect as unconscious forces our conscious deliberations, thus are perceived
as a particular problem, challenging the traditional presumption that think-
ing and feeling belong to different spheres.
Third, traditional descriptions of the contents and inner dynamics of per-
sonality aspects, often unsystematic but insightful and engaging, have been
replaced by multidimensional schemata based on sophisticated statistical
programs. Unfortunately, the so-called traits defining these dimensions are
frequently treated akin to semi-permanent features (like traditional abili-
ties), or substance-like objects. This partiality for mechanistic theorizing
and reificationadditionally supported by the metaphor use of digital
processes and the mind as computerruns the risk of neglecting a thor-
ough phenomenological analysis of the data.. Oddly enough, the tendency
towards mechanistic theorizing threatens to estrange psychology from
important trends in modern biology, e.g., the emphasis on interaction and
Introduction 3

Fourth, focusing rather on stability and permanence than on dynamic

restructuring and change, contemporary personality psychologists tend to
find the developmental perspective unrewarding.
These four presuppositions and tendencies are all abandoned in per-
ceptgenetic (microgenetic) according to which our conception of the world
is created by processes originating in personal experiences. Sense impres-
sions are not primarily looked upon as starting-points for mental activity
but as constraints for what the creative perceptgenetic processes are al-
lowed to sculpt. Perception, in this view, is thus deeply embedded in the
broader dynamics and structures of the subjective, personal world. Even if
it sounds strange, tangible objects out there may, for instance, be con-
structed and regarded as extensions of memory processes (cf. particularly
Brown, 2002).
Thus viewing our psyche as a succession of processes shaping the per-
sonal world has proved to be immensely rewarding. Over the years, per-
ceptgenetic researchers have developed a variety of efficient tests to serve
the in-depth descriptions of how the individual functions in different situa-
tions. Among many possible examples let us just choose the selection of
competent air plane pilots or trustworthy car drivers, the correct diagnosis
of psychiatric ailments, or spotting creative talent in children and adults.
Since all of us in contemporary society are confronted with steadily in-
creasing demands on our mental resources, any attempts at refining per-
sonality theory and making it more realistic would be of paramount impor-
Five chapters (1, 2, 4, 14, 15) are mainly concerned with theory. Gud-
mund Smiths text (1) may serve as a general introduction to the basic
topic of the present book, i.e., process and its signification for a theory of
personality. While some of the contributors still regard psychoanalysis as
the most promising grid for micro-process theorizing, Smith expresses
some doubt and vouches for an independent micro-process theory of per-
sonality. This is, indeed, the position taken by Jason Brown (15) who has
developed a process-oriented theory of his own, based on his experience
with patients suffering from aphasia as well as inspirations from philoso-
phers like Henri Bergson, and Alfred North Whitehead. Having a clear phi-
losophical angle Browns contribution is placed at the end, preceded by
4 Gudmund J.W. Smith and Ingegerd Carlsson

Joseph Glicksohn (14) who paints an alternative context using Hughlings

Jackson and Heinz Werner as anchor points. The chapter by Juris Draguns
(2) gives a well-informed account of the history of perceptgenetic (PG) re-
search and experimentation and an assessment of its prospects, while An-
ders Zachrisson (4) focuses the adjustment of the personal world to com-
mon-sense reality, not concealing his psychoanalytic preferences.
In other chapters (3, 8, 9, 10, 11) theoretical and methodological themes
are sandwiched. Ulf Kragh (3) treats some essential topics seldom culti-
vated in perceptgenetic writings. One of these problems concerns the clas-
sical problem of associations, seen by Kragh as PG prestages of percep-
tion. Other problems highlighted in a PG context are the connection be-
tween PG and ontogeneses and between body and mind. Ingegerd Carlsson
and Fredrik Neuman (8) show that the Meta-Contrast Technique can be
used to open the door to the inner world of repressors, i.e. people who are
obviously blind-folded. With the use of screening inventories, the rep-
ressor group was separated from a true low-anxious group as well as
from a high anxious group. When tested with the Meta-Contrast Tech-
nique, the three groups were all found to differ from each other. The results
in the repressor group were in line with other research that describes these
people as inclined to develop psychosomatic symptoms.
In his study, Peter Jnsson (9) demonstrates, timely in the present con-
text, that the threat stimulus used in the Meta-Contrast Technique has in-
deed a noticeable somatic effect. Using heart-rate variability he got a
measure of sympathovagal balance. A threatening stimulus picture pre-
sented below or above the subjective threshold was clearly related to that
balance, indicating a freezing reaction with enhanced attention.
Uwe Hentschel and Juris G. Draguns (10) vouch for the use of per-
ceptgenetic diagnostics as a preparation for efficient therapeutic work.
They list eight potential topics of psychotherapy research in which PG
methods may be successfully employed. Alexis Rubino, Frederica Tozzi,
and Alberto Siracusano (11), seasoned users of the Serial Color-Word Test
(S-CWT), dwell on the adaptive aspects of process methodology and dem-
onstrate how norms used in that test could be made more efficient by fur-
ther emphasizing the process approach.
Introduction 5

The volume also contains original work from applied contexts. In two
studies, Mikael Henningsson (5), and Per Fransson and Elisabet Sundbom
(7), employ partial squares discriminant analysis to demonstrate the reli-
ability and validity of the Defense Mechanism Test as a diagnostic tool in
different contexts. Henningsson manages to define patients with a chronic
fatigue syndrome as a group different from other clinical groups and
Fransson and Sundbom are able to capture the influences of age and gen-
der on the use of defenses; females, for instance, preferred different vari-
ants of the perceptual defense identifications with the opposite sex. They
also found particular characteristics in refugees suffering from post-
traumatic disorder.
Eva Hoff and Ingegerd Carlsson (13) compared perceptgenetic and tradi-
tional measures of creativity in a sample of children and explored the rela-
tionship between creativity and the results of a self-image inventory.
Among other things, Hoff and Carlsson draw the conclusion that a crea-
tive disposition does not necessarily imply that the child holds her/himself
in high esteem.
Ingegerd Carlsson, Gunilla Amnr and Gudmund Smith (12) are able to
discriminate within a group of fighter pilots and between pilots and ground
officers, using both the Creative Functioning Test, the Serial Color-Word
Test, as well as a process test of extraversion-introversion (the so-called
Spiral Aftereffect Technique, to be described in that chapter). In this ex-
ploratory study of personality patterns, the pilots formed subgroups that
were, when compared afterwards, significantly separated in age and com-
petence, as well as in other categories that had been established on the ba-
sis of questionnaires with open questions about their work and their inter-
Gudmund J.W. Smith

This chapter outlines the basic framework of perceptgenetic (PG) theory:

that reality is not a mere reflection of outside givens but a construction of
them. The mostly implicit pulses involved in this construction can to a cer-
tain extent be reconstructed by means of special techniques. PG methods
and applications have often been tied to psychodynamic assumptions. The
advantages and disadvantages of such an attachment are discussed. One
advantage is the focus on process in psychodynamic theory and practice;
but a disadvantage is its lack of a modern theory of perception. Instead of
borrowing from psychoanalysis PG might as well build a theory of its
own; there is no lack of useful ingredients. The survey is throughout linked
up with the subsequent chapters in the book.


Perceptgeneses are usually identified with ultrashort processes protracted

for observation by means of special techniques, tried already in the twen-
ties in Germany and Italy (see Draguns, 1983, and Chapter 2). These tech-
niques imply that stimuli are presented piecemeal, starting from time or
illumination (or, loudness) values below the visual (auditory) threshold,
and systematically prolonged or increased until correct recognition. The
sequence of reports from the test subject of what he/she has seen (heard) at
these stimulus presentations constitute a perceptgenesis (PG in the follow-
The creation of a PG would hardly be more than harmless play were it
not for a crucial assumption: The PGs somehow reflect how we construct
our representation of reality - in daily life, at least in case the stimulus
situation is comparatively novel and significant. As the experimenter soon
learns, all too well-known stimuli, or stimuli devoid of meaning, do not
produce processes such as the term is understood here.
8 Gudmund J.W. Smith

This basic assumption in PG research has been called in question, par-

ticularly by orthodox perception psychologists. One of the critical points
would be that constructive processes operating in daily life are not repeat-
edly interrupted for observation and reporting. Kragh and Smith (1970)
dealt with this objection but refuted it by pointing out, among other things,
that ordinary perception is not an uninterrupted staring at the object but
series of intermittent fixations. Without intermittence the object would dis-
solve. Moreover, if PGs were not more than artifacts their intimate con-
nections with a multitude of other observations would be incomprehensi-
The naive realist is bound to be disturbed by the elusive character of
PGs. They apparently unfold outside immediate awareness. But the obser-
vant perceiver might notice that there is more to everyday perception than
a momentary photographic reproduction of outside reality. Our scrutiny of
the world around us is usually accompanied by emotions, sudden impulses,
intuitive ideas, vague forebodings, etc. One way to comprehend this con-
tinuous simmering would be to see it as remnants of early PG stages or of
PGs never completed as conscious percepts (cf. Chapter 3). Only if habitu-
ated to the utmost can perception become totally detached.
As just pointed out, experimenters working with PG methodology soon
found out that reuse of stimuli with the same subjects resulted in impov-
erished PGs. The sequence of reports reached the stage of correct recogni-
tion with fewer and less varied stages in between. Repetition resulted in
increasing automatization (Smith, 1991). This could be understood as a
device for economizing, transforming to routine strenuous efforts at mas-
tering a new situation.
What made PGs more than theoretically interesting was the discovery
that they could be applied with obvious success. One of the first uses was
in the selection of future air force pilots. Ulf Kragh applied stimulus pic-
tures with an innocuous, central identification figure and a peripherally
placed threatening person (the Defence Mechanism Test, DMT, Kragh,
1985 and Chapter 3). By scoring various distortions in the reporting of the
threat as reflections of defensive operations he got an indication of the de-
gree of inside turmoil in the applicant. And the more defensive the distor-
What is perceptgenesis really about? 9

tions, the more dangerous the imminent deflection from the ultimate task
of the pilot: an optimal control of the outside events flashing by.
The obvious interindividual variation between PG protocols also encour-
aged the use of PG methods for clinical purposes. A technique originally
based on attempts at utilizing subliminal stimulation, the Meta-Contrast
Technique, MCT (Smith, Johnson, Almgren, & Johanson, 2001), was ap-
plied already in the fifties. Here the contrasting stimuli, contrary to the
procedure in the DMT, consisted of two different pictures. While the
viewer was adjusted to the second stimulus beforehand, the first stimulus,
incongruent with the second one or implying a threat to its central charac-
ter, was only introduced by small steps, PG fashion. The intention of this
arrangement was to find out how the subject accepted the intrusion of con-
troversial stimulation into a situation which he had identified beforehand.
The MCT was proven successful as a clinical tool (Smith, 2001; see also
Chapters 8 and 9). It could also be remodeled to serve specific purposes,
e.g. the analysis of flight phobia (Amnr, 1997). At the same time the use
of the DMT was extended to new problem areas, like traffic accidents
(Svensson & Trygg, 1994). Its utility in clinical practice was effectively
demonstrated by Sundbom and her associates (Sundbom, 1992; Sundbom,
Jacobsson, Kullgren, & Penayo, 1998; and Chapters 5, 6, and 7). One of
their most obvious feats was to separate borderline patients as a particular
category in a sea of neurotic and psychotic disturbances, and also to iden-
tify the symptom profile of people complaining of chronic fatigue (Hen-
ningsson, 1999).
Andersson (1995) developed a special variant of the DMT termed the
Defense Mechanism Technique, modified (DMTm) implying, among other
things, the use of representatives of both sexes at the place of the threat as
well as at the place of the central figure (the hero), and a revision of the
scoring scheme. A further development introduced stimulus motifs refer-
ring to, among other things, early attachment and separation. This was tried
out with favourable outcome by Nilsson (Nilsson & Svensson, 1999).
10 Gudmund J.W. Smith


The reality around us, as comprehended by PG theory, is constructed by

micro-processes, mostly outside awareness and subjectively colored from
the start. This does not imply a solipsistic interpretation of reality. The
bouquet of many possibilities typical of early process stages is soon
thinned out under the constraints of stimulus. The sequence of events rep-
resenting a PG has all the hallmarks of a regular process, i.e., a successive
transformation of meaning from one stage to the next combined with an
interdependence of consecutive stages. This does not rule out sudden
metamorphoses in the chain of phases, particularly not if the personal in-
volvement in the perceptual event was intense from the start.
But the definition of PGs as processes does not make their alignment
within the greater family of adaptive processes wholly unproblematic.
While the sequence of events leading, in due course, to increased mastery
of a new situation or task, in for instance the Serial Color-Word Test (S-
CWT, with its in-built contradictions) is open to the inspection by the sub-
ject him-/herself - we recognize how our mastery increases or varies over
the trials - PGs are usually hidden or only indirectly reminding us of their
existence. Moreover, the aim of adaptation is to adjust our behavior to out-
side givens while PGs underlie the construction and acceptance of them.
This presupposes a mutual, and complicated, interdependence which de-
serves to be studied in more detail, perhaps experimentally (see also Chap-
ter 12 and 13).
Generally speaking, adaptive processes present the subjects adaptive
encounters with reality from the outside, perceptgeneses these encounters
from the subjective inside.
Still, these two kinds of processes share the typical process attributes
mentioned above. Their affinity can be exemplified by the concordance of
adaptive serials and PGs when studied in the same individuals. Let us take
regression in psychosis as an example (cf. Smith, 2001). The adaptive se-
rial can be illustrated by an aftereffect phenomenon, i.e. the successive ad-
justment to negative visual afterimages initiated by a colored stimulus and
thereafter projected on a screen. The usual unfamiliarity with visual after-
What is perceptgenesis really about? 11

images makes possible a sequence of qualitative transformations until the

subjects view of the phenomenon is settled.
The chain of reports of the afterimage appearance is normally adapted by
degrees to the understanding that afterimages are subjective phenomena
projected onto physical reality. This is not so in cognitively immature chil-
dren. To them the afterimage is as real as the surface upon which it ap-
pears. Consequently, while adult afterimages grow in size proportionally to
the distance of the surface from the eye, childish images remain more or
less size-constant. And they usually retain the color of the inducing stimu-
lus, not the contrasting, negative hue experienced by the normal adult.

Table 1.1. Process-oriented methods.

Adaptive Serials
The Visual Afterimage Test (AI)
The Spiral Aftereffect Test (SAT)
The Serial Color-Word Test (S-CWT)
The Serial Picture-Word Test (S-PWT)
Genuine Perceptgenetic Methods
A. Single Stimulus, Tachistoscopic Presentation
The Defense Mechanism Test (DMT)
The Defense Mechanism Technique, modified (DMTm)
The Perceptgenetic Object Relations Test (PORT)
B. Single Stimulus, Reversed Genesis
The Creative Functioning Test (CFT)
C. Double Stimuli, Tachistoscopic Presentation
The Meta-Contrast Technique (MCT)
The Flight Situation Test (FST)
The Identification Test (IT), several versions
D. Single Stimulus, Amauroscopic Presentation
i.e., systematic change in illumination

The trademark of psychotic adult patients is that they intermittently revert

to size-constant, positive images. Since we know what childish images are
like we have every reason to call these abrupt changes regressions. In the
same way the psychotic individual in traditional PG tests reports impres-
sions of sudden shifts, either to early stages in the sequence of descriptions
or, more blatantly, to so-called zero-phases where nothing can be seen but
blackness or chaos. The test patient has lost his/her grip on the road to real-
12 Gudmund J.W. Smith

ity. Such intermittent losses of control are also evident in tests of cognitive
skills, for example, the Serial Color-Word Test (see Table 1 and also
Smith, Nyman, Hentschel, & Rubino, 2001).
This was only one example among many that processes at different levels
of actualization share formal characteristics. They also share the fate of ab-
breviation upon repetition. If the experimenter intends to bring about proc-
esses optimized for close scrutiny, the participant should be unacquainted
with the stimulation entertained in the experiment. It may sometimes be
necessary, for instruction purposes, to open the door slightly to the ex-
perimental situation. But a door wide open may ruin the experiment com-
pletely (cf. Smith, 2007).


What could be more sensible than to regard process as the very hub of per-
sonality theory? But the essence of contemporary personality theory seems
elusive. The most typical reference in periodicals devoted to personality
research is to some sort of factorial construction, e.g., the so-called big
five (see Wiggins, 1996). Here personality is described as a complex of
interacting, reified components or traits worked out on the basis of sys-
tematized self-descriptions. For a hard-headed scientist neither theory nor
its empirical fundaments would look impressive. But it can be demon-
strated that traits are relatively stable units, at least in normal adult people.
The disadvantage with that kind of theory is that it limits the psychologi-
cal description to a few mechanistic assumptions. The developmental per-
spective is usually ignored and perception, like in classical psychoanalysis,
relegated to a marginal existence. The concept of process thus does not
seem fit for commonplace personality theory. Still, process would not nec-
essarily be a too impalpable ingredient among the reified traits making up
the factorial space called personality. As pointed out by Rapaport (1967),
process with a slow rate of change eventually acquires the stability of a
structure, or of a standing wave. This fitting metaphor was employed by
the evolutionary biologist John Maynard Smith and, originally, by the
mathematician Alan Turing. But while traits are abstract entities, structure,
What is perceptgenesis really about? 13

even if seemingly solidified, refers to process, i.e., to concrete life events

(see also Chapter 15).


Perhaps psychoanalysis fits the concepts of process and structure better.

Here the developmental perspective is necessarily dominant. And psycho-
analysis was the obvious frame of reference in the early days of PG re-
search and speculation (see also Chapter 4). The Defence Mechanism Test,
for instance, was primarily supposed to uncover defense mechanisms in the
psychoanalytic meaning of that term. Anna Freuds classification of de-
fenses served as a natural reference grid.
PG techniques held a particular advantage when it came to probing psy-
choanalytic presumptions experimentally. Westerlundh and Sjbck (1986)
used an amauroscopic technique, i.e., they protracted the PG with system-
atic increases of illumination instead of prolonging exposure times. Pre-
senting conflict-laden stimuli at low intensities, they asked if these influ-
enced a subsequent PG in the way presumed by psychoanalytic theory.
This presumption was found to be resonably tenable.
A theoretical scheme constructed to fit results from DMTm (DMTmodi-
fied) was used by Andersson in several investigations and later adopted
by Ryhammar (Andersson & Ryhammar, 1998; Ryhammar, 1996). Now it
was not classical psychoanalysis that served as sponsor but rather such de-
viants as Melanie Klein and Heinz Kohut. Another member of the ex-
tended Kleinian group, John Bowlby, inspired Nilsson (Nilsson & Svens-
son, 1999) in his choice of pictures for the Perceptgenetic Object Relations
Test (PORT). These pictures refer, as already said, to early attachment,
separation and the Oeidipus constellation in the childs social develop-
But the adaptation of PG to psychoanalytic theory, in spite of many suc-
cessful combinations, still remains controversial in many respects. As we
all know, psychoanalysis is a many-headed dragon. Not a few psycholo-
gists, like George Klein (1970), distinguish between psychoanalysis as a
bundle of clinical observations and assumptions, and psychoanalysis as a
metatheory. Klein adopted an attitude of reserve against the latter. In a
14 Gudmund J.W. Smith

penetrating analysis of this level of psychoanalytic theorizing, starting with

Freuds neuroscientific project for an encompassing theory, Brown (2000,
and Chapter 15) has pointed out that many salient features of the meta-
theory really derive from old-fashioned associationism. According to
Brown this theory seems to be made up of solid, i.e., separate, objects in
interaction. Typical is the view of perception as distinct from memory. But,
as Brown sees it, memory is brought to bear on perception, not after it is
recorded, as analysts will have it, but in the original process through
which it is recorded (p. 51).
These reminiscences of century-old associationism - typical also of much
presentday cognitive psychology - may explain why psychoanalysis re-
mains problematic even to outsiders who are positively inclined to many of
its basic tenets; and also why it seems difficult to establish a constructive
dialogue between psychoanalysis and PG in its academic costume. This is
true even in fields of common interest, like anxiety and defense, or when
the question arises where to test key assumptions empirically, in therapy or
in the laboratory (see also Chapter 11). An additional reason could be the
increasing emphasis on therapeutic problems and consequent decreasing
concern for theoretical issues. Anyhow, to the practising psychoanalyst
findings made in a laboratory, even a PG one, do not seem necessarily
relevant. When rethinking is demanded it is easy to regress to what Brown
(2000) calls the solid architecture of associationism.
But PG is still closely tied to psychoanalysis. One of its main attractions
is the attempt to give a comprehensive picture of personality. Even if the
concept of personality is rarely entertained in psychoanalytic writings, the
goal of inquiry is still some kind of central principle steering the individ-
uals mental life and actions. Most PG people would be apt to identify per-
sonality with such an organizing center. Thus defensive mechanisms are
not understood as additional tools to be used in the service of adaptation
and inner composure but as part and parcel of a dynamic system of proc-
esses. Unfortunately, as already intimated, an aspect of personality func-
tioning particularly dear to PG research, namely perception, remains mar-
ginalized in psychoanalytic theories, old as well as contemporary.
Two central psychoanalytic foci, evident not least in everyday clinical
work, are development and emotion. A person ripped off from his mental
What is perceptgenesis really about? 15

history can never be fully understood. In the same way workers in the PG
tradition regard the present as an actualization of the past. The ongoing re-
newal at the spearhead of reality construction cannot be comprehended
without reference to the phases preceding the final phase. Defenses emerg-
ing in late sections of a PG are often foreboded in early sections, e.g., by
signs of anxiety or uncertain identity. It is also equivalent with psychoana-
lytic presumptions to see development as a hierarchy of subsequent phases,
differing not only in distinctness but above all qualitatively. Thus precon-
scious experiences should not be regarded as weak copies of conscious
ones - they are different.
Like in psychoanalysis, emotions in the PG model are not just substances
added to existing cognitive structures. They are intrinsic attributes of the
processes of construction. Usually early sections of these processes are
more dominated by emotions, eventually yielding to more and more objec-
tive, person-independent structures in late sections. But emotions are never
totally absent, at least not in normal persons. Without emotions per-
ceptgeneses cannot unfold in a virtual representation of reality. In order to
serve as mortar in the process of reality construction, however, emotions
have to be available for reconstruction (as demonstrated in experiments
with children, Smith & Carlsson, 1990) or, to use equivalent terms, the
level of procedural knowledge (Schachter, 1987) must be made accessi-
ble to categorical (reality-proximal) organization (see also Smith & Carls-
son, 2005).


A focus on process implies, at least as the present writer sees it, actualiza-
tion of a biological perspective (see also Chapter 14). The term biological
is often understood in a narrow physiological sense, a reduction of expla-
nations to neurochemistry or kindred topics. But biology is a life science
in a much wider meaning, including adaptation, competition, cooperation,
desire, and striving towards a goal. It is paradigmatic that Jason Brown
(e.g., 2000) found PG to be a useful theme in this neurobiological theoriz-
ing but at the same time used neurological data as a general frame in his
picture of human perception and action. Moreover, like Luria he finds
16 Gudmund J.W. Smith

many facets of neuroscientific speculation to be obsolete, e.g., one-sided

localisation of mental faculties to certain parts of the brain or treating
memory as some sort of reservoir with specific chambers for various kinds
of memorizing. This latter caricature of biological thinking is, of course,
no suitable partner for dynamic PG theory.
Brown is arguably no reductionist. His perhaps most eloquent book
(Brown, 1991) could very well be read as a textbook in psychology. But
among psychologists with a psychodynamic leaning there still lingers a
hesitation towards any association with neuroscience. At the same time
workers using the PG arsenal of methods have extracted many dividends
via such associations. Examples, among several others, are studies of de-
mented and other brain-injured people (Johanson, 1991), patients with
brain tumors (Lilja, 1992), and patients exposed to organic solvents
(Lindgren, 1992). The validity of signs of anxiety in the MCT was proven
by means of experiments using brain imaging, i.e., a demonstration that
experiences fed by renewed confrontation with these signs corresponded to
increased frontal blood flow in the cortex. Such increases had previously
been associated with bursts of anxiety (Johanson, Risberg, Silfverskild, &
Smith, 1986; see also Chapter 9). As already pointed out by Dixon (1971),
the most solid proofs of the existence of subliminal perception were neu-
rophysiological. Neurological and mental perspectives can obviously en-
rich each other without necessarily resorting to causal bridges between
them (see also, Carlsson, 1992; Carlsson, Wendt, & Risberg, 2000).


The practical utility of many PG methods, as illustrated in the following

chapters, may tempt us to sacrifice PG theory for the sake of convenience.
The applied psychologist thus appeals to the manual in order to find solu-
tions for diagnostic problems. That kind of practice is not recommendable,
however. Without theory the clinical psychologist is enslaved by the man-
ual. And where the manual is uncertain the a-theoretical practitioner is to-
tally deserted.
Not even the most ardent advocate of the adaptation of PG methods to
practical ends can abjure a theoretical background. Where theory is not ex-
What is perceptgenesis really about? 17

plicit it is very likely to be implicit, unconsciously steering basic assump-

tions and prejudices. When you have to proceed outside the scope of your
manual there is a great risk that you adopt theories foreign to the correct
application of PG data. One of the obvious temptations is a variety of
stimulus-response explanations, still taught by conservative teachers at our
The present chapter has discussed some possible reference systems. The
conventional personality theories, with their background of factorial solu-
tions, were dismissed as insufficient, mainly because they are unable to ac-
commodate process in their universe of reified traits. Not even revised
mainstream cognitive psychology, as reflected in, e.g., Stadler and Frensch
(1998), seems to be a useful partner. Even if most cognitive psychologists
nowadays accept subliminal perception as part of the individuals informa-
tion processing, they seem reluctant to regard non-consciousness as, in
principle, qualitatively different from consciousness. Moreover, the here-
and-now thinking characterizing much of cognitive science, and its thera-
peutic applications, makes it unsuited to a context where a developmental
perspective is a sine qua non.
Psychoanalysis was considered as a more serious alternative. For many
of the early perceptgenetic researchers it was the only reasonable option; in
this respect they differed, indeed, from the original Aktualgenese people
(see also Chapters 2, 3, 4,). It was no coincidence that defense mechanisms
were chosen as the first objects of study. The hypothetical parallel between
PGs and life history was given high priority as an object of study. The no-
tion of PGs as rooted in a broad spectre of potentialities, to use Browns
term, of which only a fraction are actualized, also reflected kinship with
psychoanalysis. In this perspective phases in a PG could hardly be de-
scribed as pale reflections of the end-phase, i.e., of stimulus.
While looking for suitable partners to serve as racks for the stream of
fresh discoveries in PG laboratories, one may reasonably ask if PG itself
does have enough theoretical depth and stability to accommodate its own
empirical data. To be true, PG thinking appears to be the only sensible al-
ternative to a more orthodox form of cognitivism, at least as long as the
latter cannot divest itself of the remnants of mechanistic thinking, once in-
herited from the behaviorism of the early twentieth century. While PG
18 Gudmund J.W. Smith

methods have presented ample proof of their efficiency as diagnostic and

prognostic tools PG theory has, at the same time, gradually consolidated its
position as the embryo of a full-fledged theory of personality.
According to PG theory, perception is the actualization of the potentiali-
ties aroused at each moment of renewed adaptation or growth. The success
of the PG methods depends on their incisiveness: they do not merely
scratch the surface, or end-product, of adaptive processes but lay bare hid-
den, preconscious contexts and causations, e.g., the hierarchical organiza-
tion of early and late, immature and mature in the adaptive arsenal and,
concomitantly, the individuals history. One important feature of PG pro-
tocols is the early dominance of emotions. At the same time, only emotions
can guarantee the inner continuity of PGs, from the seemingly chaotic be-
ginnings to the perceptual end-station. The role of defensive strategies in
normal as well as pathological cases and the influence of anxiety on their
discharge has been a natural object of study. And these strategies are not
seen as extrinsic forces impinging upon the psyche but as intrinsic charac-
teristics of its adaptive landscape.
It has been the pride of present-day personality psychology to be able to
demonstrate the stability of traits or factors derived by way of question-
naires. As pointed out previously in the present text a shift from traits to
PG processes need not imply that stability is substituted for accidental
change or chaos. Endstages in PGs may sway with shifts in the stimulus
situation, but in the preceding stages the process characteristics are usually
more stable, as demonstrated, e.g., in studies using the Serial Color-Word
Test (see also Chapter 11). It was even suggested that individually typical
PGs eventually acquire the hallmarks of standing waves. A systematized
description of such waves, a PG phenomenology, is still a task for the fu-
The inevitable consequence of the above reasoning is that a PG personal-
ity theory should not deal with late phase phenomena, or even with proc-
esses compressed because of repetition. Thus much of the psychology of
perception is outside the PG province, likewise social psychologies dealing
with temporary attitudes, or any psychology lacking an in-depth perspec-
What is perceptgenesis really about? 19

However, the term percept-genetic points to a want in the theoretical

background of PG, namely its one-sided emphasis on perception. This is
obviously a consequence of the test arsenal. In Browns (e.g. 2001) writ-
ings, for instance, perception and action supplement each other. While per-
ception is finally enclosed by sensual strictures action meets other obstruc-
tions in the real world, as the subject sees it. This does not imply that, like
late-phase phenomena, action should be excluded from PG theory - it be-
longs there.


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sent. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Brown, J. W. (2000). Mind and nature. London: Whurr.
Brown, J. W. (2001). Foreword. In G.J.W. Smith, The process approach to
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20 Gudmund J.W. Smith

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patients. Lund: Department of Psychology.
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solvent induced chronic toxic encephalopathy. Malm: Malm General
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Relation Test. Lund: Department of Psychology.
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The collected papers of David Rapaport. New York: Basic Books, pp.
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sciousness and emotion. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 3-21.
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- the Serial Color-Word Test. Frankfurt: Swets & Zeitlinger.
Smith, G J. W., Johnson, G., Almgren, P.-E., & Johanson, A. (2001). MCT
- the Meta-Contrast Technique. Lund: Department of Psychology.
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ing. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
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ity and defenses: A cross-cultural study of psychiatric patients and healthy
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(Eds.), The roots of perception. Amsterdam: North-Holland, pp. 161-215.
Wiggins, J. S. (1996). The five-factor model of personality. New York:
Juris G. Draguns

The cumulative yield of five decades of perceptgenetic research was re-

viewed, with a focus on direct perceptgenetic instruments, such as the De-
fense Mechanism Test and the Meta-Contrast Technique. Perceptgenesis
has been investigated over a wide range of topics, from its usefulness in
personnel selection and diagnostic differentiation to the explorations of its
characteristic features in artistic and scientific creativity. New and emerg-
ing areas of inquiry were identified, such as the psychophysiological con-
comitants of perceptgenetic progression, and models for the investigation
of the entire threat-anxiety-defense sequence were prepared. The ultimate
goal of perceptgenetic research remains the integration of its formulations
and findings into a comprehensive structure of contemporary psychology
that recognizes the importance and ubiquity of process.


The Beginnings
As a term, concept, and topic of investigation, perceptgenesis (PG) origi-
nated around the midpoint of the twentieth century. Its seeds were sown
by Gudmund Smith (1949) in his research on afterimages in twins. Kragh
(1955) crystallized the perceptgenetic modus operandi by developing tech-
niques that continue to be used to this day. In a series of articles Smith
(1952, 1954, 1957) articulated the distinctive features of the perceptgenetic
conceptual framework and mapped research directions that have been pur-
sued ever since.
Five decades later, time is ripe for taking stock of the accomplishments
of PG, both empirically and conceptually. To this end, the following
questions will be posed: What are the fundamental attributes of PG, and
what, if anything, differentiates it from related and overlapping ap-
24 Juris G. Draguns

proaches? What is the knowledge that has been gained in the course of re-
search on perceptgenesis? What difference, if any, has it made, theoreti-
cally and practically, in a variety of applied human endeavors? What is its
current status, conceptually and empirically? What problems have been
resolved, and what conceptual and methodological hurdles remain to be
overcome? Finally, what are the new vistas of investigation that have been
opened, but as yet not explored, and what research questions remain to be
These questions are asked by a sympathetic observer who, although not a
member of the original perceptgenetic research team at Lund University,
has followed the evolution of the perceptgenetic orientation with fascina-
tion, ever since the appearance of Kragh' s (1955) landmark monograph.
As an outsider who has been strongly influenced by the PG in his thinking,
research, and clinical operations, he now extends this outlook to a selective
and personal appraisal of the accomplishments and prospects of the per-
ceptgenetic enterprise.

Perceptgenesis: What Is Distinctive About It?

It is difficult to pinpoint the defining features of PG. Indeed, Smith
(1999a) does not clearly set it apart from the more inclusive concept of mi-
crogenesis. In his words, PG is "alternatively termed microgenesis, a proc-
ess of construction of reality, proceeding from subjective stages to more
and more externalized impressions, partly unconscious, abbreviated and
automatized after repeated confrontations with the same stimulus" (p.347).
And yet, PG and microgenesis are not interchangeable terms, even though
the difference between the two concepts is subtle. Moreover, microgenesis
is more inclusive; it encompasses both perception and thought (Bachmann,
2000). Smith and Hentschel (1980) pinpointed three distinct perceptgenetic
emphases: process oriented, functionalistic, and psychodynamic. Thus,
perceptgenesis was explicitly conceived in a personalistic and adaptational
context. Within this framework, the process of identifying and making
sense of a stimulus was construed as an avenue of expressing individuality
by imposing meaning and structure on the basis of personal experiences
(Smith, 1999b). Brown (2001) put it more succinctly: PG is a theory
both of object formation and personality (p. viii).
Perceptgenesis: its origins, accomplishments, and prospects 25

Early portions of PG are marked by subjectivity and often accompanied

by affect; the end of the process objective and veridical representations
clearly predominate. Perception is conceived as an event that unfolds in
time while personality is viewed not as an aggregate of stable and static
traits but as a process. By means of perceptgenetic techniques of stimulus
presentation an attempt is made to replicate personal processes of adapta-
tion that occur over protracted periods of time. In the course of these pro-
gressions, a person's mechanisms for coping with reality challenges and
personal threats are mobilized, applied, and modified; choices are made,
conflicts are resolved, and psychodynamic aspects of PG are thereby
brought to the fore (Cegalis, 1984,1991). Smith, (1999b) described it as
(1) When focusing personality as process intrapsychic events are par-
ticularly illuminated, events which are both individually typical and
recurrent; (2) The distinctive nature of a process is represented by its
temporal characteristics as well as its content and intrinsic meaning;
(3) These events can be studied in different time perspectives: macro-
or ontogenetic, meso- or serial (adaptive), and microgenetic; (4) In
case these events are recurrent they are termed structures; (5) Struc-
tures, in their turn, can be described as processes with a slow rate of
change (p. 269).

Clearly, the perceptgenetic approach is embedded in personality, in con-

trast to the older ventures of studying percepts in the course of their emer-
gence. Of the three pioneers of microgenetic investigation and research,
Sander's ( 1928/1961) focus was upon perceptual development within a
comprehensive holistic framework; Werner's (1948,1957) concerns were
centered upon the generic features of all developmental sequences; and
Gemelli's (1928) fascination was concentrated upon the interface between
cognition and perception. None of these major contributors was primarily
interested in microgenesis as an avenue for the exploration of individual-
ity. In contrast to these classical contributions, the thrust of perceptgenetic
research effort was from the very beginning directed at the development of
innovative techniques that would be congruent with the paramount per-
26 Juris G. Draguns

ceptgenetic objective of capturing the individually characteristic features

of perception in process.

Perceptgenetic Techniques
Defense Mechanism Test (DMT). DMT was developed by Kragh (1955)
in an attempt to apply microgenetic techniques for the systematic explora-
tion of personality in process. To this end, thematic stimuli are presented,
depicting an external but psychodynamically and symbolically significant
threat to the main person, or hero, in the picture. This picture is shown to
the person at 22 successive exposures, from 10 to 2000 milliseconds. Scor-
ing is focused on the prerecognition responses to the threatening stimuli
which are assumed to represent defense mechanisms, ranging from repres-
sion to reaction formation. In light of the current test manual (Kragh,
1985), DMT has demonstrated its usefulness in a variety of personnel,
clinical, and personality contexts. An impressive amount of consistent
validational findings has been obtained, and interscorer reliability for the
various defenses has been found to be high. Specific results will be de-
scribed in later sections of this chapter.
Meta-Contrast Technique (MCT). MCT (Smith, Johnson, Almgren, Johan-
son, 2001) involves repeated presentation at tachistoscopic exposure
speeds of pairs of stimuli, one of which is exposed right before the other.
The first stimulus is presented at subliminal speeds. It is not recognized,
but it affects the response to the subsequently exposed, clearly supralimi-
nal, stimulus. The first stimulus is designed to represent a threat to the per-
son who is depicted in the second stimulus. The first stimulus upon the
second triggers manifestations of anxiety and/or defense in responding to
the second stimulus. Applied in a variety of mental health and psychoso-
matic contexts, the MCT has yielded positive and replicated findings. The
MCT has also produced promising results in relation to creativity, both in
young adults and aged people. Both interrater and test-retest reliability has
been found to be high, and validity, defined as diagnostic differentiation,
has shown a high degree of correspondence to clinical criteria. Smith et al.
(2001) also reported on some recently developed specialized versions of
MCT, such as the Test of Flight Phobia, Test of Self Confrontation, and
Perceptgenesis: its origins, accomplishments, and prospects 27

Identification Test all of which have demonstrated their diagnostic useful-

Creative Functioning Test (CFT). CFT, as described by Smith and Carls-
son (1990), consists of reproductions of still lives that are first presented
tachistoscopically at gradually increasing exposure times to the point of
correct recognition. Once this series of presentations is completed, the or-
der is reversed and the stimuli are presented at ever shorter exposure times.
Not clinging to the correct representation and being able to engage in sub-
jective responses has been found to be associated with various external in-
dicators of creativity in samples of research scientists, professional artists,
university students, and children of various ages.
Serial and Adaptation Measures. In addition to the above tests, which
Smith (2001) has described as genuine perceptgenetic methods (p. 45),
investigators of PG have extensively utilized a variety of measures that in-
volve repeated and serial presentation of the same stimuli. These tech-
niques are exemplified by the Stroop Color Word Test and Visual Afteref-
fects. Like the perceptgenetic techniques described above, these measures
allow the experimenter to observe the process and change in the persons
response to the stimulus. However, no genesis of an actual percept occurs.
For that reason, these techniques are considered in the present context to be
relevant to PG, even though, in the narrow sense of the term, they are not
perceptgenetic. Consequently, they will not be systematically considered in
this chapter.


PG as the Third Way: Beyond Projective Tests and Personality Inventories

The first accomplishment of the perceptgenetic research program was the
demonstration of its relevance for practically oriented personality assess-
ment. Since the earliest contributions by Sander (1928/1961), sporadic at-
tempts were undertaken to construct personality tests on a microgenetic
basis. These efforts, however, lacked continuity, and Draguns (1991) con-
cluded that none of the techniques "have been investigated systematically
on extensively enough to quality as tests with established psychometric
properties, that is, adequate data on their reliability and validity. Thus,
28 Juris G. Draguns

they provide a variety of choices for interested researchers. It is premature,

however, to recommend any of them for individual-centered personality
assessment." (p. 27)
In contrast to these intermittent research forays, perceptgenetic studies
have proceeded apace in a variety of applied contests for five decades. As a
result of this continuous effort, a format and rationale of personality as-
sessment has come into being that is distinct from both self-report and pro-
jective tests. The difference from the self-descriptive paper-and-pencil in-
struments is obvious and requires no elaboration. The features that set per-
ceptgenetic approaches apart from projective techniques are in part over-
shadowed by readily apparent if superficial similarities. Both projective
and perceptgenetic instruments are indirect avenues of personality ap-
praisal; the person expresses, rather than directly reveals, his or her indi-
viduality , and does so while ostensibly being engaged in doing something
else. Moreover, both of these modes of personality assessment lend them-
selves easily to psychodynamic interpretation. Their differences are less
obvious and can be easily overlooked. Jenkin (1957) pointed out that at-
tempting to impose meaning upon gradually emerging stimuli is an opera-
tion that is more conducive to reality testing than to an unbridled flow of
fantasy. Hentschel (1980) emphasized that perceptgenetic procedures are
unique in that they make possible the differentiation of phases of percept
emergence, corresponding to early and late levels of personality organiza-
tion. Moreover, in contrast to prominent projective tests such as the Ror-
schach and TAT , DMT and MCT were explicitly designed to be scored for
specific defense mechanisms.

Sources of Perceptgenesis: Coalescence of Influences

Several developments converged to bring the perceptgenetic approach into
being. Preexisting microgenetic techniques for protracting the perceptual
process and retarding the identification of stimuli by tachistoscopic and
other means constituted one point of departure. The availability of TAT
and other thematic stimuli paved the way for the construction of visual
scenes that would foster identification with the central person or hero. The
new concept of perceptual defense, just introduced by Bruner and Postman
(1949) at the time, offered a model of defensive operations that could be
Perceptgenesis: its origins, accomplishments, and prospects 29

observed under laboratory conditions, albeit it represented an admittedly

simplified replica of defenses as they occurred in real life. It should be
mentioned that, in the course of discussion at the Delphi Conference on
Perceptgenesis in 2000, Ulf Kragh stated that perceptual defense did not
loom large as an explicit influence in the formative period of perceptgene-
sis. Still, it may have been part of the prevailing Zeitgeist that focused
upon perception as an avenue for studying personality. More to the point,
the emerging psychoanalytic ego psychology of the 1940s and 1950's
provided an explanatory framework within which a central role was ac-
corded to defense mechanisms, a pivotal concept in perceptgenesis.
These influences coalesced with William Sterns (1918, 1938) pre-
existing concept of personality as an unitas multiplex, an integrated struc-
ture whose highly differentiated parts coexist in harmony or dissonance,
while being inextricably bound with the supraordinate totality of the per-
sons experience. In Sterns example, dreams represent the unitas multi-
plex of a persons aspirations and impulses. Similarly, his or her strivings
are channeled upon an emerging percept that is personally relevant and
cognitively complex.
As a byproduct of several decades of investigation, information has been
amassed about the experience of perceptgenesis. As pointed out by Smith
(1984), stabilization and automatization are the pivotal components of this
progression. As Smith and Carlsson (2005) put it, perceptgenesis can be
construed as a release step by step of the objective percept from the em-
brace of subjectivism. The process is experienced as saltatory rather than
continuous; graphically represented, it would appear more zigzagging than
linear. This observation, confirmed not only by the perceptgenetic pio-
neers at Lund University (cf., Smith, 2001), but across at least three gen-
erations of microgenetic researchers (cf., Bachmann, 2000; Brown, 1991;
Cegalis, 1991; Flavell & Draguns, 1957; Graumann, 1959; Linschoten,
1959; Sander, 1928/1961), provides a suggestive justification for dividing
perceptgeneses into stages. Of course, stage is an abstraction, but its appli-
cation to perceptgenesis it is bolstered by the natural points of disruption
and discontinuity that just pop into the view of perceptive observers.
Another recurrent feature in perceptgenetic accounts pertains to the
arousal of feelings in the early and intermediate portions of the per-
30 Juris G. Draguns

ceptgenetic sequence. Again, this mobilization of affect progresses more

erratically than cumulatively, sometimes erupting suddenly, unexpectedly,
and perhaps disproportionately. Outside of PG in the narrow sense of the
word, this phenomenon has been systematically demonstrated by means of
GSR's (Frhlich & Laux, 1969), evoked EEG potentials (Beck & Frohlich,
1984), other EEG indicators (Beyn, Volkov & Zhirmunskaya, 1963), and
semantic differentials (Draguns, 1967; Petrenko & Vasilenko, 1977).
In light of these observations, imposition of meaning that fits the struc-
ture and form of the emerging stimulus involves extension of an adaptive
effort over time. Cegalis (1991) enumerated nine distinct processes in the
course of microgenesis; all of them appear to apply equally to perceptgene-
1. Stages (or phases) of microgenetic perceptual development are de-
scribed as qualitatively and quantitatively different at different mi-
crotime intervals (between absolute and differential thresholds) in
terms of percept content, affective participation, and structural
2. Microgenetic processes may vary in their directionality and in their
end products. Percepts may be aborted in the course of microtime
development, and the aborted products of this truncated develop-
ment may emerge in consciousness or behavior.
3. Microgenesis, as a description of stimulus indeterminacies or
stimulus representation, must be understood in terms of (1) the ef-
fect and contribution of past experience and (2) the context of per-
sonality structure and function.
4. The general quality of perceptual experience can be characterized
as a progression from distorted and nonveridical to less distorted
and more veridical.
5. Subjective experience can be characterized as proceeding from
confusion to organized meaning and understanding.
6. Percept quality can be described as progressing from less clear to
more clear.
7. Changes in the sense of subjective control over perception can be
described as proceeding from alienation (egodystonic or dissocia-
Perceptgenesis: its origins, accomplishments, and prospects 31

tive) to percepts identified with a sense of belonging to the self, that

is, non-dissociated and self-controlled.
8. The affective experience accompanying early as opposed to later
stages of perception can be characterized as a change from unpleas-
ant high arousal to pleasant lower arousal.
9. The meaning of a percept and its verbalized referent can be said to
undergo progressive differentiation and specification. When mean-
ing is defined as verbal representation, the phenomenon of micro-
genesis can be quantified and given a rudimentary structural defini-
tion. (Cegalis, 1991, p. 111).

In elaboration of Cegalis second point, it should be added that per-

ceptgenetic experiments have provided striking, though complex, demon-
strations of the impact of subliminal stimuli upon the subsequent course of
PG. Thus, amauroscopic, i.e., subliminal, yet relative prolonged but low
intensity, exposure of aggressively or sexually arousing pictures has led to
the incorporation of DMs against aggression and sexuality during the sub-
sequent stages of PG (Westerlundh, 1976, 1984).



Not unlike an actual perceptgenetic sequence, research on perceptgenesis

has evolved toward differentiation, specification, stabilization, and integra-
tion. Yet, the end phase is not even in sight as new vistas are being opened
and novel applications and implications continue to emerge. Below is a
listing of some of the active and productive areas of study:
(1) Operationalization of defense mechanisms (DMs) in the act of their
emergence by means of the DMT, MCT, and other techniques and the con-
certed exploration of their antecedents, correlates, and consequences goes
back to Kragh's (1955) seminal investigation. The flow of subsequent stud-
ies has never abated. This effort fits in with the recrudescence of DM's in
contemporary theorizing and research (e.g., Cramer, 2000; Hentschel,
Smith, Draguns, & Ehlers, 2004; Sjbck, 1973; Vaillant, 1992,1993). It
is increasingly recognized that of the multitude of psychoanalytic concepts,
32 Juris G. Draguns

DMs lend themselves best to operationalization. Moreover, they have

yielded a coherent body of empirical findings (Draguns, 2004; Kline,
1972; Kyriazis, 1991). Perceptgenetic approaches have played an increas-
ingly prominent role in this enterprise. (Draguns, 1991; Kline, 1988: Kragh
& Smith, 1970; Smith, Kragh, & Hentschel, 1980; Smith & Hentschel,
1993: Smith & Westerlundh, 1980; Westerlundh & Smith, 1983). One of
the most important conclusions derived from the accumulated per-
ceptgenetic research is that the DMs originally described by Freud
(1894/1964) in the intrapsychic context, are also triggered in response to
significant external reality threats. More broadly, perceptgenetic research
results are consonant with the notion that DMs can be activated by the ex-
periences of incongruity, ambiguity, unanticipated change, and ultimately,
chaos (Smith and Carlsson, 2005). Such activation becomes even more
likely if the confusion and disorientation experienced is pertinent to the
self (Draguns, 2004). Another important advance, based on perceptgenetic
observations, is the specification of the relationship between the several
prototypical danger situations posited in psychoanalytic theory and the
specific defense strategies observed on DMT (Bckstrm, Ozolins, Pers-
son, & Sjbck, 1995). Over and above these findings, it is worth empha-
sizing that, DMT, MCT, and their several derivatives provide the opportu-
nity for directly scoring DM's in a reliable and theoretically grounded
manner. In general, percept-genetic theory has been estimated to have a
low hypothesis quotient, i.e., its predictions have been found to have a high
degree of testability (Madsen, 1986).
(2) In addition to DM's, MCT can be scored for anxiety, (Smith et al,
2001; Smith & Carlsson, 2005). Four levels of anxiety are distinguished in
the MCT threat series. These levels of anxiety have been studied in relation
to their antecedents, either spontaneously occurring or deliberately pro-
voked by the experimenter (e.g., Westerlundh, 1984) and in their interplay
with a variety of defense mechanisms. Anxiety is not directly scored on
the DMT (Smith & Hentschel, 2004). At the risk of simplification, it can
be said that anxiety is expressed in perceptgenetic procedures through the
communication of distress and helplessness, as well as through symbolic
representations of threat. By contrast to anxiety, defenses become manifest
mainly through perceptual distortions and transformations. The vicissi-
Perceptgenesis: its origins, accomplishments, and prospects 33

tudes of both anxiety and defense, in the course of PG have been thor-
oughly investigated from early childhood through adolescence (Smith &
Danielsson, 1982).
(3) Two early reports (Kragh, 1955; Smith & Kragh, 1955) documented
striking parallels between the chronology of biographical events and the
sequence of their representation in the perceptgenetic series. Subse-
quently, this phenomenon was further scrutinized on the case level by
Kragh (1986) who formulated explicit predictions about the occurrence
and sequence of specific events in a person's life experience on the basis of
their appearance on DMT. More recently, Westerlundh and Terjestam
(1990) focused on women who had experienced loss of their mothers
through divorce. They were able to confirm a trend toward the correspon-
dence of this loss between PG and the year in life in which separation from
mother had occurred. Of a total of 38 predictive statements, Kragh (1986)
in his study was able to confirm 28 on the basis of the person's recollec-
tions. These findings go far beyond the formal correspondence between
ontogenesis and microgenesis postulated in Werner's (1957) orthogenetic
principle. Not surprisingly, they have provoked a great deal of skepticism.
Yet, reports of perceptgenesis recapitulating biographical events have sur-
vived the imposition of methodological safeguards against suggestion and
other artifacts. When and why do these phenomena occur? This question
should guide further systematic research by blending Kraghs pioneering,
innovative and flexible, approaches with new research designs that permit
the investigation of complex and seemingly intractable phenomena.
(4) Hentschel (1980) extended perceptgenetic research to the investiga-
tion of cognitive styles in relation to the DMT. He was able to demon-
strate substantia1 canonical correlations between isolation and adaptation
to interference tasks and to the low productivity of free associations as well
as between projection and sharpening. The relationship between repres-
sion and cognitive styles proved to be more complex, and consistent posi-
tive correlations with the cognitive style of leveling that were hypothesized
on the basis of ego-psychology, failed to materialize. Also relevant to this
issue are the studies that have sought to correlate DMT and MCT scores
with the regulative styles observed in serial procedures such as the Color
Word Test (e.g., Rubino & Siracusano, 2004). These perceptgenetic ef-
34 Juris G. Draguns

forts constitute the most systematic attempts extant to discover links be-
tween the stylistic and defensive aspects of adaptation.
(5) Another novel line of research has been opened by Ozolins (1989)
who studied defense patterns in relation to bodily movements and other
modes of nonverbal behavior. On the DMT, distinct modes of correlates
were established between these variables and the two distinct and often
contrasting defenses of isolation and repression. This contrast was espe-
cially striking when the threatening vs. neutral character of the situation
was taken into account. As hypothesized, repressors tended to be generally
more motorically restless while persons relying upon isolation as their
principal defense exhibited motoric rigidity and froze in the face of
(6) One of the earliest and most remarkable achievements of the DMT
was its ability to predict success and failure in military pilot training (cf.,
Kragh, 1970), a finding that was subsequently extended and confirmed on
the basis of accident records in Sweden (Neuman, 1978) and Greece (Kyri-
azis, 1991). Successful and unsuccessful pilot candidates were character-
ized by distinctive progressions of DM's. This conclusion was found to be
applicable to other stressful military and civilian occupations such as long
distance truck drivers (Svensson & Trygg, 1994) and naval attack divers
(Vaernes, 1982). Moreover, defensive functioning has been found to vary
with the nature of danger and the occupational context. Thus, per-
ceptgenetic instrumentation has carved a unique niche in providing predic-
tors of performance in occupations that have the reputation of posing for-
midable challenges for personnel selection.
(7) In the clinical context, a lot of information has been gathered, begin-
ning with Kragh's (1955) identification of the characteristic DM's of obses-
sive compulsives. By this time, data on DMs are also available for con-
version disorders (Sundbom, Binzer, & Kullgren, 1999), depressives
(Kyriazis & Karaminas, 1986), hysterics vs. obsessive compulsives (Nils-
son, 1983), eating disorders (Gitzinger, 1993), borderline personalities
(Sundbom, & Armelius, 1992), suicidal individuals (Fribergh, Trskman-
Benz, jehagen, & Regnell, 1992), and several other syndromes. Psycho-
somatic disorders have been prominent topics of recent perceptgenetic re-
search (e.g., Hennigsson, 1999), and the relevance of perceptgenetic tech-
Perceptgenesis: its origins, accomplishments, and prospects 35

niques for neuropsychological differentiation has been persuasively as-

serted by CarIsson, Lilja, Smith, and Johanson (1991).
(8) Inverted perceptgenesis has proved to be a prominent and productive
avenue for the study of creativity (Hentschel & Schneider, 1986; Smith,
1999a; Smith & Carlsson, 1990; Smith & Carlsson, in press). On the Crea-
tive Functioning Test (CFT), Lund University researchers have found, that
serial presentation from clarity to disappearance provides useful data per-
taining to creativity. Noncreative individuals tend to cling to the, previ-
ously seen, clear representation; creative persons realize new possibilities
by structuring the vanishing image. This finding has been validated
against consensual criteria of creativity in a variety of scientific and artistic
endeavors. Perceptgenetic research on creativity has been embedded in a
systematic multimethod program of studies pursued at Lund University for
more than a decade. (Smith & Carlsson, in press). It is worth noting that
the course of Gestalt decomposition and disappearance was observed and
described by Gemelli (1928) and Sander (1939/1962b), without, however,
either of these pioneering contributors recognizing the potential of micro-
genesis in reverse for differential psychology and, in particular, for the
assessment of creativity.
(9) A new and surprising extension of perceptgenetic methodology in-
volves cross-cultural research. It is exemplified by a study by Sundbom,
Jacobsson, Kullgren, and Penayo (1998) in which normal, schizophrenic,
and borderline individuals were compared by means of the DMT in Swe-
den and Nicaragua. As a result, perceptgenetic measures have demon-
strated their relevance for the resolution of basic issues at the interface of
culture and psychopathology. Proceeding from this foundation, it would
be interesting to explore the relationship of perceptgenetically established
DMs to cultural dimensions, such as those that have emerged from
Hofstedes (2001) multivariate worldwide comparisons. In particular, his
construct of uncertainty avoidance intuitively appears to be relevant to per-
ceptgenetic operations, which centrally involve coping with ambiguity and
complexity. Moreover, are there detectable differences in PG between in-
dividualistic and collectivistic cultures and between masculine and femi-
nine ones? Hofstedes (2001) recent integration of several decades of re-
search inspired by his original investigation contains a treasure trove of
36 Juris G. Draguns

hypotheses some of which may be applicable to PG. No simple, clear-cut

differentiation across cultures is anticipated, but complex, yet meaningful,
interactions are expected to emerge.
(10) When perceptgenetic research was initiated, available research de-
signs were geared to hypothesis testing of well developed concepts by
means of neat, objective data. Analysis of variance reigned supreme, es-
pecially in North America. There was a manifest disjunction between pre-
vailing modes of statistical analysis and typical perceptgenetic data. In the
ensuing decades, perceptgenetic researchers have both sought and devel-
oped modes of data analysis congruent with their research problems and
objectives. In particular, the soft modeling approach described by Hen-
ningsson (1999) fits the requirements of many PG research problems.
Henningsson has described some of the specific techniques for applying
soft modeling such as principal component analysis and partial least
squares of latent structures, both of which have already been successfully
utilized in perceptgenetic research.
(11) In the fifty years since their emergence, perceptgenetic techniques
have virtually traversed the progression from research tools to clinically
applicable measures. During the Conference on Perceptgenesis in Delphi,
it was fascinating to hear about specific perceptgenetic observations in a
variety of clinical contexts. Little of this information is as yet available to
the professional public at large. Together with the accumulated research
findings, such clinical reports would further facilitate the use of per-
ceptgenetic measures in concrete real life situations for the benefit of ac-
tual help seekers.



A cursory review of perceptgenetic research has been completed, albeit

with gaps and omissions. What are the future tasks for this continuing en-
terprise? Below is the listing of some of the issues that demand being tack-
led and resolved.
(1) Perhaps the major perceptgenetic contribution has been the opera-
tionalization of emerging DMs in response to a gradually appearing
Perceptgenesis: its origins, accomplishments, and prospects 37

threat. Proceeding from this foundation, an ambitious challenge is to make

the entire sequence of threat-conflict-defense sequence (Smith &
Hentschel, 1993) observable. To this end, verbal reports of perceptgenesis
should be supplemented by a number of psychophysiological indicators of
reactivity, as anticipated for example in the study by Frhlich and Laux
(1969) and implemented in research on cortical slow potentials (contingent
negative variations) in relation to attention control (Glantzmann & Frh-
lich, 1986), in studies of evoked potentials as unconscious indicators of
cognitive control (Ehlers & Munz, 1986), and in observations of variations
of EEG alpha waves before and during the recognition of visual stimuli
(Emrich & Heinemann, 1966). Indeed, potentially useful biological meas-
ures are legion, even though each of them comes with specific problems
and difficulties of incorporating it into the experience of perceptgenesis
without disrupting its course. Moreover, the originators of PG have explic-
itly placed it within a biological framework (cf., Smith, 1954, 1991, 1999b,
2001). Concurrently, a neuropsychologically oriented current of microge-
netic thought has come into being and has gathered momentum during the
last three decades (Brown, 1977, 1988, 1991; Hanlon, 1991). Further steps
toward integration of perceptgenetic research with these trends would be
salutary. More recently, perceptgenetic researchers have actively and se-
quentially pursued the search for points of contact with new procedures,
such as regional Cerebral Blood Flow, Positron Emission Tomography,
and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (cf. Hentschel, Smith, & Dra-
guns, 2004). Respiration, lateralization, cardiac and skin relativity, and
endocrine parameters are being studied by means of these indicators in re-
lation to DMT, MCT, and other perceptgenetic measures. Cegalis (1991)
has proposed a specific model for bridging the gap between the phenome-
nal transformations observed in perceptgenesis and the psychophysiologi-
cal and neuropsychological processes that accompany and underlie these
changes. A volume has been devoted to exploring the interface between
subliminal perception and supraliminal microgenesis including PG
(Hentschel, Smith, & Draguns, 1986). Along similar lines, Lieberman
(1974) has taken steps toward extending the microgenetic progression be-
low the absolute threshold. He thereby initiated the investigation of sub-
38 Juris G. Draguns

liminal perception as a prestage of microgenesis (cf., Draguns, 1986); such

efforts can be extended, for example to the DMT stimuli.
(2) At the same time, we should not lose sight of the fact that the gist of
PG is the emergence, evolution, alternation, elaboration, and enrichment of
meaning. It is a process in which affect and cognition vie for dominance
and are eventually integrated at the service of coming to grips with a seg-
ment of reality that is difficult to apprehend instantaneously. This phe-
nomenon is only partially captured by the verbal description upon which
researchers have traditionally relied. Its supplementation by drawings and
sketches, initiated in the early days of perceptgenesis (Kragh, 1955),
should be further developed and systematized. In addition to it, systematic
information should be collected not only about denotative but also about
connotative meaning of the stimuli at all stages of their presentation. This
has been done by Draguns (1966) and by Petrenko and Vasilenko (1977)
who found that affect shifts tend to precede changes in the perception of
picture. This conclusion is broadly consonant with Zajoncs (1980, 1984)
formulation that assigns primacy of affect over cognition and precedence
of preferences over inferences in a variety of operations that require per-
sonal judgment. In a more elaborate fashion, Kreitler and Kreitler (1984)
proposed 21 dimensions of meaning assignment, and these attributions
could be systematically investigated across perceptgenesis, subject to over-
coming technical and practical difficulties in simultaneously collecting in-
formation of such scope and complexity.
(3) The question of what motivates perceptgenesis has rarely been
broached and never fully answered (Draguns, 1983). The heuristic princi-
ple proposed by Linschoten (1959) may in part guide such progressions,
and the old formulations of German holistic psychologists ( cf. Herrmann,
1976) about the pull toward meaning deserve a searching second look. In
going beyond these formulations and postulating more explicit motiva-
tional mainsprings, perceptgenetic instruments such as DMT provide an
almost ideal arena of exploration. To act on the basis of incomplete infor-
mation is an adaptive imperative (Bleger, 1967). Waiting for all the facts
to be there before commitment or decision is a self-defeating and ineffec-
tual strategy of adaptation. Perceptgenetic procedures then may provide a
Perceptgenesis: its origins, accomplishments, and prospects 39

miniature replica of personal coping with the ubiquitous ambiguity of hu-

man condition.
(4) Perceptgenetic scoring systems started out with the catalogue of the
classic defense mechanisms going back to Anna Freud (1946). In the
meantime, additional defense mechanisms have been described and named
(Draguns, 2004). A welcome development is the operationalization of
some of these more recently introduced mechanisms, as exemplified by the
criteria for splitting, mirroring, and idealization proposed and applied by
Kyriazis and Karamlinas (1986) in their research on depression. Inde-
pendently, Nilsson (1995) formulated scoring criteria for splitting and sev-
eral other primitive DMs prominent in borderline personality disorders.
So far, however, there have been no attempts to operationalize the higher
level defenses such as altruism, humor, suppression, anticipation, and sub-
limation (Vaillant, 1992). Are these defenses encountered in the course of
PG, in particular with the stimuli as they are currently constituted? This is
a question that could be potentially answered, especially by investigating
PG protocols of individuals above the average in personal maturity and in
coping with stress.
(5) Historically, DMT and other perceptgenetic techniques did not origi-
nate as standard psychometric tests. Consequently, they were not validated
on a succession of random or representative samples. Indeed, in light of
the perceptgenetic investigators orientation and objectives, such a proce-
dure would be pointless. As data have accumulated, so has information on
reliability and validity. Current MCT (Smith et al., 2001) and DMT
(Kragh, 1985) manuals contain relevant normative findings on normal and
pathological samples that are comparable to those on other tests. Addi-
tional data are not so much needed on test norms as on differences in DMs
and other scorable variables across demographic lines. For example, Gitz-
inger (1988, 1991) is one of the few researchers who has raised the ques-
tion of gender differences in DMs. It would also be interesting to ascer-
tain variations in perceptgenetic scores across age, years of schooling, and
socioeconomic class.
(6) Proceeding in the opposite direction, one can envisage increasing in-
dividualization of perceptgenetic techniques, with custom-made stimuli
eventually devised for a specific person in a specific situation. Stepping-
40 Juris G. Draguns

stones to that end are the construction of such measures as the Test of
Flight Phobia, Test of Self Confrontation, Identification Test (Smith et al.,
2001), and Perceptgenetic Object Relations Test (Smith, 2001). A further
step is suggested by the procedures of an overlooked study on subliminal
perception by Emrich and Heinemann (1966) who ascertained, by means of
inquiry and free association, personally arousing emotional stimuli for
each of their participants. Similarly, it is not past imagining that an artist
could create a picture representing a threat described by the client in the
course of the interview. Specific themes and features of stimuli could also
be computer generated. Such pictorial stimuli could then be presented
tachistoscopically, by means of the meta-contrast procedure, or by other
techniques of stimulus impoverishment or protraction. Appropriate analy-
ses for N=1 could then be applied, as Kragh (1986) has already done in his
case studies of micro-macro correspondence.
(7) While perceptgenetic research has been systematically implemented
since the 1950s, experimentation on microgenesis in the broader sense of
the term has also proceeded apace, more fitfully and in spurts rather than
continuously. What this effort has yielded must be pinpointed and as-
sessed in order to integrate it with the store of perceptgenetic research.
The pursuit of such an ambitious goal is beyond the scope of the present
chapter. However, a limited number of research based conclusions on mi-
crogenesis can be identified. The first of these comes from the systematic
study of the neurophychological aspects of microgenesis (Brown, 1991;
Hanlon, 1991), and it calls into question some widely shared conclusions
of an earlier era. Graumann (1959), for example, dismissed the idea of a
temporal phasic development of standard, apparently instantaneous per-
cept as phenomenologically untenable. Now neuropsychological indica-
tors have accumulated that point to a process that is extended across micro
time and has affinities with the theoretically postulated, prototypical mi-
crogenetic or perceptgenetic sequence as specified by Cegalis (1991) and
Smith (2001). These findings suggest that perceptgenesis is not an artifi-
cial or atypical progression, but that it is germane to the understanding of a
broad range of perceptual activity. The other conclusion comes from
Bachmanns (2001) thorough and perceptive analysis of microgenetic ex-
perimentation. It points to organic growth rather than to a logical com-
Perceptgenesis: its origins, accomplishments, and prospects 41

puterlike decision tree of sequential judgments in the course of micro-

genesis. Finally, Gicksohns, (1995) model posits a succession of multiple
drafts of experience in the course of perceptual process, and as such is di-
rectly relevant to perceptgenesis.
(8) A perceptive critic (Prinz, 1986) has identified three basic and con-
troversial tenets that underlie PG as a theoretical framework and research
enterprise. Briefly stated, they posit that perception is an active, transfor-
mative, and elective process rather than a passive, automatic, and instanta-
neous reaction. Assumptions cannot be proved nor are they subject to
refutation. They can, however, be scrutinized for the extent of their con-
gruence with the available and pertinent facts. Research findings on PG, as
recapitulated in part in this chapter, document their substantial consistency
with the above three premises. What remains contestable is the notion that
the experimental techniques devised to investigate PG reproduce real-life
perceptual processes. However, contemporary exponents of PG (e.g.,
Smith, 2001) explicitly construe PG as a reconstruction rather than a rep-
lica, of percept emergence. Findings reviewed herein can be regarded as
pertaining to a variety of perceptual activities that require effort and time, a
position that is acceptable to both sympathetic and more critical analysts of
PG (Madsen, 1986; Prinz, 1986).
(9) The amount and variety of knowledge gained about and through per-
ceptgenesis is impressive; the impact of these findings upon practical and
applied pursuits has been substantial; and the outlook for new advances
and discoveries is promising. One may ask then why perceptgenetic con-
cepts and findings have not yet become part and parcel of the core concep-
tualization of psychology. It is extraordinary that an otherwise erudite and
perceptive review of the current status of defense mechanisms in psychol-
ogy (Cramer, 2000) contains no mention of perceptgenetic contributions.
Similarly, two recent encyclopedias of psychology (Craighead & Nemer-
off, 2001: Kazdin, 2000) have no entries for either microgenesis of per-
ceptgenesis. This state of affairs, deplorable though it may be, poses a dual
challenge. Psychologists of other outlooks should take increasing note of
the yield of perceptgenetic research, and contributors to perceptgenesis
must intensify their efforts to integrate their conclusions and insights into
the unified structure of psychology.
42 Juris G. Draguns


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Ulf Kragh

This paper pays attention to a number of crucial problems that could be

successfully tested by means of percept-genetic methodology, or have al-
ready been preliminarily tested with promising results. Reference is mostly
made to the authors own invention, the Defense Mechanism Test (DMT).
One problem is how very early stages in a micro-process should be un-
derstood, another how the succession of meanings in such a series relates
to life history, a challenging but controversial theme. In the third section
the mindbody question is briefly touched, and in the fourth section an in-
triguing experiment on lying is suggested.
Aggression is an issue discussed in section 5 and the defense of repres-
sion in section 6, partly in comparison with the defense of isolation. Fin-
ally, in section 7, the often neglected issue of color is taken up.


The following seven topics are all related to the perceptgenetic (PG) frame.
The first three of them are loosely interconnected, whereas the remaining
four stand more isolated. Only brief presentations will be given here.

1. Associations and pre-stages of perception

This issue was raised at the very beginning of PG ("actual genetic") re-
search, but in spite of its essential implications, the early experiments in
the late fourties, performed by J. Flensburg, have not been repeated. Flens-
burg's aim was to investigate the "association of likeness". He presented, in
the tachistoscope, about 30 slides with photos of faces (three ages: chil-
dren, grown-ups, and old people, and of both sexes) ten times each from
1/50th to 1/2 seconds, and in random order. After a few months, all photos
were shown separately at "full time and the subjects were asked to tell
whether they had seen them before. Provided the answer was negative,
they were encouraged to report any association that might appear. One pre-
52 Ulf Kragh

liminary finding was that the contents of the associations very frequently
seemed to coincide with reports obtained from the early tachistoscopic
presentations of the photo in question, and that these contents were closely
related to early experiences in the subject's life, sometimes even layered in
chronological order. Two preliminary statements could be formulated: (1)
Pre-stages of perception ordered in a PG mode (P-phases), are equivalents
of associations, the latter being normally reconstructed after the establish-
ment of perception/recognition, and (2) the order of P-phases (in tachisto-
scopic PGs) correspond temporally with the subject's historical develop-
The first point is, of course important for bridging the gap between the
psychology of perception and the conceptual and methodological frames of
Early PG experiments by Kragh (1955) demonstrated a shortage of
P-phases in compulsive subjects compared with a control group. This is in
agreement with clinical findings of the difficulties compulsive persons
have in producing free associations (cf, e.g., Fenichel, 1955).
The second point, the "parallellistic", or "micro-macro" hypothesis, has
even more far-reaching implications.

2. The "parallelistic" hypothesis, and some notes on memory.

There are a few psychologists who accept, while the majority reject this
hypothesis; there also exists only a rather limited number of investigations
with direct relevance, five of them my own (Kragh, 1955, 1970 a and c,
1984, 1986) , and another two by Kyriazis and Karaminas (1986), and by
Westerlundh and Terjestam (1990). However, many formulations in recent
PG literature seem to imply some acceptance of the "parallellistic" hy-
pothesis. One major contra-indication would stem from the fact that it is
deviant from "common sense" - and foreign to most paradigms in psychol-
Yet already Werner (1957) maintained that in tachistoscopic experiments
and what he called "microgenesis" ' there is a development in stages from
less differentiated (diffus) and less articulated (komplex) visual informa-
tions towards differentiated (gegliedert) and articulated (abgehoben) ones,
and that these stages correspond to ontogenetic development in experi-
A mosaic of seven perceptgenetic themes 53

ments with children (Hemmendinger, 1953). The approach, however, was

restricted by almost exclusive reference to "general psychology" and the
use of geometrical stimuli or line drawings (just in one case Rorschach
cards). Even Werner himself could not understand how to link reports from
a tachistoscopic experiment with the temporally stratified exploration of a
single personality (personal communication). A similar conceptualization
also characterized the "Leipzig school": Krueger (1924) and Sander
(1930), the former, however, transgressing the limits of "pure" phenome-
nological description of visual contents in his Strukturpsychologie, both of
them underlining the close interrelations between cognitive and emotional
components in early phases of the Aktualgenese.
It is true that many restrictions and exceptions impede the assessment of
the parallellistic hypothesis. Such factors are in first hand (provided tech-
nology is OK): retesting before the lapse of some months - one year; too
directive instructions; the subject's paucity of verbal expressson; her or his
tendency to report only what was seen clearly, with full conviction; de-
fenses that stamp all or most of the contents of the P-phases, e.g., "the
sculpture of an old man" as the only contents in a whole series using the
DMT (Defense Mechanism Test).
The hypothesis in question is closely related to a general theory of mem-
ory. In contrast to the venerable simile of "memory traces" written on a
wax tablet, given by Plato in his dialogue Menon, and re-modernized many
times thereafter, PG theory tries to conceptualize - and operationalize -
memory in terms of one or many PG series. This implies reference to a
genuinely psychological frame, not recurring to analogies taken from
"modern" neuro-physiology (which has, of course, methods and concepts
of its own).
A PG with a father-son picture motif for example would, under "favor-
able" conditions, recapitulate a (male) subject's relationship with his father,
temporally layered, in abridged form, and mostly organized according to
primary process. The emotionally most loaded and most important phases
of his life would come to the fore in the contents of one or more early
This theory admits the possibility that personality - including all memo-
ries - may be "condensed" in an inconceivably compact present moment
54 Ulf Kragh

(cf. Leibniz' "representatio multitudinis in unitate" in his definition of

mind). Just some specific sector(s) would, however, normally be available
to reconstruction and to awareness at each specific instant, and a still more
narrow sector in the PG experiment.
It should be noted that theoretical considerations as well as practical ones
have been decisive for the arrangement of presentation times (tachisto-
scopic PGs) in geometrical progression. Corresponding to this technical
device, the "impact of time" during man's life course likewise seems to de-
crease with age, as if obeying to the psycho-physical "law of diminishing
A final speculation in this context concerns the concept of "synchronic-
ity", formulated by CG. Jung. Here it may, perhaps, be used to denote the
hypothetical coincidence between the historical succession of experiences
in the subject's life time, and a sequence of their pre-conscious precipitates
in terms of a series of PG phases. Identity of sequential pattern would gen-
erate presence of the past in the present (cf. S:t Augustine: "praesens prae-

3. Body and mind - a perceptgenetic approach.

It is of course presumptuous to raise here this monumental and eternal
problem. My excuse is that a specific PG approach may add a modest em-
pirical aspect to it.
The first PG phase, P1, is the one where the subject starts seeing some-
thing meaningful; that is the definition given in the DMT, and elsewhere in
PG tachistoscopic experiments. But in many cases one can generally speak
of a zone "below" or prior to the threshold of meaning formulated in words
or drawing. This zone extends between "absolutely nothing" and "perhaps
a..". It has not been specifically investigated; it may be characterized as
pre- preconscious or unconscious, which is not however, identical with the
"system Ucs" of psychoanalysis. In the latter defenses are e.g.classified as
unconscious ego structures, whereas in DMT the precipitates of the de-
fenses may be registered on a par with other (preconscious) contents of the
It is tempting to formulate the assumption that the realm between
no-meaning and meaning constitutes the borderline zone where reference
A mosaic of seven perceptgenetic themes 55

to a neuro-physiological frame ends, and that of psychology begins. (For a

penetrating analysis, with a partly different outlook, see Dixon, 1984). The
empirical exploration of this zone may shed some light on theoretical is-
sues (e.g., of psycho-physics), and perhaps generate applications.
In order to maximize the effect of the (tachistoscopic) PG method for the
purpose at hand, the most relevant stimulus would consist in a picture mo-
tif of a loving mother's face together with one breast, as seen from below,
i.e., from the sucking infant's view (no child/hero since the baby has not
yet a delimited self). Optimally, the experiment should be performed with
small children, 4-6 years of age, that is at the earliest stage for applying a
PG (the number of presentations should be quite restricted!). It would also
probably be appropriate to use extra short presentation times. The experi-
menter ought of course to be particularly keen on exploring the weakest
hint of meaning at the initial presentations.

4. Sequels of lying.
I am certainly not going to deal, in this brief discourse, neither with
life-style as portrayed by H. Ibsen - or with defenses in general, most of
them falsifying to some extent the self and/or the object. Even the more
restricted task of discussing how the defenses of denial (A. Freud) and ne-
gation (S. Freud) relate to each other or to lying, will not be tried; just a
short note on the momentary act of lying, in the light of an experimental
device. There has not yet been tried, to my knowledge, any such approach.
This experiment investigates the immediate consequences of lying, by
using short-time presentation of a subliminal stimulus preceded by a supra-
liminal set-inducing one. The former may be any picture motif, the latter
consists in the instruction to the subject, not to tell what has really been
seen but something else.
A few casual observations indicate that the subject, when lying, in that
very instant forgets what was really seen, which is also henceforward lost.
The substantiation of these preliminary findings would demonstrate an es-
sential effect of lying: the destruction of preconscious "reality" (maybe to-
gether with a loss of the faked contents). The structural precipitates of ex-
periences would normally be conserved in their genuine cogni-
tive/emotional shape: the preconscious "tells the historical truth" ("wie es
56 Ulf Kragh

eigentlich gewesen ist" - Ranke), though in a condensed symbolic dress.

Lying seems to destroy this order.
It may also be worth while studying how such an experimentally induced
lie, at some point in a PG series, would influence the rest of that same se-

5. Aggression - a fatal problem of mankind.

The aggressive-destructive forces in man have always been, and still are,
among the most challenging problems society has to handle. After the in-
troduction of Christianity in Europe, a massive defense of reaction forma-
tion was instituted as a barrier against destructive overt behaviour ("love
your enemy", "turn the other cheek"). Means for the implementation of the
wished-for conduct were, among others, threats of eternal punishment in
hell. However, reaction-formation proved not really successful, and ag-
gression found its outlet in the back way, too, in disguise. Nowadays hell
has lost most of its deterring power, letting free straight-forward violence,
increasing in modern society due to so many frustrations, in children as
well as in grown-ups.
Although there is much disagreement concerning the origins of aggres-
sion, there exists some unanimity regarding the paramount role of frustra-
tion as the trigger of it. The problems of minimizing, or rather optimizing
frustrations, and of canalizing or coping with aggression in infancy and
later, are of long standing in psychology and pedagogy. Many of the find-
ings during the preceding decades derive from clinical practice, but there is
not very much experimental work that focuses on the preconscious struc-
ture of aggression; one particularly important contribution has, however,
been presented by Westerlundh (1976).
A crucial difficulty met with in the handling of aggression is related to its
two-fold nature: a destructive force on one hand, and a source of creative
activity, on the other. Using the perceptgenetic Identification Test and the
Creative Functioning Test, Smith, and Smith and Lilja (1999 and 2000)
have presented highly instructive and original papers illuminating this
problem. The application of suppressive or defensive manoeuvres against
aggression has the effect of obstructing both its manifestations. Psychoana-
A mosaic of seven perceptgenetic themes 57

lytic ego psychology even maintains that de-cathected, neutralized aggres-

sive components are necessary for the formation of the ego.
In perceptgenetic research mainly one particular aspect of the submani-
fest structure of aggression has been subject to analysis, viz.: the one re-
lated to anxiety in the oedipal situation. Such is the case in the DMT, and
in other tachistoscopic tests involving threat against a hero-person. How-
ever, these methods have not explicitly focused on the aggressive compo-
nent as such and its vicissitudes in the PG series, but on defenses. Two
signs of defense in DMT, however, "identification with the aggressor" and
"intro-aggression" lend themselves more directly to the investigation of
latent (preconscious) precursors of manifest aggressive behaviour. Data
from the methods in question may also be used for an analysis of other fea-
tures, like the impact of defenses on the hero's motor activity, facial ex-
pression, etc.
In a PG investigation with aggression between two boys as the stimulus
motif, Kragh and Kroon (1970) contrasted a group of wayward boys and a
control group: the findings are tentative and in need of cross validation.

6. Repression: an evasive concept.

Doubt has been raised concerning the relevance of the coding of repression
in PG tests on defense; some aspects of this issue will be discussed.
(a) As we know, S. Freud initially used the term repression as defense in
general, restricting it afterwards to denote one particular species among
According to "classical" psychoanalytic theory, repression has a direct
connection with the oedipal situation, a period with marked masturbation
and overall motor activity. A. Nilsson (1994) has pointed out the general
antithetic relationship between the underlying wish/need/affect, and the
defense against it. The antithesis to vivid motion is stiffness, paralysis, and
to excitement, emotional freezing, which is in agreement with the overall
characteristic of repression in the DMT (c.f. also Freud's analysis of the
"wolf mans" dream, and Kragh & Smith, 1970).
Repression has also been conceptualized as the blocking of ideational
contents to consciousness while preserving the affect (the opposite is valid
for isolation). This description would not apply to repression in the DMT-
58 Ulf Kragh

like tests, in which both affect and ideational contents are transformed into
symbolic presentations with the quality of stiffness and inertia.
(b) In some "animal responses" in the DMT, coded as repression, infor-
mation regarding movement is lacking but should be explored, if possible
(if movement is not recorded, repression is coded). There are a few striking
examples of this variant of repression: that of an owl, in infantile animal
phobia (Kragh, 1970c), and of a "Dalmatiner dog" (Kragh, 1984) in agora-
phobia, in a late phase of the DMT. The latter instance demonstrates a
combination of repression (dog), isolation (white dog), and anxiety "leak-
ing through" defense (black dots).
Reference may also be made here to Freud's famous cases of "little
Hans" (a horse), and the "wolf man" (white wolves sitting in a tree).
Compare also with Rubino et al. (1992), who contrasted a group of con-
version patients with a "normal" one, and found "animal responses" to be
the ones differentiating specifically among the DMT signs.
(c) The characteristic of "stiffness" in DMT repression is not always easy
to distinguish from "dead" ("mutilated", etc.) person, coded as introaggres-
sion. The "differentia specifica", however, would be the quality of stiffness
and inertia in repression vs. that of destruction in introaggression.
(d) Cooper and Kline (1986, 24) repeated an experiment from the sixties
(Kragh, 1970b), in which the frequency of defenses in an "ordinary" DMT
was compared with that of a picture with the same central figure together
with a non-threatening peripheral person (other changes of configuration
were minimized). They were able to confirm the findings viz.: that the re-
moval of threat was accompanied by an overall reduction of defenses; in
their experiment, however, repression made an exception. Accordingly,
they express doubt regarding this defense sign in the DMT. From a
psychodynamic stand-point his criticism would not apply, since a signifi-
cant difference between the two experimental conditions would not be pre-
dicted: even a non-threatening oedipal picture motif provokes anxiety and
mobilizes repression in subjects prone to such a defense. Stronger defenses
may also be substituted for repression at an increase of threat/anxiety (cf.
follow.), notably in these subjects.
(e) According to "classical" psychoanalytic theory there would exist, as a
rule, a relationship between an increase of signal anxiety, and the activa-
A mosaic of seven perceptgenetic themes 59

tion of relatively stronger defensive activity. A trial experiment was de-

vised to test this proposition: one male subject had signs of repression at
the place of the threatening person in the DMT, consistently through all the
P-phases. A parallel DMT picture was then presented, and repression
showed up in the same way during the first third of that series. The subject
was now given the instruction: "there is a threatening man above the young
boy in the center." According to cognitive "set" psychology the subject
should of course see the threatening old man, but instead a white spot ap-
peared. This was quite in line with the theory of defense. A stronger de-
fense should become activated: isolation effaces the internal structure of
the threatening face, while repression maintains some.
(f) Analysing DMT signs of defense from various aspects Bckstrm
(1994) found repression to be specifically linked with threats of bodily in-
jury. Construct validity of repression (as in DMT) was demonstrated by
Westerlundh and Sjbck (1986) in experiments on subliminal effects of
sexually provoking stimuli.

7. Color in perceptgenesis
Color in tachistoscopic PGs has been investigated only little, and never as
a separate issue. This has mainly been due to the almost exclusive use of
black-and-white-stimuli. However, "black painting" and "white painting"
are signs coded in the DMT and elsewhere, the former indicating anxiety
and the latter isolation defense. White (stimulus-inadequate) color seems to
have a twofold function: to cover blackness, and to efface structure.
Localized color other than black and white is coded in the DMT as a
variant of regression. It must, however, be admitted that the intrinsic nature
of the phenomenon is not well understood although clinical findings as
well as other criteria seem to substantiate the assumed regressive character
of color responses (Rubino, Pezzarossa, & Ciani, 1991; Svensson & Trygg,
Kohuts (1976) remarks that dreams in color of narcissistic patients "of-
ten appear to signify the intrusion of unmodified material into the egos in
the guise of realism, and the egos inability to integrate it completely"
(p.172). One clinical case may prove illustrative. A grown-up male patient,
diagnosed as schizophrenic, saw in the 3-4 first phases of both DMT se-
60 Ulf Kragh

ries, a person centrally placed. Thereafter he saw, in just one phase in both
series "a red sunset over the sea". Two variants of regression are coded:
deterioration of contents, and color. Though it was indeed tempting to
prod into the traumatical background of this early DMT phase, I had to re-
frain for ethical reasons (the handling of massive anxiety ensuing).
To inquire into regressive contents would be another instance of "testing
the limits" of meaning cf. theme 3 I can note just one example where
color (in many P-phases) did not indicate regression, in the DMT of quite a
successful manager.
Systematic investigations with colored stimuli presented tachistoscopi-
cally have not been published, but one example may be worth mentioning.
The stimulus was a woman wearing a green blouse, together with a man in
a blue cap. In the first phases the subject saw two children playing joyfully
and harmoniously with each other on a green meadow. The scene then
changed to two children standing on each side of a blue brook, separating
them. The green color of the meadow has been displaced from the woman's
blouse, and the blue color of the brook from the mans cap. Hypothetically,
green has been used to characterize harmony, and blue alienation.
In the PG after-image test the stimulus is a sketchy, oval red face. The
breadth of the after-image is measured, and the color recorded. One well
established result indicates a close relationship between dark and large af-
terimages, and (more or less chronic) anxiety. This finding would corre-
spond to the interpretation of dark painting" as coded in the DMT and
other tachistoscopic PGs.


The reader is certainly left with many open questions, and many results
and investigations omitted. However, my intention was primarily to turn
the attention to some fields, which to my mind are as yet little explored,
though of considerable interest for PG theory as well as for its applica-
A mosaic of seven perceptgenetic themes 61


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Hemmendinger, L. (1953). Perceptual organization and development as
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University, Sweden.
Anders Zachrisson

In the perceptgenetic model of perception-personality, the relationship

between the determination of stimulus and the content of the last phase is
crucial and complex. The way these two concepts belong to different
conceptual levels is discussed. In the perceptual process, the last phase
content is the end-product of a process of construction and at the same
time the starting point for a reconstruction of the individual, subjective
weft in the perceptual process. Percept-genetic techniques, e.g.
tachistoscopic presentation of a picture in a series of exposures, aim at an
uncovering of these processes. For this to give meaningful results,
thorough stimulus analysis and careful calibration of stimulus and the
experimental situation is necessary.

In percept-genetic theory perception is not conceived as an instantaneous

registration of stimulus, but as a process in which the percept is formed,
appearing in consciousness as an end-product of that process. This process
has distinct characteristics. Under normal circumstances, it is very rapid.
We experience it as instantaneous. With special techniques, the process can
be stretched out and become open for analysis. One such technique is
tachistoscopy, where the same picture is subject to a series of gradually
prolonged exposures, starting with a very short one (e.g. 10 ms). The
report from such a series of exposures is called a percept- genesis. Percept-
geneses form highly individual patterns, but typically show a transition
from specifically individual, subjective contents in the beginning to more
stimulus-close, "objective", reality-directed contents in the end (Kragh,
1955; Smith, 1963). We can formulate this as the successive construction
of stimulus in the perceptual process. At the same time, the process
involves an elimination of individual, subjective contents in favour of
stimulus-close material. By means of techniques like tachistoscopy, this
66 Anders Zachrisson

individual, subjective weft in the early phases of the process can be

reconstructed and form the basis for an analysis of aspects of personality
development of the individual.


Percept-genetic theory thus conceives perception as a movement from the

specifically individual towards stimulus-directed behaviour, and stimulus
forms a point of reference for the perceptual experience. How shall we
understand this? Within percept-genetic theory, we can put the question
thus: what is the relation of the stimulus to the last phase in the perceptual
Kragh (1955, p. 16-17) makes a distinction between two aspects of the
stimulus-concept: stimulus as "physical agent" (the configuration of points
that forms the picture) and stimulus as something perceived, with all its
phenomenological qualities (the motif). This last aspect, (N)stimulus in
Kragh's terminology, is closely related to the last phase of the individual.
As a rule they coincide (op. cit., p. 68), but the phenomenological qualities
of the stimulus is "... generalized as objective and constant" (p. 17). In the
Defense Mechanism Test e.g., (N)stimulus can be a general description of
the picture, a young man sitting at a desk and an older man with a
threatening face behind him. The last phase reports of this picture in a
group of subjects will be individual variations of this motif.
The general formulation above contains both practical and
epistemological problems of wide scope. Later I will discuss the practical
question (the determination of stimulus). First, we will have a look at the
theoretical connections.
As our starting-point, we take the thesis that phase contents in a percept-
genesis, i.e. the reports from the series of exposures, have references both
to earlier phases in the series and to the last phase. In percept-genetic
terminology, the last (conclusive) phase is called C, the phases before C
are called P-phases. If we mark their place in the series by index, we can
express the thesis in this way:
A note on the concept of stimulus in perceptgenetic theory 67

P Pn C (1)
This means that the individual phase content is determined by both the
preceding phases and the last phase. (Note that P does not refer to the
sum of phases but to their serial organisation, i e the series as Gestalt).
However, the perceptual process is characterized by distinct displacements
between the components in this function. We thus have the following
scheme for the process from the first phase, (P1), to the last, (Pn) in a series
of exposures with increasing exposure time:
P P1 C
P P2 C

P Pn C (2)
In the last line, both Pn and C refer to the last phase in the percept-
genesis. This double-position elucidates the relation of the last phase to the
concepts construction and reconstruction. When the analysis of the
perceptual process starts from the first phase (P1), the last phase is the end-
product of the individuals process of construction (Pn in the scheme). The
last phase constitutes the starting-point when the analysis starts from the
end. Then it is regarded as absolute, and transforms the preceding phases
in a uniform manner. In this sense it constitutes "a representative of
reconstruction (C in the scheme, Kragh, 1955, p. 70). These processes,
construction and reconstruction, (indicated by the two vertical arrows in
the scheme) explain the direction of the perceptual process towards the last
phase (construction); and the successive elimination of alternative
directions of development in favour of the "correct" end-phase
(reconstruction) (op. cit. p. 69). It is on this level the area of psychology is
constituted in percept-genetic theory: in the dual processes of the
construction of reality and the reconstruction of meaning.
68 Anders Zachrisson

Scheme 2 shows the relations between successive phases in the

perceptual process. It is an attempt to represent this process. Now, we will
take this scheme as a basis for an interpretation of the percept-genetic
experimental situation: tachistoscopic presentation of a stimulus picture
with successivly prolonged exposure time, and time being the only
experimental variable. Let us start with scheme 1:
First we substitute S (stimulus) for C (conclusive phase). This is nota
bene, an interpretation, a transition from one level of concept-formation to
another. Later in this paper, I will try to analyze the relationship between
these two concepts.
Second, On is substituted for P. O represents the personality structure
and index the developmental phase in the life-history of the individual.
This interpretation rests on a fundamental idea in percept-genetic theory:
In the actual-genetic model of perception-personality, the assumption
is made, that the act series is to be regarded as a micro-model of the
onto-genesis of personality (...) the serial patterns of any (...) act series
would reflect the ontogenesis (life history) or personality conceived of
as a developing system of adaptive events, where each actual event is
regarded as a function of the series of preceding events to which it
belongs (Kragh, 1955, p. 31).
Scheme 1 will then get this form: S Pn 0n (3)
Or in an equivalent formulation: S On Pn (3b)
The content of a phase in a percept-genetic series (what the subject
perceives in that exposure) is a product of S (the picture) and aspects of the
subjects personality structure at the corresponding level of development
(On). Now, let us make the same substitutions in scheme 2, and indicate the
T St1 O1 P1
i St2 O2 P2
Stn On Pn (4)
A note on the concept of stimulus in perceptgenetic theory 69

The indices of S, t1, t2 etc, denote the series of exposures of the stimulus
picture with gradually increased exposure times.
The schemes 2 and 4 belong to different conceptual levels in the theory,
and we called scheme 4 an interpretation of 2. This is not to be understood
as a deduction of 4 from 2. We could as well have gone the other way,
from 4 to 2 (an operational definition?). The point is to make the
conceptual relationships clear.
In scheme 4, the vertical dimension is temporal, denoting the gradual
prolongation of stimulus exposure time in the experiment. In scheme 2, the
corresponding dimension is construction/reconstruction, denoting the
frame of reference for understanding perception as process. It is on this
level, scheme 2, that we can claim the continuity of the motif (the identity
of the last phase) in percept-genetic experiments without being guilty of
the classical stimulus-error.
Scheme 4 makes clear certain features of the stimulus concept in percept-
genetic theory. Traditionally, in experimental psychology one makes a
sharp distinction between dependent and independent variables. The
methodological interpretation of the classical stimulus-organism-response
scheme (S-O-R) rests on that very dichotomy. This can not, however, be
maintained in a percept-genetic view, because stimulus is not independent
of the individual's response. The stimulus-picture, (the (N)stimulus) in a
perceptual experiment, can only be defined as an end-product: the
experimenters or a groups average description or the subjects last phase
behaviour. The relation between S and R in the S-O-R scheme is thus
reduced to two different aspects of the same end-product of development
(Kragh, 1955, p 62).
This is clear for stimulus in a strict sense, the exposed picture. Stimulus
can, however, also be taken in a wider sense, and in addition to the picture
include the experimental situation: the exposure times, the light intensity in
the tachistoscope and in the test room, the instruction a s o. These elements
in the experimental situation can of course be manipulated as independent
variables. Then, however, we must observe that the experimental situation
is designed to make the prestages in the perceptual process accessible for
analysis. Perception in the experimental situation is equivalent to
perception in ordinary circumstances (for a discussion of this statement,
70 Anders Zachrisson

see Kragh & Smith, 1970, p. 20-22), but it is too swift to be studied
without special techniques. These (percept-genetic) techniques function as
tools or media, in analogy with e.g. the microscope, designed to make the
process accessible to analysis. The point of the argument is that the
distinction between dependent and independent variables is a problematic
one in the investigation of perceptual processes. We can not define the
external world as stimulus independent of the individual perception of it.1
The stimulus has a meaning for the observer; therefore, it cannot be treated
as an independent variable. Another consequence is that we must revise the
position of the stimulus as a "cause" of responses. The percept is not the
effect of a chain of occurrences starting in the stimulus. It is the resultant
of stimulus and organism as a dynamic system. This is the meaning of the
double arrow between S and O in scheme 4. However, the relation between
the two components changes in the perceptual process. The stimulus
increases in importance as determinant. (In scheme 2, this corresponds to
the increase in importance of the last phase as a reference). However,
stimulus is only one determinant in the process; the personality structure of
the individual is the other (the percept-genesis conceptualized as a
succession of adaptive states, reflecting the personality structure).
Stimulus as determinant is thus the percept-genetic correspondent to
stimulus as a "cause" in traditional S-R-experiments. In its general form,
this is valid for all kinds of percept-genetic experimentation. If we limit
our discussion to a specific picture in a tachistoscopic experiment, it is
possible to be more precise. In the Defense Mechanism Test, for instance,
the pictures are designed to function in analogy with the psychoanalytic
theory of defence mechanisms; depicting a threatening person turned
towards an innocent hero figure. By such an interpretation of the picture,

Epistemologically, percept-genetic theory is related to the Neo-Kantian position (P.
Natorp, E. Cassirer). The distinction between the two schemes above indicates the touch
of the percept-genetic stand. We note that Merleau-Ponty in his phenomenological
approach to knowledge is quite close to percept-genetic thinking. In his analysis of the
physiological reflex-concept, he concludes: "The adequate stimulus cannot be defined in
it self and independent of the organism; it is not a physical reality, it is a physiological or
biological reality" (Merleau-Ponty, 1965, p. 31).
A note on the concept of stimulus in perceptgenetic theory 71

the stimulus as a determinant is qualified. Such a qualification of stimulus

is referred to as "stimulus as operator".


Above, we made a distinction between two ways of describing stimulus.

One way is based on the optical properties of the stimulus. The picture is
treated as a "configuration" of points with varied lightness and is given no
meaning. It lacks phenomenological content. Such a determination of the
picture can be used to maintain physical equivalence in mass production of
a given picture. In a broader sense this type of stimulus can in addition to
the picture also include the experimental situation. The relevance of such a
determination is related to the replicability of the experiment and in
comparisons of experiments (Kragh, 1955, p. 16-17).
The other aspect of the stimulus, (N)stimulus, the motif, refers to the
picture as it is perceived, with its phenomenological qualities. It is related
to the last phase concept, but differs from the (individual) last phase in
being interindividually constant, with a higher degree of inter-subjectivity.
We cannot determine (N)stimulus by reference to any individual last
phase, including the experimenters (op. cit. 20). For practical reasons we
can resort to the average last phase (in a sample of individuals). As Kragh
(p. 17) notes, the objectivity of the determination is thereby heightened.
However, even if this is accepted as an approximation, it does not solve the
principal problem. Because the last phase descriptions (in the sample)
show a variation, we have to determine the limits for what is "correct"
within this variation. And this variation is dependent on the level of
description. The more specific and detailed the description is (the more
subtle qualities that are recorded) the less absolute is the individual's
stability of the last phase percept (op. cit. 138), and the bigger is the
variation of last phase descriptions in a sample. If the descriptions are
limited to general classes: two persons, a table a s o, the correspondence
72 Anders Zachrisson

within a group will approach perfection. This has, as we will see later,
interesting consequences for some percept-genetic applications.2
The situation is not necessarily a problematic one. If, in an experiment,
stabilized last phases are recorded for all subjects and if they broadly
coincide with the test leader's last phase on the description level used in the
data analysis, there is no problem. The test leader's, the groups average
and the individual subject's last phases broadly coincide and can be
generalized to (N)stimulus. (That this is the case is an implicit assumption
in traditional psychology of perception).
Problems arise with deviations from the above case. I shall discuss two
such complications, both related to Defense Mechanism Test.
1. In the testing of a group of subjects, not all will reach a stabilized
last phase within the series of exposures. And, in order to keep
down the spreading of information about the picture in the group,
it is often unsuitable to add a long time exposure to the regular
This problem can be evaded by a stimulus analysis on a separate
group of subjects, asked to describe the picture at long time
exposure. The result of such an analysis makes the basis for the
(N)stimulus definition and for the determination of the criteria for
"correct" descriptions (C-phase criteria i the DM-test). The
stimulus analysis can of course also be used for the reversed case,
(in the construction of a new picture): to adapt the picture to the C-
phase criteria already given in the test manual, and to reduce the
variation in last phase descriptions of it.
2. In the testing of clinical cases or in advanced personality analyses,
where the specific meaning of the picture for the subject is
essential, we have reasons to reckon with differences between the
(N)stimulus definition and the subjects last phase. Usually this
can be checked by adding a long time exposure that gives a
stabilized last phase. If this last phase deviates from the
(N)stimulus definition, we have a problem. To which last phase
The problematic nature of the objective definition of reality also has interesting
consequences in the philosophy of science. There too, we find solid arguments to
substitute inter-subjective for objective (Zachrisson & Zachrisson, 2005).
A note on the concept of stimulus in perceptgenetic theory 73

shall the earlier phases in the series be referred; to the established

(N)stimulus definition or to the subjects individual last phase?
Shall we score signs of defence mechanisms on P-phase level if
the same structures appear in the last (stabilized) phase of the
subject? If we keep to the line of argument I have followed, the
subjects own last phase should be referred to, and the answer is
no. However, there can be another possibility, making the matter
more complicated: even at long time exposure, the perceptual
defences are at work, helped by the relatively low stimulus
intensity. The subject's description is still on P-phase level, and his
reality testing is deformed by quite dominating perceptual
defenses. The strategy in such situations must be determined from
case to case by careful phenomenological analysis of the qualities
of the perception. How distinct is the impression of the picture,
how strong is the subject's conviction of the "objectivity" and
accuracy of his perception, how stabilized is the percept, a s o?

Nevertheless, the problem remains in its principal form. In fact it is a

general psycho- diagnostic problem, touching on the position of the very
health concept. Which conception of reality shall prevail in the diagnostic
situation, the patients psychic reality, the doctors or a socially established
standard? This is on a sociological level equivalent to the question of the
(N)stimulus definition. And further: which variations in the conception of
reality shall be tolerated (C-phase criteria), a s o? Such questions are
inherent in the application of any psycho-diagnostic system. On the level
of society it seems possible to make the determinations that are needed (the
broader perspective makes use of more general descriptions), but is it
possible on the level of individual experience?



What happens in the percept-genesis of a picture if some physical

characteristics of it, e g the darkness or contrast, is changed? Changes in
74 Anders Zachrisson

the picture can, in principle, affect the percept-genesis in two ways: they
can lead to displacements of the threshold phases in the series, and they
can entail structural changes in the genesis.
The first point is a matter of course in percept-genetic experiments. For
such an experiment to give interesting results at all, the series of exposures
must cover the developmental process of the percept, i.e. give enough P-
phases. This depends partly on the experimental conditions, especially the
series of exposure times, partly on the physical characteristics of the
picture. Unsuitable contrast or relative degree of darkness in the picture
can give a too precipitous or too slack development of the percept and a
too late first phase or a too early last phase in the series. This will result in
reduced amount of information because part of the P-phase sequence is not
recorded at all or is condensed in few phases. A "calibration" of the
instrument in this respect, is a sine qua non in any kind of percept-genetic
Probably a change in contrast in the picture will also result in structural
changes in the percept-genesis, because the condensation of phases
increases or decreases. However, more interesting causes for structural
changes are those that can be referred to changes in the motif (content) of
the picture, the (N)stimulus. A change of content means a change of
stimulus as operator. Different motifs will therefore activate different part-
structures and conflict-areas in the personality (Kragh, 1985; Zachrisson,
1967). Choice of, and variation of, motif must be related to theory and to
the aim of the investigation. Now, every developmentally oriented
personality theory stresses the family relationships of the individual, the
relationship to parents, siblings, partner (and one-self). Therefore, pictures
containing one or more persons in different situations are most common in
percept-genetic investigations. Those pictures are related to fundamental
factors in personality development and give more relevant information for
issues in the psychology of personality, compared to pictures of e.g.
objects. On the other hand, such pictures can be relevant in the
investigation of perceptual processes from the point of view of general
The comments above refer to percept-genetic experimentation in general.
For the Defense Mechanism Test the discussion can be more concrete
A note on the concept of stimulus in perceptgenetic theory 75

because the test is specified in two respects. First, stimulus as operator is

determined. The pictures are constructed to uncover defensive structures in
the perception of a threatening person directed towards a central figure
(hero). Second, the subjects reports from the test session are interpreted in
accordance with a coding manual also including precise C-phase criteria.
These two points are related in such a way that a majority of the subjects
last phase (the average last phase) of the picture ought to be placed within
the limits of the C-phase criteria. If not, the relation of the test reports of
that picture to the theory of defence mechanisms cannot be maintained.3


In percept-genetic theory, the distinction between dependent and

independent variables in perceptual experiments is a complicated matter.
Stimulus as motif, with its phenomenological qualities and the meanings it
evokes in the individual, can only be determined by reference to the end
phase behaviour of the researcher, a group or a subject. These aspects of a
stimulus can not be objectively determined in any definitive way.
Objectivity has to be approached by a registration and comparision of a
number of last phase descriptions. What we can aim at, is a reasonable
degree of inter-subjectivity through such an analysis of stimulus. A
stimulus analysis can have different aims: to determine a stimulus picture
in an experiment, or the adaptation of a picture for special use, e.g. in
reference to an existing coding manual with specified end-phase criteria. In
addition, any percept-genetic experimental or test situation has to be
adjusted, in order to release enough pre-phases in the perceptual process to
make an analysis possible and meaningful. Without such an adjustment of
the experimental situation and without a careful stimulus analysis the
results will easily be spurious or of doubtful value.

It is true that e g a "neutral" father-son-picture can activate perceptual defence
structures. In clinical cases, we often meet with this (Kragh, 1970). In such cases
however, we have to derive the anxiety provocation from the anamnestic connection of
the phase (the life history). We cannot refer it to the subjects last phase, if this is in
agreement with the (N)stimulus definition of the picture, i.e. denote a neutral relation.
76 Anders Zachrisson


Kragh, U. (1955). The Actual-Genetic Model of Perception-Personality.

Lund: Gleerup.
Kragh, U. (1970). Percept-genetic defensive organization with threatening
and non-threatening peripheral stimuli. In: Percept-Genetic Analysis, eds.
U. Kragh & G.J.W. Smith. Lund: Gleerup, pp. 118-121.
Kragh, U. (1985). Defense Mechanism Test Manual. Stockholm: Persona.
Kragh, U. & Smith, G.J.W., (1970). The Developmental Paradigm of
Perception-Personality. In: Percept-Genetic Analysis, eds. U. Kragh &
G.J.W. Smith. Lund: Gleerup, pp. 13-39.
Merleau-Ponty, M. (1942). The Structure of Behaviour. London: Methuen
& Co, 1965.
Smith, G.J.W. (1963). Process a biological frame of reference for the
study of behaviour. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 4: 44-54.
Zachrisson, A. (1967). Variation av Stimulusmotiv i Anslutning till DM-
testets Metod och Teori. Lund: Dep. of Psychology, Lund University,
Zachrisson, A. & Zachrisson, H. D. (2005). Validation of psychoanalytic
theories. Towards a conceptualisation of references. Int. J. Psychoanal.
Mikael Henningsson

This study had two aims. First, to compare a chronic fatigue syndrome
group to other clinical groups according to their responses to Defense
Mechanism Test (DMT). Secondly, to use the DMT data from the groups
chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, conversion disor-
der and healthy controls to create an empirical model describing the dif-
ferences and similarities in defense patterns between the groups. The re-
sults showed that the chronic fatigue syndrome group used defense pat-
terns that was most alike the none-patient group, when contrasted to the
other two patient groups. When contrasted only with the non-patient group
some clear differences appeared but these differences had another quality
than the differences between e.g. multiple chemical sensitivity and non-
patients. After that, all four groups were used to create an empirical model
describing how the groups were related to each other according to the use
of different defense patterns. All four groups were clearly separated in the
model and the results from this model were then generalized to a theoreti-
cal model describing defense styles in psychosomatic groups. This model
suggests a Two-axis evaluation, based on the concepts Relational Focus
and Defense Style, of how the individual effectuates his/her defenses. The
implication of the model for clinical work is also discussed.

In an earlier study (Henningsson & Sundbom, 2000), we showed that there

are both similarities and differences when comparing the defenses between
the clinical groups multiple chemical sensitivity and conversion disorder,
as captured by the Defense Mechanism Test (DMT). The similarities con-
sisted of a common tendency to use defenses that strongly inhibited a cor-
rect perception of the threatening stimuli. The conversion disorder group
used a defense style based primarily on distortion while the multiple
chemical sensitivity patients relied more on a blocking strategy.
78 Mikael Henningsson

A third group of interest in this context is the patients suffering from

chronic fatigue syndrome. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition defined
by a constellation of somatic and neurocognitive symptoms (Fukuda, K.,
Straus, S., Hickie, I., Sharpe, M., Dobbins, J., & Komaroff, A., 1994).
Studies have shown that more than 2 % of the population in Western coun-
tries fulfills criteria for this syndrome (Evengrd, Schacterle, & Komaroff,
1999). A gender difference is found with a dominance of women. Pathoge-
netic mechanisms are not yet understood but disturbances detected in the
central nervous system raise issues whether different forms of stress on the
organism, such as, for example, psychological or physical stress, may be
causative agents. Therefore an interesting question is: How do they func-
tion in situations of emotional pressure with the need for a strategy to act
Modern psychodynamic self psychology focuses on intersubjective relat-
edness, and the structuralizing effects on mental representations, including
the body-self image. In this perspective the conceptualizing of body-
experience is seen as an element of self-experience (Stolorow & Atwood,
1992). To the extent that affect states are not integrated, or coped with, de-
fenses against affect become necessary in order to preserve the integrity of
a weak self-structure and maintain compensatory self-esteem. According to
Tomkins theory the affects are important to the individuals experience of
connection between bodily sensations and his/her representational world,
the so-called fusion power of affects. Psychosomatic states and disorders
may be seen as remnants of arrests in this aspect of affective and self-
development. In compliance with this view, we need to examine the orga-
nizing principles within an individuals self structure in order to under-
stand his or her defensive strategies (Orange, Atwood, & Stolorow, 1997).
We need to know how integration of different affect states into the indi-
viduals self-experience is functioning and to what extent there is a need to
keep these affect states out of conscious awareness.
The aims of the present study are: (a) to compare the chronic fatigue
syndrome group to other clinical groups by projecting this groups DMT
data onto already existing multivariate models depicting patients from the
comparison groups, and (b) to create a new multivariate model for finding
discriminating defensive patterns between the groups chronic fatigue syn-
Defense mechanisms in psychosomatic groups: a heuristic model 79

drome, multiple chemical sensitivity, conversion disorder and healthy con-

trols. Finally, a theoretical model describing the organizing principles for
defenses in psychosomatic groups is suggested.


Fifteen chronic fatigue syndrome patients, all of them fulfilling the criteria
(mean = 42.3 years; range 28-52, all females) were assessed using the
DMT. These patients participated in a larger treatment project at Huddinge
University Hospital, Sweden (Sderberg & Evengrd, 2001). All but two
of the patients had previously held qualified jobs. At the time of the study,
two of the patients were working full-time and five part-time. The follow-
ing contrast groups were used: multiple chemical sensitivity (n = 10; mean
= 46,8 years; range 30-55, 6 females and 4 males) and conversion disorder
(n = 10, mean = 43,6 years; range 27-54, 5 females and 5 males) according
to the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria (American Psychiatric Association,
1994). A more detailed description of these patient groups is found in
Henningsson and Sundbom (2000). The non-patient group was mixed, re-
cruited from a DMT database of healthy controls, and age matched as well
as possible (n = 14; mean = 42,1 years; range 35-52, 11 females and 3
males). Most of these subjects consisted of ward staff and workers.

Defense Mechanism Test

The test was administered with the standard apparatus, instructions, and
light conditions (Kragh, 1985). However, only one of the two standard pic-
tures was used and no distracting stimulus was applied. Most of the distor-
tions of the picture motif were scored using the criteria in the manual. The
list of the 130 DMT variables is summarized in Sundbom, Binzer, and
Kullgren (1999). Many of the variables are based on the frequency of the
perceptual defenses described in the manual. Furthermore, general charac-
teristics of the threshold values are specified, for example, the exposure at
which the Hero or the threat of the Peripheral person is reported for the
first time, as well as the level in the percept genesis (early, middle, or late)
80 Mikael Henningsson

at which the reactions occur. Variables of sex and age (1-2) and several of
those describing the test situation (126-129) were excluded because they
are not usually coded in the DMT. Interrater agreement on the 124 vari-
ables, rated by three experts on the test, has shown that the variance related
to effects of these raters, using Eta values, had an average of 2 %. Ratings
were made under blinded conditions (Henningsson & Sundbom, 2000).
The DMT interrater reliability coefficient in the present study was 0.90
based on 15 cases (five randomly selected cases from each patient group)
and blindly coded by two trained judges.

Partial Least Squares (PLS) discriminant analysis

Multivariate projection methods represent an important development for
clinical research, which often involves data sets containing more variables
than subjects. Statistical methods are needed that can handle matrices with
more variables than subjects without increasing the risk of type I (false
positive) errors. At the same, they must be powerful enough to be able to
use all the information in the matrix to identify real relationships and avoid
type II (false negative) errors. Multivariate projection methods like Partial
Least Squares (PLS) in latent structures, (Wold, Albano, Dunn, Esbensen,
Hellberg, Johansson, & Sjstrm, 1983; Sthle & Wold, 1988), provide
promising approaches in psychopathology (Henningsson, Sundbom, Ar-
melius, & Erdberg, 2000; Sundbom, Binzer, & Kullgren, 1999). The pur-
pose of these methods is to project all the subjects and variables on a
minimum of information bearing orthogonal dimensions, yielding a good
economy of information, while simultaneously maximizing the correlation
between the descriptors of the system (X) and the observed selectivity (Y).
We may say that this method sorts redundant noise from relevant informa-
tion. The PLS solves the problem of overfitting by using crossvalidation
criteria to estimate the level of significance in the model. The Q2 value ex-
presses the goodness of prediction of the PLS model. A Q2 value larger
than 0.10 indicates a significant predictive power of the model. The VIP
(variable importance in the projection) value is a measure of the impor-
tance of a single variable. Variables with VIP values larger than 1.0 are the
most relevant for explaining Y. However, this approach involves a change
in how the researcher asks statistical questions, as it is no longer possible
Defense mechanisms in psychosomatic groups: a heuristic model 81

to discuss the variables separately. The graphic presentation of the data

provides useful information about sensitivity and specificity of the sub-
jects. (For a more detailed description, see Henningsson, Sundbom, Ar-
melius, & Erdberg, 2000).


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome predicted against Multiple Chemical Sensitiv-

ity and Conversion Disorder Groups
To make a comparison between patients with chronic fatigue syndrome
and the groups of multiple chemical sensitivity, conversion disorder, and
non-patients, the chronic fatigue syndrome patients were projected onto an
already existing PLS-model (Henningsson & Sundbom, 2000). This origi-
nal model is presented in Figure 1.


-2 MC NP


-8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Figure 5.1. PLS-scores for all original cases in the psychosomatic model. CO =
Conversion Disorder, MC = Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, NP = Non Patients.
Elipse = Hoteling T2 (0.05).

The main result of the previously mentioned study was that the clinical
groups, located to the left in the figure, showed evidence of many more
non-emotional defenses (e.g. delay of thresholds and identification with
opposite sex) as compared to the non-patients portrayed to the right. How-
ever, the way the groups manifested this difference was specific for each of
the clinical groups. The multiple chemical sensitivity patients group was
characterized above all by a blocking style (e.g. a lateness of perception),
82 Mikael Henningsson

while the defensive strategy of the conversion disorder group was mainly
distortion of content. Figure 2 below shows the projections of the chronic
fatigue syndrome patients onto this model.


4 CF

2 CF

0 CF

-2 CF CF


-8 -6 -4 -2 0 2 4 6 8

Figure 5.2. Predicted scores in the psychosomatic model for the Chronic Fatigue
Syndrome group. Elipse = Hoteling T2 (0.05)

The figure shows that most of the subjects in the syndrome group, with a
few exceptions, are located in the right-hand part of the model defined as
the non-patient area (cf. Figure 1). Consequently, the chronic fatigue syn-
drome group seems to use similar kinds of defenses as those of the non-
patient group. Furthermore, in order to compare these patients with psychi-
atric patients, they were projected onto a previous PLS model consisting of
DMT data from the groups schizophrenic disorder, borderline personality
disorder and healthy controls (Sundbom, Jacobsson, Kullgren, & Penayo,
1998). The result was the same; the chronic fatigue syndrome seemed to
use defenses like non-patients.

PLS Analysis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Non-Patients

However, PLS models are relative, i.e., they always try to maximize the
differences between the groups in a specific model. This means that the
similarity between chronic fatigue syndrome patients and non-patient
groups in the presented models is dependent on these groups relation to
the other groups in the model. Therefore, to make a more detailed exami-
Defense mechanisms in psychosomatic groups: a heuristic model 83

nation of whether there are any DMT differences between the syndrome
group and a healthy group, a new PLS analysis was carried out involving
only these two groups.
Two significant PLS components according to cross-validation criteria
were obtained. In total, they formed a PLS model explaining 92,7 % of the
variance in group affiliation by 16,9 % of the variation in DMT variables
(Figure 3). The model seemed to have strong predictive power, since the
goodness of prediction (Q2) was quite high (Q2 = 0.62).


-2 CF

-6 -4 -2 0 2 4 6

Figure 5.3. PLS-scores. CF = Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, NP = Non-Patients.

Elipse = Hoteling T2 (0.05).

Figure 3 shows that the two groups are completely separated from each
other. The non-patients are positioned in the upper right-hand part of the
picture and the chronic fatigue syndrome group in the left-hand part. This
means that there are significant differences between the groups in how they
respond to the stimulus picture in the DMT. In order to examine the sub-
stance of these differences, we need to look at the loadings of the DMT
variables, i.e., the most important variables according to their discriminat-
ing power. This result revealed that the chronic fatigue syndrome group is
characterized primarily by a difficulty in perceiving the aggressive facial
expression of the peripheral person, together with the defenses of denial
(negation) of aggressive affect, and reaction formation. Compared to these
84 Mikael Henningsson

patients, the non-patients show good reality orientation. It is important to

remember that the differences between the groups are not defined by single
variables, but by the pattern of DMT variables with high loadings.
Thus, the result of this model shows that there are significant differences
in defenses between the chronic fatigue syndrome group and non-patients.
This contrast only becomes evident when the influence of other groups
such as those with multiple chemical sensitivity or conversion disorder is
removed (cf. Figure 1). This means that the differences between chronic
fatigue syndrome and non-patients have another quality than the differ-
ences between multiple chemical sensitivity, and non-patients.

4 NP

-2 CF

-7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Figure 5.4. Projection of subjects in the four-group PLS model. CO = Conver-

sion Disorder, MC = Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, CF = Chronic Fatigue Syn-
drome, NP = Non-Patients. Elipse = Hoteling T2 (0.05).

An empirical model of psychosomatic defenses in Chronic Fatigue Syn-

drome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, and Conversion Disorder: A PLS
In order to study the similarities/dissimilarities among the three patient
groups and vis--vis a healthy group, an additional PLS analysis was per-
formed. A two-dimensional model was obtained. Only the first component
was significant according to cross-validation criteria, but since the eigen-
value for the second component was definitely over 1.0 (2.70), it could be
used for description of these groups. For predictive use, though, this com-
Defense mechanisms in psychosomatic groups: a heuristic model 85

ponent should be handled with precaution. In total, 24% (9% + 15%) of the
variation in DMT variables accounted for 42% (21% + 21%) of the mod-
eled variance in group affiliation. The projection of the subjects onto this
model is illustrated in Figure 4.


Manipulating sex of Hero or Pp Introaggression (84, 85, 90)

(29, 95, 98) Many Pp (16)
Manipulating age of Hero or Pp Many threats perceived (9, 37)
(103, 112, 113, 114) Sad Hero(35)


Late perception of Hero, Pp or Denial of affect (64, 66, 67)

attribute (4, 5, 10, 12, 13, 14, 21) Threat disappears (62)
Hero disappears (51) Identification with aggressor (77)

Figure 5.5. The most discriminating variables in the empirical chronic fatigue
syndrome nonpatient multiple chemical sensitivity conversion disorder
model. (The numbers in the table indicate the variable number in the DMT list,
see Sundbom, Binzer, & Kullgren, 1999).

The figure shows that the four groups in the model are fairly well sepa-
rated, with one group in each corner of the model. To understand the con-
tents of the two components used in this projection, we will examine the
variable pattern used to establish them. Variables with VIP (Variable Im-
portance in the Projection) values > 1.00, and characteristic for some of the
four groups are schematically summarized in Figure 5.
86 Mikael Henningsson

Defense Style

4 1
Distorting Distorting
negative object negative affect

Objects Affects
Relational Focus Relational Focus
3 2
Blocking Blocking
negative object negative affect

Defense Style

Figure 5.6. Theoretical model showing relational focus and defense style in dif-
ferent psychosomatic groups.

Common features for non-patients and the chronic fatigue syndrome

group are a high degree of affect-loaded contents in their responses to the
DMT, but differences exist between the groups. The non-patients distort
the contents by using introaggressive defenses, while the most outstanding
characteristic for the chronic fatigue syndrome group seems to be blocking
of the negative affect. The conversion disorder group does not focus pri-
marily on the negative affect of the stimulus picture but rather tries to dis-
tort the persons (hero and peripheral person) in the interpersonal situation
exposed in the picture. Patients suffering from multiple chemical sensitiv-
ity, on the other hand, seem to use a strategy whereby they block the exis-
tence of one or both of the persons in the stimulus picture, thereby prevent-
ing the threatening situation from occurring in the first place. These four
approaches seem to illustrate different ways of handling the anxiety-
provoking situation induced by the stimulus picture in DMT. Based on the
content of the two main components a heuristic model is suggested.
Defense mechanisms in psychosomatic groups: a heuristic model 87


A Heuristic Model
As stated before the multiple chemical sensitivity patients, the conversion
disorder, and the healthy groups differed in their handling of the threat in
the DMT (Henningsson & Sundbom, 2000). We called these differences
distorting and blocking defense styles. It appears that the same defense
styles are found between non-patients and chronic fatigue syndrome, al-
though the level of psychological functioning differs (Figure 3). This as-
sumption was also confirmed by the last four-group model above (Figures
4), where two components could be used to describe the groups different
ways of handling the situation induced by the test.
Based on these empirical results, we suggest a model for description of
psychological defenses in psychosomatic states, consisting of two main
dimensions: (1) objectsaffects issues (level of relational focus) and (2)
distortingblocking maneuvers (defense style). This model is presented in
Figure 6.

This model has much in common with that of McWilliams (1994) for di-
agnostic purposes. She describes two main dimensions that must be con-
sidered in psychoanalytic diagnosing: a developmental dimension and a
typological dimension. The developmental dimension primarily examines
the maturational level of the individual and the typological dimension con-
siders the defensive style. The two main dimensions in our model can be
used to describe the four styles of defensive strategies (groups 1-4 in Fig-
ure 6) in terms of organizing principles of defensive strategies (Stolorow &
Atwood, 1992).
The organizing principle of the first group is a relational focus on the
affect level. One could say that the objects (the persons in the picture) are
stable and not subject to debate. The main defensive strategy is distortion
of affect in the form of introaggressive defenses aimed at maintaining a
psychological balance, even if this group is able to recognize the threat
correctly in the end. This means that this group has adaptive defenses and
good reality testing, even when they are exposed to the anxiety-provoking
stimuli in the DMT. The non-patients illustrate this group.
88 Mikael Henningsson

The organizing principle of the second group is also characterized by

their relational focus on an affect level. The difference compared to group
1 (non-patients) is that they do not primarily distort the affect when under
pressure. Instead, they tend to use a defense strategy based on denial of ag-
gressive affect in order to maintain psychological balance. This group has
no problem with reality testing and no distortion of objects, but one could
say that these subjects invalidate the negative affect above all through the
use of affect-blocking strategies. The group is illustrated by the chronic
fatigue syndrome patients.
The third group is much like the second one (chronic fatigue syndrome),
but with the important difference that they have their relational focus on
the object level. For this group, the objects are not as stable as for the first
two groups, and their defensive style is to block the object from con-
sciousness. Instead of denying only the affect itself, this group denies the
whole object, including the negative affect. In DMT, this is expressed as an
inability to perceive any anxiety-provoking elements at all. It would seem
that these subjects disrupt the representation of relational context in order
to invalidate the negative affect. The group is illustrated by the multiple
chemical sensitivity patients.
The fourth group is characterized by an organizing principle with the re-
lational focus on the object level, but they do not block the objects, like the
multiple chemical sensitivity group. Instead, they either distort the person
expressing the negative affect or the subject against whom the affect is di-
rected. This defensive strategy totally disables the affect in the uncomfort-
able situation, but at a high cost. The group is illustrated by the conversion
disorder patients.
This heuristic model might have some implications for the assessment
and treatment of patients with psychosomatic problems. The two-
dimensional model of defensive strategies might be used to elucidate the
patients awareness of how the affects are handled. Finally, it must be re-
membered that this model is a theoretical construction built on multivariate
DMT models with relatively few subjects in the samples. The empirical
findings supplied us with a substantial foundation to this generalization,
but one final step has to be done: to test the theoretical model empirically
in harder models. This means that we must formulate hypotheses about
Defense mechanisms in psychosomatic groups: a heuristic model 89

psychosomatic functioning, derived from the model describing relational

focus and defense style, and then investigate the correctness of these hy-
potheses using a more hard modelling procedure. Of course, the useful-
ness of the model in a clinical setting must also be examined. When the
model is validated according to these conditions, we will know something
about its value in diagnostic and psychotherapeutic settings.

American Psychiatric Association: (1994). Diagnostic and statistical man-
ual of mental disorders. Fourth Edition. Washington, DC: APA.
Evengrd, B., Schacterle, R.S., & Komaroff, A.L. (1999). Chronic fatigue
syndrome: New insights and old ignorance. J Int Med., 246:455-469.
Fukuda, K., Straus, S., Hickie, I., Sharpe, M., Dobbins, J., & Komaroff, A.
(1994). Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A comprehensive approach to its defi-
nition and study. Ann Int Med, 121:953-959.
Henningsson, M, & Sundbom, E. (2000). Interrater reliability among three
judges on 130 Defense Mechanism Test variables: a multivariate approach.
Perceptual and Motor Skills, 91:959-969.
Henningsson, M., & Sundbom, E. (2000). The Defense Mechanism Test
and "Multiple Chemical Sensitivity": A comparative study of defensive
structures in different diagnostic groups. Perceptual and Motor Skills,
Henningsson, M., Sundbom, E. Armelius, B-., & Erdberg, P. (2000). PLS
Model Building: A Multivariate Approach to Personality Test Data. Scan-
dinavian Journal of Psychology, 42:399-409.
Kragh, U. (1985). DMT-Manual. Stockholm: Swedish Psychology
International AB.
McWilliams, N. (1994). Understanding Personality Structure in the Clini-
cal Process. New York. Guilford Press.
Orange, D. M., Atwood, G. E., & Stolorow, R. D. (1997). Working Inter-
subjectively. Contextualism in Psychoanalytic Practice. Hillsdale, NJ,
Analytic Press.
Stolorow, R. D., & Atwood, G. E. (1992). Contexts of Being: the Intersub-
jective Foundations of Psychological Life. Hillsdale, NJ, Analytic Press.
90 Mikael Henningsson

Sundbom, E., Binzer, M., & Kullgren, G. (1999). Psychological defense

strategies according to the Defense Mechanism Test among patients with
severe conversion disorder. Psychotherapy Research 9(2):184-198 .
Sundbom, E., Jacobsson, L., Kullgren, G., & Penayo, U. (1998). Personal-
ity and defenses; a cross-cultural study of psychiatric patients and healthy
individuals in Nicaragua and Sweden. Psychological Reports, 83:1331-
Sderberg, S., & Evengrd, B. (2001). Short-term group therapy for pa-
tients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy
Wold, S., Albano, C., Dunn, W., Esbensen, K., Hellberg, S., Johansson, E.,
& Sjstrm, M. (1983). Pattern recognition: Finding and using regularities
in multivariate data. In: Food research and data analysis, eds. H. Martens
& H. Russwurm. London, Applied Science Publishers, pp.147-188.
Gunilla Kivling Bodn and Elisabet Sundbom

The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between responses
to the projective Defense Mechanism Test and the post-traumatic symptom
level as measured by the self-report Harvard Trauma Questionnaire. The
results showed that it was possible to identify two main patterns of percep-
tual reactions on the test, one positively and the other negatively corre-
lated to the level of post-traumatic symptoms. A blocking defense style as
well as a lack of affective responses characterized patients with a high
post-traumatic symptom level, while patients with a low symptom level
were characterized by many different perceptual distortions and more ver-
bal expressions of affects. Symptoms from all three symptom clusters of
post-traumatic stress disorder as well as feelings of shame and guilt, and a
general distrust of other people, were associated with a blocking defense
style. However, the results also give rise to another interpretation, namely,
that the blocking reactions for those with high symptom levels were simply
perceptual delays caused by their extreme arousal and anxiety, and had
nothing at all to do with a different defense style.

One area of interest in research on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is

to identify core features and underlying psychological mechanisms of post-
traumatic stress reactions. Horowitz (1986) theoretical model of the alter-
nation between intrusive and avoidance symptoms has had a great impact
on the understanding of PTSD. Avoidance symptoms are seen as means to
prevent or deal with anxiety partly by avoiding trauma-associated stimuli
(external and internal), and partly by a general emotional numbing. A vari-
ety of methods based on the DSM criteria of PTSD (American Psychiatric
92 Gunilla Kivling Bodn and Elisabet Sundbom

Association, 1980, 1987, 1994) have been developed for the assessment of
post-traumatic symptomatology (e.g., Allen, 1994; Miller, Kamenchenko,
& Krasniasnski, 1992) and have been used in different traumatized groups
as well as in factor-analytical studies focusing on PTSD symptom structure
(e.g., Watson et al., 1991; Foa, Riggs, & Gershuny, 1995). The findings
from these studies vary between different traumatized groups and across
samples of seemingly similarly traumatized persons, and thus far have not
given any unambiguous answers to questions about the existence of a gen-
eral core of post-traumatic reactions. Furthermore, these studies are not
easy to compare, since they have different designs and the assessment in-
struments used address somewhat varying symptoms. In a study using the
self-report Harvard Trauma Questionnaire among severely traumatized
Indo-Chinese refugees (Mollica et al., 1992) the most frequently reported
symptoms were intrusion and intentional avoidance, while the inability to
recognize emotions, i.e., numbing, was one of the least frequent symptoms
in this group, despite the fact that 70% of the subjects had a PTSD diagno-
sis. Re-experiencing symptoms and an avoidance of thoughts about the war
were also the most frequent symptoms among severely traumatized Bos-
nian refugees, while numbing symptoms along with arousal symptoms had
a comparatively low frequency (Weine et al., 1995).
A comorbidity between PTSD and other anxiety disorders, depressive,
and dissociative disorders, which is not only due to symptom overlap, has
been frequently observed (e.g., Bleich, Koslowsky, Dolev, & Lerer, 1997;
Carlier, Lamberts, Fouwels, & Gersons, 1996; Bremner et al., 1992). In a
study of van der Kolk et al. (1996) PTSD, dissociation, somatization, and
affect dysregulation seemed to represent a spectrum of adaptations to
trauma and often occurred together but in various combinations over time
among traumatized treatment-seeking and non-treatment-seeking subjects.
These results correspond well with the modern psychodynamic view of
PTSD, which has been greatly influenced by the work of Krystal (1985,
1988), who stressed the impact of traumatization on expression and toler-
ance of affects. He noted a high prevalence of psychosomatic diseases both
among war veterans and in his work with concentration camp survivors.
Van der Kolk et al. (1996) emphasized the fact that a one-sided focus on
Defense mechanisms and post-traumatic symptoms among refugees 93

the DSM definition of PTSD can obscure the psychodynamic understand-

ing of post-traumatic reactions.
According to Krystal, the potential for psychic trauma is related to the
nature of the trauma, the nature of self-representation, the way a danger is
evaluated, and the entire perceptive, cognitive, and affective apparatus
whereby such an evaluation can be effected. One primary function for this
seems to be the process of perception. From a psychological point of view
the common pattern in perceptual selection is its regulation for the purpose
of avoiding painful affects. Trauma survivors, after trauma in adulthood,
cannot use affects as signals in information processing as a result of re-
gression in their affective development. Individuals who are able to toler-
ate the particular affect involved can allow themselves greater perceptual
freedom. Conversely, individuals who tend to block their perceptions show
impaired affect tolerance and/or a disturbed ability to keep signal affects
within a range that is comfortable for them. Defense against affects the
numbing symptoms may range from extreme to a more partial reduction
in both affect and awareness while the dissociative defenses may sever
completely any connection between affect and cognition. Just as numbing
represents one extreme of trauma-related symptomatology, at the other
pole is the realm of overwhelming affect the arousal symptoms stimu-
lated by memory-specific external and internal cues. Besides dissociation,
somatization, acting out and paranoid ideation are other important defense
strategies when trauma is massive and prolonged and the feelings evoked
are so violent that more advanced defense operations are not enough (Var-
vin & Hauff, 1998).
Few studies on traumatized groups explicitly focusing on defense
mechanisms have been reported despite the central role of defenses in a
psychodynamic view on trauma. In three studies of differently traumatized
groups, (Birmes, Warner, Callahan, Sztulman, Charlet, & Schmitt, 2000;
Romans, Martin, Morris, & Herbison, 1999; Schmidt Pedersen & Elklit,
1998), using the self-report Defense Mechanism Style Questionnaire-40
(DSQ-40) (Andrews, Singh, & Bond, 1993; Bond, Gardner, Christian, &
Sigal, 1983) only a few specific defenses were received associated with
PTSD or trauma.
94 Gunilla Kivling Bodn and Elisabet Sundbom

Projective techniques have shown themselves to be promising as a com-

plement to traditional diagnostic methods such as self-reports and inter-
views in traumatized groups (e.g., Hartman et al., 1990; Swanson, Blount,
& Bruno, 1990; Salley & Teiling, 1984; van der Kolk & Ducey, 1989). A
more extensive use of projective methods has been advocated (Allen,
1994; Frank, 1992), and during the nineties there was an increase in re-
ported studies using the Rorschach test on trauma survivors (e.g. Allen,
1994; Frueh & Kinder, 1994; Frue, Leverett, & Kinder, 1995; Kaser-Boyd,
1993; Levin, 1993; Sloan, Arsenault, Hilsenroth, Handler, & Harvill,
1996). The Rorschach findings from these studies of different traumatized
groups such as Vietnam veterans, traumatized civilians, and traumatized
children are concordant across groups in showing impaired reality testing,
low stress tolerance, an ineffective, affectively unmodulated coping style
in stressful situations, and a tendency to avoid emotional situations.
Bearing in mind Krystals statement about perceptual selection and its
regulation for the purpose of avoiding threatening affects, the perception
test called the Defense Mechanism Test (DMT) (Kragh, 1985) is of special
interest. The DMT is in part a projective test. It is based on psychoanalytic
and perceptgenetic theory and has been used in various fields such as in
aviation and stress research (Olff, 1991; for overview). Perceptgenetic the-
ory and methods, such as the DMT, have been developed to map out the
developmental patterns underlying our experience and our behaviour. The
basic perceptgenetic assumption is that the world we perceive is created
from ourselves by means of brief, most often preconscious processes.
Since perceptgenesis is a reflection of personality, one important purpose
of perceptgenetic research has been to unveil basic individual characteris-
tics (Westerlundh & Smith, 1983). Interest in validation of the DMT
against independent clinical criteria in terms of diagnoses and syndromes
has increased over recent years in the assessment of different disorders
within the psychiatric and psychosomatic fields, among adults as well as
adolescents (e.g., Fransson, Sundbom, & Hgglf, 1998; Sundbom,
Bintzer, & Kullgren, 1999; Sundbom & Bodlund, 1999; Sundbom,
Jacobsson, Kullgren, & Penayo, 1998).
In the treatment of patients with severe traumatic experiences it is very
important to take in consideration their difficulty in integrating the trau-
Defense mechanisms and post-traumatic symptoms among refugees 95

matic experiences without being overwhelmed by them. A careful assess-

ment of the patients capacity of, for example, regulation and expression of
affects and defense operations should precede such therapeutic work.
In the present study, defensive reactions were examined among mas-
sively traumatized male Bosnian and Croatian refugees by means of the
Defense Mechanism Test (DMT). The main purpose was to investigate
how defense mechanisms are related to the expression of posttraumatic
symptoms as measured by the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ)
(Mollica et al., 1991; 1992). The following questions were addressed: Are
higher vs. lower levels of post-traumatic symptoms associated with differ-
ent patterns of defenses? If this is true, which specific post-traumatic
symptoms or clusters of symptoms differentiate best between these defense


The participants were male refugees from the former Yugoslavia, who had
been traumatized by organized violence during the war and the ethnic per-
secutions, and who were granted political asylum by the Swedish immigra-
tion authorities. At the time of the study, which was conducted between
February, 1995 and August, 1996, they were outpatients at a Swedish psy-
chiatric unit specifically set up for the treatment of this target group. Pa-
tients were referred to the unit in different ways, e.g., by primary care phy-
sicians and local refugee counsellors. Some were self-referred. The pa-
tients were informed about the study and asked about participation after a
minimum treatment period of one month. Two patients did not agree to
participate, two were excluded due to psychotic symptoms, and one patient
broke off participation. Twenty-one people (mean age 37.6 years; range
22-58) participated in the study. Eighteen participants were Bosnian Mus-
lims, two were Muslims from other parts of the former Yugoslavia, and
one was self-identified as being of Croatian national heritage. Mean length
of residence in Sweden at the first contact with the clinic was 18.6 months
(range 2.5-36.0). There was no significant age difference between the
group and drop-outs (t = 0.81; df = 24; p = 0.42) and they were also com-
96 Gunilla Kivling Bodn and Elisabet Sundbom

parable with regard to ethnicity and residence time in Sweden. Two per-
sons had an educational level of 8 years, 14 of 11-12 years, and 5 people of
more than 12 years. All had been employed or self-employed before the
ethnic persecutions and the war started. Fourteen participants were mar-
ried, five were single, one was widowed, and one was divorced. Two had
undergone psychiatric treatment on one occasion in their country of origin.
One of these had a documented, war-related PTSD diagnosis from his na-
tive country, but no history of psychopathology before the war.

The Defense Mechanism Test

A detailed description of this method is given in chapter 5.

The Harvard Trauma Questionnaire

Mollica et al. (1991, 1992) developed the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire
(HTQ) for measurement of traumatic events and post-traumatic symptoms
among traumatized Indo-Chinese refugees. This self-report instrument was
chosen because it was constructed for use in a similarly traumatized popu-
lation with a high base-rate of PTSD symptoms, which we presumed to be
the case in the Bosnian-Croatian group as well. Although Mollica et al.
(1992) pointed out that there may be differences in PTSD symptom struc-
ture between different refugee groups depending on cultural interpretations
of trauma events or possible culture-specific reactions to severe traumati-
zation in general, there do seem to be apparent similarities between the
group in the present study and the Indo-Chinese refugees. Both groups are
refugees, the effects of which probably interact with those of organized
violence, and there are also similarities with respect to what kind of organ-
ized violence the two groups had been exposed to (e.g., Bernstein Carlson
& Rosser-Hogan, 1991; Mollica et al., 1992; 1993; 1999; Weine et al.,
1995; Weine & Laub, 1995).
The trauma events section of the HTQ contains questions about experi-
ences of 17 trauma events related to war and other organized violence. The
symptoms section consists of 30 symptom descriptions, of which 16 are
drawn from the criteria for PTSD in the DSM III-R (American Psychiatric
Association, 1987). The other 14 symptom items were added by Mollica et
al. (1992) as typical symptoms in the Indo-Chinese refugee group, and
Defense mechanisms and post-traumatic symptoms among refugees 97

have also proved to be characteristic symptoms of torture victims (e.g., Al-

lodi, 1985), for example, dissociative experiences and feelings of shame,
guilt, and hopelessness. The mean score of all symptom items, on a scale
ranging from not at all (=1) to extremely (=4), constitutes the partici-
pants total symptom score. With a mean score of 2.5 as the cut-off limit
for a PTSD diagnosis, the sensitivity and specificity of the original Indo-
Chinese versions were 78% and 65%, respectively, with DSM III-R PTSD
independently diagnosed by the treatment team as the criterion (Mollica et
al., 1992). In a later study of Vietnamese former political prisoners, the
symptom scale, with an adjusted cut-off point, proved to have a sensitivity
of 0.98 and a specificity of 1.0 using the Structured Clinical Interview for
the DSM III-R as the PTSD criterion (Smith Fawsi et al., 1997). Mollica et
al. (1992) reported a test-retest reliability of 0.92, inter-rater reliability of
0.98, and internal consistency of 0.96 (Cronbachs alpha) for the symptoms
section in the Indo-Chinese refugee group. The internal consistency in the
present study sample was 0.89 for the total symptom list and, for the 16
PTSD items and the 14 PTSD-related symptoms, 0.81 and 0.83, respec-
tively. Since the cut-off limit for PTSD used by Mollica et al. (1992) in the
Indo-Chinese group could not automatically be applied to a refugee group
of a different cultural background, the average symptom score was used as
a continuous variable in the present study. This also served to eliminate
overestimated differences close to the cut-off limit.
A professional translator, who was well aware of what a delicate matter
language could be as a consequence of the civil war in the former Yugo-
slavia, translated the HTQ into Serbo-Croatian. In addition, a professional
interpreter was present at the administration.

Partial Least Squares (PLS) discriminant analysis

The statistical multivariate projection method Partial Least Squares dis-
criminant analysis (Henningsson, Sundbom, Armelius, & Erdberg, 2001)
was used in the present study. A detailed description of this method is
given in chapter 5.
98 Gunilla Kivling Bodn and Elisabet Sundbom


The participants gave their written informed consent. The investigation

took place at the psychiatric clinic. They were assessed regarding depress-
sive symptoms and the DSM III-R criteria of PTSD in a clinical interview
performed by their psychiatrist on average two months after intake. The
DMT and the HTQ were performed after an average of four months after
intake, and were administered by a clinical psychologist well experienced
in clinical work with traumatized refugees and in the use of interpreters.
For each participant the same interpreter was used during the interviews
and testing as during his therapy sessions, i.e. the people were used to the
presence of an interpreter and had accepted their respective interpreters.


Seventeen people (81 %) met the DSM III-R criteria for PTSD in the clini-
cal interview, and 11 persons (52 %) had depressive symptoms of varying
degrees. There was no significant difference in the mean symptom ratings
on the HTQ between participants with and without depressive symptoms (t
= .58; df = 19; p = .57). The average number of experienced trauma events
reported on the HTQ was 13.0 (SD = 3.3) with a range of 5.0 - 17.0. The
most commonly reported traumatic events were: lack of food or water (n =
21), ill health without access to medical care (n = 21), lack of shelter (n =
21), being close to death (n = 20), unnatural death of family member or
friend (n = 19), murder of family member or friend (n = 18), murder of
stranger or strangers (n = 18), and imprisonment (n = 17). The mean score
of all 30 symptoms of the HTQ was 2.4 (SD = .41, range 1.8 - 3.4), of the
16 proper PTSD symptoms 2.6 (SD = .46, range 1.9 - 3.8), and of the 14
PTSD-related symptoms 2.2 (SD = .47, range 1.4 - 2.9). In other words,
post-traumatic symptoms were frequent in the group, and also the four
people who had not met the PTSD criteria (DSM III R) in the clinical in-
terview reported post-traumatic symptoms to some degree on the HTQ.
The Pearson correlation coefficient between the mean symptom rating on
the entire HTQ and the number of reported trauma events was r = .46 (p =
Defense mechanisms and post-traumatic symptoms among refugees 99

Table 6.1. Variable Importance in the Projection (VIP) values of the 12 Defense
Mechanism Test variables associated with a high level of post-traumatic symptoms
Var. no. VIP value Description of the DMT variables
Blocking defense style
Disappearance and reduction
19 2.79 Attribute disappearance, Middle
20 2.28 Attribute disappearance, Late
23 1.03 Hero reduction, Middle
24 2.19 Hero reduction, Late
25 1.49 Peripheral person reduction, Early
High threshold values:
4 1.06 First meaningful percept is seen late
12 1.06 First Hero is seen late
13 1.21 First Peripheral person is seen late
Distorting defense style
Interchanges of sex
29 1.02 Many changes of sex, Hero
30 1.61 Many changes of sex, Peripheral person
Affective responses
Introaggression (Turning aggression against oneself)
87 1.35 Hero without Peripheral person, Middle
3 1.05 High anxiety in the test situation

A PLS model was established for the DMT variables (X) and the average
symptom score on the entire HTQ (Y). Two significant information-
bearing dimensions (component 1 and component 2) according to cross-
validation criteria were obtained. In total 16.9 % of the variance in the
DMT variables accounted for 93.5% of the variance in the symptom
100 Gunilla Kivling Bodn and Elisabet Sundbom

scores, i.e. R = .93. The Q value (the goodness of prediction) of the

model was .37. In component 1, 8.4 % of the variance in the DMT vari-
ables predicted 74.9 % of the variance in the symptom scores, while in
component 2, a further 18.6 % of the variance in the symptom scores was
accounted for by another 8.6 % of the variance in the DMT variables.
Of the 124 DMT variables, 25 were excluded because of zero variance,
i.e. 99 variables contributed actively to the model, but of these only 37 had
a more substantial (greater than average) influence on the model with
Variable Importance in the Projection (VIP) values larger than 1.00.
In Tables 6.1 and 6.2, these 37 DMT variables and their corresponding
VIP values are presented.

Table 6.2. Variable Importance in the Projection (VIP) values of the 25 Defense
Mechanism Test variables associated with a low level of post-traumatic symptoms
Var. no. VIP Description of the DMT variables
Blocking defense style
Disappearance and reduction
22 1.17 Hero reduction, Early
26 1.22 Peripheral person reduction, Middle
High threshold values:
14 1.45 First Attribute is seen late
21 1.14 No Attribute is seen
40 1.13 Total
46 1.18 Peripheral person, Middle
47 1.36 Peripheral person, Late

Distorting defense style

110 2.34 Stereotyped Hero
Defense mechanisms and post-traumatic symptoms among refugees 101

112 1.21 Hero >34 years old

113 1.05 Peripheral person < 26 years old
Identification with opposite sex
95 1.23 Total
97 1.13 Hero, Early
98 1.40 Hero, Middle
48 1.09 Total
56 1.08 Whiteness of Hero
Affective responses
Introaggression (Turning aggression against oneself)
35 1.49 Hero is sad
84 1.72 Total
85 1.30 Many different variants
86 1.60 Hero without Peripheral person, Early
89 1.22 Hero with Peripheral person, Early
90 1.37 Hero with Peripheral person, Middle
91 1.54 Hero with Peripheral person, Late
Reaction formation
75 1.04 Peripheral person, Late
125 1.63 Sexualization of the relationship between Hero and Pe-
ripheral person
Denial (negation)
66 1.24 Middle

As shown in Table 6.1, a high post-traumatic symptom level was associ-

ated with a pattern of DMT variables primarily consisting of an over-all
lateness and fluctuations in the perception of the persons/attribute in the
102 Gunilla Kivling Bodn and Elisabet Sundbom

stimulus picture (var. nos. 4, 12-13, and 19-20, 23-25, 29-30, respectively),
a high anxiety level in the test situation (var. no. 3), but also to some extent
associated with turning aggression against oneself (var. no. 87, e.g. Hero is
perceived as sick, hurt or depressed).
Table 6.2 shows that a low level of post-traumatic symptoms was asso-
ciated with much more varied defensive strategies. Among the 25 DMT
variables with VIP values above 1.00, a stereotyped wrongly perceived
Hero with regard to age or sex (var. no. 110) had an outstandingly high
VIP value (2.34), but there were also other massive distortions, such as
turning aggression against oneself (var. nos. 35, 84-86, 89-91), perceiving
the threatening Peripheral person as younger (var. no. 113), identification
with the opposite sex (var. nos. 95, 97-98) and signs of sexualization be-
tween the persons (var. no. 125). Further distortions were an explicit nega-
tion of the threat (var. no. 66) and reaction formation (var. no. 75).
Additionally, a PLS analysis was carried out to obtain information about
how the specific post-traumatic symptoms or clusters of symptoms were
associated with the defenses. The DMT data (X) of the 16 patients with the
lowest and highest average HTQ symptom scores (range: 1.3-2.3 and 2.6-
3.4, respectively) were related to the 30 HTQ symptom ratings (Y). In Ta-
ble 6.3, the symptoms with a goodness of prediction value greater than .10
(Q2 value) are presented.
Sixteen of the 30 HTQ symptoms contributed significantly to the asso-
ciation with the different defense patterns. Specific symptoms from all
three clusters of PTSD as well as shame, guilt, and feelings of distrust to
other people were the most important ones that could be predicted by the
perceptual defenses.


The overall aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between
responses to the projective Defense Mechanism Test and the post-
traumatic symptom level as measured by the self-report Harvard Trauma
Questionnaire among severely traumatized refugees from the former
Yugoslavia. The results showed that it was possible to identify two main
patterns of perceptual reactions on the DMT, one positively and the other
Defense mechanisms and post-traumatic symptoms among refugees 103

negatively correlated to the level of post-traumatic symptoms. The main

defensive strategy associated with a high post-traumatic symptom level
consisted of a one-sided reliance on a blocking behavior style connected
with a lack of affective responses to the stimulus picture (Table 6.1). The
other pattern, associated with a low symptom level, was characterized by a
number of various perceptual distortions and more verbal expressions of
affects (Table 6.2).
The blocking defense style associated with a high symptom level was
manifested in a late and unstable perception of the gestalten in the stimulus
picture. These defenses, coupled with the lack of affective responses,
seemed to be ineffective, considering that a high anxiety level in the test
situation accompanied them. The symptoms most associated with this
blocking behavior were specific symptoms from all three symptom clusters
of PTSD as well as feelings of shame and guilt and a general distrust of
other people (Table 6.3).
The low-scorers dealt with the threatening part of the stimulus picture by
using a varied set of distortions, for instance, by perceiving the threatening
Peripheral person as younger, thus making him less of a threat. Signs of
sexualization between the gestalts (for example that they hug each other)
might have had the same function. A low level of post-traumatic symptoms
was also associated with more abundant expressions of affective responses
- massive signs of turning aggression towards the self, reaction formation,
and an explicit negation of the threat. In other words, these people had an
ability to verbalize affective responses, and thus there seemed to be a re-
verse relationship between this ability and post-traumatic symptoms. Fur-
thermore, individuals with low levels of post-traumatic symptoms showed
a stable but stereotypical distorted perception of the Hero gestalt or the
self-representation, as if they were striving to keep any possible picture of
themselves constant, and this is in vivid contrast to the fluctuating percep-
tions of the gestalts in the stimulus picture among individuals with high
scores. In sum, as compared to persons with high levels, people with low
symptom levels seemed to have access to a greater number of varied and
successful perceptual defense strategies for dealing with anxiety. In Krys-
tals terms, individuals with low symptom levels allowed themselves a
greater perceptual freedom. The blocking operations and the difficulty to
104 Gunilla Kivling Bodn and Elisabet Sundbom

recognize painful affects among patients with high levels of post-traumatic

symptoms seem to be in agreement with Krystals view (1985) that trauma
may cause intolerance to painful affects to the degree that perception is
suppressed. Following Krystals reasoning, it remains to be explained why
participants with low post-traumatic symptom levels were not affected in
the same way, considering that they had also been exposed to severe trau-
matization. One explanation may be found in their comparatively smaller
trauma exposure, as reflected in the modest correlation between symptom
level and the number of reported trauma events. The results also raise the
crucial question of whether people with more post-traumatic symptoms
preferably used blocking strategies even prior to the traumatization.
However, given the nature of post-traumatic reactions, the present results
also give rise to another interpretation, namely, that the blocking reactions
of those with high symptom levels were simply perceptual delays caused
by their extreme arousal and anxiety, and had nothing at all to do with a
different defense style.
The lack of affective responses on the DMT that characterized persons
with high post-traumatic symptom levels is consistent with the close rela-
tionship between PTSD and problems of affect regulation found by van der
Kolk et al. (1996) and with the view that a locking down of the affective
system, causing numbing symptoms, is an essential part of PTSD (Foa et
al., 1995). The inability to cope effectively with stressful situations, mani-
fested in a high anxiety level, can also be recognized from Rorschach stud-
ies of PTSD patients (Hartman et al. 1990; Swanson et al. 1990). The pre-
sent results seem to differ from previous studies of defenses among
trauma-victims (Birmes et al., 2000; Romans et al., 1999; Schmidt Peder-
sen & Elklit, 1998). Again this brings to the fore a discussion of the differ-
ences in findings due to different assessment methods used in defense
studies: self-report instruments, projective methods, or interviews (Perry &
Ianni, 1998, Davidson & MacGregor, 1998).
Defense mechanisms and post-traumatic symptoms among refugees 105

Table 6.3. Descriptions and Goodness of Prediction (Q2 values) of the most differenti-
ating symptoms.
HTQ item no Q2 value Symptom description (abbreviation)

H1 0.26 Recurrent thoughts or memories of the trauma
H4 0.20 Detached and withdrawn from people
H11 0.16 Avoiding activities reminding of the trauma
H13 0.32 Less interest in daily activities
H6 0.14 Exaggerated startle reaction
H7 0.38 Concentration difficulties
H8 0.11 Difficulties sleeping
H10 0.29 Irritable or outbursts of anger
H26 0.16 Others are hostile
H27 0.12 No one to rely on
H30 0.32 Someone I trusted betrayed me
H28 0.11 Found out about actions that I can not remember
H20 0.27 Survival guilt
H21 0.11 Hopelessness
H22 0.27 Shame of traumatic experiences
H24 0.12 Feeling as if I am going crazy

The present findings seem to have implications when traumatized refu-

gees are assessed for psychotherapy. The triggering of an overwhelming
affect is integral to the definition of what constitutes traumatic stress. Inte-
gration of the trauma involves re-experiencing and symbolization. Many
issues must be covered in the assessment for psychotherapy, for example,
106 Gunilla Kivling Bodn and Elisabet Sundbom

the post-traumatic symptom level, the severity of the trauma and the sub-
jective meaning of the traumatic experience, earlier experiences, and the
basic modes of defensive functioning. In other words, blocking from con-
sciousness (denial) or distortion of content (disavowal) has to be consid-
ered when assessing these patients suitability for different therapeutic
techniques. Thus, for patients with a strong blocking defense style and lack
of affective responses associated with a high post-traumatic symptom level
and strong feelings of shame, guilt, and distrust of other people, the sup-
portive elements in the psychotherapy are suggested to be important parts
of the treatment. A secure life situation and a secure therapeutic setting are
particularly important conditions for establishing a working alliance with
these individuals, which may take a considerable time (Varvin, 1998; Var-
vin & Hauff, 1998). Patients with a low symptom level, on the other hand,
characterized by a distorting defense style and with an ability to verbalize
emotions, seem to be more suitable for expressive therapy.
The finding that people with lower posttraumatic symptom levels had
better defenses in the form of using a distorting defense style and an ability
to pronounce affective responses may seem particularly impressive, con-
sidering the comparatively great homogeneity in the entire research sample
with regard to traumatization and symptom level. The result contributes to
the construct validity of the DMT. It gives support to previous DMT stud-
ies, where the type of defense style (blocking or distorting) was shown to
be one significant discriminator between different clinical groups (e.g.,
Henningsson, 1999). Our conclusion is that the DMT and multivariate
modeling of data may be useful methods for future replication studies in
finding discriminating patterns of perceptual defenses among severely
traumatized patients and for use in psychotherapy research.
A shortcoming of this study is the lack of a contrast group with no post-
traumatic symptoms but comparable to the study group with regard to cul-
ture, age, sex, and other relevant background factors. Furthermore, the
sample was small and consisted of male subjects only. Although the pre-
dictive validity (Q value) was comparatively high in the present study and
the PLS method permits statistical analysis of a small number of individu-
als in relation to the number of variables studied (Henningsson et al., 2001)
Defense mechanisms and post-traumatic symptoms among refugees 107

the results need to be replicated in preferably larger groups of well-

diagnosed refugees from the former Yugoslavia before generalization.


This study was supported by grants from the Swedish National Board of
Health and Welfare. The authors wish to thank Richard F. Mollica and
Yael Caspi-Yavin for permission to use the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire
in this study, and Per-Axel Karlsson for his psychiatric assessments of the
The study was approved by the Ethical Committee, Faculty of Medicine,
University of Ume.

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Per Fransson and Elisabet Sundbom

The aim was to study gender and age differences in a group (N =100) of
healthy adults (n = 67) and adolescents (n = 33) assessed by means of the
projective percept-genetic Defense Mechanism Test (DMT). First, gender
differences within the adults and the adolescents were investigated sepa-
rately. Secondly, similarities and dissimilarities, in respect of gender dif-
ferences, between these two groups were compared. Thirdly, the relation
between gender and age was investigated by studying all the participants
simultaneously. The test protocols were scored in respect of 124 DMT
variables and analyzed by means of partial least squares (PLS) discrimi-
nant analysis including a pattern analysis of the DMT variables. The re-
sults showed significant gender differences in the adult as well as the ado-
lescent group. The gender differences within each group revealed obvious
similarities, although differences were also found. A common feature in the
DMT pattern for the females was different variants of the perceptual de-
fense identification with the opposite sex, while the common features for
older and younger males were less obvious. However, when the subgroups
(adult female, adult male, girl and boy) were scrutinized simultaneously
they were all significantly separated from each other. Adult males and fe-
males were separated by the same dimension, while separate dimensions
were needed to separate both the boys and the girls. It was concluded that
both gender and age (adolescent/adult) must be considered in the DMT.

Adolescence is often described as a transition between childhood and

adulthood. There are however conflicting opinions about how this transi-
tion proceeds. One school emphasizes the existence of a normative cri-
sis as a healthy step in adolescent development (Blos, 1967; Erikson,
1968). Another school, supported by empirical findings, describes the
same development as smoother and far less dramatic for the majority of
114 Per Fransson and Elisabet Sundbom

adolescents (Coleman & Henry, 1990; Offer & Boxer, 1991). These two
views imply different interpretations of the adolescent transition, which
make it interesting to compare adolescents with adults.
Empirical studies of gender- and age differences in relation to projective
tests are rather scant and hard to interpret. In a meta-analysis focusing on
aggression Hyde (1984) found reasonably reliable but not large gender dif-
ferences. It was shown that the method of measurement influenced the
magnitude of obtained gender differences. For example, gender differences
tended to be larger when projective tests were used compared to self-report
questionnaires. In Bckstrm (1994) a variant of the Defense Mechanism
Test (DMT) with different picture material was used to investigate gender
differences among male and female students. The overall results showed
that men and women reacted differently to threat themes. Women com-
pared to men had, among others, a higher rate of identification with the
opposite sex i.e., they assigned wrong gender to the figures. Carlsson and
Smith (1987) using the projective test Meta Contrast Technique (MCT)
found considerable gender differences among a group of youngsters. The
boys scored higher on isolating defenses while girls showed a preference
for sensitivity-projection defenses. Another example of gender differences
in projective tests has been presented by Waehler and Zaback (1991) using
the Draw-A-Person test. They found that female subjects drew the opposite
sex much more often than male subjects and that this was associated with
low self-esteem in men but not in the women. Age differences in coping
and defenses in a sample of subjects aged 10-77 years were investigated by
Labouvie-Vief, Hakim-Larsson, and Hobart (1987). They found increasing
maturity in coping and defense with a leveling off during adulthood. These
results indicate that one could expect to find different defense mechanisms
in adolescent and adult samples.
We have earlier studied typical DMT patterns for adolescents belonging
to different diagnostic groups (Fransson & Sundbom, 1997; Fransson,
Sundbom, & Hgglf, 1998). The results from these studies were com-
pared to the results from very similar studies performed on adults (Ar-
melius & Sundbom, 1991; Sundbom & Kullgren, 1992). The comparisons
between adolescents and adults revealed surprisingly similar patterns for
corresponding diagnostic groups, for instance, both adult and adolescent
Influence of gender and age in the defense mechanism test 115

patients with borderline features were characterized by introaggression. It

was therefore called into question whether the DMT is sensitive to differ-
ences between adults and adolescents, or whether the axiomatic differences
between adults and adolescents are somewhat exaggerated.
In the study (Fransson & Sundbom, 1998) we showed considerable gen-
der differences in DMT patterns among a heterogeneous group of adoles-
cents, consisting of three sub-groups; borderline, psychotic and non-
patients, all of which showed considerable gender differences separately.
When both gender and diagnostic group membership were considered si-
multaneously, it was found that gender influenced the diagnostic pattern of
DMT responses. It was concluded that gender must be considered when the
DMT is used on adolescent populations. A question raised in that study
was whether these results were typical not only for adolescents but also for
The main purpose of the present study was to investigate discriminating
gender and age related patterns in DMT responses among a group of non-
patient adults and adolescents. From our earlier findings two questions are
addressed: First, are there any differences in DMT patterns between adult
males and females? If so, what are the similarities and dissimilarities, in
respect of gender differences, between these adults and a group of adoles-
cents? Second, are there any significant differences in DMT patterns be-
tween adult males and females, adolescent boys and girls when these four
groups are analyzed together in a common Partial Least Squares (PLS)


One hundred non-patients were assessed using the DMT. Two comparison
groups were formed. One group of adults (n = 67; mean age = 32 years;
range 21-46; 33 women and 34 men) mainly consisting of medical person-
nel and university students. The second group consisted of adolescents,
upper secondary school students (n = 33; mean age = 17 years; range 16-
19; 18 girls and 15 boys). The DMT was examined by psychologists, well
trained in this method.
116 Per Fransson and Elisabet Sundbom

The Defense Mechanism Test (DMT)

The test was administered according to the DMT manual (Kragh, 1985). In
the present study only the first of the two standard pictures was used. The
responses were scored according to a list of 130 DMT variables earlier de-
scribed in Sundbom, Binzer and Kullgren (1999). (Six of the variables
were excluded, as they are not proper DMT variables). The variables con-
sist of the defenses described in the manual and further clinically relevant
responses not systematized in the manual. Some of the variables were also
scored according to whether they occur early, in the middle or late in the
percept-genesis. The reason for this is that both theoretical and empirical
evidence suggest that defenses may have different implications depending
on where in the percept-genesis they occur (Sundbom, 1992). Interrater
agreement for blindfolded judgments regarding these variables have re-
cently been studied and found to be high (Henningsson & Sundbom,

Partial Least Squares (PLS) analysis

The statistical multivariate projection method Partial Least Squares analy-
sis (Henningsson, Sundbom, Armelius, & Erdberg, 2001) was used in the
present study. A detailed description of this method is given in the chapter
by Henningsson.


Comparison between adult females and males

To study the relationship between the two adult groups (males and fe-
males) a PLS analysis was carried out on all the 67 subjects. One signifi-
cant information-bearing dimension (PLS 1) was found. PLS 1 showed
that 7% of the variance in DMT variables explained 61% of the modeled
variance in group membership. In Figure 7.1 the PLS scores of each sub-
ject are plotted against each other.
Influence of gender and age in the defense mechanism test 117

2 F

0 F
-2 M

-6 -4 -2 0 2 4 6

Figure 7.1. PLS scores. Projections for each individual plotted in a two-
dimensional window created by the first significant and the second non-
significant PLS dimensions. M = male; F = female.

Table 7.1. Discriminating DMT variables (loadings > .15) for males and females.
Variable PLS 1 (loadings) Description of DMT variables
14 -.21 First Attribute is seen late
112 -.19 Introjection: Hero > 34 years
48 -.17 Total
59 -.15 Hero and Peripheral person are separated
Females Identification with the opposite sex
99 .23 Hero (late)
98 .18 Hero (middle)
95 .16 Total
97 .15 Hero (early)
19 .19 Attribute (middle)
18 .17 Attribute (early)
20 .16 Attribute (late)
33 .17 Aggressive Hero
118 Per Fransson and Elisabet Sundbom

Figure 7.1 shows that the males are located in the left part of the window
and the females in the right part. The gender groups are fairly well sepa-
rated, although some overlapping does occur. According to the first and
significant dimension, 93% of the subjects are correctly classified. This
PLS model can also be used to determine the most influential DMT vari-
ables in the separation of the two groups. In Table 7.1 the most important
variables (loadings > .15) are presented.
Table 7.1 shows that the most distinguishing features for the adult males
are to perceive the Attribute late, a too old Hero gestalt and isolation re-
sponses. Adult females are characterized by many variants of identification
with the opposite sex (perceiving a man instead of a woman), as well as
Attribute disappearance and aggressive Hero.

2 G

0 B

-6 -4 -2 0 2 4 6

Figure 7.2. PLS scores. Projections for each individual plotted in a two-
dimensional window created by the first significant and the second non-
significant PLS dimensions. B = boy; G = girl.

Comparisons between adolescent boys and girls

In Fransson and Sundboms study (1998) the relationship between the two
adolescent groups (boys and girls) was analyzed by a PLS analysis on all
the 33 participants. However, the results from that study were only curso-
rily described and are therefore presented more in detail in the context of
Influence of gender and age in the defense mechanism test 119

the present study. One significant information-bearing dimension (PLS 1)

was found showing that 10 % of the variance in DMT variables explained
75% of the variance in group membership.
Figure7.2 shows that the boys are located in the left part of the window
and the girl subjects in the right part. One can also see that the gender
groups are well separated. According to the first dimension, 100 % of the
subjects are correctly classified. In Table 7.2 the most discriminating vari-
ables are presented.

Table 7.2. Discriminating DMT variables (loadings > .15) for boys and girls.
Variable no. PLS 1 (loa- Description of DMT variables
19 -.24 Attribute (middle)
20 -.20 Attribute (late)
18 -.16 Attribute (early)

112 -.16 Introjection: Hero > 34 years

74 -.16 Reaction formation Pp (middle)
Identification with the opposite sex
99 .31 Hero (late)
95 .25 Total
102 .19 Pp (late)
101 .15 Pp (middle)
14 .30 Attribute is seen late
29 .16 Hero changes sex
10 .16 Correct picture is seen late

Table 7.2 shows that Attribute disappearance is the most distinguishing

feature for the boys together with a too old perceived Hero and some reac-
tion formation responses. Girls are characterized by many variants of iden-
tification with the opposite sex and also some aspects of lateness of per-
ception, especially concerning the Attribute.
120 Per Fransson and Elisabet Sundbom

Comparisons between adult females and males and adolescent girls and
Finally the relation between gender and age was investigated by a PLS
analysis carried out on all the subjects jointly (N = 100). Four dummy vari-
ables were created composed of adult female, adult male, adolescent girl or
adolescent boy. The reason for this design was that we wanted to study dif-
ferences and similarities between the four groups as unbiased as possible.
Three information-bearing dimensions (PLS 1, PLS 2 and PLS 3) were
significant and accounted for 52 % (21 % + 20 % + 11 %) of the variance
in group membership with the help of 14 % (5 % + 5 % + 4 %) of the vari-
ance in the DMT variables. The results are depicted in Figure 7.3.

Figure 7.3. PLS scores. Projections for each individual plotted in a three-
dimensional space created by the three significant PLS dimensions. B = adoles-
cent boy; G = adolescent girl; M = adult male; F = adult female. The size of each
circle indicates how deeply within the three-dimensional model separate subjects
are located.
Influence of gender and age in the defense mechanism test 121

Figure 7.3 shows that the first dimension (t 1) is responsible for the sepa-
ration of males toward the left and females toward the right. The second
dimension (t 2) is accountable for the separation of the girls located in the
lower part of the figure. Finally the boys, in the front of the figure, are
separated from the other groups by the third dimension (t 3). Although
some overlapping did occur in all the three dimensions it was possible to
separate all the four groups significantly from each other. Accordingly the
same dimension separates the adult males and females, while separate di-
mensions are needed to separate both the adolescent girls and boys. The
VIP value showed that the number of unique variables (unique = the only
group with positive regression coefficients and VIP value > 0.8) for each
group were quite different. The rank order was adult females, girls, males
and boys showing from eleven to one unique variable for each group. Con-
sequently the female persons seemed to react with more unique distortions
than the males.


The main aim of this study was to investigate discriminating gender pat-
terns in DMT among healthy adults and adolescents. The overall result
showed that gender seems to have a substantial influence on the DMT re-
sponses in both populations. When gender differences within the adult and
the adolescent groups were compared, it was found that the most typical
feature of adult females and girls compared to their male counterparts was
a misjudged gender of the Hero and/or Peripheral person gestalts. Common
similarities were also found within the masculine groups as both adult
males and boys perceived a too old Hero gestalt. Also the magnitude of the
gender differences within the adolescent and adult groups showed similari-
ties. This could lead to a premature conclusion that girls are identical to
adult females and boys identical to adult males, in terms of the DMT.
However, this did not seem to be the case, because all groups (adult fe-
male, adult male, girl and boy), when scrutinized simultaneously, were
significantly separated from each other. An interesting finding was that
adult males and females were separated by one single dimension, repre-
senting opposite poles with diametrical values on significant variables. On
122 Per Fransson and Elisabet Sundbom

the contrary, boys and girls were separated by one dimension each. Thus,
adult gender differences can be described as two sides of the same coin,
while adolescent gender differences better can be described as two coins.
These findings touch upon the discussion that boys and girls may follow
somewhat different developmental trajectories according to Eriksons
(1968) psychosocial stages.
How can we interpret the obtained gender differences? The first plausible
explanation is that they are caused by different stimulus-pictures. Against
this hypothesis stands the fact that gender differences have been revealed
in many different areas e.g. self-image (Offer & Boxer, 1991), defense
mechanisms (Levit, 1991), and aggression (Hyde, 1984). In particular the
results of Carlsson and Smith (1987) indicate that the gender differences in
this study might be genuine. They also found gender differences with an-
other projective perceptgenetic test (MCT), although both sexes were pre-
sented with the same stimulus-pictures. Also the results of Bckstrm
(1994), using a DMT like method, are pointing in the same direction. The
obtained age differences would in any case be expected as adolescents and
adults, according to Erikson (1968), are supposed to struggle with quite
different psychosocial dilemmas.
How can we understand that both adult and adolescent females were
characterized by identification with the opposite sex, compared to their
male counterparts? It is not easy to give these results a crystal-clear inter-
pretation. However, similar findings from other studies have indicated that
women more than men seem to be disposed to identify with the opposite
sex (Matsumoto, 1996; Waehler & Zaback, 1991 and Intons-Peterson,
Another significant DMT variable separating the genders in both the
adult and adolescent groups was Attribute disappearance. This defense
strategy is not included in the DMT manual, but still proved to be impor-
tant in this context.
A Hero perceived to be too old characterized both boys and adult males,
compared to their female counterparts. One might interpret this as a
slightly omnipotent compensation for a threatened self, as the boy in the
stimulus-picture is transformed into an adult man. In the case of the boys
this pattern was also strengthened by reaction formation: trying to cheer
Influence of gender and age in the defense mechanism test 123

up a bit. This is well in line with results from several studies showing that
men, as measured by personality inventories, tend to be more assertive
(Feingold, 1994).
It should be noted that the comparisons of perceptual defenses in the pre-
sent study with defense mechanisms and other personality traits obtained
in other studies should be made with caution. First, the construct validity
of the concepts of defense mechanisms is far from unambiguous (e.g.
Guldberg, Hglend, & Perry, 1993). For example Olff, Godaert, Brosschot,
Weiss, and Ursin (1991) found poor agreement between defenses in the
DMT and other methods of assessing defense mechanisms (e.g. Defense
Mechanism Inventory). Second, straight-off comparisons between results
obtained by more traditional statistical methods and multivariate projection
methods respectively, are also doubtful.
The main conclusion of the results is that both gender and age (adoles-
cent/adult) must be considered when the DMT is used. In the research con-
text these differences can be dealt with by using separate PLS models or by
carefully matched groups according to gender and age. In clinical practice
knowledge of the critical DMT variables is important.

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Ingegerd Carlsson and Fredrik Neuman

To investigate defense mechanisms, repressors (n= 14), highly anxious (n

= 37) and low anxious (n = 7) groups were tested with the Meta Contrast
Technique (Smith, Johnson, Almgren & Johanson, 2001). The division into
repressors and anxiety groups was made on a larger group (N = 140),
which was also investigated with respect to experienced access to precon-
scious processes, here operationalized as memory for dreams.
The results were that the repressors got higher scores on immature de-
fense mechanisms than the highly- or low anxious groups (p = .04 versus p
< .05). The repressors as well as the highly anxious group were higher on
a measure of overall defense than the low anxious group (p < .05 in both
comparisons). Regarding separate defense categories a difference was
found for repression, which was more frequent in the highly anxious than
in the low anxious group (p = .003). Memory for dreams differed only in
the men. The male repressors scored significantly lower than the high-
anxious men (p < .02).
The immature defenses in the repressors were discussed in terms of re-
gressive reactions speculatively due to a lack of symbolic functioning con-
cerning anxiety-arousing areas, i.e. alexithymia.

The repressor concept has traditionally been used to signify people with
heightened recognition thresholds for anxiety-provoking stimulation
(Weinberger, Schwartz, & Davidson, 1979). Repressors also show an ob-
vious inconsistency between how they describe themselves calm, happy,
with high self-esteem and their outer appearance, as others perceive it.
Inspired by psychoanalytic defense mechanisms theory, the idea has been
that a repressor uses strong defensive structures in order to uphold an im-
age of him/herself that is quite different from the more objective reality, as
others see it.
128 Ingegerd Carlsson and Fredrik Neuman

To test this inconsistency a classification was made by Weinberger et al.

(ibid.) by way of psychological scales, one that measured social desirabil-
ity and another scale measuring anxiety level. The Marlowe-Crowne Social
Desirability Scale (Crowne & Marlowe, 1960) was, according to the con-
structors, measuring affect inhibition and protection of self-esteem. Those
high on social desirability and low on anxiety were thus termed repressors,
while other groups were labelled true low-anxious, high-anxious, and de-
fensive high-anxious. Weinberger et al. (ibid.) found that the repressors
were more stressed (according to three physiological and three behavioral
measures) than the true low-anxious people despite claims of lower trait
anxiety. Subsequent empirical research has found that repressors show
high reactivity on a number of physiological measures, but report very lit-
tle negative affect, presumedly because they are highly motivated to main-
tain a positive image of themselves (as reviewed in Weinberger & David-
son, 1994).
Research has also supported the claim that the repressor is not a so-called
other-deceiver, i.e. actually aware of his or her own feelings but aiming at
making a good impression on others (Derakshan & Eysenck, 1998;
Weinberger & Davidson, 1994). Instead, a more or less conscious ambition
to maintain strict emotional control appears to result in an inward blind-
fold as well.
The psychodynamic theory of an active avoidance of conflicting,
anxiety-arousing stimuli thus seemed an appropriate frame to the repressor
concept. When it came to particular defense mechanisms it was suggested
that the mechanism of projection was relevant for repressors, since it
would seem a convenient strategy to attend to negative material in others
when avoiding it in oneself. Empirical support for this suggestion was
found by Newman, Duff and Baumeister (1997).
The repressive individual thus appears unwilling to attend to negative
material emanating from the own self. This reluctance ought to manifest
itself not only concerning the awareness of negative feelings, but with re-
spect to certain other psychic material as well. Especially this should hold
true for less easily controllable material, closer to the primary process, for
instance his or her dream-life. Thus, one aim of the present study was to
investigate the participants degree of closeness to their own dreams.
Mature and immature defenses: a study of repressors and trait anxiety groups 129

As suggested by Weinberger and Davidson (ibid) repressors tend to use

combinations of strategies pertaining to different degrees of (verbal)
awareness. It furthermore seemed obvious that these strategies include
quite reality-distorting mechanisms, such as turning a fact into its opposite
(I am not nervous, on the contrary I feel calm and happy). Therefore it ap-
peared relevant to conceive of their defenses not only as combinations of
different strategies, similar to the early classification made by Anna Freud
(1946). It also seemed important to include a distinction between different
levels of maturity, in line with for example Vaillant (1992). A distinction
between maturity levels would possibly differentiate between levels of
verbal awareness as well.
Therefore, in an exploration of the defensive make-up of repressors we
settled on the Meta-Contrast Technique, or MCT, first published in a stan-
dardized version by Smith and Nyman (1961). The MCT has been thor-
oughly validated in different clinical and non-clinical groups, consisting of
adults as well as children. It was considered particularly suited for the pre-
sent study since a distinction is included, within each of the main defense
categories, between variants that are typically used by children and more
mature variants. As stated in a recent manual; direct denial of the threat,
typical of the preschool age children, must, for instance, be interpreted as a
regressive reaction when it appears during latency and thereafter (Smith,
Johnson, Almgren, & Johanson, 2001, p. 33).
The above empirical and theoretical work led to the following hypothe-
1. Repressors will describe themselves as less close to their dream-life
than the low- and high-anxious groups.
2. Repressors will have more signs of projection in the MCT than the
other groups.
3. Repressors will have more immature defenses than the other groups.
130 Ingegerd Carlsson and Fredrik Neuman


Participants were recruited from undergraduate courses at three different
departments within the humanities and social sciences. They filled out
questionnaires on trait anxiety, social desirability and dreams. On the form
the participant could volunteer to take part in a psychological experiment.
A total of 140 students answered the form and constituted the group that
was classified into repressors, low-anxious and high-anxious groups, to be
described in the results section. Of the total group, 58 people volunteered
for further individual testing with the MCT.

The Spielberger State and Trait Anxiety Inventory

In the present study the trait form in the Spielberger State and Trait Anxi-
ety Inventory (STAI) was used. It contains 20 anxiety-related statements
about ones general mood, assessed on a 4-grade scale. For reliability and
validity data, see Spielberger (1983).

A Short Form of the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale

Rudmin (1999) developed a short form of the Marlowe-Crowne Social De-
sirability Scale (Crowne & Marlowe, 1960). Besides aiming at a shorter
version, another goal was to attain a better balance between positive and
negative items. The resulting Norwegian short form consisted of 10 items
instead of 33, and showed better inter-item correlation means and a mean
closer to the mid-point of the response scale than the original scale. A
drawback was a slightly lower Cronbachs alpha (.65), since alpha tends to
decrease with fewer items. The form was translated to Swedish for the pre-
sent study and a response scale from 1 4 was used, equal to the STAI.
This was a change from the original form that used yes or no, in an effort
to get a broader distribution of data.

Dream questionnaire
The questionnaire contained a form constructed for this study with the fol-
lowing six questions about dreams. 1. How often do you dream (once a
month or less, once a week, almost every night)? 2. How often do you re-
Mature and immature defenses: a study of repressors and trait anxiety groups 131

member what was in your dream (very seldom, sometimes, pretty often)?
3. How often do you have unpleasant dreams or nightmares (rather often,
sometimes, almost never, never)? 4. Do you dream in color (yes, no, I
dont know)? 5. What are your dreams like (often realistic and ordinary,
often imaginative and unreal, both realism and unreality)? 6. Have you
ever experienced paranormal dreams, like for instance dreams that came
true, telepathic dreams or other weird things (never, once, several

The Meta Contrast Technique

In the MCT, early influences of an anxiety-arousing subliminal picture can
be registered and spotted as changes in a habituated, supraliminal, picture.
The subliminal stimulus is successively prolonged and finally appearing as
a structure in its own right. During the process it is supposed to give rise to
defense mechanisms, revealed in verbal reports and non-verbal behavior.
In the present study we used the version with a subliminal grimacing face
(the threat) masked by a picture of a young person (the hero). For a thor-
ough overview of theoretical background and empirical validation, as well
as experimental specifications, see the manual (Smith, Johnson, Almgren,
& Johanson, 2001). A computerized version was used in this study.
Reliability of the MCT. As stated in the manual, inter-rater and test-retest
correlations between trained judges have been close to the statistical ceil-
ing. In the present study 20 protocols were drawn at random and scored by
the experimenter (junior author) and by another, trained, judge (senior au-
thor). In seven of these protocols there were one or two slight differences,
mainly concerning tendencies or due to oversights. After a second scoring
of all protocols there remained ten protocols on which the experimenter
was unsure, and also one or two more general concerns. These instances
were thoroughly discussed and if certainty was not reached a third (trained)
judge was called in.
Scoring of the MCT. The scoring of the protocols made use of all main
categories in the manual, briefly described in the following.
Anxiety. Signs of anxiety often imply that the hero picture is described as
becoming darker, or that there are marked exaggerations of black parts in
132 Ingegerd Carlsson and Fredrik Neuman

the picture. The manual divides the signs into mild, moderate, or grave
Regression. All regressive signs imply a return to a more immature defen-
sive level, and the depth can be defined as the difference between the base-
line level and the final level. The different categories vary from very con-
crete experiencing (for instance that the participant sees him/herself in the
picture, or describes clear colors in the black and white picture), to sudden
perceptions that everything is chaotic or nothing is perceived, to defensive
regressions (where an advanced sign of, for instance, isolation is replaced
by an immature one).
Projection sensitivity. Projective signs appear early in the development.
Categories 1 3 include clear projective answers (for example perception
of plain movements or that the threat is described as a nice and friendly,
living, person). Signs of sensitivity indicate that the individual reacts early
in the testing to the influence of the subliminal threat by perceiving slight
changes in the habituated picture of the boy. Transformations of a sensitive
type belong in category 4 (for example changes in picture perspective or
posture of the hero). To be classified for sensitivity at least two such
changes must be scored. Uncertain, single responses (but not sensitivity)
were scored as a tendency to projection.
Repression. Efforts to de-cathect the threat are subsumed under the head-
ing of repression. The grouping presupposes that the adult strategy of re-
pression originates at the behavioral level in the preschool age. According
to the manual, immature signs of repression are found in subcategories 1
2 (for example eye-shutting behavior, when the participant closes his eyes,
yawns heavily, turns his head away, looks down, etc, after a quick glance
at the screen, or that he or she sees only parts of the threat, the tip of a nose
instead of a whole face). In categories 3 5, at more mature levels, the
threat becomes for example a lifeless (harmless) mummy, or is dressed up,
transformed into a bike, tree, flowerpot, or other common object. A vague
response was coded as a tendency to repression.
Isolation. The different categories in isolation all strive to separate the
threatening emotion from the hero figure. Categories 1 3 are considered
to come low in the hierarchy (for example to increase the distance to the
threat, either literally walking backwards from the screen, or perceiving
Mature and immature defenses: a study of repressors and trait anxiety groups 133

that the threat is placed further away on the screen, or even to state that it is
not an angry monster anyway). Categories 4 6 imply greater cognitive
maturity (for instance reports that the threat is turned away, or is trans-
formed into a white distinct light, or hidden by a protecting surface). A
vague or unsure response was scored as a tendency.
Depression. Depressiveness implies a stereotyped, monotonous and often
long series of reports of a misinterpreted threat figure, indicative of inhibi-
tion. Category 1 contains more immature, childlike expressions (for exam-
ple that the boy is crying). Categories 2 3 consist of more or less massive
stereotypical series (at least five reports in a row of an unchanged misin-
terpretation of the threat). Also included is so-called softened stereotypy,
in which the series is slightly changed, indicating depressive tendencies.
Quantification of the separate defense categories. For regression, projec-
tion and depression a clear sign got two points and tendencies one point.
Sensitivity got one point, if no projection was scored. For the categories of
isolation and repression, scores in more than one subcategory earned three
points, one subcategory was given two points, and a tendency earned one
Overall defense sum. In order to gain information about overall defense
score for each individual, a sum was calculated containing the points for all
categories. The maximum thus was twelve which was a theoretical
maximum, since depressive stereotypy excludes most other defenses.
Immature defense sum. To quantify immature defense, as regards regres-
sion and projection, those categories were considered immature and every
sign got two points, with one point for a tendency or for sensitivity. In the
categories of repression, isolation and depression, two points were given if
the protocol got a score in an immature sub-category and one point for a
tendency. The maximum thus was ten points.


Trait Anxiety
Mean for trait anxiety was 41.6 (SD = 9.47) in the whole group. No sex
difference was found (men: M = 39.8, SD = 8.8, versus women: M = 42.4,
SD = 8.76, n.s.).
134 Ingegerd Carlsson and Fredrik Neuman

Social Desirability
The social desirability mean was 27.3 (SD = 4.08) in the whole group. A
negative correlation was found with trait anxiety (Pearsons r = -.20, p =
.02, two-tailed).
No sex difference was found (men: M = 27.1, SD = 4.35 and women: M
= 27.4, SD = 3.98, n.s.).

Classification into Repressor, Low-Anxious and High-Anxious Groups

For social desirability the median (= 27) was used to split the participants
into high and low groups. The median on trait anxiety (= 41) was consid-
ered somewhat high, and finally the 40th percentile (= 38) was used. Thus,
the repressors had scores below the cut point on trait anxiety and above the
median on social desirability, the low-anxious group had scores below the
cut point on both tests, while the high-anxious group had a high score on
trait anxiety and could be either high or low on social desirability. Table
8.1 shows number of males and females and means and standard deviations
for age, trait anxiety and social desirability, for the three categories in the
whole cohort and in the MCT subgroup.
Trait Anxiety in the Three Groups. The groups differed significantly on an
ANOVA (F (2, 137) = 101.05, p = .000). On post hoc tests (Dunnett) the
high-anxious group was significantly higher on trait anxiety than the low-
anxious and the repressor groups (mean differences = 14.21 versus 15.18,
p = .000). The latter groups did not differ.
Social Desirability in the Three Groups. An ANOVA for the three groups
yielded F (2, 137) = 23.55, p < .000. The repressor group got higher scores
than both the low- and high-anxious groups (Dunnetts mean difference =
6.41 versus 3.68, p < .000). The high-anxious group was higher than the
low-anxious (mean difference = 2.73, p < .000).

The intention was to form an index with the six questions concerning per-
ceived closeness to ones dreams. The answer categories were assigned
numbers and were reversed for questions 3 and 4. However, significant
correlations were found only between the first three questions (p < .01,
Mature and immature defenses: a study of repressors and trait anxiety groups 135

Spearmans rs, 2-tailed), which were put together to an index with a mini-
mum of 2 and maximum of 9. The median in the group became 7. On the
index the women had significantly higher points than the men (Mann-
Whitney U = 1344.0, p < .001, 2-tailed). A difference between groups was
found only in the men, where the repressors had lower points than the male
high-anxious group (Mann-Whitney U = 64.00. p < .02, 2-tailed). The rep-
ressors and the low-anxious group did not differ.

Table 8.1. The distribution of participants in the three groups, as well as the number
of men and women and the means and standard deviations for age, trait anxiety and for
social desirability in the whole cohort and in the MCT subgroup
Repressor Low-anxious High-anxious
n = 37 n = 19 n = 84
Number of women (men) 25 (12) 11 (8) 63 (21)
Age, M (SD) 24.16 (4.87) 23.42 (6.88) 23.49 (4.83)
Trait anxiety, M (SD) 32.41 (3.44) 33.37 (4.36) 47.58 (7.17)
Social desirability, M (SD) 30.41 (2.95) 24.00 (2.11) 26.73 (3.99)
MCT subgroup (n) n = 14 n=7 n = 37
Women (men) 7 (7) 5 (2) 31 (6)
Age, M (SD) 22.67 (2.77) 22.00 (2.83) 23.14 (4.08)
Trait anxiety, M (SD) 32.27 (3.71) 34.00 (2.83) 47.49 (7.35)
Social desirability, M (SD) 29.67 (2.82) 23.57 (2.07) 26.57 (3.62)

Thresholds. A calculation was made to find out if the groups differed at
which exposure level they first described a (mis-) representation of the
threat stimulus. The means lay between 22.0 - 23,2 ms. which was not sig-
nificant when tested with ANOVA.
Anxiety. No significant difference was found for anxiety.
The separate defense categories. As regards the single categories the only
significant difference was found in the category of repression. More high-
anxious people had signs of clear repression (2 or 3 points) than those in
the low-anxious group (the contrast was 19 18 versus 7 0, p = .03,
Fishers exact test, two-sided). The repressors got an intermediate place.
Overall defense sum. As can be seen in table 2 both the repressors and the
high-anxious group scored higher on overall defense than the low-anxious
group (p < .05, versus p = .03, Fishers exact test, two-sided). It could be
136 Ingegerd Carlsson and Fredrik Neuman

noted that a sum as high as eight points was reached by two participants,
both in the repressor group.
Immature defense sum. Table 2 also shows that the repressors got higher
scores on immature defense than both the high- and the low-anxious
groups (p = .04, versus p < .05, Fishers exact test, two-sided). It was
moreover noted that nobody in the low-anxious group got any points for
immature defense.

Table 8.2. Number of Participants in the Repressor and Anxiety Groups with Low (0
2) or High (3 8) Points for Overall Defense and for Immature Defense
Overall defense Immature defense
02 38 02 38
Repressor group 7 7 7 7
Low-anxious group 7 0 7 0
High-anxious group 19 18 30 7


As hypothesized, the category of immature defense in the MCT was able to

distinguish the group of repressors from both the low-anxious and the
high-anxious groups while the dream index separated the repressors and
the high-anxious group; the latter however only in the men. Thus the rep-
ressors had a larger share of immature responses and the male repressors
described a more distant relationship to their dreams. The dream index did
not discriminate in the women, who scored generally high.
The hypothesis about projection was not supported the repressors did
not have more projective signs. Since the number of participants was small
in the repressor group, and, especially, in the low-anxious group, this may
have contributed to the lack of difference as regards projection.
If we consider the low-anxious group, they had less of overall defense
than both the high-anxious group and the repressors. They moreover had
fewer signs of repression than the high-anxious group. This appears rea-
sonable, given that a low-anxious individual per definition is less easily
aroused and thus should become little influenced by the anxiety-arousing
stimulus in the MCT. It is unfortunate that the low-anxious group com-
prised only seven individuals, but the small share in this group with respect
Mature and immature defenses: a study of repressors and trait anxiety groups 137

to defense mechanisms seems to indicate that the separation between the

groups had some success. Future investigations with larger cohorts are
needed in order to attain both larger and more extreme sub-groups than in
the present study as well as to cross-validate the results. Also more re-
search is warranted on the short form of social desirability that was used.
However, research has not supported the notion that different social desir-
ability measures would have a differential impact on the identification of
repressors (Furnham, Petrides, & Spencer-Bowdage, 2002).
The present results on overall defense are interesting to compare with the
results in a study of creativity where participants either very high or very
low in creativity were tested on both trait anxiety and with the MCT
(Carlsson, 2002). Here, the creative group got significantly higher points
on overall defenses than the low-creative group. The score for overall de-
fense furthermore showed a positive correlation with the score on creative
fluency. Also, high creativity was associated with higher anxiety-levels
when measured with the MCT as well as the STAI. These results indicate
that a high score on overall defense in the MCT is not a measure of strong
defensiveness. Rather, as was reasoned by Carlsson (ibid.), an aptness to
make shifts between different defenses during the testing may indicate a
flexible cognitive style and tolerance of anxiety. This idea was supported
by findings in a group comprising 171 youngsters who were tested both on
creativity and on the MCT (Carlsson & Smith, 1997). Those with high
creativity showed more varied defenses, while the low creative youngsters
were significantly gender typed, i.e. low creative males had more isolation
whereas their female counterparts had more projection and sensitivity. Fur-
thermore, the category of repression was the sole category to have a posi-
tive relation to creativity, but at the same time youngsters with scores in
three different categories were significantly more creative than those with
only repression or accompanied by either isolation or projection.
Of particular relevance for the present results was another finding in
Carlsson and Smith (ibid.), namely that unlike repression taken as a whole,
the specific subcategory of immature repression showed an opposite
pattern, since it was significantly negatively related to creativity. The
conclusion was drawn that more symbolic repression indicated better
neutralization and hence a cognitively more mature defensive function.
138 Ingegerd Carlsson and Fredrik Neuman

The authors compared their results on repression with Fenichel (1945),

who used the term successful repression as an equivalent of sublimation.
The same total scoring of immature defense as in the present study was not
made by Carlsson (ibid.) or by Carlsson and Smith (ibid.), which limits the
comparison with the present results.
The way that the measures in the present study were constituted meant
that there was an overlap between overall defense and immature defense,
since projection and regression were part of both. This implies that the
overweight for immature defense in the repressors was due specifically to
scores in the sub-categories of immature isolation and repression. The ten-
tative conclusion can be drawn that the repressor is less well equipped with
tools of symbolization when handling negative and conflict-loaded mate-
rial. Thus, the high-anxious individual is more prone to shift between de-
fenses belonging to both early and late developmental levels, whereas the
repressors efforts have a stronger regressive flavour. The formulation
made with reference to creative functioning by Kris (1952) of regression
in the service of the Ego thus seems more fitting to the high-anxious
group, while the repressors have more affinity to the type of regression
which was described by Fenichel (1946) as something that happens to the
Ego, due to a peculiar weakness of the ego organization (p. 160).
Since repressors apparently have limited conscious access to their bodily
reactions (e.g. Derakshan & Eysenck, 1997; Weinberger, Schwartz, &
Davidson, 1979), the concept of alexithymia, or the impaired capacity to
construct mental representations of emotions and instead to focus on so-
matic sensations (Taylor, Bagby, & Parker, 1997) could be part of the
specification of this peculiar weakness. Another formulation suggests
alexithymia to be a cognitive state of externally oriented thinking with an
emotional instability associated to the inability to cope with stressful situa-
tions (Zimmermann, Rossier, Meyer de Stadelhofen, & Gaillard, 2005).
In research on psychosomatic disease the repressor concept has been per-
tinent. In a long-term study of patients with heart disease, repressors had a
significantly worse prognosis while the high-anxious group had a long-
term benefit of treatment (Frasure-Smith, Lesperance, Gravel, Masson,
Juneau, & Bourassa, 2002). Fibromyalgia patients compared with healthy
controls were more defensive and alexithymic (Brosschot & Aarsse, 2001).
Mature and immature defenses: a study of repressors and trait anxiety groups 139

When the MCT was tested on psychosomatic groups, immature defense

was found to be more prevalent in alcoholics than in controls (jehagen &
Smith, 1993) and in patients with psychosomatic diseases versus controls
(Smith & van der Meer, 1993). The immature signs in the MCT were
moreover found to increase with the duration of the psychosomatic illness
(Smith & Amnr, 1995). As stated by Lundh (2002), research on alexithy-
mia would probably benefit from measures not solely dependent on self-
assessment. The MCT seems to be such an implicit measure.
To summarize, the present research supported the hypothesis that repres-
sors, in contrast to high- and low-anxious people, would show an over-
weight of immature defenses and thus respond with meagre symbolic func-
tioning on the MCT. Immature defense has earlier been coupled with psy-
chosomatic symptoms and alexithymia and it was even suggested by Sif-
neos (1988) that alexithymia is the opposite of creativity. It is a likely pre-
diction that repressors will be particularly low on tests of creativity the
combination of both was not found when searched for, and seems not yet
to have been tried in empirical research.


The authors wish to thank Gudmund Smith for solving the most persistent
MCT knots.


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Zimmermann, G., Rossier, J., Meyer-de-Stadelhofen, F., & Gaillard, F.
(2005). Alexithymia assessment and relations with dimensions of personal-
ity. European J. of Psychological Assessment, 21 (1):23 33.
Peter Jnsson

The present chapter focuses on cardiovascular reactivity during emotional

induction using pictorial stimuli. Specifically, the balance between the
sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system, the sympathovagal
balance, measured by power spectrum analysis of heart rate variability,
was examined during the performance of the percept-genetic Meta-
Contrast Technique.
Heart rate variability was studied in normal individuals with higher or
lower levels of trait anxiety, when exposed to either a threatening (an an-
gry face) or a non-threatening target stimulus (a flower), employing the
percept-genetic Meta-Contrast Technique. The target stimuli were back-
wardly masked and presented below and above the subjective threshold for
conscious recognition. The ratio between the low and high frequency com-
ponents in the power spectrum density of the HRV was used as a measure
of the sympathovagal balance. The main finding indicates that the threat-
ening stimulus was related to lower sympathovagal balance than the non-
threatening one in high anxious individuals. This was the case when the
target stimuli were presented both below as well as above the subjective
threshold. The different targets did not influence the sympathovagal bal-
ance differently in persons with low trait anxiety. It was proposed that the
lower sympathovagal balance in high trait anxious individuals when ex-
posed to the threatening stimulus mirrored a freezing reaction with en-
hanced attention and information processing.


Emotions are action dispositions that reflect central activation and prepara-
tion for actions (Lang, Bradley, & Cuthbert, 1990; Lang, 1995). A similar
view was held by Darwin (1872/1948) who proposed that affective expres-
sions had evolved primarily because they prepared and motivated the or-
ganism for action. Later, Tomkins further developed this theory and argued
144 Peter Jnsson

that affects function as analogue amplifiers that create experiences of ur-

gency within the organism (Tomkins, 1995). According to Lang, Bradley,
and Cuthbert (1990) emotions are organized biphasically along a dimen-
sion ranging from aversive (defensive, avoidance, and escape) to appetitive
behavior (approach, attachment, and consummatory behavior). Further-
more, emotions involve evaluative processes that entail an explicit behav-
ioral valence that disposes the organism to approach or withdraw from par-
ticular stimuli or contexts. Stimuli are explicitly evaluated and categorized
into positive or negative valence classes, and behavioral dispositions are
activated entailing bivalent tendencies toward (e.g. approach, acquisition,
consumption) or away (e.g. avoidance, escape, rejection) from stimuli
(Berntson, Boysen, & Cacioppo, 1993; Cacioppo, Klein, Berntson, & Hat-
field, 1993).



When people are shown slides with unpleasant or aversive content, heart
rate (HR) decelerates, the activation of the facial corrugator muscle around
the eye increases (Lang, Greenwald, Bradley, & Hamm, 1993; Dimberg &
Karlsson, 1997), and the magnitude of the eye blink startle reflex increases
(Bradley, Cuthbert, & Lang, 1990; Vrana, Spence, & Lang, 1988). When
shown pleasant pictures quite the opposite occurs; HR and the activation of
the facial zygomatic muscle increases (Lang et al., 1993; Dimberg &
Karlsson, 1997), and the startle blink reflex decreases (Bradley et al., 1990,
Vrana et al., 1988).
However, besides that physiological autonomic responses covary with
the parameters of valence and arousal, the autonomic responses are also
dependent on the context. When people imagine or think about unpleasant
events they respond with HR acceleration (Vrana & Lang, 1990), but show
HR deceleration when shown unpleasant pictures (Lang et al., 1993). As
noted by Lang (1995) this is similar to findings in animal research. HR and
blood pressure decrease in response to a conditioned tone (associated to a
shock) when animals are physically restrained, whereas they increase when
the conditioned signal is presented to freely behaving animals (Iwata &
Heart rate variability during the meta-contrast technique 145

LeDoux, 1988). Viewing pictures is a situation resembling the former

condition. Like a freezing animal or an attentive predator the viewer is
immobile (Lang, 1995).


The functions of the two branches of the autonomic nervous system (ANS)
cannot be viewed as a single continuum ranging from sympathetic to para-
sympathetic control. Instead the autonomic control ought to be described in
a two-dimensional space (Berntson, Cacioppo, & Quigley, 1991). Hence
an emotional stimulus may produce coactivation of the sympathetic and
parasympathetic nervous system depending on which activational input is
greater, the consequent heart rate response can be acceleratory, decelera-
tory, or unchanged from a prestimulus level (Cacioppo et al., 1993). For
example, an increase of both sympathetic and parasympathetic activity, as
well as a decrease, may result in an unchanged HR. However, power spec-
trum analysis of heart rate variability (HRV) provides a tool to study the
balance between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system,
i.e. the sympathovagal balance (for a review see Berntson et al., 1997).
Three different frequency bands, reflecting neurally mediated oscilla-
tions, have been distinguished within the power spectrum of the HRV. The
high frequency band (HF) around 0.25 Hz is related to respiratory sinus
arrhythmia and is almost exclusively due to parasympathetic influences
reflecting vagal activity (Akselrod et al., 1985; Eckholt & Lange, 1990;
Pomeranz, et al., 1985). A region around 0.1 Hz constitutes the medium
frequency band (MF), which mirrors the baroreceptor feedback loop con-
trolling blood pressure, the Mayer-waves. The MF band is supposed to re-
flect both sympathetic and parasympathetic activity, but mainly the latter.
Fluctuations above 0.1 Hz seem to be mediated solely by the parasympa-
thetic system. (Akselrod et al., 1985, Eckholt & Lange, 1990). Finally the
low frequency band (LF) below 0.09 Hz has been related to the rhenin an-
giotensin system and thermoregulatory mechanisms (Hyndman, Kitney, &
Sayers, 1971; Kitney, 1975), and is proposed to reflect a mixture of both
parasympathetic and sympathetic activity (Akselrod et al., 1981; 1985;
Eckoldt & Lange, 1990).
146 Peter Jnsson

The ratio between LF/HF has been proposed as an index of the sym-
pathovagal balance and is suggested to be a valid estimate under many
psychological situations, especially when the interest is in the study of
changes in the sympathovagal balance under various conditions (Akselrod,
1995; Berntson et al., 1997).

HRV during emotional responding

Prior research on intraindividual HRV changes during emotional respond-
ing indicates that the vagally mediated HF- HRV covary inversely with
emotional valence. Thus, in response to pictorial stimuli of negative va-
lence HF-HRV magnitude is greater than to pictorial stimuli of positive or
neutral valence, or during baseline recordings (Carruthers & Taggart,
1973; Jnsson, 2004; Jnsson & Sonnby-Borgstrm, 2003; Wittling, et al.,
1998). However, recent studies have also shown that HF-HRV may be re-
lated to emotional arousal rather than valence (Frazier, Strauss, & Stein-
hauer, 2004), or not to differ between films containing various emotional
content (Palomba et al., 2000).



A great number of studies have reported that we can be influenced by emo-

tional stimuli even when presented below a level for conscious awareness.
For example, subliminally presented pictures of happy and angry faces in-
fluenced subjects judgments of novel visual patterns (Chinese ideo-
graphs), indicating that emotionally valenced information can be processed
at a preattentive level (Murphy & Zajonc, 1993; Murphy, Monahan, & Za-
jonc, 1995). However, threatening information may have stronger influ-
ences than pleasant when presented subliminally. In a study by hman,
Dimberg, and Esteves (1989) subjects were classically conditioned to ex-
pect a shock when an angry or a happy face was presented. When the stim-
uli later were presented at a supraliminal level both angry and happy faces
evoked a skin conductance response (SCR). When presented subliminally
only the angry faces gave a similar response. In a later study hman and
Soares (1994) exposed phobic related stimuli (snakes and spiders), and
Heart rate variability during the meta-contrast technique 147

non-phobic related stimuli (flowers and mushrooms) to spider phobics,

snake phobics and a control group. The spider phobic group reacted with
enhanced SCR to pictures of spiders both when presented subliminally and
supraliminally, but not to the other stimuli. The same was the case for the
snake phobic group in relation to snakes, whereas the control group
showed enhanced SCR for neither stimulus.
Also cardiovascular responses discriminate between emotional pictorial
stimuli of different content when presented at very short exposures. Thus,
HF-HRV was greater, and phasic HR responses were more deceleratory to
pictures of angry faces presented subliminally, than to pictures of happy
faces (Jnsson & Sonnby-Borgstrm, 2003).


Physiological assessments such as electrodermal activity, heart rate, and

electromyographic responses, just mentioning a few, have commonly been
correlated to psychological phenomena like emotions. However, less has
been done to study the balance between the two branches of the ANS in
different emotional moods. The purpose of the present study was to exam-
ine the sympathovagal balance (LF/HF ratio) in normal subjects when
viewing pictures with different emotional valence. As mentioned above
when people are shown unpleasant pictures HR decelerates, but accelerates
when shown pleasant ones (Lang et al., 1993). One question at issue was
whether people exposed to a threatening stimulus react with lower sym-
pathovagal balance than those exposed to a non-threatening one. Further,
the pictures were backwardly masked and presented both under and above
the subjective threshold in order to study possible influences at preattentive
as well as at controlled processing of visual information. Additionally, the
test participants completed a state and trait anxiety inventory with the in-
tention to investigate if anxious people differ regarding sympathovagal
balance compared to non-anxious people when viewing the different pic-
148 Peter Jnsson


Fifty persons were recruited to the study via wanted lists briefly describing
the experiment. Participants were told not to eat, or use caffeine or nicotine
within two hours before the experiment. None used any kind of medication
or suffered from any disease known to affect the cardiovascular system.
Eleven participants were excluded from the study: three reported changes
in the masking picture when the target picture was exposed subliminally,
four were excluded on account of artifacts in data sampling, one got an al-
lergic reaction and began to sneeze, one was excluded because of problem
with one of the tachistoscopes, and finally two owing to periodical double
Two experimental groups were formed: one receiving a threatening
stimulus, and one receiving a non-threatening stimulus. After the exclu-
sions the former consisted of two men and seventeen women aged 18-29
years (M = 24.8, SD = 2.5) and the latter of five men and thirteen women
aged 20-29 years (M = 23.4, SD = 2.7). All examinations took place be-
tween 10.00 and 12.00 a.m.


Spielberger State and Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI)

The STAI (Spielberger, 1972) consists of a state and a trait anxiety scale.
Each scale contains 20 items that assess the cognitive and affective com-
ponents of anxiety. Regarding the state anxiety scale participants are told
to answer the questions in relation to how one is feeling right now. The
questions in the trait anxiety scale are answered in relation to how one is
feeling in general.

Stimuli and Stimuli Presentation

Three pictures were used as stimuli: a threatening picture represented by a
face of a grimacing ape-man (Threat); a non threatening picture repre-
sented by a flower (Non-Threat); and a picture of a boy leaning over a ta-
ble was used as a masking stimulus (Mask). The stimuli were presented via
Heart rate variability during the meta-contrast technique 149

two tachistoscopes on a half-transparent screen (35 x 35 cm). [The Mask

and the Threat are both requisite of the Meta-contrast Technique (MCT;
Smith, Johnson & Almgren, 1989). The MCT is a personality inventory
and has for a long time been used to assess patients with psychiatric disor-
ders (ibid). The Mask is by way of introduction presented alone and is in-
tended to generate a conceptual frame of reference. When the motif of the
Mask is correctly apprehended the Threat is gradually introduced; first at
very short durations, then followed by increased exposure times until that
too is correctly described. The Threat is supposed to induce an anxiety or
conflict filled situation with resulting defensive or coping strategies to re-
duce it. Commonly participants report alterations in the Mask before the
Threat has been noticed; the boy may be reported to close his eyes or lift
one arm etc. Only the stimulus material is relevant for this article, not the
scoring technique for the personality variables. Theoretical background is
described in Smith and Westerlund (1980). Those interested in the scoring
details are referred to the MCT manual (Smith et al., 1989)].
An opto-electronic switch (that contained a photo diode and a Schmitt
trigger) was attached to each tachistoscope. Each exposure (Mask and Tar-
get) and its duration could therefore be recorded by the acquisition system
described in next paragraph.


The participant was seated in an armchair and fitted with Ag-AgCl adhe-
sive disposable electrodes (lead I configuration). He or she was told to find
a comfortable seat and to sit as still as possible during the examination.
ECG measurements were recorded (sampled at 1 kHz) and analyzed with a
computer-based acquisition system, MP100WSW, and its software Ac-
qKnowledge (BIOPAC System, Inc., Santa Barbara, CA, USA). 5 minutes
of the ECG signal in each condition of interest was used for the analysis.
Data were ocularly scrutinized. Artifact free data were used for the estima-
tion of the R-R intervals, which were transformed to a heart rate tachogram
(BPM). The R-R interval data were resampled at 1 Hz to obtain equidistant
time series values. A power spectrum density (PSD, calculated as
(BPM)2/Hz) was then obtained via a Fast Fourier Transformation (FFT) of
150 Peter Jnsson

the tachogram. In connection with the FFT data were linearly detrended
and filtered using a Bartlett window.
The integral of the power spectrum was studied in two major frequency
bands: a low frequency region (LF, 0.02-0.05 Hz), and a high frequency
region (HF, 0.15-0.5 Hz). The LF and HF were expressed in relative terms.
The LF/HF ratio was used as a measure of the sympathovagal balance. The
spectral values for both frequency regions were transformed into natural
logarithmic (ln) values to approach normally distributed data.

First the state and trait scales of STAI were completed. After that the ECG
registration followed during five conditions:
1, Resting condition. 10 min of ECG registration whereof the last 5 min
was used as baseline. During this registration the test leader asked the par-
ticipant about age, education, occupation, etcetera, in order to hold the
amount of speech approximately at the same level as in the following con-
2, The Mask was presented in repeated exposure with increasing exposure
times (the first exposure at 8 ms). After each exposure the participant gave
a short verbal report of what he or she had noticed. Exposure time was in-
creased until the participant correctly apprehended the Mask. Then the ex-
posures proceeded, at the same exposure time until 5 min of ECG re-
cording had been completed.
3, The targets (Threat or Non-Threat) were then introduced subliminally
without the participants knowledge, and immediately followed by the
Mask. Half the group received the Non-Threat, half the group the Threat.
The duration for the target started at 8 ms and was repeatedly presented
with increased exposure times; five exposures at each exposure time. This
procedure was intended to take at least 5 min with the target at a subliminal
level (subjective threshold). No new structures or changes reported in the
Mask were permitted. For example, if a participant reported that there is
something strange happening in the window or the window seems to be
darker, she or he was excluded from further analysis.
Heart rate variability during the meta-contrast technique 151

4, The targets (Threat or Non-Threat) were, together with the Mask, re-
peatedly presented supraliminally (i.e. targets and Mask correctly recog-
nized and described) during 5 min.
5, Five minutes rest.
After this a second state anxiety form was completed. By way of conclu-
sion the participants were informed about the purpose of the study.


The means for the total group on the trait anxiety scale was M = 40.3 (SD
= 8.0), and for the state anxiety scale assessed before the experimental
conditions M = 35.1 (SD = 7.1). The means were used to split the partici-
pants into two groups with higher and lower levels of trait (M =33.7, SD =
0.9 and M = 46.6, SD = 1.2) and state anxiety (M = 29.8, SD = 0.7 and M
= 41.4, SD = 41.4, SD = 1.1). The mean on the state scale measured after
the test session was 32.7 (SD = 7.1), and after mean split (M = 28.2, SD =
0.8 and M = 33.3, SD = 1.4). A 2 (Stimulus) x 2 (State anxiety; before,
after) repeated measures ANOVA showed a main effect yielding that the
difference between the state anxiety before and after the test measures was
significant (F(1,35) = 4.58, p < .05). No other effects were found.

Number of exposures and exposure times

In order to control that the number of exposures did not differ between the
groups a 2 (Target) x 2 (Trait anxiety) x 3 (Condition) repeated measures
ANOVA was conducted. This revealed a main effect for Condition: F(2,
66) = 41.5, p < .001, = 1 (the Greenhouse-Geisser procedure was used
for calculating epsilon). No other differences were found; hence the num-
ber of exposures did not differ between the groups. The number of expo-
sures for the different stimuli in the three experimental conditions can be
seen in Table 9.1.
152 Peter Jnsson

Table 9.1. Summary of Exposure Times and Number of Exposures. Groups divided by
received target (Non-Threat/Threat) and trait anxiety (Low/High)
Experimental Condition
Group Anxiety Mask Subliminal Supraliminal N
Exposure time
Low 78.7 (16.4) 32.9 (18.8) 168.7 (118.3) 10
High 87.2 (18.2) 29.4 (16.7) 234.5 (195.9) 8
Tot 82.5 (17.2) 31.3 (17.4) 197.9 (156.0) 18
Threat Low 59.0 (0.5) 19.1 (9.0) 167.1 (108.8) 9
High 58.7 (9.7 16.8 (4.7) 158.6 (111.8) 10
Tot 58.8 (6.9) 17.8 (7.0) 162.6 (107.4) 19
Total Low 69.3 (15.4) 26.4 (16.2) 167.9 (110.7) 19
High 71.4 (20.0) 22.4 (12.9) 192.3 (154.7) 18
Tot 70.3 (17.6) 24.4 (14.6) 179.8 (132.6) 37
Number of expo-
Low 12.5 (2.5) 14.9 (3.1) 12.4 (2.8) 10
High 13.6 (2.8) 15.7 (3.1) 13.6 (2.9) 8
Tot 13.0 (2.6) 15.3 (3.0) 12.9 (2.8) 18
Threat Low 13.7 (1.7) 16.1 (1.7) 14.0 (2.5) 9
High 13.5 (2.1) 17.0 (2.0) 14.2 (3.1) 10
Tot 13.6 (1.9) 16.6 (1.9) 14.1 (2.8) 19
Total Low 13.1 (2.2) 15.5 (2.5) 13.2 (2.7) 19
High 13.6 (2.4) 16.4 (2.5) 13.9 (3.0) 18
Tot 13.3 (2.3) 15.9 (2.6) 13.5 (2.8) 37
Note. Values are means (standard deviations within brackets). Low/High = trait anxiety
category. Non-Threat/Threat = received target stimulus.

The exposure times are presented in Table 1. Besides an obvious main ef-
fect for Condition (F(2, 66) = 37,2, p < .001, = .513), a 2 (Target) x 2
(Trait anxiety) x 3 (Condition) repeated measures ANOVA showed that
there were no significant differences between the groups.
Analyses where State anxiety replaced Trait anxiety as between groups
variable were also conducted. No significant results were found. Neither
did the following analyses reveal any significant results for State anxiety
and will therefore not be further commented.
Heart rate variability during the meta-contrast technique 153

HR and HRV
Initial Rest. HR and the LF/HF ratios are summarized in Table 9.2. A 2
(Target) x 2 (Trait anxiety) ANOVA revealed no significant results regard-
ing HR or LF/HF.
Low anxious






-,4 Threat
Mask Subliminal Supraliminal


High anxious






-,4 Threat
Mask Subliminal Supraliminal


Figure 9.1. LF/HF ratio as a function of experimental condition: In the first con-
dition (Mask) the masking stimulus was presented alone; in the second condition
(Subliminal) the target stimuli (Non-Threat or Threat) were backwardly masked
and presented at exposure times below the subjective threshold for recognition;
and in the third condition (Supraliminal) the target stimuli were presented above
the subjective threshold.
154 Peter Jnsson

Experimental Conditions. LF/HF. Regarding the LF/HF ratios the 2 (Tar-

get) x 2 (Trait anxiety) x 3 (Condition) repeated measures ANOVA re-
vealed a significant interaction effect for Target x Trait anxiety x
Condition: F(2, 66) = 3.69, p < .05, = .976 (see Figure 9.1). For this
interaction, there were significant within-subjects contrasts for the Sub-
liminal and the Supraliminal condition in relation to the condition when
the Mask was presented alone (F(1, 33) = 6.36, p < .05, and F(1, 33) =
4.34, p < .05, respectively). As can be seen in Figure 1 the LF/HF ratios for
the low trait anxious group are approximately the same over the three ex-
perimental conditions. It was the high trait anxious group that accounted
for the interaction.

Heart Rate. HR was found to vary among the three experimental condi-
tions (see Table 9.2 for a summary of the HR). A 2 (Target) x 2 (Trait
anxiety) x 3 (Condition) repeated measures ANOVA revealed a main ef-
fect for Condition: F(2, 66) = 14.69, p < .001 = .962. Tests of within
subjects contrasts showed that HR decreased in the second experimental
condition, when respective target stimuli were subliminally introduced,
compared to the first experimental condition when the Mask was presented
alone (F(1, 33) = 4.77, p < .05). HR was further decreased in the Supra-
liminal condition, compared to the first experimental condition, (F(1, 33)
= 24.21, p < .001).
Furthermore, an interaction effect was found for Condition x Trait
anxiety; F(2, 66) = 4.15, p < .05, = .962. In connection to this interac-
tion there was a significant contrast between the Mask and the Sublimi-
nal condition (F(1, 33) = 5.54, p < .05), as well as between the Mask
and the Supraliminal condition (F(1, 33) = 6.25, p < .05). The HR for the
high trait anxious group was decreased in each condition. For the low trait
anxious group the HR was rather equal in the first two conditions, whereas
it decreased in the last (see Table 9.2).
Final Rest. Analyses of the rest condition after the experimental condi-
tions did not reveal any significant results.
Heart rate variability during the meta-contrast technique 155
156 Peter Jnsson


The results of the present study indicate that high trait anxious individuals
were more affected by the target stimuli than the low trait anxious group.
Low anxious individuals had rather the same LF/HF ratio during the three
sessions. The two high anxious groups, however, responded differently
depending on the stimulus they were exposed to. Those who received the
Threat had lower LF/HF ratio compared to those that received the Non-
Threat. This was the case when the pictures were presented at exposure
times beneath the subjective threshold for recognition as well as above. In
the first experimental condition when the masking picture was presented
alone the groups did not differ.

Preattentive and Controlled Processing

In accordance with earlier research the target stimuli appeared to be proc-
essed both at a preattentive and controlled level. As mentioned in the in-
troduction subliminally presented emotional faces have been shown to af-
fect participants liking for ideographs (Murphy & Zajonc, 1993). Angry
faces, and threatening phobic related stimuli evoke physiological responses
both when presented beneath and above levels for conscious recognition
(Jnsson & Sonnby-Borgstrm, 2003; hman, Dimberg, & Esteves, 1989;
hman & Soares, 1994). hman (1993) argues that the ability to respond
to stimuli at an unconscious or a preattentive level has a survival value.
Effective defense must be quick; consequently, there is a premium for
early detection of threat. Furthermore, threat stimuli must be detected
wherever they occur in the perceptual field, independently of the momen-
tary direction of attention (hman, 1993, p. 520)
LeDoux (1996) has proposed a subcortical circuit that might process
emotional information not reaching conscious awareness. This circuit con-
sists of a direct link from thalamus to amygdala. Bypassing cortex it is de-
scribed as a quick and dirty loop that only transmits incomplete informa-
tion about the stimulus. The amygdala, however, receives enough informa-
tion to recognize that a significant stimulus possibly is present. Recently a
neuroimaging study by Whalen and co-workers (1998) seems to confirm
this. Amygdala was significantly activated when participants were exposed
Heart rate variability during the meta-contrast technique 157

to backwardly masked fearful faces compared to when exposed to back-

wardly masked happy faces.
In the present study, however, the target stimuli seemed only to affect
high trait anxious individuals.

Attention, Vigilance, and Trait Anxiety

It is well documented that anxious individuals show attentional bias in fa-
vor of emotional, and in particular, threatening stimuli (for review see Wil-
liams, Watts, MacLeod, & Mathews, 1997). For example, in a dot-probe
task study with students, high trait anxious individuals were biased toward
words related to a soon coming exam (i.e. faster reactions), whereas low
trait anxious individuals were slower to react to the dot-probe when it re-
placed words related to the exam (MacLeod & Mathews, 1988). However,
research applying the emotional Stroop paradigm suggests that emotional
stimuli in general may cause selective processing. In a study by Mogg and
Marden, (1990) high anxious normals were slower in colour-naming emo-
tional than non-emotional words. Similarly, anxious patients demonstrated
interference in colour-naming on both positive and negative words (Mar-
tin, Williams, & Clark, 1991). Although, Mathews and Klug (1993) pro-
posed it is not the emotional valence but rather the relatedness of the words
to anxiety that accounts for colour-naming interferences. Whereas normal
controls did not show any colour-naming latency across the different word
lists, anxious patients showed more interference on anxiety-related words
than anxiety-unrelated words. Confirming this Reimann and McNally
(1995) found in a study using students that the words related to high nega-
tive current concern and high positive current concern produced more col-
our-naming interference than did low negative and low positive current
concern and neutral word.
Anxiety is described to represent a shift into a mode of hypervigilance
(Williams et al., 1997). Thus, anxious people might be more responsive to
emotional stimuli. Eysenck (1997) proposes that the hypervigilance of
high-anxious individuals involves a high rate of environmental scanning, a
broadening of attention prior to the detection of a threat-related or task-
related stimuli, and a narrowing of attention when such a stimulus is being
processed, (Eysenck, 1997, p. 13). Similarly it has been proposed that
158 Peter Jnsson

anxiety is biologically involved in the avoidance of potential dangers

(Gray & McNaughton, 1996; Rosen & Schulkin, 1998) wherefore, as noted
by Calvo and co-workers (Calvo, Eysenck, & Castillo, 1997), it is impor-
tant for high anxiety individuals to detect potential harmful events in order
to facilitate avoidance strategies.
In conclusion the result in the present study that the high trait anxious
groups responded to the emotional pictures with changes in the autonomic
balance, whereas the low trait anxiety group were rather unaffected may be
explained with reference to the previous research described above. Anx-
ious individuals may be more responsive to emotional stimuli, depending
on an exaggerated excitability and vigilance, and a proneness to scan the
environment for the detection of threat.

Threat versus Non-Threat

As mentioned in the introduction autonomic responses are dependent on
context. Freely roaming animals respond to aversively conditioned tones
with increased heart rate and blood pressure, but with decreased HR and
blood pressure if restrained (Iwata & LeDoux, 1988). Viewing pictures in
an experimental setting resembles the latter condition; like vigilant and at-
tentive predators or freezing animals the participants have limited possi-
bilities to move (Lang, 1995). When looking at threatening or unpleasant
pictures in a situation like this the heart rate decelerates (Lang et al., 1993).
On the contrary the heart rate increases if participants imagine unpleasant
events (ibid.). In the present study viewing the threatening picture was fol-
lowed by a lower LF/HF ratio compared to the non-threatening one. Hence
if instead participants were told to imagine a fearful event an increased
LF/HF ratio ought to be expected. Indeed, although not imagining a threat-
ening situation, but another negative emotion, namely anger, participants
showed an increased LF/HF ratio in comparison to a resting condition
(McCraty, Atkinson, Tiller, Rein, & Watkins, 1995).

Freezing and Assessment of Potential Threat

Ethological studies show that offence such as aggressive attack is seldom
seen outside a conspecific context (Blanchard & Blanchard, 1988). Instead
some defense strategy is utilized with flight as the most frequent. However,
Heart rate variability during the meta-contrast technique 159

if the predator is too close or in the case of a potential threat, sudden

movements may result in discovery that makes escape impossible. In situa-
tions where specific defensive behaviors cannot be used until the threat is
located and maybe also identified an elaborate pattern of assessment of
predatory risk is initiated, e.g. freezing (ibid.). The pattern is aimed at as-
sessing the threatening situation or stimulus while at the same time avoid-
ing the danger.
In situations where risk for discovery is impending, freezing is the only
effective defensive method. This may according to Blanchard and Blanch-
ard (1988) involve total immobility or scanning movements. Further, it is
proposed that risk assessment may be the most common and prevalent
behaviour pattern for any higher animal, occurring in situations involving
any considerable degree of unfamiliarity or unpredictability, in addition to
danger from predation, conspecific attack, or natural hazards (ibid, p. 48).

Hence, in a novel and unfamiliar test situation anxious individuals may be
in a state resembling freezing; with an increased vigilance they are scan-
ning the environment to detect possible threats. When exposed to threaten-
ing pictures the freezing condition is accentuated with accompanying auto-
nomic reactions; when exposed to non-threatening stimuli the freezing
condition is diminished. However, in the light of a theory by Robinson
(1998), an alternative explanation regarding non-threatening stimuli may
be considered. Robinson (1998) argues that fear and anxiety are the only
emotions that can be generated solely by unconscious processing. He pro-
poses two distinct modules that account for this dissociation; one module
that makes preattentive judgments about valence information of a stimulus,
and one module that makes preattentive judgments about the urgency of
the information. The preattentive valence module serves the function of
deciding whether a stimulus should receive focal attention or not. If it
does, primary and secondary appraisal occurs (as described by Smith &
Lazarus, 1990), and at a conscious level an emotion is experienced. How-
ever, with reference to works by Winkielman, Zajonc, and Schwarz (1997)
and Bargh and associates (Bargh, Chaiken, Govender, & Pratto, 1992),
Robinson states that the detection of valence is not (per se) sufficient to
160 Peter Jnsson

produce an emotion and preattentive valenced reactions do not seem to be

specially sensitive to the intensity of a stimuli.
Fear and anxiety can however be generated solely on the basis of uncon-
scious processing (e.g. hman & Soares, 1994). This is done via a preat-
tentive urgency module that serves to quickly identify potential threats, and
to prepare the body and mind to respond quickly. Urgency of a stimulus, in
contrast to the valence, is proposed to be sufficient to produce an emotion.
Building on writings by Scherer (1984) and Bargh et al. (1992), Robinson
argues that preattentive urgency detection is particularly sensitive to the
intensity of the stimulus whereas the preattentive valence detection is not.
Further, urgency, but not valence, seems to be connected to sympathetic
activation (hman & Soares, 1994).
With reference to Robinsons model, the alternative explanation is that
the threatening stimulus that is presented subliminally activates the preat-
tentive urgency module and the vigilant condition is accentuated, with a
related lower sympathovagal balance. The increase in sympathovagal bal-
ance for the group receiving the Non-Threat subliminally might instead be
a time dependent issue; after a while the anxious individual concludes that
nothing harmful will occur. Eventually he or she relaxes, the anxious and
vigilante state diminishes and the sympathovagal balance increases. In the
supraliminal condition the Non-Threat-group remains calm; the Threat-
group remains in a vigilant and anxious state, although this time dependent
on a conscious processing and evaluation of the stimuli.
Unfortunately respiration was not recorded and its contribution to the
HRV was therefore not possible to examine. However, the findings in the
present study seem to be congruent with earlier research where other
physiological measurements have been adopted. Further, the stimuli mate-
rial was limited and the generability of this study is fairly restricted. Stud-
ies using a wider or more complete stimulus arsenal are called for.


I would like to thank Ingegerd Carlsson for valuable comments.

Heart rate variability during the meta-contrast technique 161


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Uwe Hentschel and Juris G. Draguns

The goal of the present chapter is to identify perceptgenetic and other pro-
cedures that may be useful for assessing cognitive styles and defense
mechanisms. Cognitive styles are enduring individual dispositions that
may be partially conscious and intentional. Defense mechanisms are pre-
dominantly unconscious and unintentional. The relationship between these
two constructs is explored on the basis of the accumulated findings and
their implications for psychotherapy and spelled out. These leads are con-
sidered as possible stepping stones toward integrative research designed
to link stylistic consistencies in human adaptation, defensive operations,
and psychotherapeutic interventions. Conceptual affinities between de-
fenses, as registered by perceptgenetic techniques and as assessed in psy-
chotherapy, are tentatively identified. The chapter concludes with a list of
eight potential topics of psychotherapy research in which perceptgenetic
techniques can be employed.



Cognitive Styles as Adaptive Organizing Principles

All scientific disciplines are subject to varying fads and fashions, epito-
mized in the recognition of what is "in" and what is "out" at a given mo-
ment. Thus, projective techniques, at one time heavily used and then vir-
tually discarded, appear to be experiencing a degree of recrudescence.
Along similar lines, Sternberg and Grigorenko (1997) asked, in the title of
their article: "Are cognitive styles still in style?" Their answer was af-
168 Uwe Hentschel and Juris G. Draguns

firmative for educational psychology, a field in which cognitive styles are

thriving in both research and practice. Not so, however, in clinical psy-
chology, where the concept of cognitive style originated (Klein, 1949) and
where, over several decades, systematic research had been vigorously pur-
sued. The divergence described by Sternberg and Girgorenko is anoma-
lous and must be overcome. Both educational and clinical psychology are
fundamentally concerned with learning in the broadest sense of term.
Therefore, if cognitive styles are useful in prediction and explanation in
one area of psychology, there is no plausible justification for their rejection
a priori in another field of psychological inquiry.
In clinical psychology, investigation of cognitive styles has a history of
over fifty years. George S. Klein was a central figure in forging a link be-
tween cognitive styles and the major concerns of clinical psychology,
assessment and, to a lesser degree, intervention. In particular, Klein (1949,
1951) articulated the terms of the complex relationship between cognitive
styles and defense mechanisms, both of them considered to be important
components of persons adaptive organization. Defense mechanisms are
primarily thought to come into play in reducing anxiety and other distress;
cognitive styles are conceptualized as habitual and individually
characteristic coping strategies, invoked regardless of threat, stress, or
On this basis, Klein and his coworkers eventually identified six distinct
cognitive styles (cf. Hentschel, 1980), as follows:
(1) Leveling-sharpening pertains, respectively, to a person's tendency to
underestimate or overestimate the perceived differences between gradually
changing stimuli (Holzman & Klein, 1950).
(2) Equivalence range or conceptual differentiation (Gardner, 1953) re-
fers to the narrow vs. broad categories characteristically used by an indi-
vidual in a variety of tasks that involve grouping or sorting.
(3) Focusing, later called scanning (Schlesinger, 1954) highlights the
contrast between the percepts currently in the focus of perceiver's attention
and his or her more peripheral experiences. Focusing can also be described
as accentuation of the figure-ground distinction, as postulated in Gestalt
Perceptgenetic techniques in the study of cognitive styles 169

(4) Constrictive-flexible ego control was proposed by Klein (1954) to

encompass individual differences in interference proneness. Such disrup-
tion or distraction can be observed in tasks that require responding to di-
vergent clues, as exemplified by the Serial Color Word Test (S-CWT),
where color names do not correspond to the colors in which they are
printed (cf. Stroop, 1935).
(5) Field dependence-field independence is a concept introduced and sys-
tematically investigated in the course of Herman Witkin's long career
(Witkin, Dyk, Faterson & Karp, 1962). As such, it stands historically apart
from the other five cognitive styles, all of which were identified and inves-
tigated by George Klein and his collaborators. Conceptually, field de-
pendence capitalizes upon intraindividual consistencies and interindividual
differences in the ease and/or speed with which a stimulus that is embed-
ded in a complex figure is identified and separated from its context.
(6) Tolerance for unrealistic experience is characterized, at one extreme,
by the acceptance of experimentally induced perceptual distortions or illu-
sions and, at the other end of the continuum, by the rejection of any in-
duced modification of familiar or accustomed reality (Klein, 1951). Pre-
sumably, this characteristic extends to embracing vs. rejecting any sponta-
neously occurring experiences that appear to violate expectations as to
what is or is not real.

Cognitive Styles: Relationship Among Them and With Defense Mecha-

Gardner, Holzman, Klein, Linton, and Spence (1959) conducted a major
factor analytic study of indicators of the above six cognitive styles. Its pat-
tern of results was complex and defies a simple interpretation. On the
positive side, five of the six styles emerged as distinct factors. Unexpect-
edly, however, factorial composition varied markedly across genders. In
the male sample, focusing and tolerance for unrealistic experience consti-
tuted distinct factors. Among women, three factors were found, pertaining
to field-dependence, leveling-sharpening, and equivalence range, respec-
tively. One may wonder why the perceptual world of men and women is
organized so differently. This question has, as yet, not been answered nor
have the operations of Gardner et al. been fully replicated.
170 Uwe Hentschel and Juris G. Draguns

A major concern in Gardner et al.'s research was with the relationship

between cognitive styles and defense mechanisms. Holzman (1960) stated
emphatically that repression was inconceivable without leveling, a conclu-
sion consistent with the findings by Holzman and Gardner (1959). Focus-
ing was hypothesized to be related to isolation and projection, and this ex-
pectation received support from Benfari (1966) and others. More broadly,
focusing appears to promote vigilance in the force of subjectively threaten-
ing stimuli (Hoffman, 1971; Luborsky, Blinder & Schimek, 1965). A sub-
stantial body of findings has linked field dependence with such defenses as
denial, repression, and introjection that are thought to be consistent with a
global and undifferentiated, and hence less mature, level of functioning
(Witkin et al., 1962). At the same time, field independent persons were
hypothesized to rely primarily on more cognitively differentiated patterns
of defense, exemplified by isolation, projection, and externalization. Both
types of prediction have received partial support. As for intolerance for
unrealistic or implausible experiences, Kaplan (1952) demonstrated its re-
lationship to rationalization, perhaps as a part of a general adaptive strat-
egy of avoiding emotionally arousing events. Finally it should be men-
tioned that Gardner et al. (1959) included ratings of defense mechanisms in
their factor analysis, with results that are generally consistent with the find-
ings recapitulated above. A number of questions, however, remain unan-
swered. Specifically, most of the indicators of defenses were based on
Rorschach test scores. As such, these measures are several steps removed
from the manifestation of actual defense, apart from the more general and
still unresolved problems of validity of such ratings. Moreover, the appro-
priateness of a non-pathological sample for the conclusive determination of
the relationship between stylistic and defensive components of personality
is problematic. At a subsidiary level, it was thought to be worthwhile to
reopen the issue of the basis cognitive stylistic dimensions a generation
later and in a different culture.

Disentangling Style and Defense: Subsequent Contributions

With these objectives in mind, Hentschel (1980) undertook to investigate
the interplay of cognitive style and defense in two groups in Sweden, con-
sisting of psychiatric patients and of their normal counterparts. The pa-
Perceptgenetic techniques in the study of cognitive styles 171

tient sample was recruited from among out-patients and in-patients at the
psychiatric clinics of the University of Lund in Sweden. Persons with or-
ganic or psychotic diagnoses were excluded, and the members of the sam-
ple were in psychiatric treatment for a variety of neurotic conditions, corre-
sponding in the current official psychiatric nomenclature to anxiety,
somatoform, and dissociative disorders. There were 91 participants, all of
them female. Control group consisted of 63 women undergoing dental
treatment at a university clinic. None of them were in any kind of psychi-
atric treatment nor did they carry any psychiatric diagnosis. The age range
of the two groups was identical, i.e., 18 to 40 years, and their means and
standard deviations were comparable.
With the exception of tolerance of unrealistic experience, measures of
cognitive styles used by Gardner et al. (1959) were included, along with
the defense mechanisms for the patient sample, based on their clinical re-
ports. For measuring adaptation to the interference task, Serial Color-
Word Test (S-CWT) (Smith, Nyman, Hentschel, & Rubino, 2001) was
used, a perceptgenetic technique that allows to capture the process of adap-
tation and not only the level of performance at a given moment.
Upon factor analysis, seven cognitive control dimensions were extracted
for the patients as well as for the control group. Factorial composition in
the two samples was highly similar though not identical. The seven factors
extracted were as follows: field dependence-field independence; success-
ful vs. unsuccessful adaptation to interference tasks; productivity in free
association; focusing; scanning; phenomenal regression to the real object;
and leveling-sharpening. This listing bears closer resemblance to the cog-
nitive styles described by George S. Klein and his associates (e.g., Klein,
1951) than it does to Gardner et al.'s (1959) factor analytic results. Focus-
ing and scanning, moreover, constituted separate factors. Given the differ-
ences in the perceptual processes involved in the two operations, centering
attentional efforts and changes in eye movements (cf. Wachtel, 1967) re-
spectively, this result appears to be meaningful and interpretable.
On the basis of the ratings for defense mechanisms and the factor scores
obtained for the cognitive style-factors, canonical correlations between the
two sets of variables were computed. Proceeding from the perceptgenetic
conceptualization of defenses, the following six defenses were investi-
172 Uwe Hentschel and Juris G. Draguns

gated: repression, isolation, reaction formation, introjection, turning

against self, and projection. The significant canonical correlations are pre-
sented in Figure 1.

Figure 10.1.

These results substantiate earlier research findings, at least in part, and

are in keeping with theoretically based expectations. Particularly impres-
sive are the correlations between isolation and adaptation to interference
tasks, accompanied by a negative relationship to productivity in free asso-
ciation. High isolators cope successfully with the distractions from the
task at hand, but they do so at the expense of restricting the scope of their
associations - and possibly, the emergence of any novel ideas - to the stim-
uli and situations that they encounter. There is also a significant canonical
correlation linking sharpening with projecting. Yet, correlational bridges
between defenses and styles are not numerous and the redundancy estimate
for the two sets of variables does not exceed 12 percent of common vari-
ance. These findings suggest a high degree of autonomy for these two
components of persons' adaptive endeavors, although a number of indirect
relationships, for example those between field dependence and the severity
of symptoms, also appeared. In particular, it is worth noting that a signifi-
cant relationship between leveling and repression, anticipated by the pio-
Perceptgenetic techniques in the study of cognitive styles 173

neers in this area of investigation (e.g., Holzman, 1960), failed to material-

Similar objectives were pursued by Rubino and Siracusano (2004) and
Rubino, Grasso, and Pezzarosa (1990) in Italy who observed the unfolding
of regulative styles in two perceptgenetic processes, on S-CWT and DMT,
respectively. Their findings, linking complex process scores derived from
the S-CWT with specific defense manifestations on the DMT, need not be
recapitulated in detail at this juncture. Suffice it to say that, on the basis of
a rather complex pattern of adaptation to the serial task, Rubino et al.
(1990) were able to differentiate two groups of psychosomatic patients,
suffering from bronchial asthma and peptic ulcers, respectively. On the
DMT, bronchial asthma patients exhibited disturbance primarily at a rela-
tively superficial level of personality. Patients diagnosed with peptic ul-
cers experienced disturbances affecting deeper and more fundamental lay-
ers of personality. Rubino et al. (1990) pointed to the similarity, though
not identity, of these disturbances to neuroticism and psychoticism, respec-
tively. As these leads are pursued and extended, they may improve the ef-
fectiveness of psychotherapy with psychosomatic patients, which Grawe
(1992), on the basis of outcome research in Germany, subjected to severe
Our last example of relationships between cognition and defense con-
cerns depression. Hentschel, Kiessling, Teuber-Beng, and Dreier (2004)
conducted a study of 30 female depressive inpatients and a matched con-
trol group. The whole sample was clustered on the basis of performance in
an intelligence test, which resulted in an almost pure patient cluster, a con-
trol group cluster that was also virtually pure, and a mixed cluster of pa-
tients and controls. The performance of the patient cluster was especially
affected on the fluid intelligence subtests of the test. Of particular interest
are the DMT results in the three clusters of depressive patients formed on
the basis of performance on the intelligence test. As shown in Figure 2,
no difference among the clusters was found in the first third of the DMT
series. In the second and third segments of the DMT, the two clusters
characterized by greater intellectual impairment, i.e., the patient cluster and
the mixed cluster, obtained substantially higher scores in isolation/reaction
formation. This pattern of defense tends to be responsible for deficits in
174 Uwe Hentschel and Juris G. Draguns

attention control under conditions of both information overload and under-

load (Hentschel, Kiessling, & Hosemann, 1991).

Figure 10.2.

Thus, for depressive patients, striving for harmony, accompanied by at-

tempts to exclude all aggressive tendencies, exacts a high price in symp-
toms. Patients who participated in this research only received psychopar-
macological treatment. If, however, they had been treated with psycho-
therapy, would this information on their intellectual functioning and on
their use of defense mechanisms, have been of any help for the therapist,
and if so, in what way?
Fava, Rafanelli, Grandi, Canestrari and Morphy (1998) attempted to pre-
vent recurring depression by cognitive behavioral means. Would findings
on the vicissitudes of defenses across time be applicable within the per-
ceptgenetic framework? Other indications point to the sensitivity of per-
ceptgenetic measures of defense to suicidal ideation among depressive pa-
tients. Berglund and Smith (1988) found higher suicide rates among pa-
tients whose MCT protocols were devoid of any signs of defense. Another
study by Sundbom (1993), with the DMT, indicated a higher suicide rate
among patients whose DMT protocols showed drawings of a hero shrink-
ing in size, perhaps suggesting a diminished ego. These bits of information
have not yet been incorporated into psychotherapy practice.
How then can the situation be changed, assuming that this kind of infor-
mation is relevant to psychotherapy? Is psychotherapy a set of procedures
Perceptgenetic techniques in the study of cognitive styles 175

that work irrespective of patients previous experiences, basic attitudes,

personality traits, and specific symptoms? It is much more plausible to try
to trace changes observed in psychotherapy to the interaction between two
partners engaged in the process of social learning (cf. Hentschel, Bijleveld,
& Rudolf, 1999). If so, it should be possible to utilize the structural pat-
tern of cognitive styles and the dynamic functions of defenses as hypo-
thetical predictors for outcome research in psychotherapy. Embedded in a
general learning model, such a scheme may look somewhat like Figure 3.

Figure 10.3.

On the left side are the characteristics that patients bring to the therapy
situation. It is assumed that not only do their symptoms matter, but so do
their personality traits, cognitive styles, and defense mechanisms. These
individual characteristics coalesce with the person's experiences and ex-
pectations in generating transference reactions. An allowance is made for
additional factors, as yet unidentified, that might affect both patients sub-
jective experiences and their overt conduct in psychotherapy.
Similarly, the therapists impact upon psychotherapy is co-determined by
his or her personality characteristics, the "school" of therapy espoused, and
176 Uwe Hentschel and Juris G. Draguns

the experiences accumulated - along with additional factors, not yet pin-
pointed but potentially relevant.
Between these two parties to the transaction, a therapeutic alliance is
forged, attempts at problem solving are undertaken, and the process of
therapy is initiated. The patient's learning ability comes into play as spe-
cific tasks to be learned are gradually identified and tackled. The basic
question is: What is to be learned and how?
In reference to what is learned, defense mechanisms are relevant:
how they are learned is in part influenced by cognitive styles. Leads in
the preceding section are potentially useful to therapists here and now.
What is as yet lacking is a systematic demonstration of the contribution of
cognitive styles to the therapy process, and the same can generally be said
about defenses. As a start toward filling this gap, the next section of this
chapter contains suggestions for a program of studies focused on defenses
in psychotherapy.



Defense Mechanisms: From Pioneering Contributions to Present State

Defense mechanisms were first identified and described in the clinical con-
text, specifically in the course of psychoanalysis (Freud, 1894/1964;
1896/1964). In the ensuing decades, they were scrutinized under con-
trolled and artificial laboratory conditions (cf. Cramer, 1991; DeWaele,
1961; Sears, 1943). In recent years, the focus of research has shifted
somewhat. No longer are experimental analogues emphasized, and sys-
tematic objective investigation of the phenomena related to defense is vig-
orously pursued in more realistic settings, often in the course of social in-
teraction (Cramer, 2000). Defense mechanisms, originally described on
the basis of observations gleaned in the course of psychotherapy, are once
again being investigated in the therapeutic setting, but this time with the
armamentarium of current instruments, techniques, research designs, and
data processing.
It is our task to capture and describe this trend, and to map its possible
extensions into the future. Specifically, our goal is to narrow the gap be-
Perceptgenetic techniques in the study of cognitive styles 177

tween the two, hitherto independent and sometimes divergent, domains.

This objective will be pursued by applying the results of systematic re-
search to the psychotherapy setting as an arena of further investigation of
defenses under conditions of distress.
Within the last fifteen years volumes dealing exclusively or primarily
with the experimental or systematic investigation of defense have prolifer-
ated (e.g., Conte & Plutchik, 1995; Cramer, 1991; Hentschel, Smith, Dra-
guns, & Ehlers, 2004; Olff, Godaert, & Ursin, 1991; Clark 1998; Ozolins,
1989; Singer, 1990; Vaillant, 1992, 1993). The number of research studies
in cognitive, developmental, social, personality, and clinical psychology
and the multiplicity of the approaches utilized in these investigations
(Cramer, 2000) attest to the vitality and robustness of this concept. De-
fense mechanisms have been described as the observable tip of the psy-
choanalytic iceberg (Erdelyi, 1985) and, as such, have been virtually des-
tined to serve as the point of contact between modern, partially experimen-
tal, psychology and historic, clinically grounded, psychoanalysis (Draguns,
2004). Hailed as the core of the dynamic aspect of psychoanalytic theory
(Drews & Brecht, 1975) and described as perhaps Freuds most original
contribution to human beings self-understanding (Vaillant, 1977), defense
mechanisms, by comparison with other psychoanalytic notions, are more
amenable to operationalization and less remote from observable data.

Psychotherapy and DMT: Search for Similarities and Differences

A major development over the last several decades has been the advent of
several standardized instruments for the assessment of defenses, as exem-
plified by the percept-genetic Defense Mechanism Test (DMT) (Kragh,
1985). DMT is virtually unique in potentially encompassing the entire
conflict-anxiety-defense sequence (Smith & Hentschel, 2004), as postu-
lated in classical (Fenichel, 1945; A. Freud, 1946) and elaborated in more
recent (e.g., Erdelyi, 1985; Sjbck, 1973) formulations. The distinctive
characteristic of the DMT is not in providing the opportunity for inferring
or interpreting defenses, as the major projective tests do (e.g., Cramer,
1999; Schafer, 1954), nor in capturing self-reported defensive operations,
as exemplified by the Defense Mechanism Inventory (DMI) (Gleser &
Ihilevitch, 1969). Instead, responses to DMT are plausibly expressive of
178 Uwe Hentschel and Juris G. Draguns

the defense mechanisms for which the test responses are explicitly scored.
Such responses emerge in encounters with emotionally arousing and/or
threatening stimuli as they gradually emerge and become distinct.
This operation, though compressed into a tight time frame, has affinities
with the clients experience in psychotherapy. In both cases, the person is
confronted with ambiguity. The challenge is to reduce uncertainty and to
impose structure. Moreover, as Erdelyi (1985) observed, defenses are ap-
plied in an uneven, saltatory, and multistage fashion. During this process,
hypotheses vie and alternate. On the DMT, these hypotheses are traceable
to the vague impressions and fragmentary clues gleaned during the tachis-
toscopic presentations and to the threats, conflicts, and anxieties triggered
by them. The dual task is to come to grips with the stimulus and avoid dis-
tress and discomfort in the process. Instead of the intervention of a ho-
munculus derided by the critics of perceptual defense (e.g., Eriksen, 1960),
a sequence consisting of several stages unfolds (Erdelyi, 1974, 1985),
punctuated by attempts to reduce stress that closely resemble defenses as
described by psychoanalysts.
What happens in psychotherapy is not very different. Here too, the ob-
jective is the discovery of truth about the complex and multiple facets of
the persons past experience and present behavior. The expectation is that
the resulting insight will promote cognitive understanding, affective con-
trol, and eventually behavioral change. Moreover, insight may be self-
reinforcing, perhaps as a personal equivalent of the aha-phenomenon.
These observations should not, however, lead us to gloss over the differ-
ence between these two progressions. The 22 presentations of DMT, with
exposure times gradually from 5 milliseconds to 2 seconds, lead inexorably
to veridical recognition. In full, unimpeded view the nature of the stimulus
can scarcely be denied, even if it generates discomfort. In contrast, there is
a lot more spontaneity and less predictability in psychotherapy. The quest
for insight may be diverted, overridden, or postponed by real-life events
and developments. The client or analyzand may fortuitously or defen-
sively switch to another area of experience or concern, or may even inter-
rupt therapy. It is as though the clients phenomenal field were filled with
countless DMT stimuli triggering emotional arousal and competing for at-
Perceptgenetic techniques in the study of cognitive styles 179

Even though defense mechanisms have an undeniable traitlike, person-

ally characteristic quality, psychoanalytic theory (e.g., Sjbck, 1973) does
not explicitly postulate consistency of defenses across situations, problems,
and time. Conceivably, isolation in response to visual threat may co-exist
with, say, rationalization of real-life actions. Defenses may be shaped by a
complex situation-by-person interaction, as envisaged by Mischel (1968)
for personality traits. All of these considerations demand empirical resolu-
tion in determining the nature and extent of the relationship between DMT
and psychotherapy, if any. To this end, advances in assessing defenses in
psychotherapy must be described.

Approaches for Investigating Defenses in Psychotherapy

Three instruments for the assessment of defenses have been explicitly de-
signed for application in psychotherapy. The CADM (Clinical Assess-
ment of Defense Mechanisms; Ehlers, 2004; Ehlers & Czogalik, 1984) is a
scale developed for use by psychotherapists in rating 16 defense mecha-
nisms at the initiation of treatment and at various points up to its termina-
tion and beyond. Originally validated in a German psychotherapy clinic on
a sample of 147 inpatients presenting a variety of anxiety and personality
disorders, CADM has been factor analyzed, with interpretable factors
emerging for superego defense, affect defense, impulse defense, conse-
quence of affect defense, and displacement of the libido. This scale has
been used, with positive results, in a number of published clinical studies
(Ehlers, 2004; Ehlers & Czogalik, 1984; Kchenhoff, 2004).
In Buenos Aires, Liberman and Maldavsky (1975) constructed a lexicon
of defenses that can be computer scored in psychotherapy transcripts.
Named the David Liberman algorithm (DLA), it has been systematically
applied by Maldavsky (2003) and others to the investigation of defenses in
the course of psychoanalysis. Maldavsky (2003) has provided extensive
psychometric data on this novel, complex, and promising approach. DLA
makes it possible to study analyzands productions and analysts
interventions in an objective, systematic, and quantitative manner. It lends
itself to studies of changes of defenses in psychoanalysis with an N of 1,
an objective that Ehlers (2004) has also pursued, but in a very different
180 Uwe Hentschel and Juris G. Draguns

The Defense Mechanism Rating Scales (DMRS, Perry, 1990), developed

in Montreal, constitute a standardized and highly elaborate procedure for
rating 29 defense mechanisms on the basis of verbal productions in
psychotherapy sessions. Thorough training and close supervision of raters
has resulted in acceptable reliabilities for this instrument. DMRS have
been developed specifically with psychotherapy research applications in
mind, such as the investigation of the relationships between therapists
interventions and patients defenses (Perry & Henry, 2004). DMRS have
gone through five editions, their convergent and discriminant validity have
been established, and their usefulness in both processes and outcome
research has already been substantially demonstrated (cf. Perry and Henry,
As many practicing psychotherapists will attest, the vicissitudes of de-
fenses constitute one of the main threads of the therapeutic process. Such
mechanisms wax and wane, expand, constrict, alternate, and are modified
and transformed in the course of psychotherapy. Yet, the aggregate of re-
search on defense mechanisms has been focused on assessment and diag-
nosis, i.e. stability and persistence of defenses, rather than on their change
and modification that is expected to occur in psychotherapy. This impres-
sion is sustained upon taking a closer look at the English-language vol-
umes on defense mechanisms of the last two decades. Thus, in two re-
views of research on defenses (Cramer, 1991; Olff et al., 1991) psycho-
therapy does not even appear in the subject index, nor is it prominently
featured in three of the other, somewhat more specialized, volumes that
relate defense mechanisms respectively to bodily movements (Ozolins,
1989), biographical events (Vaillant, 1992), and recollection of repressed
experiences (Singer, 1990). Clarks (1998) book deals explicitly with de-
fense mechanisms in the counseling process, but does not prominently ad-
dress research issues. Hentschel, Smith, Draguns, and Ehlers (2004), how-
ever, have provided indications that, at long last, psychotherapy is emerg-
ing as a significant arena for the observation and study of defense mecha-
nisms in action. As yet, this trend has not extended to perceptgenetic
measures such as DMT and MCT. Specifically the following interfaces are
Perceptgenetic techniques in the study of cognitive styles 181

1. Defenses as determinants or predictors of response to psychother-

apy, e.g., individuals who demonstrate Level III (neurotic) defense mecha-
nisms in Vaillants (1993) scheme, are expected to improve more in tradi-
tional psychodynamic therapy than those with primarily Level I (psy-
chotic) or Level II (immature) defenses. At this point, operational defini-
tions of defenses at these levels are not yet available for DMT, but they can
be developed, explored, and eventually validated.
2. Similarly, therapies can be recommended or designed on the basis
of the nature of defenses employed. Thus, spontaneity in emotional ex-
pression may be explicitly promoted for clients high in isolation on the
DMT, and clients with high perceptgenetic or other scores for repression
may be helped to expand their scope of self-awareness and self-
3. Defensive preferences can also be investigated among the effects of
psychotherapy. On the basis of pre and post measures, what would be the
effect of a specific type of therapy upon the decline of defenses at Vail-
lants Level II and their emergency at Level IV? What kinds of interven-
tions increase variety of defenses, and what, if any, result in constricting
their range? What therapies result in the strengthening of defenses (i.e.,
make a person better defended, but not more defensive) and what
therapies have the opposite effect? How does the balance between defend-
ing and coping change in the course of a given therapy?
4. In this day and age of tailor-made, focused, and time-limited inter-
ventions, it is not utopian to envisage the advent of psychotherapies that
are targeted upon specific defense mechanisms or groups thereof, as in-
dexed by means of the DMT. Such developments, through a combination
of cognitive techniques with a psychodynamic rationale, as exemplified by
Liotti (1981) in the case of agoraphobia, might accelerate the attainment of
circumscribed and concrete objectives. Clarks (1998) objective of making
the recognition and modification of defense mechanisms a key feature of
the counseling process is consonant with this orientation. Eventually, pro-
tocol-driven intervention to address excesses and deficits in defense pref-
erence and usage can be envisaged.
5. DMT might also figure in the comparison of several modes of psy-
chotherapy and the specification of their respective effects. As a provi-
182 Uwe Hentschel and Juris G. Draguns

sional example, let us venture a hypothesis: Psychodynamic interpretive

psychotherapy would produce greatest change upon a persons defense
mechanisms by comparison with behavioral and social learning interven-
tions, with cognitive-behavioral techniques in an intermediate position.
6. Finally, defense mechanisms can be naturalistically, but systemati-
cally studied in the course of psychotherapy, parallel to the same kind of
process-oriented, multi-indicator scrutiny of the DMT series. As yet, none
of the existing tests or scales of defense mechanisms have succeeded in
opening to observation the entire sequence of impulse engendering threat
(often in the form of intrapsychic conflict) that, in turn, triggers anxiety and
finally results in the imposition of defense. However, this entire succes-
sion is potentially observable at certain points in psychotherapy. Technical
problems involved in continuous psychophysiological recording remain to
be resolved and complications inherent to intermittent psychological rat-
ings have to be overcome. Once these challenges are met, the road will be
open to studying defense mechanisms. The vicissitudes of defense under
these conditions could then be compared with the characteristics of the im-
pulse-threat-anxiety-defense sequence studied perceptgenetically under
experimental conditions. (Such studies have, as yet, not been fully imple-
mented.) Once the extent of the correspondence was established, or lack
thereof documented, such successive experiences of intrapsychic threat re-
duction could be explored in relation to psychotherapy techniques and ori-
entation. In this manner, defense mechanisms would be incorporated into
process, in addition to outcome, research in psychotherapy.
7. Operationalization of defenses within the therapy context should
enable researchers to conduct objective and quantified studies with an N of
1. This has already been done by Ehlers (2004) and proposed by Perry and
Henry (2004), specifically for the purpose of clarifying the functional rela-
tionship between the therapists interventions and the clients defenses.
Careful, predictive case studies, as conducted by Kragh (1986) with the
DMT, some of them implemented in the therapy context, provide a model
for this type of research.
8. Low correlations among the various formats of measures of defense
mechanisms, e.g., between the DMT and DMI (Gleser & Ihilevich, 1969),
may be turned to advantage by helping us obtain a more differentiated pic-
Perceptgenetic techniques in the study of cognitive styles 183

ture of the impact of particular modes or styles of intervention upon spe-

cific defense manifestations, e.g., in relation to their access to conscious-
ness or its ego-syntonic vs. ego-dystonic nature. Eventually, it should be
possible to elucidate these putative multi-level connections.
None of the studies proposed have as yet been implemented. With nota-
ble exceptions, research on defense mechanisms in psychotherapy has suf-
fered a one-hundred year lag. This lost time should be made up by pursu-
ing the investigation of defenses in psychotherapy with the intensity, so-
phistication, creativity, and rigor that this vitally important topic deserves.
Perceptgenetic techniques should be an important component in this com-
prehensive effort.


Perceptgenetic techniques are consonant with process-oriented approaches

to personality. Smith's (1957) conception of visual perception as an event
over time parallels Heiss's (1948) view of person as process. Yet, similari-
ties between the unfolding of prolonged real life sequences, as exemplified
by psychotherapy, and the microprocesses involved in perceptgenesis,
have rarely been addressed. In this chapter, we have tried to take a few ini-
tial steps toward filling this gap. To this end, certain relevant and promis-
ing research findings on cognitive styles and defense mechanisms were re-
viewed, with emphasis upon the serial presentation of stimuli, as exempli-
fied within the perceptgenetic framework by S-CWT and DMT. On a con-
ceptual basis, both convergences and divergences of these procedures with
psychotherapy were noted. We believe that the systematic incorporation of
perceptgenetic procedures pertaining to both defense and style is a promis-
ing and fruitful pursuit, well worth undertaking for both theoretical and
practical reasons.


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Witkin, H. A., Dyk, R. B., Faterson, H.F., Goodenough, D. R. & Karp, S.
A. (Eds.), (1962), Psychological Differentiation. New York: Wiley.
I. Alex Rubino, Federica Tozzi, and Alberto Siracusano

The Serial Color-Word Test (S-CWT) is one of the main paradigms of per-
cept-genetic research. The repeated confrontation with a table of incongru-
ent color-words (Stroop task) allows the assessment of the individuals
style of regulation, i.e., his or her pattern of adaptation to a conflict situa-
tion. In this study, four types of norms were compared (Swedish clinical,
Italian nonclinical, internal, based on reading times). Two groups of
women outpatients with DSM-IV principal diagnoses of Anorexia (n=29)
and of Bulimia (n=28) were given the S-CWT. Only the norms based on
reading times significantly discriminated between groups on Primary
Types and on ITA. Inter-group differentiation was allowed by all norms on
Secondary V - Types, and was not reached by any norm on Secondary R -
Types. Present findings suggest that norms based on reading times are to
be preferred, at least with nonpsychotic samples.

The Serial Color-Word Test (S-CWT) (Smith & Klein, 1953; German re-
vised manual by Smith, Nyman, Hentschel, & Rubino, 2001) is one of the
basic paradigms in percept-genetic research and represents one of the main
instruments for assessing individual differences in patterns of adaptation.
According to the S-CWT, the subject is repeatedly confronted with the
Stroop task, which consists in naming the printing hue of color-words
printed in incongruent hues, ignoring the printed word (e.g., the word
green is printed in red, and the proband must say red). A 100 color-word
table is administered five times (each representing a subtest), and reading
times are taken every 20 words. The fundamental measures are linear (R)
and nonlinear (V) change, both within subtests (primary variables), and
between them (secondary variables). The combination of R and V deter-
mines four patterns of adaptation to the conflict situation: (1) Stabilized
(S), when both R and V are below the normative medians, (2) Cumulative
(C), when R is high and V is low, (3) Dissociative (D), when R is low and
V is high, (4) Cumulative-Dissociative (CD), when both R and V are above
192 I. Alex Rubino, Federica Tozzi, and Alberto Siracusano

the medians. The most frequent pattern in the five subtests dictates the
Primary Type. R and V are then calculated both on the five Rs (Secondary
R-Types) and on the five Vs (Secondary V-Types). Three further adaptive
variables of the Serial Color-Word Test are Initial Types A and B (ITA and
ITB), and the Adaptation Index (Rad); these three variables are dichoto-
mised into high or low (cf. the above cited manual, for further informa-
tion). Summing up, each protocol yields six classifications: Primary Type,
Secondary R-Type, Secondary V-Type, ITA, ITB, and Rad (e.g., D, CR,
CDV, ITA +, ITB -, Rad +).
The S-CWT seems to have many virtues, as it is quick (about 15 m.),
doesnt need a laboratory, is practically water-proof against any motive-
tional bias, does not depend on any interpretation by the researchers, has
very interesting discriminant properties when applied to clinical and non-
clinical samples, shows good predictive validity, is linked to a psycho-
dynamic framework and is embedded in the percept-genetic model of per-
ception-personality. Few other psychological instruments display so many
qualities, but, in spite of this, the S-CWT is practically ignored around the
world. One of the main reasons for this bizarre situation is that US research
workers have not yet discovered it (despite the fact that the test was born
in the US half a century ago and that most of the recent papers have been
published in US journals, but by European authors). Another cogent reason
is that it takes time for an interested reader to really understand to what the
many variables of the S-CWT refer: although the S-CWT certainly ex-
plores processes of adaptation which are deeply ingrained in the individual
personality, it leaves little to common sense and intuition and sounds very
formalistic, mathematical and reality-far. It is indeed difficult to explain on
a descriptive psychological level whats the difference between, say, a DR
or a CR pattern. Much correlational research is still needed to acquire a suf-
ficient knowledge of the mental and behavioural counterparts of S-CWT
patterns (Smith and Kleins seminal 1953 paper is an outstanding example
in this direction).
As is clear from the aforementioned brief description of the S-CWT, the
aim of the instrument, i.e., the pattern classification of the individual, is
wholly dependent on the normative medians. Very low medians inevitably
lead to a scarcity of S types, while very high medians determine a low fre-
Which type of norm for S-CWT research? 193

quency of C, D, and CD. Most studies until the beginning of the nineties
employed either clinical or internal norms: the first ones had been derived
from a sample of Swedish psychiatric inpatients and were stratified for sex
and age (cf. manual, pp. 55-57), the second ones were constructed each
new time on the specific investigated sample. In 1990 two psychosomatic
groups were compared with nonclinical norms, i.e., norms derived from a
rather large segment of the Italian general population, with the same strati-
fication criteria employed for clinical norms (Rubino, Grasso, & Pez-
zarossa, 1990). Later on, the finding of significant positive product-
moment correlations between reading times and subtests V scores led to
the new proposal of basing the stratification not on sex and age, but on
reading times, in order not to confound pattern assessment with level of
performance (the latter is the traditional target of the Stroop task, in its
neuropsychological usage, as distinguished from the field of personality
assessment, where the S-CWT is located) (Rubino, Claps, et al., 1997).
These norms on reading times comprised five strata, characterized by in-
creasing reading times (from a min. total time of 270 sec., to a max of 930
sec.); the 889 subjects of the sample spanned from nonclinical volunteers
to schizophrenic outpatients.
The problem of which type of norm is best fitted for research received a
first answer in a study comparing two quite different psychopathological
samples, i.e., temporo-mandibular and bulimic women patients on clinical,
nonclinical and reading times norms (Baggi et al., 1998). Only Primary
Types were explored. Clinical norms did not differentiate significantly be-
tween the two clinical groups, nonclinical norms fared better (p=.02) and
norms on reading times showed the most powerful discriminant properties
(p=.0006). However, many further studies are needed before one can con-
clude that norms on reading times are really superior to the other ones, at
least with nonpsychotic samples.
The present study represents a new step toward clarifying the latter issue.
Four types of norm (clinical, nonclinical, internal, or reading times) have
been used with the same two clinical groups (anorexia nervosa and bulimia
nervosa), with the aim of comparing their respective ability to discriminate
between pathologies. Given the within-instrument methodological focus of
194 I. Alex Rubino, Federica Tozzi, and Alberto Siracusano

this paper, hypotheses and interpretations about the patterns of adaptation

in anorexia and bulimia will be dealt with elsewhere.

Two groups, each of 30 consecutive outpatients attending a university
clinic, were asked to participate in the study, with the following inclusion
criteria: (1) age above 15 and below 30 years: (2) at least 8 years of school-
ing; (3) DSM-IV diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa (con-
firmed with the SCID-P interview); (4) absence of psychotic symptoms,
drug dependence, alcoholism, pathology of the CNS, colour blindness. All
patients signed an informed consent. The anorexic group had a mean age
of 19.8 years (SD=4.6); the bulimic group had a mean age of 21.2 years
(SD=3.5). There was no significant age difference between the groups.

The S-CWT was administered following standard instructions. Testing
took place during the second visit. One anorexic and two bulimic protocols
had to be excluded because of more than 10 uncorrected errors during col-
our-words reading. Therefore, the final anorexia group comprised 29 pa-
tients, and the bulimic one 28 patients.


The frequencies of S-CWT types were compared between groups with the
Fishers Exact Test, two-tailed (significant findings listed in Table 11.5).
On Primary Types (Table 11.1), all the norms (with the exception of the
clinical ones) led to higher frequencies of the CD pattern in the anorexia
group; nonclinical norms approached significance, while norms on reading
times did reach it (Table 11.5).
Table 11.2 displays the distribution of Secondary R-Types. The DR pat-
tern (norms on reading times) was more frequent among anorexic patients,
but the data were far from statistical significance. No statistical between-
group difference was found concerning R-Types.
Which type of norm for S-CWT research? 195

Table 11.1. Distribution of S-CWT primary types among anorexia (n=29) and bulimia
patients (n=28), according to four different norms
Clinical Norms
S C D CD Not Classified
Anorexia 14 1 9 1 4
Bulimia 17 3 6 1 1
Nonclinical Norms
S C D CD Not Classified
Anorexia 4 1 11 9 4
Bulimia 6 4 13 3 2
Norms on Reading Times
S C D CD Not Classified
Anorexia 3 4 8 10 4
Bulimia 5 3 11 3 6
Internal Norms
S C D CD Not Classified
Anorexia 7 4 9 8 1
Bulimia 10 5 5 4 4

Table 11.2. Distribution of S-CWT secondary R-types among anorexia (n=29) and
bulimia patients (n=28), according to four different norms
Clinical Norms
Anorexia 15 2 10 2
Bulimia 13 5 9 1
Nonclinical Norms
Anorexia 8 1 13 7
Bulimia 10 3 10 5
Norms on Reading Times
Anorexia 6 2 16 5
Bulimia 9 4 11 4
Internal Norms
Anorexia 6 7 8 8
Bulimia 8 8 7 5
196 I. Alex Rubino, Federica Tozzi, and Alberto Siracusano

With all the norms, on Secondary V-Types, the anorexia group had
higher frequencies of DV and CDV patterns, and lower frequencies of CV,
compared with the bulimia group (cf. Table 11.3). As usual, clinical norms
did not reach significance, while, on the main comparison, i.e., CV vs
DV+CDV, nonclinical, internal and reading times norms all showed strong
p-levels. The same norms did even evidence a significant intergroup dif-
ference for the comparison CV vs DV (CV being linked with Bulimia, and
DV with Anorexia).
Everyone familiar with the obvious personality differences between the
pure anorexic and the pure bulimic patients, knows that the former is
typically rigid, ascetic, anancastic, while the latter is impulse-ridden, cha-
otic, hysteroid. In S-CWT terms this is translatable into the expectation
that the anorexia group should show higher frequencies of the ITA + pat-
tern. Table 11.4 shows indeed the latter imbalance of distribution, but only
norms on reading times reached statistical significance. In this instance,
nonclinical norms performed very poorly, almost as poorly as the clinical
norms. The reason of the latter finding lays in one often forgotten fact: ITA
scores are significantly higher in the general population than in clinical
samples, and therefore nonclinical norms for ITA, being very high, are of
little discriminant power with psychiatric and psychosomatic groups. Fur-
thermore, a closer inspection of Table 11.4, on the section of the norms on
reading times, reveals that the significant intergroup difference is attribut-
able more to the particular paucity of ITA+ patterns among bulimic pa-
tients, than to a markedly high frequence of ITA+ among anorexic patients.
Unfortunately, no between-norms comparison was possible regarding the
Adaptation Index (Rad), because neither the clinical nor the nonclinical
norms contain normative medians for this very interesting variable.
Which type of norm for S-CWT research? 197

Table 11.3. Distribution of S-CWT secondary V-types among anorexia (n=29) and
bulimia patients (n=28), according to four different norms
Clinical Norms
Anorexia 6 8 7 8
Bulimia 7 14 3 4
Nonclinical Norms
Anorexia 3 3 10 13
Bulimia 4 12 5 7
Norms on Reading Times
Anorexia 4 2 9 14
Bulimia 5 10 4 9
Internal Norms
Anorexia 5 4 11 9
Bulimia 8 12 5 3

Table 11.4. Distribution of S-CWT secondary ITA- and ITB-types among anorexia
(n=29) and bulimia patients (n=28), according to four different norms
Clinical Norms
Anorexia 14 15 14 15
Bulimia 7 21 15 13
Nonclinical Norms
Anorexia 12 17 11 18
Bulimia 7 21 11 17
Norms on Reading Times
Anorexia 16 13 11 18
Bulimia 7 21 14 14
Internal norms
Anorexia 17 12 13 16
Bulimia 11 17 15 13
198 I. Alex Rubino, Federica Tozzi, and Alberto Siracusano

Table 11.5. Significant intergroup comparsions

Patterns of adaptation Type of Norm P

(S + D) vs CD Reading Times .045

(S + C) vs CD Nonclinical (.054)
(SV + CV) vs (DV + CDV) Internal .004
(SV + CV) vs (DV + CDV) Nonclinical .007
(SV + CV) vs (DV + CDV) Reading Times .014
CV vs (DV + CDV) Nonclinical .005
CV vs (DV + CDV) Internal .005
CV vs (DV + CDV) Reading Times .007
CV vs DV Reading Times .015
CV vs DV Nonclinical .025
CV vs DV Internal .032
ITA+ vs ITA- Reading Times .030


The doubts regarding choice of norms for S-CWT research are not dis-
pelled by the present results. The only certain conclusion is that clinical
norms (by far the most known and employed norms) are not to be em-
ployed, at least with nonpsychotic samples. If the future of clinical valida-
tion of the S-CWT should lay on clinical norms, one could easily predict a
relative failure and the premature death of such a promising paradigm.
Internal norms performed well enough, although missing both the Pri-
mary Types and ITA. Furthermore, internal norms are not always permit-
ted: for instance, two diagnostic groups not exactly matched on demo-
graphic variables and sample size would give dubious results, when classi-
fication should refer to internal normative medians. Last but not least, a
classification on internal norms simply tells us which of the, say, two
groups is more Cumulative or Dissociative compared with the other, but
doesnt give information on how the two groups are posited in a broader
context (for instance, general population or nonpsychotic psychiatric pa-
Norms on reading times and nonclinical norms were the best performers;
it may also be concluded that, in this study, norms on Reading Times fared
better than nonclinical norms, because they were the only ones able to dis-
Which type of norm for S-CWT research? 199

criminate significantly between groups on Primary Types and on ITA. To

be sure, further studies with other couples of clearly different psychopatho-
logical groups are needed before concluding for the superiority of norms
on Reading Times. It must also be added that these newly proposed norms
could be ameliorated by further stratification of the too wide last Reading
Times stratum (which spans from 550 to 930 sec., while the other four
strata cover together the time span from 270 to 549 sec.): the latter endeav-
our can be performed with the inclusion into the existing data-base of 2-
300 new psychotic protocols, which are often characterized by very long
Reading Times.
If norms on Reading Times seem currently the best candidates for S-
CWT clinical studies with the classical, typological model, it's to be re-
marked that research is flourishing anew, thanks to the efforts of U.
Hentschels laboratory, on the analytic regression model (Schub &
Hentschel, 1978; cf. Manual, pp. 15-17). In view of the future comparisons
between typological and analytic regression models, it seems all the more
advisable to know with certainty which are the best norms for typological


Baggi, L., Rubino, I. A., San Martino, L., Cuzzolaro, M., Pezzarossa, B., &
Martignoni, M. (1998), Patterns of adaptation to conflict in Bulimia and
Temporo-Mandibular Joint Disorder. Percept. & Mot. Skills, 86:979-984.
Rubino, I.A., Grasso, S., & Pezzarossa, B. (1990), Microgenetic patterns of
adaptation on the Stroop task by patients with Bronchial Asthma and Pep-
tic Ulcer. Percept. & Mot. Skills, 71:19-31.
Rubino, I.A., Claps, M., Zanna, V., Caramia, M. C., Pezzarossa, B., &
Ciani, N. (1997), General cognitive abilities and patterns of adaptation: for
Serial Color-Word Test norms based on reading times. Percept. & Mot.
Skills, 85:1347-1353.
Schub, W., & Hentschel, U. (1978), Improved reliability estimates for the
serial color-word test. Scand. J. Psychol., 19:91-95.
Smith, G. J. W., & Klein, G. S. (1953), Cognitive controls in serial behav-
ior patterns. J. Personal., 22:188-213.
200 I. Alex Rubino, Federica Tozzi, and Alberto Siracusano

Smith, G. J. W., Nyman, E., Hentschel, U., & Rubino, I. A. (2001),

Serieller Farb-Wort Test (S-CWT) Manual. Frankfurt a. M.: Swets &
Ingegerd Carlsson, Gunilla Amnr and Gudmund Smith

In an exploratory investigation of personality patterns, Swedish air force

pilots (n = 22) and ground officers (n = 14) were tested with the Creative
Functioning Test, the Serial Color Word test, and the Spiral After-Effect
Technique. The participants also answered open questions about their
work and about creativity related items. Achievement ratings were made
by their superior officers.
An initial discriminant analysis separated the groups to 83.3 %. Next,
cluster analyses were conducted on the test results, resulting in three pilot
clusters and three ground officer clusters. The pilot clusters were inter-
preted as forming meaningful groups, in agreement with previous re-
search. Thereafter the clusters were compared with the results on the open
questions. The significant answering categories gave face validity support
to the clusters.
It was concluded that it is important to investigate personality patterns,
as measured by process tests, and, in future research, to make compari-
sons with biological markers as well as questionnaires.

Are pilots creative? This question was put to the present investigators by
the head of a Swedish wing and was the origin of this investigation. How-
ever, when venturing upon our task to study air force pilots, we felt it im-
portant to include other personality dimensions as well.
Earlier research has brought out the importance of personality factors for
pilots (Cattell, Eber, & Tatsouka, 1970), who have been characterized by
emotional stability and extraversion (Bartram, 1995; Bartram & Dale,
1982; Jessup & Jessup, 1971; Okaue, Nakamura, & Nira, 1977; Reinhardt,
1970). The creativity dimension was found to have been little studied in
pilots (but cf. Bachelor & Michael, 1991). Most previous research has used
202 Ingegerd Carlsson, Gunilla Amnr and Gudmund Smith

self-report scales, however, and it has been argued that such scales are less
apt to discriminate in small samples (John, 1989). Since the present study
comprised a limited number of participants, we decided to try behavioral
tests as alternatives to self-report scales. Thus, the stability, or cognitive
control dimension, was measured on-line in a pressing situation, while
creativity, as well as extraversion, were studied with perceptual techniques.
Stress can be defined as a psychophysiological reaction to adaptive de-
mands in new or challenging circumstances (Levi, 1981). Coping with
press implies constantly changing cognitive and behavioral efforts (Laza-
rus & Folkman, 1984), and the interaction between demands and control is
of importance (Karasek & Theorell, 1990). In the present study we investi-
gated individual differences in keeping a stable control, when adapting
over time to a (modified) Stroop test, namely The Serial Color Word Test
(Smith, Nyman, Hentschel, & Rubino, 2001). The pilots in particular were
assumed to manage this test in an even and stable manner.
Another basic requirement for pilots is the ability to appreciate the out-
side world relatively free of valuation and close to facts, that is extraver-
sion (Eysenck, 1967). This dimension was investigated with an implicit
perceptual technique, namely the The Spiral After Effect Technique
(Andersson, 1995). A low proportion of introverted subjectivity was thus
expected in the present cohort.
The creative personality has been characterised by originality, independ-
ence and introversion, as well as androgyny, and an interest in complexity
and elegant solutions (Barron, 1988; Carlsson, 1992; Crutchfield, 1964;
Jnsson & Carlsson, 2000). In a strict organisation with minutely defined
functions, any creative activity must be kept within firm frames (Amabile,
1983; Ekvall, 1991). We therefore expected to find few officers with high
creativity. But since a flexible hold was considered important, a relatively
large proportion of creativity in the middle range was presumed. Thus, the
final test battery encompassed, besides the aforementioned tests of extra-
version and stress control, also the Creative Functioning Test (Smith &
Carlsson, 2000). These personality variables were furthermore compared
with answers to open questions and with achievement ratings made by
each participants superior officer. For sake of comparison, a group of
ground officers was included in the investigation.
Pilots investigated by tests of creativity, extraversion, and stress control 203

According to Magnusson and Trestad (1993), pattern description is a

first step towards an understanding of the interaction of different subsys-
tems in the personality. Hence, this investigation could be described as an
exploratory study with the aim to find out if different combinations of per-
sonality factors would form meaningful subgroups among the participants.


All available pilots, and a selected group of other young officers, employed
at a Swedish wing, were asked to participate by the head of the wing. No
one refrained from participation. The pilot group consisted of 22 men (age
24-42 years, M = 29.9). There was one colonel, two majors, four captains,
three first-, and twelve second lieutenants among the pilots.
The ground officer group consisted of five women and nine men (age 24-
32 years, M = 28.9). There were four captains, five first- and five second
lieutenants. None of the ground officers had a pilot education. They
worked as fighter controllers, engineers, and instructors. The participants
comprised about one tenth of the employees at the wing.

An introductory letter together with a questionnaire with open questions
was sent to the participants in advance. In it the participant was guaranteed
of confidentiality. The questionnaire was returned to the experimenters be-
fore the testing. The testing was done at the wing. One experimenter gave
the tests of creativity and extraversion, and the other one administered the
stress test, checked for missing answers in the questionnaire, and did the

Achievement Rating Scale

The achievement rating scale was part of the regular assessments at the
wing. It consisted of eight variables (expertise, work capacity, intellectual
flexibility, discrimination of judgement, psychic stability, co-operation,
leadership and physical fitness), rated on a five-grade scale. Each partici-
pant was rated against next higher grade by his or her superior officer.
204 Ingegerd Carlsson, Gunilla Amnr and Gudmund Smith

Questions about Work and Creativity

The questionnaire contained 22 open questions. Half of them were related
to the work, for example, what was important at the work; which were
positive and which were negative aspects; stressful moments; positive
press; and if the person was contented with his/her present work, or wanted
to do something else. The other half was related to creativity (Smith &
Carlsson, 1990), for example, which were the persons interests; which
were his or her dreams, if opportunity was given; did the person consider
him-/herself logical or more apt to get ideas; did he or she prefer to be
alone or together with other people; and from what age he or she had
childhood memories. Finally, the participant was asked to describe what he
or she considered to be most important in life.

Creative Functioning Test (CFT)

The stimulus picture in the CFT is a still life drawn in black and white de-
picting a bottle and a bowl. The picture, drawn by an artist, is built up by
shadings and diffuse contours making it fairly easy to see other things in it
(e.g., a face, a body, or a landscape). The participant is instructed that pic-
tures are to be shown very briefly, but not that they are one and the same
picture. He or she is asked to describe after each exposure what was shown
on the screen, even if they are not quite certain. The test consists of two
connected exposure series, one with increasing exposure times and the next
with decreasing times. In the increasing series the exposures (shown with a
tachistoscope) start with .02 sec. and are slowly prolonged until the par-
ticipant has described the stimulus as consisting of two objects, a bottle
and a bowl. At this point the time increase is halted and reversed, to con-
tinue into the decreasing series. During this part of the test, the exposure
times are successively shortened, and end when nothing at all can be dis-
cerned. Further technical and experimental specifications can be found in
the manual (Smith & Carlsson, 2000).

Creativity dimensions in the CFT. A first crucial dimension of relevance

for creativity is the ability to form mental representations of the indistinct
contours and shapes glimpsing on the screen. This ability is tried in the in-
Pilots investigated by tests of creativity, extraversion, and stress control 205

creasing series, in which the perceived meanings can vary considerably be-
tween individuals. The number of different interpretations in the increasing
series correlated moderately with independent criteria of creativity (Smith
& Carlsson, 1990). However, in this part it is difficult to distinguish be-
tween associating fluency on the one hand and the ability to shift from ra-
tional thought to more primary process oriented cognition on the other.
This distinction was put to the test in the decreasing portion of the CFT:
Thus, when the participant has got a hold on the visual contents in the pic-
ture, this objective perception supposedly exerts a considerable influence
on the viewer. Relying on rational analysis, individuals would treat their
own subjective picture interpretations as incorrect and in the decreasing
series would comply with what seems as the right answer. From a more
cognitivistic perspective, a formulation such as creativityproduced by
an absence of cognitive inhibition (Eysenck, 1995, p. 253) is feasible.
Thus when correct recognition has been attained, a low-creative person
would inhibit, or not consciously attend to, any subjective interpretation
from the increasing series during the decreasing part. On the other hand,
highly creative individuals would be inclined to shift from rational (secon-
dary) thought processes and assign priority to their subjective (imaginary)
representational world. In other words, they would prefer to perceive com-
plexity rather than the simplicity of the logical solution.
Scoring. In the increasing series the number of different interpretations (for
example a person or a landscape) adds up to a measure of creative fluency.
Next, in the decreasing series, the ability to shift from rational thought to
more holistic cognition, or creative flexibility, is put to a test.
Final classification. In the manual the scale for the decreasing series con-
sists of six steps which were in this study compressed into three levels:
High (steps 4 6): The whole or a substantial part of the picture is eventu-
ally interpreted in a completely different way. Medium (steps 2 3): Only
vague changes or plastic transformations of the picture. Low: No change,
or at the most that the picture is perceived to get foggy or darker.
Validity. Correlations have ranged from .46 to .83 with richness of ideas,
expressiveness and originality, creative interests, and predictions of crea-
tive achievement. This has been judged by external raters in studies of re-
searchers, professional artists, children and youngsters (Smith & Carlsson,
206 Ingegerd Carlsson, Gunilla Amnr and Gudmund Smith

1990), and students of architecture (Schoon, 1992). Creative flexibility has

been shown to correlate with symmetrical frontal brain activity (Carlsson,
Wendt, & Risberg, 2000). In the present study the authors blind-scored the
protocols independently of one another. In a few cases of dissension, an-
other experienced rater made the final verdict.

Serial Color-Word Test

The Serial Color-Word Test (S-CWT) is a modification and extension of
the Stroop test (Thurstone, 1944). In the S-CWT the process of adaptation
is closely registered when a person tries to cope with several repetitions of
the pressing task to name the printed color of the color-word, not the
printed word. (For a thorough description of all statistical procedures, con-
sult the manual, Smith, Nyman, Hentschel, & Rubino, 2001).
The test material consists of a pre-test with groups of colored Xs, and a
main test, preceded by one proper test line used as an introduction. The
main test is a sheet with 100 color-words on ten lines. Reading time is reg-
istered at every second line. Five repeated readings of the sheet are made.
Thus, altogether 5 x 5 time values are recorded.
Scoring, basic classification. The scoring is founded on calculations of two
basic measures. One is the linear time change, i.e. decrease (improvement)
or increase (impairment) in reading time. The other is degree of instability
or variability over time, the variation ascribable to linear decrease or in-
crease being excluded. Four strategies (S, C, D, CD) have been identified
outgoing from the above measures. The stabilised (S) style represents an
even speed with slight improvement between the five part times on a sheet.
The cumulative (C) style implies that the reading times increase on the
sheet. It has been related to anxiety and compulsiveness. The dissociatives
(D) are unstable, i.e. vary between fast and long part times. They have
proven sensitive to increasing stress, accident-prone and more frequent in
psychosomatics or in psychosis. The cumulative-dissociative (CD) type
has both increasing and unstable times. It is more common in psychiatric
samples. It should be noted that people classified as CD from a non clinical
sample usually have less extreme values than clinical samples, since read-
ing times are shorter.
Pilots investigated by tests of creativity, extraversion, and stress control 207

Final classification. Three final classifications are made. First, primary

type (S, C, D, CD, or unclassified), where each of the five sheets is as-
signed a style, and the classification is in most frequent style. Next, the
secondary types (S, C, D, CD) for linear regression (R) and for variability
(V) are classified on the basis of a calculation where each sheet is consid-
ered as a subtest. Third, initial types (high or low) are analyzed. The high
type implies a rapid change from initial long times to much shorter times,
and has been connected with compulsiveness.
Validity. The diagnostic usefulness has been demonstrated in close to 60
studies (for further data and references, consult the manual, Smith et al.,
2001). Reliability studies with a parallel test yielded correlations from .56
to .89. The present data were run on a computerised program with norms
for age and sex.

Spiral Aftereffect Technique

The Spiral Aftereffect Technique (SAT) is claimed to reflect the balance
between subjective and objective factors in the experience of a visual af-
tereffect (Andersson, 1972, 1995). Even though the visual aftereffect is of
neurophysiological origin, this balance influences it. Brief aftereffect dura-
tions imply that the viewer cuts off any subjective contribution to his ex-
perience of illusory movement, that is extraversion. Very long durations on
the contrary imply that the subjective world is emphasised at the cost of
objectivity, that is introversion. Aftereffects of a medium length represent
a balanced approach.
The test material is installed in a portable apparatus. First a rotating spi-
ral is shown during 45 seconds and immediately thereafter replaced by a
non-moving circle. The participant is instructed to fixate the middle point
of the rotating spiral. When the circle appears, the person reports when he
considers the aftereffect to have stopped. Immediately after that a new trial
follows, until ten trials have been made. A chronometer connected to the
apparatus registrates the time.
Scoring. Two basic measures are made. First, the stabilized level is calcu-
lated as the mean value of the two final trials. Secondly, change of the du-
ration over the ten trials is measured, i.e., increasing (+), decreasing (-), or
unchanging (0) times.
208 Ingegerd Carlsson, Gunilla Amnr and Gudmund Smith

Final classifications. Very low (LL), or low aftereffects (L-, L+) imply a
reliance on extraceptive signals; medium lengths (M-, M0, M+) show a
balanced hold; and high aftereffects (H-, H+) indicate that subjective sig-
nals dominate. (For details, consult Andersson, 1995).
Validity. Neuroticism on the Maudsley Personality Inventory (MPI (later
EPI), Eysenck, 1959) has been found to coincide with long aftereffects
(Andersson, 1969), which also proved typical of people with neurotic con-
flicts and depressive inhibition (Amnr, 1997; Andersson & Bengtsson,
1985). A medium level has correlated with warmth in contacts. Extraverts
on the MPI more often had low aftereffects with minus trend (Andersson,
1969). Decreasing aftereffects (minus trend), or a low level, have coin-
cided with a certain cool and reserved attitude (Andersson, Almgren,
Englesson, Smith, Smith, & Uddenberg, 1984). University teachers with
brief aftereffects more often described their organization as open (Ryham-
mar & Smith, 1999).


There were no significant correlations between the three behavioural tests.

Achievement Rating Scale

Mean score on the achievement scale for the pilots was 31.8, and for the
ground officers 28.9. This difference was significant (t (34) = 2.91; p < .01,
two-tailed). None of the youngest pilots (n = 6; age 24 26 years) got
scores above the mean (p = .02, Fishers exact test).

Questions about Work and Creativity

The answers to the open questions were coded in two or three categories
for each question. The protocols were then blind-rated by the experiment-
ers. Certain questions were re-coded and rated anew, until consensus was
reached. To minimise bias, the raters did not know the results of the tests
administered by the other experimenter. Moreover, the scoring was done in
advance of the further analyses. The pilots and the ground officers were
found to differ on two questions. The pilots emphasised flying as positive
Pilots investigated by tests of creativity, extraversion, and stress control 209

press (2corr. = 7.93, p < .01) and saw insecure employment as a negative
aspect of their work (2corr. = 4.24, p < .05).

Questions about Creativity vs the CFT

The creativity questions have as an index earlier proven relevant for crea-
tivity as measured by the CFT (Smith & Carlsson, 1990a). In the present
group this was not the case. Instead, certain questions sorted out answers
given by the highly plus medium creative people from the low creative
ones. Thus, for the creative people freedom, challenges and comradeship
were important work aspects (2corr. = 5.12, p = .02). Positive press im-
plied responsibility and/or self-development (2corr. = 4.52, p < .05). To
be alone was regarded as more positive than being in company with others
(p = .01, Fishers exact test). Finally, either ones own self or the self of
another person was regarded as most important in life, rather than viewing
oneself in relationship with other people (2corr. = 6.02, p = .01).

Discriminant Analysis
A stepwise canonical discriminant analysis for pilots versus ground offi-
cers was performed (Klecka, 1980), comprising 42 variables (the test vari-
ables, sex, age, and superiors ratings). The prediction of group was suc-
cessful for 83.3 %. Significantly contributing variables were achievement
rating (r = -.61, p < .001), high after-effects (H) (r = .44, p < .01), and in-
stability during stress (D / CD) (r = .34, p < .05). Thus, the pilots got
higher ratings, and had less introversion and less unstable stress control
than the ground officers. Another differentiating variable, which, for statis-
tical reasons, did not play part in the analysis, was increasing reading times
(primary C) on the stress test, found in eight pilots but none of the ground
officers (p < .05, Fishers exact test).

Cluster Analyses
Since the pilots and ground officers were distinctive groups, it was deemed
appropriate to look for subgroups within each. Using the above 42 vari-
ables, hierarchical cluster analyses (Ward) were performed (Everitt, 1980).
Based on squared Euclidean distances, the Ward analysis provides valid
estimates of the connections in four-field tables. Solutions with either two
210 Ingegerd Carlsson, Gunilla Amnr and Gudmund Smith

or three clusters were tried, and solutions with three clusters were settled
on, since they yielded more significant connections with the questionnaire.
Thus, after the clustering, in a second step, the questionnaire was tested
for significance against the clusters. The differentiating answers are listed
in the bottom part of tables 12.1 (the pilots) and 12.2 (the ground officers).
Finally, the complete questionnaires were checked again, and two more
differences between the clusters were then noticed that had not previously
been categorized. These additional categories are added below in the text
for those clusters that were concerned.

Table 12.1. Overview of the Pilot Clusters

P1 P2 P3
Categories n = 6 n = 9 n = 7 P-values
S-CWT Primary C 0 3 5 < .05
S-CWT Secondary Cv 1 3 7 < .01
S-CWT Primary D or CD 2 0 0 .05
S-CWT Secondary Dv or CDv 3 5 0 .05
S-CWT Initial types low 0 4 0 < .05
SAT L- 6 0 1 .001
SAT L total (LL not included) 6 0 2 < .001
SAT M- 0 5 0 < .01
SAT M total. 0 8 0 .001
SAT Minus-strategy 6 5 1 < .01
Answering categories in the questionnaire
3a. Positive Freedom / challenge / comrade- 6 7 2 .01
aspects of ship
3b. Freedom, etc., and leadership 0 1 5 < .01
5. Stressful Feel insufficient, get assessed 4 0 3 < .02
6. Positive Flying / challenges / strain 6 7 2 < .02
Pilots investigated by tests of creativity, extraversion, and stress control 211

Table 12.2. Overview of the Ground Officer Clusters

G1 G2 G3
Categories n = 4 n = 6 n = 4 P-values
S-CWT Primary S 4 4 0 .01
S-CWT Secondary Sr 3 5 0 .02
S-CWT Secondary Sv 3 0 0 < .01
S-CWT Secondary Cv 0 4 0 .02
S-CWT Secondary Cr 0 0 2 .05
S-CWT Primary D 0 0 3 < .01
S-CWT Primary D or CD 0 0 4 < .001
S-CWT Initial types low 0 1 3 < .05
CFT Fluency > 2.5 themes 4 1 2 < .05
CFT Flexibility, high or medium 1 6 1 .02
SAT All L strategies 3 0 1 < .05
(LL not included)
Answering categories in the
10a. Future Satisfied with present work 4 1 1 .02
10b. More responsibility make a 0 4 3 .05
13. Dreams Family, home, and the like 4 1 3 .02
14. Logical Get ideas 0 1 3 < .05
or ideas

Pilot cluster 1 (n = 6, age 25-28, M = 27 years). All were extraverted. On

the questionnaire all regarded flying, freedom, and the challenge of an ad-
vanced technology as positive aspects, but most described that they some-
times felt insufficient. Further, due to the cut-off point, age did not influ-
ence the clustering, but afterwards the mean age was found to be lower
than for the other pilots (p = .01). As one pilot wrote, flying is still no
everyday business for me.
Pilot cluster 2 (n = 9, age 24-42, M = 31 years). This group collected all
those with a balance between extra- and introversion as well as low initial
types on the stress test. On the questionnaire most stated the importance
and positive press of flying, freedom, and challenges. None mentioned
feeling inadequate.
212 Ingegerd Carlsson, Gunilla Amnr and Gudmund Smith

Pilot cluster 3 (n = 7, age 26-42, M = 32 years). All had increasing reading

times on the stress test. On the extraversion test none was balanced. They
stated in the questionnaire that leadership was important besides the chal-
lenges, freedom and comradeship. Further, afterwards was found that all
but one complained about a stiff hierarchy or the many rules, in contrast to
four of the other pilots (p < .02, Fishers exact test).
Ground officer cluster 1 (3 men and 1 woman, age 25-32, M = 30 years).
This group showed high stability on the stress test, and creative fluency.
Most were extraverted. On the questionnaire everyone was content with his
or her present work position. Their dreams centred on the family. None felt
apt at getting new ideas. In addition, when we afterwards read through all
protocols, they were all found to mention having an interest in technical
things, in contrast to only one of the other ground officers, (p < .01,
Fishers exact test).
Ground officer cluster 2 (3 women, 3 men, age 24-30, M = 28 years). Eve-
ryone had medium creative flexibility. None had low after-effects. Most
were stable on the stress test. Several expressed a need for further devel-
opment, while only one was satisfied with the present position or wanted
more leisure.
Ground officer cluster 3 (3 men, 1 woman, age 25-32, M = 29 years).
These people were unstable during strain. On the questionnaire most felt
prone to get new ideas.


As predicted, the pilot group had better stress control and were less intro-
verted than the ground officers. They also got higher achievement ratings.
It is probable that the thorough selection of pilots contributed to a well-
functioning group with good control. But it seems that experience also
contributed, since none of the youngest pilots got high ratings by their su-

Stress Control
It appears favourable for the wing that few participants showed instability
when stressed. It is probable, that the distribution for the pilots on the Se-
Pilots investigated by tests of creativity, extraversion, and stress control 213

rial Color-Word Test is not the same as in the population at large. Only
two, young, pilots had an unstable stress control. Good control, or execu-
tive functioning, is crucial for not becoming disorganized when dealing
with rapid changes (Kyriazis, 1991).
Regarding the ground officers, the stability in the first group was para-
doxical, since their work appeared less pressing. Of interest is that for this
group the stress test resulted in a pervading evenness on all classifications.
In these technically minded people a more active inhibiting mechanism
may have contributed to somewhat over controlled reactions (Gray, 1970;
Pickering & Gray, 1999). As described by Clark and Watson (1999), con-
strained and conscientious people plan carefully, avoid risk and danger,
and are controlled more strongly by the long-term implications of their be-
haviour (p. 403).

Only two pilots were introverted on the SAT, which was in line with ear-
lier research. The other pilots showed extraversion, or a balanced hold. The
youngest, hot pilots (Tempereau, 1956) had an extraverted reaction,
which could be a strategy to compensate for their relative lack of experi-
ence. This objective hold may have had the positive effect to make them
more aware of limitations in their own performance. Not realising own in-
adequacies has been found characteristic of pilots involved in serious acci-
dents (Alkov, Gaynor, & Borowsky, 1985). Extraversion can be explained
by a strongly activated outward-directed approach system (Rothbart,
Ahadi, & Evans, 2000). The approach system would shorten the illusory
aftereffect and, analogously, allow further information processing of the
outer world, including ones own behavior.
For the second pilot group, flying was experienced as a sufficient but not
overpowering challenge. This seems to have been mirrored by their bal-
ance between intraceptive and extraceptive factors on the SAT.
In contrast, the third group of pilots included people with either long
(H+) or extremely short (LL) aftereffects. These unbalanced reactions
might be interpreted as reflecting a certain press in their work, since they
had responsibilities as senior officers. Their complaints about rigid rules
are in line with the wording by Rothbart et al. (2000): positive anticipa-
214 Ingegerd Carlsson, Gunilla Amnr and Gudmund Smith

tory tendencies may result in negative affect through the frustration or sad-
ness resulting when an expectation is not met (p. 126). It might be of in-
terest that three pilots in this group got top rates from their superiors on
both expertise and critical discernment, which no other pilot got. This dif-
ference is probably smaller than it would have been had all participants
been rated against each other, and not against next higher grade.

Medium creative flexibility on the Creative Functioning Test was found in
more than 60 % of the present group. When compared with a sample of
132 university teachers (Ryhammar & Smith, 1999), the present partici-
pants had a significantly higher share of medium creativity (2 = 10.89, p <
.001). This middle way implies a balance between what is realistic and
what is not (Smith, 1995; cf. Ekvall, 1997). Medium creative flexibility
could be described in terms of controlled imagination, which was actually
described early on to distinguish a well-functioning pilot (Anderson,
1919). These creative realists (Moss Kanter, 1984) may be able to make
implementations on the basis of pre-attentive cues. Similarly, contempo-
rary aviation psychology emphasizes the necessity for good piloting to
watch out even for small and oft-neglected risks (Besco, 1994). We con-
ceive this to be affiliated with a neurophysiological orienting dimension,
implying perceptual sensitivity (Rothbart, Ahadi, & Evans, 2000).
Although post-hoc, the questionnaire items relevant for the creative par-
ticipants emphasized a wish for an individualistic position. This was most
clearly recognized in the second ground officer cluster, having creative
flexibility. This group did not focus on the family and like things, but in-
stead described an urge to develop. These people might improve their crea-
tivity in another, less restricted context (cf. Smith & Carlsson, 1983).

Validity and limitations

Validity in the cluster technique naturally depends on the selection of test
instruments that are important for the investigated system (Magnusson,
1999). In the present investigation the test-based cluster solutions formed
meaningful patterns that agreed with previous research. Furthermore, these
clusters got a face validity support from the participants attitudes to their
Pilots investigated by tests of creativity, extraversion, and stress control 215

work. For example, a majority of the pilots in the first group expressed
feelings of insufficiency, and were found in a subsequent analysis to be
younger than the other pilots.
The more general applicability of the results depends in part on how rep-
resentative the selected officers were of military staff. The pilots included
practically all the flying personnel at the unit, and should therefore be re-
garded as more representative than the small and select group of ground
officers. Probably a randomised sample of ground officers would have re-
sulted in groups that had partly different characteristics. Also, the ground
officer group was younger and not properly matched to the pilots. Thus it
is necessary to under build the results in this study, found with exploratory
techniques, with further, hypothesis-testing research.
A final question could be raised about to what extent the clusters were
the outcome of stable personality structures, or if they were influenced by
the participants present context. Interaction effects seem probable. Quite
generally, persons qualify trait descriptions of themselves by specifying
under what particular situations a general disposition is likely to influence
their behavior (McAdams, 1992, p. 347). For instance, in this study the
pilots as a group had a relatively stable hold when pressed. But this did not
exclude that those with leadership tasks showed signs of tension, and
moreover expressed frustration at their work. Conceivably, adaptation to
strain is a dynamic balance not only between systems of affective reactivity
and cognitive control, but also including the external pressures that influ-
ence these internal systems (cf. Mischel & Shoda, 1999). We believe that
further descriptions and validations of such interactions/personality pat-
terns, are important in future investigations. In the future it is also of inter-
est to complement the behavioral process tests with questionnaires con-
strued to tap these same personality dimensions, as well as with biological


For statistical expertise we wish to thank Gran Linde (deceased). Tord

Karlsson, head of the wing at that time, is thanked for kindly supporting
the investigation. Maj Lantz is acknowledged for efficient secretarial help.
216 Ingegerd Carlsson, Gunilla Amnr and Gudmund Smith

Alf Ingesson-Thor, Olof Rydn and Bert Westerlundh are thanked for
valuable advice.


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Eva Hoff and Ingegerd Carlsson

The relationship between a percept-genetic measurement of creativity and

other tests of creativity was investigated. The participants were elementary
school children. The relation between self-image and three different crea-
tivity measures was also studied. A creative fluency test, a questionnaire
about creative activities and a percept-genetic creativity test were used. A
self-image inventory measured skills, physical self, psychological health
and relationship to others. The results showed that the creativity measures
were, to some extent, significantly related, except the cognitive flexibility
dimension of the percept-genetic test. One possible explanation was that
the percept-genetic test measured another aspect of creativity. This was
illustrated in a cluster analysis in relation to self-image.
There were no self-image differences between children with high and low
creativity in any of the three measurements. Few gender differences were

The percept-genetic ideas applied to the inquiry of creativity have for a

long time been a field of research at Lund University in Sweden. Both
creativity theory and instruments for creativity measurement have been de-
veloped by Smith & Carlsson (1990; 2001). Their Creative Functioning
Test (CFT) (2001) leans on the percept-genetic test tradition. The scoring
system and validity measures were described in detail in Chapter 13. How-
ever, there has been little comparison with more traditional tests of creativ-
ity. To this end, we have executed a study in a couple of elementary
222 Eva Hoff and Ingegerd Carlsson

schools where we have compared different creativity measurements with

the CFT.
Creativity has been studied within the context of different psychological
approaches and there are accordingly a great number of different test
methods (Parkhurst, 1999). We will not account for all of them in this
chapter, but we will point out a couple of different kinds of tests.
The constructor of the most used creativity measurement is Torrance
(1965). The Torrance Test of Creative Thinking consists of different draw-
ing and writing tasks, among others the Unusual Uses Test (Guilfords
Brick Test). He uses the four scoring dimensions that Guilford (1967) once
pinpointed, that is, fluency, flexibility, elaboration and originality, from
which different assessments are made of the participants test production.
However, these dimensions have been criticized for being too limited to
describe the whole phenomenon (Amabile, 1983). Amabile (1983) believes
that paper-and-pencil tests are artificial, for one thing because the partici-
pants are asked to create on command. However, her collage-technique
might be criticized for the same reason. What she achieves is the exclusion
of drawing and writing talent in her test, since all participants get the same
items with the instruction to compose a collage. But an aesthetic talent is
still a dominant component in the test. A creative mathematician might not
necessarily be a good (or creative) collage-maker.
Other creativity tests have been constructed as self-reporting question-
naires (Khatena & Torrance, 1976; Smith & Fldt, 2000). These could
consist of sentences or just adjectives, that people are asked to identify as
descriptions of themselves or not. But the problem with these tests are that
people might prefer characteristics as disobedience, impulsiveness and
non-conformity without them being accurate self-descriptions, especially
among groups of students who are being trained to artistic professions, for
example, architects or artists (Smith & Fldt, 2000). The percept-genetic
test, CFT has been compared with creativity self-reports; little connection
has, however, been found (Ryhammar, 1996; Smith & Fldt, 2000). On the
other hand, Smith and Fldt showed that if the task was shifted from self-
description to ideal self-description, the task became projective and the de-
sirability-bias became no longer as influential any more. To this measure
there was a significant relation to CFT.
Vision forming and brain storming 223

Finally, some theorists have tried to construct more eclectic creativity

models, where they confluence many different aspects of creativity
(Amabile, 1983; Csikszentmihalyi, 1990; Sternberg & Lubart, 1999). In
the present study we chose to use three different creativity measures, in or-
der to at least capture a few different aspects of creativity. This allowed us
to see if different individuals excelled in different measurements.
In order to find other possible differences between the tests, a self-image
questionnaire also was administered in this study. This would enable us to
observe if the different tests resulted in different self-image profiles for the
high and the low creativity groups.

Self-image and Creativity

Creative adults are generally depicted as individuals with a good deal of
self-confidence in order to trust their own ideas and to be able to endure
critical opinions (Martindale, 1989). Creative people are also described as
being inventive, enthusiastic and risk-taking but also gloomy, loud, unsta-
ble, bitter, and so forth (Barron, 1963, 1981). Eysenck (1995) pointed out
the fact that there is much contradiction in the descriptions of creative per-
sons. They are described as having social presence and poise but are also
said to be asocial and irritable. Furthermore they are reported to be both
dominant and introvert, despite the fact that dominance generally is con-
sidered an extrovert trait. Introversion has been shown to be related to
creativity by many researchers, for example Gtz and Gtz (1979) who
studied professional artists. Artists also scored higher than non-artists on
both neuroticism and psychoticism.
When it comes to research about creativity and self-image in children
and adolescents, there is rather contradictory evidence. On the one hand it
has been shown that the most creative pupils are the best psycho-socially
functioning and best performing in academic fields (Smith & Tegano,
1992; Byrnes, 1983; Workman & Stillion, 1974; Gallucci, Middleton, &
Kline, 1999).
According to the humanistic creativity concept, the creative individual is
a healthy self-actualizing person (Maslow, 1971; Yau, 1991). The creative
person has a positive self-image. Only a person with genuine self-
confidence has courage enough to dive into her/his subconscious to find
224 Eva Hoff and Ingegerd Carlsson

material to inspire her/his creative functioning, according to Yau (1991).

To nurture creativity in children, a true inner security must be developed
which is accomplished by unambiguous parental love.
On the other hand there are studies reporting that highly imaginative and
creative children do not always function very well in school settings
(Westby & Dawson, 1995) and that creativity is not associated with aca-
demic performance (Cramond, 1994; LaFrance, 1997; del Pilar Gonzalez
Fontao, 1997; Richmond & Norton, 1973).
Westby and Dawson (1995) give some reasons for why creative children
might not be considered shining lights by their teachers. They do not al-
ways solve school tasks as they are told to, but in their own original way.
Especially imaginative children do not always pay attention to teacher in-
structions, they might now and then get absorbed in their own inner world
of daydream. According to Westby and Dawson (1995) these children are
more individualistic, impulsive, determined and critical towards others,
compared to their peers.

Gender Differences in Childrens Creativity

There are few reports of gender and sex differences in childrens creativity,
at least that are generally agreed upon. Some results point to the advantage
of girls (Rejskind, Rapagna, & Gold, 1992) and other prove boys to be su-
perior (Tegano & Moran, 1989; Torrance, 1965). Furthermore, there are
studies showing gender differences in verbal and pictorial orientation (Tor-
rance & Allioti, 1969).

Definition of Creativity for the CFT

There are many different definitions of creativity. Parkhurst (1999) has
summarized and criticized some of them, including the one Smith and
Carlsson have presented (1990). According to Parkhurst, their definition
lacked a novelty aspect, which most creativity definitions include and was
therefore altered in this article to: A productive or generative novel way of
experiencing reality including the perceivers own self. Parkhurst also
maintained that there were other problems with this definition. He argued
for example that the making of Jackson Pollacks paintings could not be
included in this definition. However, as we see it, the drop paintings of
Vision forming and brain storming 225

Pollack certainly could be examples of a productive and a generative novel

way of experiencing reality. A new way of making a painting is a new way
of experiencing reality (the painters reality).

The Aim of the Study

We wanted to explore the relation between different tests of creativity. Is it
the same creativity that a percept-genetic instrument captures, compared to
a questionnaire, or to a fluency test? Our second focus was to investigate
what kind of self-image creative primary school children have. Would the
different test-methods give different self-image profiles? The assumption
for this study was a positive relation between the different creativity meas-
ures. We also assumed that there would be self-image differences between
more and less creative children in all the different measurements. No gen-
der differences were anticipated.


The participants of this study were 69 10- and 11-year-old children in six
classes from three different Swedish schools, with somewhat different
demographic profiles. There were 35 girls and 34 boys. The number of
participants varied between 65 and 69 in the different tests because some
children were absent at some testing sessions.

Unusual Uses Test (UUT)

In the Unusual Uses Test (Guilford, 1967) the subjects make up as many
alternate uses as possible for a well-known object, for example a newspa-
per or a brick. In this study the Unusual Uses Test was adapted to function
as a test for children. Empty milk-packages were considered to be well-
known objects for children and therefore suitable for the test. The children
were asked to write down as many uses they could think of in 15 minutes.
Two different scoring systems were used. Firstly, the total number of uses
was counted and every suggestion rendered one point. This is regarded as a
measure of fluency of ideas (Guilford, 1967). Secondly, different catego-
226 Eva Hoff and Ingegerd Carlsson

ries of uses were counted (a list of these categories is presented in Appen-

dix), measuring flexibility of ideas.

Activity Questionnaire (AQ)

The Activity Questionnaire (Hoff, 2000) is a measurement of involvement
in creative activities and hobbies. It regards, among other things, if the
children exert any creative hobbies (e g, drawing and writing stories), if the
children spend a lot of time fantasizing, if they remember their dreams and
if they have or have had imaginary companions. Other questions concern if
the children have invented their own games or built their own toys. There
are 10 questions and a maximum score of 12. The questions about creative
activities and hobbies have been shown to correlate with the Creative
Functioning Test (Smith & Carlsson, 1990) and the questionnaire in its
present form with the Unusual Uses Test (Hoff, 2000).

Creative Functioning Test (CFT)

For a thorough description of the CFT (Smith & Carlsson, 2001) the reader
is referred to Chapter 13.

The Self-image Inventory How I Think I am

How I Think I Am is a Swedish self-image inventory (Ouvinen-
Birgerstam, 1999) consisting of five different subscales. The first subscale
measures skills and abilities (school task related, e g, Im good at maths,
but also more in general, e g, Other people do things better than I). The
second subscale regards questions about physical self-image, health and
appearances (e g, I dont care about my looks, I often feel clumsy).
The third subscale concerns mental well-being (e g, I easily get angry,
Im a happy person). The fourth subscale measures relationship with
parents (e g, My parents trust me, In my family, we fight a lot). The
last subscale measures social competence or peer relationships (e g, I have
many friends, I feel different from others).
There are 76 items in the inventory. Each item had four answer alterna-
tives, from Agree fully, to disagree completely.
Vision forming and brain storming 227


Relations Between Creativity Measurements

Positive correlations fere found between the different creativity measures
in all instances but one. Half of them were significant. The Activity Ques-
tionnaire and the Unusual Uses Test were strongly related. But the CFT
dimension of fluency of ideas and the Unusual Uses Tests dimension of
the same kind also showed relation. The main dimension of CFT was posi-
tively related with the other tests but only the relation with the fluency of
idea dimension of the same test reach significance. Table 13.1 presents the

Table 13.1. Spearmans Rho Correlation Between Different Creativity Measurements

Unusual Activity CFT Flexibility CFT Fluency
Uses Test Questionnaire
UUT .90** .44** .17 .26*
Fluency of Idea
UUT Flexibility .47** .14 .21 (p =.08)
of Idea
AQ Creative .10 -.10
CFT- Cognitive .54**
Note. * p < .05, ** p < .01

Creativity and Self-image

There was no self-image difference between high and low creativity groups
(split at median) found with Mann Whitney U. (A detailed description can
be found in Hoff and Carlsson, 2002).

Gender Differences in Creativity

There were few gender differences among the different creativity meas-
ures. However, on the Activity Questionnaire girls reported more creative
activities (Mann Whitney U, p = .03). There was no gender difference in
total self-image. However, among the subscales, a gender difference was
found in the subscale regarding physical self-image, to the advantage of
boys (Mann Whitney U, p = .04).
228 Eva Hoff and Ingegerd Carlsson

Creativity and Self-image

A cluster analysis with all the different creativity aspects and the self-
image subscales resulted in a seven-cluster solution (Wards method). A
full representation of all clusters with mean z-scores can be found in Hoff
and Carlsson, 2002. With Kruskal Wallis test all the measures showed
significant differences between all clusters with an apha level of .01, ex-
cept the scale about parental relations that only reached the .05-level.
The first group of ten girls and seven boys showed mostly low creativity
scores but reported fairly good self-images, except on mental well-being,
where they were below average. The second group of five boys and five
girls also had low creativity scores in four of five measures. These children
however had generally negative self-images, but had, contrary to the first
group, above average on mental well-being.
The third group of four girls and thirteen boys scored somewhat above
average on cognitive flexibility and fluency of ideas (CFT), but below on
the other creativity measures. These children reported good self-images,
but not as good on the skill and ability scale, though, still above average.
The fourth group had nine girls and 3 boys, who also scored high on cogni-
tive flexibility and fluency of ideas (CFT) but also on creative activities
and hobbies. They reported somewhat below average self-images in all
subscales, especially in the mental well-being subscale.
The fifth group of two girls and one boy scored high on fluency of ideas
and flexibility of ideas (UUT) and creative activities and hobbies (AQ).
This group showed a positive self-image on all subscales. The sixth group
consisted of two girls and three boys, who also scored high on the fluency
of ideas and the flexibility of ideas (UUT). They reported negative self-
images, particularly on the skill and ability-scale. The seventh group in-
cluded one girl and one boy who were highly creative in all creativity
measurements but had extremely negative pictures of themselves. How-
ever, they were not as negative about their skills and abilities.
Vision forming and brain storming 229


One main conclusion of this study was that more traditional ways of test-
ing creativity were related to the percept-genetic creativity measurement
concerning the fluency dimension, but not to the cognitive flexibility di-
mension (the main dimension of CFT). Probably different creativity tests
elicit different aspects of creativity and that a non-relation does not neces-
sarily mean that one is invalid as a measuring instrument. As we see it,
creativity is such a complex phenomenon that many constructs are possible
and probably necessary - to be able to enfold the whole phenonomenon.
Another conclusion was that there is no simple association between self-
image and creativity. We have shown that creative primary school children
do not generally have positive self-images. However, we found no con-
vincing proof of the opposite either, although the high creativity groups
had non-significantly lower means in four of five self-image dimensions.
There were both confident and well-adjusted creative children and insecure
and socially less conforming ones.

Different Aspects of Creativity

We found positive associations between all but one of the creativity meas-
ures. However, only half of them were significantly related and even if
significant, the covariation varied between 7 and 29 per cent in all cases
but one. The measurements and their different dimensions are all main-
tained to tap creativity, but to some extent at least, they seem to measure
different aspects of creativity. Judging from the covariation, only the two
dimensions of the Unusual Uses Test really measured a similar aspect (81
per cent covariation).
In his test, Torrance (1965) used four scoring dimensions, which also
might represent different aspects of creativity. However, those two dimen-
sions that were used in this study covariated largely (the two dimensions of
the Unusual Uses Test).
Smith and Carlsson (2001) use the term creative functioning for their
test, which in its main dimension measures another aspect of creativity,
and might more precisely be described as cognitive flexibility or the ability
to move between logical and imaginary thinking styles. This had little rela-
230 Eva Hoff and Ingegerd Carlsson

tion to the other tests in this study. In their research, Lubart, Jacquet, Pac-
teau, and Zenasni (2000) use the term flexible thinking as an aspect,
which they show is not related to flexibility (flexibility of ideas) in Tor-
rances measurement. Their morphing technique might lean on similar
assumptions as Smith and Carlssons percept-genetic measurement. In
Lubart et als morphing test a picture is shown on a computer screen and
then the picture is gradually transformed to another picture. Those partici-
pants who see the new picture at an early stage are considered to have a
flexible thinking style and to be creative. Perhaps CFT and the morphing
test measure a similar aspect of creativity, may one call it creative func-
tioning or flexible thinking.
However, even though both tests use the perceptual process and both re-
quire flexible participants in one way or the other, there is one difference,
and a reason to doubt that they measure the same aspect of creativity. CFT
requires a willingness to abandon the objective picture (reality) to the ad-
vantage of, often earlier reported, subjective themes (imaginary). Cognitive
flexibility between reality and imagination is defined as creativity in this
percept-genetic instrument. The morphing test on the other hand, demands
the participants readiness to observe differences in the picture (reality).
This alertness or ability to notice small changes in reality is defined as
creativity in the morphing test. Further testing would be required to inves-
tigate whether there is relation or not.
When assessing the Unusual Uses Test, we only chose to use fluency of
ideas and flexibility of ideas, but the test might also be scored in Tor-
rances originality and elaboration dimensions. The other dimension of
CFT, scored in the increasing series, is also a fluency dimension of creativ-
ity, and accordingly there was a relation to the Unusual Uses Test, which
has also been found in earlier research (Carlsson, Wendt, & Risberg,
2000). If one applied Torrances elaboration and originality dimensions to
both the Unusual Uses Test and CFT, some more relation between the two
tests would probably have been found. Engagement in creative activities
and hobbies (AQ) was related to the fluency and flexibility dimensions of
the UUT, a relationship also shown in earlier research (Hoff, 2000).
If we, however, look upon the different creativity tests used in this study
from the perspective of Sternberg and Lubarts multidimensional model
Vision forming and brain storming 231

(1999), all the tests tend to appear rather one-dimensional, even if the four
dimensions of Torrances had been used. Considering the six resources
needed for creativity, according to Sternberg and Lubart Investment The-
ory of Creativity (1999), only some of them are measured by the tests of
this study. Among the intellectual resources both CFT and the Unusual
Uses Test measure synthetic (idea generation) ability. However what
Sternberg and Lubart call analytic and practical-contextual intellectual
ability is not systematically studied by any of the tests of this study. These
concepts have to do with the elaboration and realization of creative ideas.
The knowledge resource is difficult to measure in a creativity context and
none of our tests did. CFT classifies different styles of thinking, which is
the third resource of creativity. If judged by the originality dimension, the
Unusual Uses Test also can be a test of styles of thinking. No test in this
study has motivation, the fourth resource, as its focus, but nevertheless fa-
vorable scores in any of the tests will indicate motivated participants. The
Activity Questionnaire is one type of personality measurement, where par-
ticipants are asked about their creative every-day activities and hobbies.
Personality is the fifth resource and environment is the last resource that
Sternberg and Lubarts model includes and an aspect of creativity that our
tests did not measure. Nevertheless, the environment in which the tests are
taken influences the results. It has for example been shown that a competi-
tive environment might decrease creativity among some participants and
increase it among others (Amabile, 1983; Baer, 1998). Some of the tests in
this study were taken in a group and one (CFT) was taken individually. In
fact, this difference might be another reason for the low relation between
some of the tests of this study, in addition to the fact that they seem to
measure different aspects.
However, when it comes to measuring creativity from the environmental
perspective no inventories exist, as far as we know, that are especially de-
signed for testing children.
232 Eva Hoff and Ingegerd Carlsson

Creative Types
In the cluster analysis of different aspects of creativity and self-image,
some different creativity types were discerned among the clusters. The
seven clusters can be compressed into three larger groups owing to the
creativity results joining the groups of positive and negative self-images
together. One group with low creativity results in general (two clusters)
and one with especially high scores on the Creative Functioning Test (two
clusters) and the last group with high creativity results on the Unusual
Uses Test (three clusters). In the presentations of these groups, we try to
outline some possible differences between these creative types.
Most cluster groups had an equal number of boys and girls. However the
two clusters of visionaries (below) had both a majority of one sex (one
cluster with female dominance and one with male).
As cluster analysis is an exploratory statistical tool, further hypothesis
testing is needed to see how stable the clusters groups are with respect to
both self-image and creativity.

The Conformists
There were two cluster groups of conformists with generally low creativity
scores that were not especially imaginative or good at idea association.
One group of 17 children reported being successful in school, having many
friends but was below average when it came to mental stability. The other
group of 10 children had generally negative self-image, especially about
the physical appearances. However, these children reported having average
psychological soundness.

There were two cluster groups of visionaries, that is, imaginative children
that easily moved between subjective and objective aspects of reality.
These children showed cognitive flexibility and fluency of ideas (CFT).
Individuals that excell in CFT are sticking to their subjective themes in the
test and perhaps in real life have an ability to trust their subjective ideas
and to use them when solving problems in real life. We believe that these
creative aspects are needed to be able to form imaginative pictures about
the present and the future and therefore named these individuals visionar-
Vision forming and brain storming 233

ies. Eysenck (1995) used the concept of disinhibition for people who are
creative. He meant that creative people do not inhibit, what most people
would consider, irrelevant associations. They are influenced by a much
larger number of subjective and objective thoughts compared to less crea-
tive individuals when engaged in a creative task. Disinhibition could be
used to explain why some participants in the CFT can see for example, a
person instead of the actual bottle in the decreasing series, that is after hav-
ing seen the bottle properly. The ability of disinhibition may help these in-
dividuals return to subjective themes and to break free from the chains of
reality. A visionary could probably also use this ability to be able to per-
ceive less common perspectives on reality or the future. Non-creative indi-
viduals tend to consciously or unconsciously inhibit unusual thoughts and
therefore have difficulties in looking at their lives from new angles. Com-
pared to those participants that scored high on the unusual uses test (the
brainstormers; see below), the CFT high-scorers might be less verbally flu-
ent and perhaps more dependent on visual perception in their creative abil-
The children in this group described themselves as having average skills
and abilities. One cluster of 17 children, mostly boys, had a generally posi-
tive self-image (but only average on the skill and ability-scale). The other
cluster contained 11 children with a majority of girls that reported negative
self-image (but average on the skill and ability-scale). These children had
also high scores on the Activity Questionnaire. They are thus often in-
volved in creative activities.

The Brainstormers
The brainstormers are a collection of three small cluster groups, where all
participants had an ability to quickly come up with a broad range of ideas
and were engaged in creative activities and hobbies. Our idea about this
group is that these creative aspects would be needed in brainstorming (as-
sociative idea generation). This creative aspect is connected to verbal flu-
ency as it is a test where words are generated on a limited period of time,
however there is no indication of a connection to language skill. A certain
amount of disinhibition would probably be needed for this ability too (see
the visionaries), but it would probably be under more control compared to
234 Eva Hoff and Ingegerd Carlsson

the visionary creative aspect, as brainstorming often concerns a specific

field of interest, for example, to come up with unusual uses for empty milk
packages in fifteen minutes.
These children had all high scores on both fluency and flexibility (UUT)
and creative activities and hobbies (AQ). Concerning self-image these
three clusters differed a great deal, they are in this respect divided into two
opposite characters.
One group of three children could be called shining lights. They re-
ported the most positive self-images of all groups. They reported being
successful in different school subjects and to easily get along with other
children. They felt liked by teachers and their parents and were happy in
general. They also were engaged in creative activities and hobbies to a
large extent.
The other two cluster groups could be called lone wolves as they re-
ported negative relationships with both their parents and their peers and
answered that they often felt lonely and different from others. They also
described their physical self-image and mental well-being negatively. One
of the groups consisted of five children who were especially negative about
their learning abilities and skills. The other cluster of two children reported
somewhat above average on learning abilities but was the group with the
most negative self-image in the rest of the subscales. Furthermore, these
two children were highly creative in the other two dimensions of creativity
as well. These two children were thus both visionaries and brainstorm-

Self-image of creative people

In the self-image research, creative adult individuals seem to have more
positive self-images in general, compared to the 10- and 11-year-old chil-
dren in this study. We found just as many creative children with negative
self-images as with positive ones even though earlier research often pin-
points self-confidence and trust in ones own capability as creative charac-
teristics. The question arises whether some of the creative children from
the group with negative self-images will develop better self-images later in
life. Will they recognize their special gift later in life and develop more
positive self-images, when they have the possibility to lead more inde-
Vision forming and brain storming 235

pendent lives, away from regulated school life and parental restrictions? Or
will they rather stop creating due to lack of self-confidence and due to lack
of encouraging environments? Maybe it is simply possible to be creative
and have a negative self-image. Longitudinal research is needed to study
the self-image of creative individuals from a developmental perspective.
Finally, there actually are a few creativity studies that have proposed dif-
ferent types of creative personalities (Ryhammar, 1996; Carlsson, Amner,
& Smith, Chapter 13). Ryhammar (1996) for example maintained that
there is one introvert and one extravert type of creative individual. These
findings are more congruent with the present results. It is perhaps high
time for a revision of the creativity models where only one creative per-
sonality is described.

Gender differences in childrens creativity

Of all the different measurements, there were only gender differences in
the Activity Questionnaire. A possible alternative explanation for this dif-
ference might be that the kind of creative hobbies included in the question-
naire, is more common for girls. The questionnaire items concern solitary
creative activities as writing stories or poems, making pictures or comics,
making up games and creating ones own toys. Boys are perhaps more en-
gaged in group activities and sports at this age and there might be less
room for individual creative activities. Social activities can also give op-
portunities for creativity but those are not detected in this questionnaire.
On the other hand an earlier study that used this questionnaire did not
show significant gender differences (Hoff, 2000). This makes the alterna-
tive explanation less credible.
In the cluster analysis there was one group with female dominance and
one with male. These groups had quite similar creativity profiles, but the
girls pictures of themselves were negative and the boys positive.


Special thanks to the participating children and their teachers who have
made this study possible. We also want to express our gratitude to Per
Alm, Peter Jnsson and Birgitta Wanek, who have given us useful pieces
236 Eva Hoff and Ingegerd Carlsson

of advice on the manuscript and to Gudmund Smith, who has co-judged

the CFT-results.


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List of Categories for the Flexibility dimension of the Unusual Uses Test
Object: Empty Milk Packages
Recycling: folding or cleaning the packages
Containers in general: box, package, jar, to put things in.
Containers for special purposes: pencil-box, drawers for cooking recipes,
mug, ash tray, piggy bank, jar for jam
Toys: doll, animals, car, boat, aeroplane, robot
Accessories for pets: bird pool, nesting box, feeding table for birds, hur-
dles for rabbits and hamsters, mouse house
Vision forming and brain storming 239

Experiments and inventions: With elaborated description of how the thing

is put together or how it works. E g a weight-lifting tool where packages
are filled with sand.
Buildings: house, castle, fortress, tower, shop, parts of houses, tent and hut.
Furniture and interior decoration: lantern, flower pot, lamp-shade, chair,
basket, peep show (for toys), pool, stage
Artistic decoration: Pictures, paintings, sculptures, Christmas and East-
ern decorations
Apparatuses: telephone, cell phone, binoculars, watch and periscope.
Game or play: foot ball, badminton, throwing and catching the milk pack-
Clothes or shoes: Plateau shoes (high-heeled shoes), hat
Books and paper: Book cover, bookmark, letter-paper, drawing-paper and
Circus performance: Do magic tricks with, balance
Musical instruments: drums.
Other (1 point each): Cut out recipes from the package, palette, ruler, name
sign, wallet, road, pyramid, labyrinth
Joseph Glicksohn

Microgenesis refers to an unfolding of a cognitive process (e.g., percep-

tion, thinking) which occurs in developmental sequence. The microgenetic
school of thinking has seen a renaissance in recent years, with researchers
looking at a number of different aspects of visual perception, utilizing a
microgenetic technique. An exploration of the microgenetic unfolding of
cognition will inevitably lead to the study of a dedifferentiated, syncretic
mode of cognition, wherein there is a fusion of thought, perception, feeling
and imagination. Furthermore, both the microgenetic and the per-
ceptgenetic research traditions are characterized by an organismic-
developmental and holistic orientation to research and theory, wherein
personality and thought, perception and feeling, and cognition and con-
sciousness are all interrelated. In this chapter, I present a broad overview
of these issues, assessing the present status of the field in relation to its

Ponder the title of this chapter while reading this introductory section:
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue.
What is the relationship between the title of the chapter and its content?
One usually announces at the outset what one intends to do, and then goes
on to do it. The writing, as a finished product, entails a linear presentation.
This volume, however, is concerned with what some authors might con-
sider to be a nonlinear (and nonadditive) view of cognition rather an
unfolding of cognition. A more appropriate format might therefore be a
hypertext, with its multiple linkages. As a compromise, given the necessity
of adopting a linear exposition, I shall be referring to the elements of the
title throughout the text, thus emulating somewhat the cognitive process
under discussion.
242 Joseph Glicksohn

It is, indeed, something of a challenge to be able to convey to the reader

of a verbal text some of the qualities of a cognitive process or of a subjec-
tive experience, not necessarily taking a linear and verbal form (Tolaas,
1986). This task, however, can be accomplished. Metaphoric and analogi-
cal thinking can be demonstrated by means of a text having a metaphoric
form (Haskell, 1987). Gestalt phenomenology (e.g., Pomerantz & Ku-
bovy, 1981) can be demonstrated by means of a textual exegesis, itself in-
formed by a gestalt-interactionist approach (Glicksohn & Goodblatt,
1993). Meditative and other altered (or alternate) states of consciousness
(e.g., Ludwig, 1966) can be conveyed to the reader by means of various
cognitive-poetic techniques (Goodblatt & Glicksohn, 1989-90). So is the
case regarding the microgenetic unfolding of a cognitive process and/or
subjective experience, as the reader (hopefully) is continuing to follow my
verbal ploy, that of pondering the title.
Microgenesis refers to an unfolding of a cognitive process (e.g., percep-
tion, thinking) which occurs in developmental sequence (Werner, 1948).
At each phase of microgenesis there is a corresponding level of cognitive
organization (Arieti, 1962). Developmentally, one is progressing from a
stage of global diffuseness to a state of increasing differentiation, articula-
tion, and hierarchic integration (Werner, 1957/1978, p. 109), in line with
Werners orthogenetic principle of development and with the tenets of the
organismic-developmental tradition in general (Wapner, 1964; Werner,
1948). Furthermore, one is progressing from a primary-process level to a
secondary-process level of thought (Flavell & Draguns, 1957).
In line with the orthogenetic principle, the reader might thus have a
vague, amorphous notion of where the discussion might lead, based on the
title. Dissecting the latter, "something old" obviously refers to a classic
tradition in psychology, that of the microgenetic school of thinking (for an
historical review, see Flavell & Draguns, 1957; for a more recent one, see
Draguns, 1991). "Something new" might then be referring to some new
developments and research in this and allied approaches (e.g., Hanlon,
1991; Hentschel, Smith & Draguns, 1986), or to developments in adjacent
areas, which are more in the mainstream of cognitive psychology (e.g.,
Bornstein, 1989; Greenwald, 1992). "Something borrowed" would be a
bit more problematic, though could conceivably refer to the borrowing or
Microgenesis in the 21st century 243

employment of different methodologies in one's microgenetic research

(e.g., Bachmann & Vipper, 1983; Carlsson, Wendt & Risberg, 2000).
"Something blue", on the other hand, would be enigmatic.
Having made such distinctions, that is to say, on achieving increasing
differentiation, then the task would be to attempt to realize hierarchic inte-
gration. Perhaps the source of the saying would be helpful? After all,
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue is a
bridal attire rhyme (see http: //; downloaded
Feb. 26th, 2001), dating back to Victorian times: "Something old" refers to
wearing something linking the bride to her nuclear family (e.g., a family
heirloom); "something new" refers to the bride's new family life (thus, the
need to buy something new); "something borrowed" refers to wearing
some bridal item, previously worn at the ceremony by another happy bride
(thus, bringing the new bride good luck); "something blue" represents pu-
rity. So, is the analogy being drawn to a bride (but, who is she?), or per-
haps to a wedding (psychoanalysis and perceptgenesis?), or maybe to a
marriage of convenience (between mainstream cognitive psychology and



In order to know where you are going, you must know from where you
have come. Some modern ideas are not quite so modern (Valsiner,
1996). The microgenetic school of thinking has seen a renaissance in re-
cent years, with researchers looking at a number of different aspects of
visual perception, utilizing a microgenetic technique (e.g., Bachmann,
1987; Nakatani, 1995; Reynolds, 1978; Schulz, 1991; Sekuler & Palmer,
1992; Uhlarik & Johnson, 1978). But in these research programs, there is
an emphasis on a microgenetic procedure which is employed within the
information-processing paradigm (Palmer & Kimchi, 1986), which is a du-
bious marriage (something borrowed). Now it is true that information-
processing theorists view the microgenetic school as something of a found-
ing parent (Haber, 1969, 1974). But, there is a clear distinction between
the two: The information-processing conception is clearly mechanistic and
244 Joseph Glicksohn

atomistic (Leahey, 1992) and somewhat never-ending (cf. Neissers, 1976,

p.17, processing more-processing even-more-processing caricature),
while microgenesis is organismic and developmental in orientation
(Werner, 1948). Furthermore, while a microgenetic approach has been en-
thusiastically adopted for the study of cognitive development (Kuhn, 1995;
Siegler & Crowley, 1991), there is yet again a difference in orientation:
The microgenetic approach is not only characterized by a high density of
intrasubject observations taken during a period of transition, but also one
with a process-oriented focus. In fact, there would seem to be a great di-
vide between scholars immersed in the tradition and its sister school of Ge-
stalt psychology (e.g., Smith, 1957) and those promoting similar ideas,
without acknowledging historical forerunners (i.e., Dennett & Kinsbourne,
1992; see Glicksohn, 1995, for a rebuttal), or perhaps even worse, who
relegate such schools to the level of the historical footnote (something
While one cannot change mainstream thought in cognition, one can cer-
tainly pose a challenge. For example, one can question the notion of
modularity (Fodor, 1983), which seems to be widely accepted. Given
modularity, language can be studied separately from visual perception
(Fodor, 1983), and emotion can be studied separately from cognition (Za-
jonc, 1980). But what happens when modularity breaks down, as Baron-
Cohen, Harrison, Goldstein and Wyke (1993) have put it? What happens
is that one gains an insight into more primitive phases of the microgenetic
unfolding of cognition, a subject that will now be addressed.
The earlier phases of microgenesis are known to be affect-laden (Kragh,
1955; Sander, 1930; Werner, 1948). They constitute a syncretic level of
cognition and experience (Barten, 1983; Barten & Franklin, 1978),
wherein there is a fusion of thought, perception, feeling and imagination
(Glicksohn, Steinbach & Elimalach-Malmilyan, 1999). Recall that the mi-
crogenetic unfolding of a cognitive process and/or subjective experience is
an experiential, process-oriented conception (cf. Brown, 1991, 1997;
Smith & Westerlundh, 1980), and not a structural one. Its graphic depic-
tion is one of a converging process (Smith, 1990, p. 190), of a restriction of
focus (Galin, 1994; Spence & Holland, 1962), moving from intrapsychic
reality to consensual reality (Kragh, 1955). Various analogies have been
Microgenesis in the 21st century 245

suggested for the process, a particular apt one being: Developing a pho-
tographic print after the exposed photographic paper has been bathed into
the developer (Bachmann, 1998, p. 151). And as Brown (1998, p. 78)
stresses, Microgenetic theory entails that objects are recognized before
they are consciously perceived, that objects are remembered into percep-
tion. This is a far cry from standard information-processing views on the
relationship between cognition and consciousness (Velmans, 1991; see
Glicksohn, 1993b). And heres another troubling thought: Modularity
implies an additive-factor model (Sternberg, 1969) or ANOVA-like type of
thinking (Valsiner, 1996) for information processing. But, if Gestalt psy-
chology starts where information processing ends (Robertson, 1986, p.
182), while microgenesis (i.e., the breakdown of modularity) ends where
information processing starts, then just how much theoretical worth can be
wedged between the two?
Recall that Werner (1948) had suggested, that less developed systems
become subordinated to, and regulated by, more developed ones, but are
never actually lost. Normally, these former "drafts" (to use the term sug-
gested by Dennett & Kinsbourne, 1992) are not readily accessible, unless
the system is faced with a stressful situation, novel or difficult task (i.e.,
the microgenetic procedure). In this event, the system reverts to a more
primitive mode of cognitive functioning, much as one sees in the reversion
from an abstract to a concrete mode of thinking. Akin to this microgenetic
theory is that of the nineteenth-century neurologist Hughlings Jackson
(Taylor, 1958), who suggested that the neurocognitive manifestation of
such a reversal would be the disinhibition (i.e., release) of more primitive
brain functioning (e.g., that of the limbic system) due to cortical dysfunc-
tion. Both Jackson (Taylor, 1958) and Werner (1948) suggested that there
are different levels of cognitive functioning (Werner, 1957/1978).
But as Brown (1988) has argued, there are differences between microge-
netic theory and Jacksonian concepts:
A persistent release of a lower level would be construed as a regres-
sion to a more primitive mode of behavior (...) In contrast, the micro-
genetic idea is that preliminary stages are not released or disinhibited
from above, but exhibit a form of cognition consistent with a certain
level of derivation.... Early processing stages are transformed to later
246 Joseph Glicksohn

ones, but the early stages also persist, in some sense, in the structure
of the ones that follow. The direction of processing is not one of con-
trol by higher centers over lower output levels but an emergent proc-
ess from depth to surface. (pp. 7-8)
One can also refer to an expansion of awareness, as the microgenetic
process is inspected from within (Glicksohn, 2001), and perhaps thereby
disrupted. This would constitute what others have termed a mind-
manifesting, or psychedelic, experience, indicative of a shift to an altered
(or alternate) state of consciousness (ASC) (e.g., Hunt, 1989a, 1989b). To
quote Glicksohn (1998):
As Hunt (1989b) has argued, altered-state cognition is readily there in
the background, but is normally masked because (...) conditions favor
a normal, characteristic mode of operation. However, by changing ex-
ternal conditions, or internal ones (...) the normal microgenetic se-
quence of the unfolding of perception becomes disrupted, and both
perception and thought take on a more metaphoric-symbolic, dream-
like quality. I would argue that in these circumstances, perception and
thought are dedifferentiated, or syncretic (...) Thus, the dreamlike
quality of perception (Smith & Westerlundh, 1980), the cognitive-
sensory schematization of figurative language (Haskell, 1989) and the
visuo-spatial, presentational form of thought (Hunt, 1989b) are all
variations on a common, syncretic theme (Werner, 1948) (.) (p. )
How can one characterize the primitive phases of microgenesis, or what
workers in the perceptgenetic variant term the P-phases (e.g., Kragh, 1955;
Smith, 1990, 1999; Smith & Carlsson, 2000)? Following the fundamental
Gestalt notion of Prgnanz, a radical change in external conditions (em-
ployment of a microgenetic procedure) will result in a qualitatively differ-
ent form of perceptual experience. As stated by Koffka (1935), Prgnanz
refers to the notion that "psychological organization will always be as
'good' as the prevailing conditions allow" (p. 110). Thus, what would
normally be a preattentive phase of perceptual processing is made con-
scious, and "colours" perceptual experience.
In fact, I can provide an example here, taken from some work carried
quite out some time ago (Glicksohn, 1983). In that study, I employed the
same microgenetic procedure as utilized by Kreitler and Kreitler (1984)
Microgenesis in the 21st century 247

(something borrowed). Briefly, each of a series of slides was projected

10 times in an increasing scale of exposure values (with presentation times
ranging between 50 and 100 msec). The subject was required to report any-
thing that he or she perceived, as fully as possible. Each of these subjects
was randomly allocated to one of 6 experimental conditions, including
concentrative meditation (with instructions adapted from Clark, 1972), re-
laxation (with instructions adapted from Benson, Kotch, Crassweller, &
Greenwood, 1977) and perceptual overload (see Glicksohn, 1992, for pro-
cedural details). The microgenetic procedure therefore served the impor-
tant goal of a means to elicit altered-state cognition (Glicksohn, 1993a,
1998) within the context of an ongoing, structured perceptual process.
Thus, as opposed to studies wherein the perceptual response is in effect a
judgment regarding the change in perception of some external object (e.g.,
Deikman, 1963/1972), here the change in perception could be noted with-
out the subject himself or herself necessarily being aware of any such
change due to the ability to compare reports to the actual stimuli.
Following is the report of one subject from the perceptual overload con-
dition, with respect to an achromatic slide depicting a girl pouring liquid
into a bottle. The numbers refer to the serial number (1-10 presentations)
of the verbal report:
1. The picture is all dark, and at the side is a small square of light.
3. As if something black, something like a cupboard in the
5. A picture in the middle a lot of things within.
6. In all of the white background in the middle is some picture in
light blue or something a type of square.
7. We have a picture of a child a picture in color of a child, wear-
ing a striped shirt I think. You see him up to the level of ... the
hands are holding the head. Straight hair, brown.
8. The same. A picture in colour of a child, with the head to the side,
and he's holding something. Maybe he's drinking something.
Similar types of report will be found in Smith and Carlsson (1987), for ex-
ample. The interesting thing here is immediately evident, when it is noted
that the slide presented was in black and white. In the subject's report,
there is a continual reference to colour in the slide (something blue). It
248 Joseph Glicksohn

would seem that the psychedelic effect entailed by perceptual overload

(Gottschalk, Haer, & Bates, 1972; Ludwig, 1972) extends to an enhance-
ment of colour perception given no objective colour in the slide!
An exploration of the microgenetic unfolding of cognition will inevitably
lead to the study of a dedifferentiated, syncretic mode of cognition,
wherein there is a fusion of thought, perception, feeling and imagination.
Indeed, it can be argued that Werner (1948) was specifically concerned
with what is now termed ASC phenomena (Barten & Franklin, 1978;
Glicksohn, 1993a). That the microgenetic technique cannot possibly iso-
late perception from thought is not necessarily a liability. As Franklin
(2000, p. 36) notes, Werner and Kaplan ... argued that experience is not
only cognitively ordered but given shape, realized, or fundamentally trans-
formed through processes of symbolizing. Furthermore, the paradigmatic
symbolic form or vehicle is not ready made but is constructed from sen-
suous possibilities within a medium, simultaneously and interactively with
the realization of meaning. I have termed this approach radical interac-
tionism. One can note a similar form of radical interactionism on con-
sidering the relationship between cognition and personality, within the mi-
crogenetic framework.



I would suggest that there are 3 different (and probably complementary)

approaches to the study of personality and cognition, within a microgenetic
framework. The more familiar one is that adopted by workers in the per-
ceptgenetic tradition, beginning with the landmark research of Kragh
(1955) and extending thereon over the past 50 years (Smith, 1990, 1999;
Smith & Westerlundh, 1980). The basic proposition here is that the fusion
of thought, perception, feeling and imagination underlying the P-phases of
microgenesis is also indicative of the participants personality, brought into
view (or, externalized) when viewing the procedure as being a projective
one. The participants verbal report of what he or she currently perceives
within the microgenetic sequence is therefore just as much an indication of
perception as it is of personality. If you like, given the syncretic nature of
Microgenesis in the 21st century 249

the P phases, the Wittgensteinian distinction between seeing and seeing

as (cf. Ricoeur, 1977) breaks down. Thus, a persons defenses can be op-
erationally defined in the verbal report, and a personality profile can
thereby be constructed.
It is perhaps an appropriate place to reflect on the validity of these verbal
reports. Whether or not the verbal report is inherently unreliable (Ericsson
& Simon, 1980; Nisbett & Wilson, 1977; Smith & Miller, 1978; White,
1980) depends on whether, by providing such a report, the subject is in
fact altering his or her ongoing cognitive functioning. From the analysis
provided by Ericsson and Simon (1980), and as implemented in protocol
analysis (Ericsson & Simon, 1984), the dangers here in providing an online
verbal report of a descriptive nature, as part and parcel of the microgenetic
procedure, seem to be minimal. I should further note that cognitive psy-
chologists having a Gestalt orientation will naturally propose such a re-
search methodology, in which the subject provides a verbal report while
engaged in an act of cognition (Wertheimer, 1959). Though this is particu-
larly in line with other research techniques that are a part of Gestalt phe-
nomenology (Pomerantz & Kubovy, 1981), "thinking aloud" is also advo-
cated by the information-processing model of problem-solving proposed
by Simon (Simon 1978; Ericsson & Simon, 1984), and in fact can serve as
a bridge between the two paradigms (something borrowed).
In addition to these issues, various other problems have been raised in
the past with respect to these verbal reports. Arieti (1962, p. 462) notes:
When we talk of stages of thinking it is almost impossible to separate
thinking from language, because it is almost exclusively through language
or concepts expressed verbally that we acquire a conceptual knowledge.
Similarly, Pollack and Chaplin (1962, p. 498) note that a methodological
problem with experimental studies employing a microgenetic procedure is
that most of these entail some form of verbal description: The work of
linguists such as Whorf suggests that the experimentalist must take note of
the classifying and organizing properties of his Ss linguistic code .... It has
been argued that the ready made classifications of the language in use de-
termine (in part) as well as direct, perceptual responses. Our own linguis-
tic code would tend, therefore, to bias responses in favor of organized
250 Joseph Glicksohn

wholes by virtue of forcing the Ss to identify the vague stimulus-pattern as

a member of some class of objects.
Of course, one rebuttal of these arguments would be to suggest that indi-
vidual differences in verbal report of ongoing subjective experience should
be expected, as personality and cognition are necessarily entwined. An-
other would be to suggest employing different modalities to capture the
subjective experience, or to re-represent or exteriorize the representation
(Glicksohn, 1994; Siegel, 1981). Thus, in discussing the perceptgenetic
technique, Smith (1990, p. 191), for example, stresses that the subjects are
asked to make schematic drawings after each presentation and to add ver-
bal descriptions.
A second approach to the study of the personality-cognition interface,
itself having a distinguished line of research over the past 50 years, is that
concerned with the notion of cognitive style. Smith (1990) himself draws
the historical parallel between perceptgenesis and cognitive style:
Many psychologists of the fifties looked forward to the day when the
soft field of personality could be fruitfully combined with the hard
methods of experimental psychology to create a new science of per-
ception-personality. Although these people might have been some-
what naive and unrealistic, the merger might have actually been pos-
sible if it was not for the resistance of psycho-phobic hardliners who
did not like personality research and wanted to direct the students at-
tention elsewhere. (p. 181)
Just as microgenetic techniques have evolved over the years, from tachis-
toscopic presentation (Kragh, 1955) to computerized variants (Smith &
Carlsson, 2000), so too has the assessment of cognitive style. In my lab,
we have developed both a computerized version of Witkin's Embedded
Figures Task (EFT), matching the figures of the original EFT (Witkin,
Oltman, Raskin, & Karp, 1971) in colour, shape and orientation, and a
computerized version of Witkin's Rod and Frame Task (RFT). In the lat-
ter, the subject views a luminous line appearing within a luminous outline-
frame on the screen (white on black background). The line is misaligned
from the vertical, as is the frame, and the subject's task is to align the line
with true vertical, irrespective of the orientation of the frame. This is ac-
complished by placing the cursor at the end of the line (using the mouse),
Microgenesis in the 21st century 251

clicking and dragging to the estimated vertical. This version of the RFT
was modeled on a number of studies in the literature (e.g., Goodenough,
Oltman, & Cox, 1987; Marendaz, Brenet, Ohlmann & Raphel, 1988). Note
that computerized versions of the tests add performance measures of a na-
ture familiar to the cognitive psychologist, thereby lending to a better un-
derstanding of individual differences in the personality-cognition interface
(something new).
That there should be an intrinsic relationship between the cognitive style
of field dependence-independence (FDI) and microgenesis is a point made
by Draguns (1991):
In fact, close parallels are discernible between the characteristics of
field dependent persons as described by Witkin et al. and the global
and undifferentiated mode of responding attributed to the holistic type
by Sander (...) As far as the detail-oriented or, possibly, the field-
independent person is concerned, his features, as expressed in the
course of microgenesis, were not discovered until somewhat later,
when the integrative type was described (...) These persons are capa-
ble of fitting components into supraordinate stimuli and, conversely,
can extract details from complex wholes. (p. 289)
Earlier (Draguns, 1984), he nevertheless notes his reservations:
Recent microgenetic research (...) highlights the difficulty of eliciting
diffuse whole responses at the beginning of microgenesis, even by the
classical techniques of tachistoscopically presenting the complete
stimulus. Individual differences come into play, perhaps akin to the
cognitive style of field dependence-field independence, although em-
pirical attempts to link established measures of this variable with
characteristic modes of microgenetic progression have, so far, failed
to yield conclusive results .... Apart from such enduring stylistic and
other personality variables, situationally determined sets, explicitly
communicated through experimental instructions or implicitly as-
sumed by the subject, undoubtedly come into play (...) Extricating
these three strands of stimulus, person, and task characteristics as they
steer the course of microgenesis toward the apprehension of the whole
or the accumulation of detail remains an important task for future mi-
crogenetic research. (p. 6)
252 Joseph Glicksohn

In any event, in the next few years we shall be looking in earnest at the re-
lationship between FDI and microgenesis. It is specially important to look
at individual differences not only by means of paper-and-pencil tests, but
also by using laboratory tasks.
The third approach, which is currently being looked at in my own lab, is
drawn from the following analogy: If you want to identify an extravert,
then you can either use a questionnaire (e.g., Glicksohn & Abulafia, 1998),
or else observe the person in action in a party situation; the extravert will
be the one enjoying himself in a circle of people, while the introvert will
most probably be the person sitting alone, in the corner. Thus, why not
look at individual differences within the microgenetic experiment itself
(something new). We are currently looking at the trait of impulsivity
(e.g., Barratt, 1993). How would an impulsive subject perform in a micro-
genetic study?
Take for example the Creative Functioning Test (CFT; Smith & Carls-
son, 2000), looking at the forward series (i.e., standard microgenetic series
of presentations). The impulsive subject will, by definition, make speedy
judgments. He or she might very well lock on to a particular referent early
on in the series, as a result of a hasty judgment process (quick, what is
it?), resulting in premature perceptual closure. As such, the described
percept might very well be primitive in the Wernerian sense. Alterna-
tively, the impulsive subject might very well be inconsistent in report,
shifting from one referent to another, with no apparent, lawful microge-
netic unfolding of one referent to another. Both alternatives would be eas-
ily detected, in a number of ways: (1) in the sequential analysis of the con-
tent of the verbal reports; (2) in the length of the reports; (3) in the time
taken to make the report (i.e., between end of presentation till start of re-
port); (4) in the relation of hypothesized to actual target. We are currently
investigating this promising avenue of research.


In comparison with the study of field dependence-independence, which

was once characterized (quite unfairly, to my mind) as a method with no
Microgenesis in the 21st century 253

theory (Zigler, 1963), microgenesis is a theory with a multitude of methods

(Draguns, 1991; Smith & Westerlundh, 1980). Indeed there is an excellent
match between theory and method (Draguns, 1984; Smith, 1990). But
such a marriage is not one without problems. As Flavell and Draguns
(1957) summarized a long time ago:
(...) the abstractness, looseness of logical structure, and general se-
mantic imprecision which characterizes (...) microgenetic theory may
be in part responsible for the ease with which it seems to subsume so
many diverse cognitive phenomena (...) Likewise, at the data level, it
must be apparent that the findings on the basis of which microgenetic
hypotheses have been constructed are by no means gilt-edged (...)
Similarly, there is no absolute proof that the sequence of percepts
found when the tachistoscopic method is used is a faithful reflection
of the natural process of percept development. (p. 212)
And as Draguns (1984) has stated more recently,
The second argument has given rise to a variety of thought-provoking
formulations (...) pointing to similarities and parallels between the
productions of schizophrenics, aphasics, and other functionally or or-
ganically incapacitated groups on the one hand and the responses dur-
ing microgenesis by psychiatrically unimpaired and normal people on
the other. But similarity is often in the eye of the beholder and is, in
any case, something other than identity. ( p. 13)
Yes, there are issues to be resolved. But as I have tried to show, one can
strive for both theoretical and research-oriented integration, by balancing
the old with the new, with the borrowed and (if your experimental set-up is
conducive) with the blue. To paraphrase Messick (1994, p. 133), those re-
searchers who study cognition apart from personality do so at their own
risk. The microgenetic and perceptgenetic research traditions are charac-
terized by an organismic-developmental and holistic orientation to research
and theory, wherein personality and thought, perception and feeling, and
cognition and consciousness are all interrelated, as they should be. Adher-
ence to such an orientation can both comfort and console those of us who
have been looking with dismay at the way the discipline around us has
been developing (or regressing) over the past 30 years.
254 Joseph Glicksohn


I would like to thank Chanita Goodblatt for her constructive comments.

Correspondence should be addressed to Joseph Glicksohn, Department of
Criminology, and The Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisci-
plinary Brain Research Center, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, 52100,
Israel. E-mail:


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Jason Brown

This paper describes an approach to character and authenticity from the

standpoint of microgenetic theory. Feeling and cognition actualize through
a process that originates in archaic brain formations and develops out-
ward through layered fields of object-formation, finally to the perception
of images in the world. Value is a mode of conceptual feeling that depends
on the dominant phase in this transition, which is a continuous sheet of
mentation from self to world. Desire is value in the intrapsychic portion,
interest is partly external and object worth is the exteriorization of value
as it deposits with (into) objects. The focus is on a subjective account of
value, moral feeling and the nature of authenticity.

I writhe in doubt over every line. I ask myself - is it right? - is it true? - do I feel it
so? - do I express all my feeling? And I ask it at every sentence - I perspire in in-
certitude over every word. ( Joseph Conrad)
Cognitivism is but one expression of a mode of thought that over the latter
half of this past century has had a profound impact on contemporary life
(Brown, 2001). The assumption of timeless, repeatable or self-identical ob-
jects exemplified by the concept of representations has had a power-
ful influence on the way we think about the significance of intrinsic rela-
tionality and the subjectivity of mental states. What is the nature of a thing
that makes it what it is, or what is the quality of difference that is decisive
for the individuation of things that are ostensibly identical? We see this
influence in the tension in Western culture between a relative homogeneity
of thought and a striking diversity of lifestyle, as if tattoos and nose-rings
could authenticate an individuality that has been threatened with absorp-
tion and loss. We see it in the triumph of immediate pleasure over sus-
tained engagement, or in the cult of celebrities who blend into a din of uni-
formity, with exaggerated importance given to the superficial marks of dis-
We see it, too, in aesthetics, in the debate as to what counts as an art-
work, or the boundaries that divide Real Art from popular or commercial
art, or found art. The emphasis on the formal properties of an artwork sac-
264 Jason Brown

rifices the latent (if any) content of the work to the drama of a momentary
impression. Or, the artwork is a melange of elements that does not exist
aesthetically unless it is vetted and disambiguated by experts. The puzzled
observer may be asked to contribute more to the interpretation of the work
than the artist, who may profess to not having any idea as to what the work
is about, its meaning or reference, and claim that it is an expression of feel-
ing, even if he is oblivious to what feeling is being expressed. In such in-
stances, even the feeling of the artwork has an external or objective
character. The problem of identity also appears in the distinction between a
copy and an original, or in the comparison of autographic and allographic
In an age of cloning, when human embryos can be implanted in the
uterus of a cow and grandmothers can deliver the babies of their sons and
daughters, we wonder what, after all, is a mother. Just as there is a rethink-
ing of what it means to be an artwork, we ask, what does it mean to be a
person. The question spills into the debates on human rights, and the rights
of animals, fetuses, the aged and the ill. What does it mean to be human?
Where does humanity begin, where does it end? The nature of identity be-
devils neuroscience and philosophy of mind. The so-called identity the-
ory reduces mind to brain by finessing the mind, discarding what is essen-
tial to personality. We have disputes over zombies and humans, computers
and brains, silicon chips and carbon molecules, which for many are debates
over whether consciousness and qualia are to be given privileged status in
the description of mental states.
These examples of uncertainty as to what a thing is, apart from its ap-
pearance and external relations, arise from the fact that objects have been
drained of their intrinsic quality, their history and context. A person, an
artwork, is stripped of temporality in order to isolate it as a scientific ob-
ject, that is, as an objective fact. Diverse entities are conflated on the basis
of similar content or output. For example, two minds having the same mo-
mentary propositional content are said to be in identical states. Or, equally
incomprehensible to me, it is claimed that different mental states can ac-
company the same physical state (Burge, 1993). The result is an indiffer-
ence to what is unique or telling about the mind/brain state: namely, the
potential behind the semblance of surface form and its transition to actual-
Actualization and causality 265

ity. In the field of value, this translates to the centrality of character in rela-
tion to its expression in conduct. This lost background, the real existence
and the historical individuality of the object, tends to be lost in the en-
chantment with the external relations of an artificially isolated object, its
causal role and evanescent contacts.
At the same time that analytic and computational philosophy and mo-
lecular biology have led to the conceptualization of man as a repertoire of
mental contents and outward behaviors, deconstructionism has had the re-
verse effect, diluting the autonomy of objects by nesting them in context.
Objects are, finally, replaced, or defined not by their intrinsic quality, but
by their contextual surround. The object itself is not conceived as rela-
tional, but rather as something embedded in a matrix of relations, still a
substantive dependent on the relations around it, a point of view, an opin-
ion. The result is that an object or a person is either a causal implementa-
tion of a set of natural or formal rules, or a virtual construction of a mani-
fold of perspectives. On the one hand, individuals are products that can be
replicated like carburetors with no value other than their utility; on the
other, the individual is what others take him to be, the sum of his acts and
the impressions they provoke.
The upshot is that the importance and the reality of the internal relations
of an object are ignored, eliminated or displaced, thus annihilating the very
process that is, ultimately, the existence and reality of the object. For sci-
ence, the real is what can be measured. For contextualism, the real is per-
spectival. We are even getting used to the idea that belief in the real is na-
ve and outmoded, or that there are equivalent levels or perspectives, each
of which is objectively real. Causal theory saps purpose from behavior and
displaces signification from individuals to actions in the world. Perspecti-
val theory turns the self into an image for others. We are left with a nexus
of causal relations or a phantom that eludes description. And we ask, still,
what is an individual?
All of these trends impact on the concept of the self and the nature of
value and moral responsibility. The disinterest in the interior or temporal
dynamic of objects and mental states has as its main symptom the loss of
self. The search for the true self is, as it was for romantic idealism begin-
ning with Fichte, the anxiety of our times. The frantic nature of this search
266 Jason Brown

is a reflection of the depth of the loss, which is also a loss of personal

meaning in everyday life, a death of subjectivity, and an impoverished
concept of man, one that is reinforced by a science that elevates objectivity
to a kind of religious faith. For its adherents we are the products of mental
software or the encodings of a fixed genome. An algorithm translates a
program or genetic script to a behavioral phenotype. Individuality is the
collection of entities in a functional system or network. Operations on rep-
resentations in this system are conceived as actions on solid entities in the
mind. The entire system is supported by a metaphysic of objects (or selves)
as aggregates, with a regress to atomic units that, in the case of minds, are
viewed as conceptual primitives assembled by rules into complex struc-
tures. Hartshorne (1987) noted the contrast of a Western metaphysic of
atomic entities and the individualism of selves that are identical over their
existence with a Buddhist metaphysic of incessant change. The result is
that entities, including minds and mental objects, are little more than links
in a causal chain, the effects of prior causes or the causes of future effects.
What they are in and for themselves is left unanswered.
The byproduct of this progress is a crisis of the spirit that I see as a
longing for a sense of the quality and uniqueness of each individual human
mind. This uniqueness is the inner soul-life of the individual, intrinsic feel-
ing, value and satisfaction, not only for the self but for others, and for all
the objects of nature. Objectivity is a disease of excessive rationality. The
cure would be a psychology, not of surface contacts, but of subjectivity
and interioricity, not only for the human mind, but for non-cognitive enti-
ties as well. I am not advocating a return to animism, rather, a process mo-
nism that aligns the patterns elaborating the human mind with those under-
lying the objects of nature [Brown, 1996]. Process monism is an antidote
to the uncoupling of mind and brain, and the pluralities of current psychol-
ogy. It is also a way of thinking that redirects speculation on physical and
psychic causation to potentiality and actuality, a shift from causes to con-
straints, from outcomes to histories, from prediction to retrospection, from
publicity to privacy, and from fact to feeling. This fundamental shift in
thinking is essential for a theory of intrinsic value, and the redemption of
authenticity as the signal mark of character.
Actualization and causality 267


Causation is a theory that governs object interaction. Cognitive psychology

seeks to be scientific, and thus postulates interaction among logical solids
in the mind, or in the brain. The concept of mental representations as stable
entities acted on by processes is central to this postulate. It motivates the
demarcations of mental objects and the methodology that reinforces these
demarcations. Cognitivists look for the relations between representations
and assume that lesions are interruptions between representations, the so-
called dissociability hypothesis, or the encapsulation of modular theory.
Since the interactions between representations are studied independent of
their physical substrates, the theory assumes psychic causation (on or be-
tween representations), with physical causation dragged in secondarily.
The assumption in cognitive psychology of psychic causation from one
mental object to another, e.g. the inputs and outputs of components in flow
diagrams, supposes physical causation. Philosophers tend to have more
confidence in the causal efficacy of neural properties than in the efficacy of
intentional or other psychic properties, but if the mental is eliminated,
identified with or reduced to the physical, as is generally assumed, psychic
causation is non-problematic; it is identical with physical causation. If, on
the other hand, the mental is caused by the physical or is distinct from the
physical, it tends to be treated as an epiphenomenal dangler.
Dewey wrote that the source of the duality of mind and body was the
shift to explanations based on causality from those of potential and actual-
ity. In process theory, the mind/brain state is a single complex object. Rep-
resentations or symptoms are the fleeting actualities of process, not mental
things that interact. Mental contents are finalities that contain their mo-
mentary histories, not causal objects that project on future effects. The
continuum from potential to actual within a single mind/brain state is the
direction of its internal relatedness. Change involves relations constituting
the object, not its interaction with other objects. The c and e of causal the-
ory are not demarcated in relational theory.
Further, a causal transaction occurs over time the time to go from c to e
while an actualization creates a whole unit of the objects temporal exis-
tence. There is no chain of cause and effect, but a continuous wave-like
268 Jason Brown

transition. Mental events or contents in the mental state deposit and are re-
placed, they do not cause other events to occur. Objects are reinstated by
change, in a transition from potential to actual that recurs. Whiteheads
metaphysic is constructed on this basis. The replaced state is the ground
(?cause) over which the replacing state is deposited (?effect). Each state
unfolds over the immediately preceding one. Is the replacement causal if
the constraints of the just-prior state delimit the immediately ensuing one?
Are constraints causes? Hume was uncertain. Does a chair or a particle
cause itself to recur each moment? The causal persistence of objects has
been largely ignored, since objects are considered to be self-identical over
time. Russell [1948] noted this fact, and made a distinction between causal
persistence and causal interaction. He wrote, Owing to the fact that the
persistence of things is taken for granted and regarded as involving identity
of substance, this form of causation has not been recognized as what it is.
In the relational change of process theory, all change is a kind of object
persistence, i.e. the outcome of constraints on the iterated specification of
novel form. In contrast, the mental objects of cognitive psychology change
by way of an interaction that conforms to the model of ordinary billiard-
ball causation.
A transition from potential to actual traverses subjective phases in the
process leading to a perceptual object and its infrastructure in the personal-
ity. The variety of methods that have been used to probe this hidden under-
surface demonstrate that the experiential content of a perceptual object is,
in the ordinary sense, pre-perceptual. That is, the feeling, meaning and rec-
ognition of an object are not attached to things out there in the world after
they are perceived, in a second-pass process that follows perception, but
are phases ingredient in the same process through which the perception oc-
To most psychologists, this statement would appear so radical and
wrong-headed as to be hardly worth refuting. Moreover, the approach un-
dermines the realism, consensual validation and objectivity of a descriptive
science of the mind. It is much simpler to interpret the psychic contribu-
tion to object perception as an addition to physical nature. Yet the tradi-
tional model of objects as assemblies of sensory bits linked to feeling and
meaning, associated to memories for recognition and interpretation and
Actualization and causality 269

then projected back into the world where we see them, though at first blush
appealing to common sense, is so implausible that one is mystified by its
universal acceptance. What is more astonishing is the prevailing indiffer-
ence to anatomical and psychological evidence that runs counter to what
has been standard theory for over a century. This evidence not only in-
cludes percept-genetic and subliminal perception research [Smith, 2001],
but cytoarchitectonic findings, blindsight, masking, priming, some studies
on commissurotomy cases, gestalt psychology and clinical work on micro-
genesis. That these studies have had a limited impact on theory and ex-
perimentation in psychology reflects the latters intolerance of alternative
modes of explanation and the hegemonic influence of mass presupposi-
tions in the search for scientific truth.


These studies indicate a transition in the process of perception from a

phase of potential to a final actuality. What more precisely is meant by
these terms? Actualities are the concrete particulars that populate con-
sciousness and the perceptual field. Everything we are aware of is already a
particular, even those concepts that are vague and still-forming in our con-
sciousness. A mood, a feeling, an inclination, are perhaps not yet particu-
lars, but once the content is settled, even if it is unresolved, its actualiza-
tion is complete. With full consciousness of, say, a disposition, the vague-
ness of the content points to an incompletely realized object. The potential
behind this object has not fully individuated, but the fact that one is con-
scious of the object indicates that other domains of cognition, linguistic or
perceptual, have fully specified as conveyers of that conscious state. A
disparity between a fully articulated perception that generates an object
world and an incompletely specified mental content is necessary for one to
have awareness of the unspecified content. If that content represents or is
coherent with the terminus of the entire state, there is an indefinite content
but not consciousness of the indefiniteness, as in sleep, dream, psychosis
and other altered states.
An actuality is but one of many possible realizations of an antecedent po-
tential. The actuality is also but one among innumerable other actualities
270 Jason Brown

that articulate the same perception. Even though it actualizes an object

space, a potential can give rise to other worlds that never actualize or are
never conceived, for lack of imagination or an absence of external con-
straints. Yet a potentiality does not have the potential to become anything
one can conceive of, even if every conception is itself an actuality, for all
possible actualities are not latent in every potential. The human mind does
not have the potential to become the mind of a dog, and a given human
mind can only become what character and personality permit. From the
earliest stages of life, endowment and experience limit opportunity. I may
think of killing someone or composing a quartet, but having those concep-
tions is not enough to realize the state they refer to. Whether or not there is
a potential murderer lurking inside me, there is certainly no Beethoven.
A potential is the immediate past of a particular that, once actualized, be-
comes a past actuality. I do not believe that a prior actuality constitutes a
portion of the potential for an ensuing actualization, though the prior actu-
alization the entire process from potential to actual serves as a ground
or constraint for the next one. Actualities perish forever; they do not reap-
pear hidden in another potential. Put differently, the actuality perishes and
is not absorbed as, say, an eternal object, for the next round of actualiza-
tion. The only past that matters causally is that of the just-prior state. This
does not mean each state is restricted to the content of the just-prior state
plus novelty in its change. The potential in the just prior state can call up
other categories for actualization, whether freely created or invented, say,
through metaphoric extension, or categories of knowledge or memories of
distant events that are evoked by their relation to deeper unconscious con-
structs in the state. Nor is the deep structure of a potential emptied in a
multiplicity of actualities, even if the routes of renewed actualization be-
come habitual. Actualities are what they are not by virtue of having de-
pleted their potential, nor are they unconscious copies in miniature. They
arise through the shaping effects of constraints on their own actualization.
The constraints are provided by intrinsic patterns of derivation, i.e. sculpt-
ing effects on endogenous process, along with the effects on this process of
sensory information coming from a world in constant change.
The point is, actualities are not resultants or ingredients, but segments
that objectify a continuum of becoming, which extends from a core of po-
Actualization and causality 271

tential to the objects of reality. We describe actualities at the expense of

their becoming, even as they perish in our description, and we describe po-
tential as what is left over after what can be specified is exhausted, but po-
tential, because it is devoid of content, is more difficult to grasp. Potential
cannot be described in terms of the definiteness that is its aim, nor the in-
definiteness that is its warrant, yet because there are limits on what issues
from a potential, it is neither homogeneous nor undifferentiated.


Consider the problem of potentiality from the standpoint of the arousal of a

word or object in the mind. There is great difficulty in describing the
meaning of a word prior to the attainment of a phonological shape, or in
describing an object-concept prior to its individuation as an image in the
mind or an object in the world. A word is specified out of a background
field. What is the nature of the meaning of a word, say chair, before the
word is conscious, that is, before the phonological structure of the word is
available to specify its antecedent meaning? What is the nature of an object
concept before it objectifies in a perception? Theories based on computer
analogies hold that copies of the object or word are stored in memory and
retrieved to consciousness. Such theories assume that the word is a com-
pound of elements, and itself is an element in a network of related words
and objects, all copies of whatever surfaces into awareness. The theory is
easy to work with, because it treats the fundamental units of thought as
atomic units that are identical in conscious and unconscious mentation.
The shift from unconscious to conscious thought involves a re-assembly or
a reconstitution of self-identical elements. These elements survive as indi-
viduals, or they are combined into representations. In psychoanalytic the-
ory, perceptual traces are presumed to be identical to memory images. An
unconscious idea or drive-representation is not altered in its journey to
consciousness. The difference between conscious and unconscious cogni-
tion owes to drive-based mechanisms such as displacement, sublimation or
In my opinion, the final word or object is deposited through a qualitative
transformation from depth to surface. In this transform, the anticipatory
272 Jason Brown

lexical- or object-concept is not identical to the final word or object. The

pre-object fails to achieve the same degree of referential or denotational
specificity. It arises out of syncretic, magical and metaphorical thought,
and develops toward referential adequacy. We can infer the occurrence of
preliminary or pre-processing phases of magical thinking from a variety
of sources. However, if we examine the lexical or perceptual meaning that
comes up just prior to the realization of the word or object chair, we find
that this meaning includes other possible derivations, say other pieces of
furniture, or experientially-related objects that are called up in the act of
perceiving. The preliminary meaning casts a wider semantic or conceptual
net. How, then, is the meaning of a pre-object to be characterized? What
language can be used to describe this meaning other than by way of its
phonological or perceptual features, even if, at the phase of the pre-lexical
or pre-object concept, these features are not yet available?
We know that antecedent configurations occur because they deposit pre-
maturely as the symptoms of brain damage. Once the final object material-
izes whatever it is, a symptom-fragment, a normal or pathological mental
content or behavior we are more or less conscious of its meaning. The
objectification specifies this meaning. Without this specification, we have
an object-category or an experiential field of meaning-relations without a
final object. The anticipatory category or field, which in ordinary cognition
is an earlier phase in the specification process, would then, even in its dif-
fusion or overlap of categories, be the actuality that deposits. If the object
category is close to the object, what is prior to the object category? What is
prior to that? At least with the object or lexical category we have some idea
of what the meaning is. The meaning is whatever is virtual or possible in
that category once it has been delimited from still wider fields of antece-
dent meaning.
The concept of potential refers to this fuzzy background out of which all
particulars individuate. Phases in individuation can be identified by recon-
structing the sequence and pattern of actualization from its pathological
moments. These buried phases are not the deep representations on which
operations are presumed to act. Rather, they are normally transformed to a
subsequent phase. They are transitions, not states, unless they deposit as
the symptoms of pathology, at which moment they become actualities.
Actualization and causality 273

There are no actual representations. Symptoms (representations) are not

elements ingredient in the final object, but fleeting signposts that indicate
the direction and the pattern of the phase-transition through which the final
object has passed. What deposits are eddies in a stream, mental froth, brief
existents that never again recur. If the actualization is a continuous wave,
as I believe it to be, an infinitude of possible representations, i.e. symp-
toms, could actualize. The nature of those representations would depend
on the moment in the becoming that incurs the major impact of the pathol-
ogy, as well as the constraints that are applied to the process over the spec-
trum of its change, and especially at the precise moment of pathological
disruption (Brown & Pachalska 2003).
The background of any particular is not to be conceived as a field from
which one element is selected. The field is prior to the element, and the
element does not exist until it individuates or specifies the field. The rela-
tion of figure to field is not that of a portion to a larger ground. The figure
individuates the field as it resolves. In the transition from potential to ac-
tual, the past is imported to the present and made real. A central feature of
the process is the re-enactment of the past as it delivers objects into the
present. Every object is grounded in the actual present, which it deposits,
and the immediate past, which it inherits. If the transition from potential to
actual were viewed as an outcome of operations on multiple representa-
tions, the outcome would be the final construction of its antecedents, de-
prived of pastness, conceptuality, feeling and belongingness. This immedi-
ate legacy of potential is what makes an object authentic. The path that
leads from potential to actual is not a trail of abandoned stages. The entire
trajectory is ingredient in the final object as the experiential memory and
conceptual feeling out of which the object materializes. The process of
fact-creation from felt-meaning is the source of value, in the artist or the
individual, in an artwork or in conduct. This is an agenda for a legitimate
psychology of the future, one that is sensitive to the complexity and the
dynamic of evolutionary brain process, and can provide an account of the
temporal structure of inner and outer objects, conceptual feeling, value and
the iterated becoming of the human mind.
274 Jason Brown


The object in perception, as well as the final action, utterance and idea, are
endpoints of a phase-transition that contains all of the potential
choices and their resolutions en route to that endpoint. The persistence of
preliminary phases in the final object owes to the temporal unity of the tra-
versal. By this I mean that antecedent phases in an act of cognition are not
historical events in relation to occurrent ones, but are imminent in the pre-
sent content. This presentness of the immediate past in the final actuality
gives the richness of experience, the meaning and feeling to passing events
at each moment. The final object in a transition of phases does not just sur-
vive a sequence of alternative paths to become what it is: at each phase, a
pre-object configuration moves closer to possibility. The transition from
potential to actual is continuous. Every phase except the final one, and
perhaps even that, has a potential for another transformation. In this proc-
ess, drive-based conceptual primitives distribute into conceptual feelings
affects, object-concepts and meaning content which then deliver the im-
ages, acts and words of conscious experience as the process actualizes into
object form, motility and lexical morphology.
Acts and percepts consist of this complex layering. Sensation limits the
object-development to produce a conceptual model of the physical world.
Actions lack the external constraints of sensation, and therefore depend
inter alia on perceptual monitoring by recurrent collaterals and configural
biases at each phase to drive the action forward. These biases determine the
distribution of the action in the axial and distal musculature, whether con-
duct will be restrained or impulsive, emotive or rational, selfish or compas-
sionate, pragmatic or reflective. Every perception, every thought and action
incorporates the world of its occasion. The individual creates an object
world for his enjoyment, as the outer world of sensation and the inner
world of habit limit what actions and objects are to be enjoyed. It may
seem odd to say that perception is creative, in view of its repetition and
stability. After all, we perceive what is out there. A person might vividly
imagine that he is living on Mars, but unless he is psychotic or hallucinat-
ing he perceives the Earth as it is. Yet imagination is the foundation out of
which the perception of reality develops. Within every perception there
Actualization and causality 275

is a buried system of dreamwork and magical and paralogical modes of



We perceive a world that seems indifferent to our perceptions. But the

outer world of perception, like the inner world of imagination, is an en-
dogenous, intrinsic creation. The individual creates the world he perceives.
Thus, every person has some responsibility for the world he creates, as for
his actions in that world, I mean the psychic content of his objects, not
their surface form, which is sculpted by sensation to model what is physi-
cally out there and shared among observers. A portion of this content
deposits in the subject, a portion in the object, though subject and object
are continuous in the mind/brain state. We feel this continuity, for exam-
ple, as a thread of valuation linking the object to the mind. The perceptual
world is infused with signification, categories, realness. There are no non-
cognitive perceptual objects, as there are no value-free facts. Process the-
ory attempts to describe the becoming of the world, which is the world of
value. Cognitive neuroscience, as with all branches of science, concerns
the world that has become, which is the world of fact. One can dismiss
values as social conventions or attempt to reduce them to facts, or one can
argue, as Dewey and others have, that facts are irreducible values, but the
challenge to anyone who wishes to unify science and psychology is to
bridge the gap between fact and value.
Royce (1901) wrote that our acknowledgement of facts is a conscious
submission to an Ought (p. 41), in that facts are other than what is con-
sciously presented to us, and they appear foreign to our will. This links
facts as exteriorized values to values that have exteriorized as oughts. The
exteriorized fact is an objectified value that has been verified by consen-
sus, has detached and become independent of the self, and seems to force
itself on the person. This is the same path that is followed by the ought.
The valuation in the fact is less apparent than in the ought because the fact
is less prescriptive, serving as a reason or justification for a decision, not a
motivation. The fact is more fully conscious and external, the ought has
one limb in the unconscious, one in the world.
276 Jason Brown

The objects of thought, like the thoughts they are, also think up the self
as their subjective phase. In this process of thinking and perceiving, the
self and its private space are antecedent to the minds creation of the world.
Since the world sets limits on the actualization process, the self is as much
a creation of the world, i.e. the constraints of sensation, as the latter is a
creation of the self, i.e. a perceptual realization. To have a self is to have
objects to perceive. From pathological cases we know that the world does
not survive an erosion of the self, nor does the self survive a loss of its ob-
jects. The preliminary locus of the self, and the intermediate locus of ideas
and images in the course of the actualization, implies that the character and
personality of the subject are at stake in every thought, gesture and object.
We all see the same objects, but we see them differently; some we notice
and care about, others we ignore or dislike. These are not the responses of
the subject to a neutral object, but are subjective precursors in a transition
from character to fact in the striving of the mind toward objectification.
Every forming object conveys its subjective phase into the perception even
as it exteriorizes a space that is independent of the viewer.
This background of subjectivity emphatic at antecedent phases, inap-
parent in the object provides coherence and continuity to the mental life.
The constructs out of which objects, thoughts and actions develop con-
ceptual primitives, along with animal beliefs and experiential memories
are what we mean by the core self, or character, which is the thematic in
personality or the mean of its fluctuations. We cannot see a mans charac-
ter, but we judge it by his pattern of behavior. An examined life may de-
termine which of the values that went into ones character are least deserv-
ing of credit or blame, but the sum, the average or the limits of their ex-
pression, constitutes a kind of dispositional matrix of the self that reflects
its value distribution. Core values are biases in the self that are the precur-
sors of preobject-concepts and conscious valuations.
Admittedly, it is far from clear how we are to describe an unconscious
value in the self-concept other than as a configural bias arising in a genera-
tive set of neurons that specifies the drive-representations or presupposi-
tions that will guide ensuing concepts and feelings. The actions that flow
from the core self, as well as conscious valuations, are always in flux ac-
cording to the conditions of life and the needs of the actor, but the values
Actualization and causality 277

that drive those actions are constitutional and slow to change. Consider the
dictator of Togo, who originally threw his enemies to the crocodiles, but
later, in a concession to modernity, tossed them out of helicopters!



Character is the source of the conscious contents of our mind, but not their
cause. The relation of character to action is that of potential to actual, not
cause and effect. The action individuates through a qualitative sequence
that is constrained by the elimination of maladaptive possibilities. Charac-
ter does not cause or produce a behavior, no more than the root of a flower
causes the petals, but it is ingredient as an anticipatory phase in a dynamic
structure. An action is a sign of character, not its product, as a thought is
not the output of a thinker but a kind of signature of his feelings and intel-


When interpreted from the standpoint of potential and actual, which is the
path of self-realization, the transition from character to conduct, from the
core self to its acts and objects, can be seen to correspond with the transi-
tion from the creative unconscious to an artwork, and a life can be viewed
as an aesthetic object. The generation of an artwork over many attempts is
a concentrated sampling in the recurrence of behavior out of personality. In
behavior, as in art, the fragmentary or piecemeal does not convey authen-
ticity and power. When an act is partial or deficient, it barely taps the po-
tential of what might have been a greater life or a greater work. This is the
difference between an ordinary and a creative personality, or a mediocre
and an inspired work of art. As in morality, the creative arises as a recon-
ciliation of self and other, as the conventions of tradition are molded by
what is distinctive in personality. Over the lifespan, there is, to a varying
degree, a satisfaction of the wholeness that, ideally, should have energized
every act. The self-measure of a strong character is its completeness of ac-
278 Jason Brown

tualization, as ideas give rise to performance. This is a passage from depth

to surface, not a comparison across multiple actualities, i.e. between two
existing acts or objects, say, a comparison of two different opinions or
works of art, which is a comparison between two dead fish on a plate.
If behavior is the outcome of a one-way actualization from the uncon-
scious, should the unconscious rather than the conscious self be the subject
of praise and blame? Who or what agent is responsible for an action? How
this question is resolved depends on a theory of (psychic) causation.
Dewey wrote that the ordinary conception of causation as a trait be-
longing to some one thing is the idea of responsibility read backward. For
Dewey, the theory of object causation was reinserted in the mind as the
idea of moral responsibility. A causal role is assigned to some entity the
self, reason, the imagination and this entity is then deemed to be respon-
sible for the ensuing effect. I have a thought and write it down; I want a
sandwich, and go to the delicatessen; I imagine my sweetheart, and pick up
the telephone. In such cases, the thought, the desire, the image or the self
that purportedly causes them is presumed to cause the behavior that fol-
lows. This concept of causation presumes a number of psychic entities that
interact, including the self and its mental or physical effects. The idea that
some one thing is the cause of an occurrence is an extension to cognition
of a theory of physical causation, and an application to the self of the idea
of credit and blame.
The sense of agency for many of our thoughts, and the feeling that one
deliberates as one thinks, or manipulates an idea or thought image,
makes the self feel an instigator of its own acts and mental objects. How-
ever, in the production of an artwork, the artist is viewed more as creator
than agent. We say, Beethoven composed the Eroica, not that he caused it
to be composed. The progression is from possibility to fact, or potential to
actual, rather than from cause to effect. Creative people often feel that they
are passive vehicles to their art, which seems to pass through them to the
world. Creativity is not an exceptional mode of thinking but a model for
everyday thought. Gudmund Smith (2001) has demonstrated that creative
thinking involves an emphasis, perhaps a prolongation or a neoteny, of
preliminary phases in ordinary cognition. The sense of agency is less pro-
nounced because the creative idea calls on meaning-laden or dream-like
Actualization and causality 279

images that retain features of preliminary cognition. One could say, the
feeling of passivity for a creative idea is a mark of its imaginative depth.
The feeling that thoughts are unsolicited, especially those with creative
force, recalls the passivity of the self to the content of a dream or halluci-
nation. Again, the sense of agency is linked to the phase of actualization of
the thought, which differs for waking and dreaming, or habitual and crea-
tive thinking. The strength of the feeling of agency is a symptom of the
depth of the thought, not a result of the effort applied by the subject to the
thought-content, and should not be taken as psychological evidence for
agent-causation. The sense of agency for thoughts and actions differs from
the feeling of passivity to perceptual objects, including many forms of
mental imagery. Some perceptual images have a volitional quality, such as
imagination and eidetic images. The incidental quality of agentive and pas-
sive feeling, i.e. the observation that the feeling of agency which accompa-
nies the thought points to the dominant phase in its development, is dem-
onstrated by instances in which the subject is uncertain as to whether he is
an agent or recipient of his own thought content, e.g. in trance, psychosis
and other states of altered consciousness.
In process theory, acts and agents are realized and revived. The antece-
dent does not cause the consequent, but is transformed into it in a qualita-
tive series of whole-part shifts. The seed becomes the flower, it does not
cause it. The child does not cause an adult but becomes one. An early seg-
ment of process becomes a later segment, not by intrinsic causal links, but
through the gradual change in replications and the constraints on emergent
form. The feeling of agent causation that underwrites responsibility is a
powerful but necessary deception, explicable in terms of the microstructure
of the mind/brain state. The feeling of agency probably develops when a
child reaches for something. My son, Ilya, at five months old, mimicked
his mother as he rotated his arms and hands during a French nursery song.
In the evening, alone in bed, he would look intently at each arm and hand
as he separately rotated them; then, he did the same with his feet, which
were not part of learning the song. I mentioned this observation to Jerry
Bruner one evening at our home and asked, had I witnessed the birth of a
volition? Jerry was skeptical. Perhaps he was not conversant with, or sym-
280 Jason Brown

pathetic to, the works of Guyau, who said that the reach of a child for an
object is the nucleus of the idea of the future, and of causation.
I think the sense of agency is more closely related to causal persistence
and replacement than object causation. The experience of object causation
is not internalized as psychic causation but, rather, the process is the re-
verse. The feeling that the self is the present cause of bodily and other ef-
fects in the immediate future arises in the continuity over replications of
successive mind/brain states. This feeling of psychic causation is then re-
ferred outward as a theory of object causation. As in the example above,
the feeling of the child that he can move his limbs at will, or touch or
seize an external object or compute the position and grasp an object in mo-
tion is the basis on which object causation and serial time develop out of
the acausality and timelessness of magical thinking.


A variety of approaches have documented the conflictual bases of ordinary

cognition. Conflict is inevitable since every entity is a contrast. The critical
importance of conflict is probably the major contribution to psychology of
psychoanalytic theory, but the description of conflict in terms of cathexis
misses the point that conflict is not a matter of energy flow, or the interac-
tion of ideas and feelings; rather, in the form of contrast, dialectic or indi-
viduation, it is a pervasive and intrinsic feature at all phases in the cogni-
tive process, whether in the evolutionary struggle of pre-human organisms
or in the specification of phonological features and object form in language
and perception.
In ordinary discourse, conflict is most prominent as guilt, stress or uncer-
tainty when a path taken or denied is inauthentic and the self is divided.
One way of interpreting such conflict is that other-centered values, which
lack a proper share in the self, are rejected in favor of self-interest, with
conflict arising from that unrealized sector of the self representing the re-
jected other. Or, other-centered values may predominate, and self-interest
will be compromised. The self feels cowardly, ashamed, suppressed, the
other becomes a target of anger. However, the source of the conflict is not
in the actions of the other, but in the selfs own object-concepts, the affec-
Actualization and causality 281

tive tonality of which is below the threshold of consciousness. We assume

that in every choice the unconscious self allocates conceptual feeling so as
to maximize pleasure and avoid pain, but decisions are often made that are
self-destructive, or lead to personal anguish, even death, as in altruistic
sacrifice. It is not simply a matter of pleasure and pain, but the dispropor-
tionate strength of opposing valuations.
Once an object surfaces, in acts or in statements, unconscious conflict
transforms to conscious choice, leaving behind an intrapsychic residue of
stress. What exactly is conflict? Do two separate ideas collide with each
other? Is stress a result of this collision, like friction? A build-up of en-
ergy? Stress and anxiety have generally been interpreted in terms of en-
ergy, cathexis and conflict. There is perhaps some truth in this idea, but it
needs a more precise formulation. I think conflict involves a disparity in
the degree of realization by the complex value derivations of action and
object formation. All mental contents ideas, acts, perceptual objects
individuate the self-concept, i.e. specify antecedent conceptual feelings
(values). Other-centered values originate in the process of perceptual reali-
zation as conceptual feeling accompanies the object-development outward
into external space. The perceptual realization generates a feeling of pas-
sivity and receptiveness that is essential to a deference to others. In con-
trast, self-centered values originate in the action-development and dis-
charge in bodily space. The action development is the implementation of
will, and generates a feeling of agency that is essential to self-preservation
and egoistic action. In sum, perception is linked to the realization of the
other, action is the mode of self-realization. Of course, these are not
sharply demarcated, rather they are biases established early in life and de-
rived from evolutionary trends in animal cognition. Yet they determine the
relative locus and emphasis of other and self-directed feeling, as the self-
concept is articulated by value. Feeling that flows into objects deposits the
other; feeling that flows into action remains within the body. Perception is
bound up with object meaning and signification, action with flight, fight
and survival.
As to the phenomenon of stress itself, if we think of affect as the proces-
sual aspect of an object-concept, and if we think of the conceptual aspect
of the object as a category that encloses the affect as process and thing,
282 Jason Brown

or the quality and quantity of the same entity conflict can be interpreted
as a reflection of the degree to which a given object-concept actualizes its
prefigurative potential, or as a sign of the feeling that is residual in undis-
charged object-concepts. The contrast of an anxious life with one that is
integrated reflects the completeness with which conceptual feeling is real-
ized, in objects and in the part-acts of behavior. Frustration, stress, guilt,
are affective residues of conceptual feelings that fail to achieve adequate
realization over repeated trials; they are symptoms of an incomplete resolu-
tion of the dialectic of self and other, in other words, signs of moral dis-
These stresses are not necessarily undesirable. Conflict is the engine of
adaptation, and to many theorists an essential factor in moral decision.
Moreover, it is difficult to imagine a life free of guilt or regret, though in
retrospect, painful choices are often forgotten, and reason serves to justify
errors of judgment, whether honest or inconsiderate, and to excuse foolish
decisions, the outcomes of which could not have been foreseen. The cul-
tural influences on this process are not insignificant. For an egocentric and
forward-looking society, such as present-day America, guilt tends to be
perceived as a tether on freedom and self-expression, i.e. a trauma to be
overcome, not a sign of moral decay or an incitement to growth and salva-
For conflict to play a constructive role in the psychic life, it must be a
topic for reflection and re-enactment, in other words, decisions need to be
recalled and replayed in the imagination. If, as has been claimed, conduct
is 90% of life, and morality is the life of deeds, not thoughts, the 10% that
is unexposed, the world of privacy, imagination, doubt, misgivings, the
world that I inhabit, is often the intenser part of many lives. The act is less
alive in the world, where it dies, than in the mind, where it is rehearsed,
anticipated, and then re-lived in memory after it has perished. We may ad-
mire the man of action, but contemplation, expectation and revival are of-
ten the most vivid, lived experiences of the act. Bradley wrote, The
breadth of my life is not measured by the multitudes of my pursuits, nor
the space I take up amongst other men, but by the fullness of the whole life
which I know as mine. The fullness is not just the subjective complement
of an act, it is an interior vision of wholeness, a unity of will and conduct, a
Actualization and causality 283

vigilant passivity to the call of the other, a resolution of desire and obli-
gation, of thought and its realization, and the continuation of the will of the
individual into family, community and nation.


Authenticity is bound up with coherence and a unity of feeling and pur-

pose. We can say that coherence is anterior to and dependent on unity, but
not identical to it. Coherence is related to synchronic timing or phase cou-
pling. Individuals are not unified by an assembly or concretion of parts, but
in the relation of the parts to the deeper ground from which they coherently
arise. The whole is not in the parts, nor the parts in the whole. Rather, the
whole is antecedent to the parts, which are not individuals until they objec-
tify. The parts realize some portion of the whole, but they are not copies of
its contents. There is a similarity to items in a category, which are mere
possibilities until their individuation makes the content and direction ex-
plicit. The perfect coherence of two individualities marks their access to a
common stem. Unity is not in the synchrony of one thing with another, but
diachronic in the things specified. Individuality and unity are compatible,
if we concede that individuality is not pure autonomy, and unity is not pure
On this view, unity is not external to the things unified. But if the unity is
strictly internal, how do separate things come into union? The difficulty is
in the question, which arises from the notion of separate things, and the
idea of an external unifying relation. Instead, the unity exists prior to the
things unified, the things arising through qualitative transitions. A syn-
chronic binding is a form of coherence but not a true unity, which lies in
the diachronic becoming of things out of a common epicenter. Ultimately,
the unity of the world is the binding of objects in consciousness, the coher-
ence of concurrent lines of development, and the growth of the world out
of the self in the momentary history of all individualities.
In the relation of whole to part, the partaking of the whole is the source
of its unity, while the recognition that all particulars issue from the same
core overcomes the appearance of their separateness. The relation of poten-
tial to actual in a single mind is imported into the transition from character
284 Jason Brown

to conduct. Authenticity is the measure of this relation. It refers to the full-

ness of character that individuates a given thought or action, the consis-
tency in the realization of ones core beliefs and values, and the coherence
of potential paths of actualization at each phase in the process. The fullness
must also tap a depth of origination of the part-acts constituting the behav-
ior, as they are expressed in each actuality, and over successive occasions,
since some facet of character is revealed in every momentary act, as well as
in the collective experience of an individual life. Authenticity is not an ex-
trinsic judgment, as with right and wrong, where there is adherence to
some convention, or deviance from a standard or rule. It is, for better or
worse, self-realization in conduct.
The coherence on which authenticity depends mirrors the sufficiency of
resolution of competing tendencies at successive points in the phase transi-
tion. This begins with implicit beliefs and core values and is repeated at
each phase as the action develops. A conflicted self may be inauthentic if
there is a reluctant compromise, or when behavior is driven by one of a set
of competing values. A failure in self-expression, or an unwillingness to
defer to the needs of others, may give embarrassment, guilt, shame or the
feeling of self-betrayal. These feelings are induced by an action that is not
true to oneself, whatever the true self is apprehended to be. In such
instances, character is incompletely realized in conduct, or conduct is
dominated by a lesser (less acceptable to the subject) value. Such occasions
are common and unavoidable, for example, whether to please oneself or a
companion, to choose a path of safety or risk, and all the little acts of a life.
There are choices where values of equal goodness come into conflict, for
example, the ability to aid only one of several people, the choice of saving
the life of a mother or a child, acts of apparent altruism that can be decom-
posed to unconscious motivations.
It could be argued that every act of cognition, regardless of the degree of
conflict or coherence, is authentic in that it discharges the self such as it is,
warts and all, given the conditions that prevail, i.e. that conflict is no less
authentic a depiction of character than coherence. Indeed, conflict may
even be essential to moral decision, for the individual unaware of the pos-
sibility of conflict is hardly in a position to make a moral judgment. Yet
the impulse in life, and the mark of an authentic person is, or should be, a
Actualization and causality 285

concordance in the mix of values that drive his behavior. Such a person,
we say, is at peace with himself. The coherence is a felt experience of
comfort in decision; its danger is complacency. Conflict is the felt experi-
ence of choice; its danger is anxiety or stress. In either case, self-esteem is
at stake.
Self-esteem is value as worth emphatic in the self rather than in an ob-
ject. The value that deposits in the self does not leave the self and then, re-
flexively, return to fill the self as it fills other objects; rather, the self is
filled with its own value prior to the derivation of this value into ideas and
external objects. Self-esteem is a state of the self, not the infusion of value
into the self as a secondary phenomenon. The self is not like other objects,
even in reflection. The self in reflection is superficial to the core self that
drives the content of the introspective state. The generative self is uncon-
scious. The other side of self-esteem is the denial of ones shortcomings.
Denial is so common in normal and, especially, pathological states, that it
has to be considered an essential feature of the selfs own derivations, with
those values retained that promote self-esteem, and those subdued that
threaten the sense of integrity.
As objects become worthless when their valuation is diminished, the self
lacks esteem when it does not receive an adequate share of its own self-
valuation, i.e. when self- and other-centered values are discordant. Unlike
the self, however, objects are not the locus of conflict. Objects realize po-
tential, or specify options. They are endpoints in the mind/brain state, not
occasions of intrinsic choice in the subject, where possibility is still alive.
The manifold of potential selves within a person contrasts with the finality
of his objects. We are looking at the subjective and objective segments of
the mind/brain state that correspond to phases closer to potential or actual-
A weakness of will (akrasia) is not a sign of a weakness of character or
fragility of will, but of a conflict in values that implodes on the will that
seeks to mobilize them. The weakness is the inertia resulting from the op-
position of equal and contradictory forces. When values concur, the will is
forceful. A weakness of self-valuation, like a diminution of object worth,
may lead the individual to feel unworthy, or to feel his objects are worth-
less. This reflects a prominence of values that do not serve self-interest,
286 Jason Brown

and depends on the bias to other-directed or egocentric values. What mat-

ters, finally, is the selfs own self-assessment. One asks, have I been faith-
ful to my principles, which could mean, have I been immoral to my limits
or do my values reflect a basic decency; that is, have I fulfilled my own
expectations? In each act, and in all acts over a lifetime, the self attempts to
exhaust its potential in such a way as to reveal its full nature. Hopefully,
the self will undergo growth in valuation so as to progress to greater com-
prehensiveness, charity and goodness of character. Completeness and co-
herence may not be exhibited in every, or any act of cognition, but they are
the goals toward which one should strive, and authentic goodness is their
desired outcome.
Goodness is desirable, and genuine goodness is a mark of authenticity,
but authenticity is not a matter of good or bad; both can be equally authen-
tic. Paton (1927) argued that coherence is a sign of wholeness or unity, that
to be good is to be coherently willed (and that).. that self or will is co-
herent and good which wills the momentary action as part of an all-
inclusive whole of coherent willing, and in willing the part, wills the
whole. I could hardly agree more with the spirit of this statement. The
whole self should be announced in every part-act, which in turn partakes of
the whole from which it devolved. Yet I would not want, as Paton is prone
to do, to conflate drive and volition in will, nor separate will (as drive)
from feeling, and I would qualify the identification of coherence with
goodness. Coherence is desirable because the whole self is expressed in
conduct. This avoids conflict and so increases pleasure. Yet coherence es-
tablishes, or is a sign of, the wholeness or the authenticity of the act inde-
pendent of whether it is good or bad, for the act can be pleasurable even if,
as in a person who fully enjoys sadistic torture, it is authentically evil.
To take up these points in further detail, microgenetic theory claims that
will (as drive) develops to desire, i.e. drive is derived from the primal will,
and the desires are derived from the drives, so that pleasure is ultimately
derived from the satisfaction of urges that are drive-based. The satiation of
instinct, the satisfaction of drive, the enjoyment of pleasure, reflect a con-
tinuum in the specification of conceptual feeling and the objects into which
it distributes. From the standpoint of the individual, pleasure is a self-
indulgent good. More often than not, the pleasure of one person entails
Actualization and causality 287

pain or deprivation for another. If the good is more than mere enjoyment, it
must be a good that is good for others. The fusion of good with pleasure
substitutes a moral judgment for a drive satisfaction. When good and bad
are conceived as judgments applied to conduct, either by others or by a ra-
tional self, they stand in relation to drive as truth does to reason. A coher-
ence theory of value entails a coherence theory of truth, just as a corre-
spondence theory of truth entails a good that appeals to an abstract stan-
dard or ideal. Paton seems to accept this distinction when he writes that
reflection or critical judgment follows on the activity which creates the
With regard to the interpretation of will as volition or agency, clinical
studies have shown that the volitional feeling in an act depends on that
phase in its structure which is the focus of emphasis in the normal fluctua-
tion of consciousness, or it points to that phase in an act of cognition that
receives the major brunt of a pathology. Barring coercion, and from an en-
dogenous or subjective standpoint, whether an act appears or feels volun-
tary, purposeful, automatic or passive, or whether the self feels an agent or
a victim, is a function of the microstructure of the act. Volition does not
reflect a stronger or weaker will that is imposed on an action, or an impulse
of the self that propels that action; the self does not cause a volition which
then causes an action. Agency is not an output of a self that stands behind
an action and urges it forward; rather, the feeling of volition is created as a
kind of byproduct of act- and object- realization.


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Kiessling, M. 173, 186 Leverett, J. P. 94, 108
Kilborn, K. M. 164 Levi, L. 202, 219
Kimchi, R. 243, 258 Levin, P. 94, 109
Kinder, B. N. 94, 108 Levit, D. B. 122, 124
Kinsbourne, M. 244-45, 255 Liberman, D. 179, 187
Kitney, R. I. 145, 162 Lieberman, H. J. 37, 46
Klecka, W. R. 209, 218 Lilja, . 16, 20, 35, 42, 56, 62
Klein, D. J. 144, 161 Lin, L. 110
Klein, G. S. 13, 20, 168-69, 171, 185-187, 191- Lindgren, M. 16, 20
92, 199 Linschoten, J. 29, 38, 46
Kline, A. 223, 236 Linton, H. 169, 185
Kline, P. 32, 45, 58, 61 Liotti, G. 181, 187
Klug, F. 157, 163 Lubart, T. I. 223, 230, 237-38
Koffka, K. 246, 257 Ludwig, A. M. 242, 248, 258
Kohut, H. 13, 59, 61 Lundh, L-G. 139-40
Komaroff, A. L. 78, 89
Koslowsky, M. 92, 108 Macaulay, R. J. 164
Kotch, J. B. 247, 255 MacGregor, M. W. 104, 108
Kragh, U.4, 8, 20, 23-24, 26, 29, 31, 33-34, 38- MacLeod, C. 157, 163, 165
40, 46, 49, 51-52, 57-58, 61-62, 65-71, 74- Madsen, K. B. 32, 41, 46
76, 79, 89, 94, 109, 116, 124, 177, 182, 187, Madwed, J. B. 161
218, 244, 246, 248, 250, 258, 298 Magnusson, D. 203, 214, 219
Krasniasnski, A. 92, 109 Maldavsky, D. 179, 187
Kreitler, H. 38, 46, 246, 258 Malik, M. 161
Kreitler, S. 38, 46, 246, 258 Mandel, F. S. 111

Manifold, V. 111 Nilsson, A. 9, 13, 20, 34, 39, 47, 57, 62, 163,
Marden, B. 157, 163 216
Marendaz, C. 251, 258 Nira, K. 201, 219
Marlowe, D. 128, 130, 140 Nisbett, R. E. 249, 258-59, 261
Martignoni, M. 199 Norton, W. A. 123, 185, 224, 237
Martin, J. L. 93, 110 Nyman, E. 12, 21, 191, 200
Martin, M. 157, 163 Nyman, G. E. 129, 141, 171, 189, 202, 206,
Martindale, C. 223, 237 220
Maslow, A. H. 223, 237
Massagli, M. P. 110 Offer, D. 114, 122, 125
Masson, A. 138, 140 Ohlmann, T. 251, 258
Mathews, A. 157, 163, 165 hman, A. 146, 156, 160, 163-64
Matsumoto, D. 122, 124 jehagen, A. 33, 139, 140
McAdams, D. P. 215, 219 Okaue, M. 201, 219
McCraty, R. 158, 163 Olff, M. 94, 110, 123, 125, 177, 180, 187
McFarlane, A. 111 Oltman, P. K. 250, 257, 261
McGlashan, T. H. 111 Orange, D. M. 78, 89
McInerney, S. C. 165 Orlans, V. 220
McInnes, K. 110 Ouvinen-Birgerstam, P. 226, 237
McNally, R. J. 157, 164 Ozolins, A. R. 32, 34, 42, 47, 177, 180, 187
McNaughton,N. 158, 162
McWilliams, N. 87, 89 Pachalska, M. 273, 288
Merleau-Ponty, M. 70, 76 Pacteau, C. 230, 237
Messick, S. 253, 258 Palmer, S. E. 243, 258-59
Meyer-de-Stadelhofen, F. 141 Palomba, D. 146, 164
Michael, W.B. 201, 217 Parkhurst, H. B. 222, 224, 237
Middleton, G. 223, 236 Paton, H. 286-88
Miller, F. D. 249, 259 Pelcovitz, D. 111
Miller, T. W. 92, 109 Penayo, U. 9, 21, 35, 49, 82, 90, 94, 111
Mini, A., 164 Perry, G. G. 104, 108
Mischel, W. 179, 187, 215, 219 Perry, J. C. 110, 123-24, 180, 182, 187
Mogg, K. 157, 163 Persson, B. 32, 42
Mollica, R. F. 92, 95-97, 107, 109-10 Petrenko, V. F. 30, 38, 47
Monahan, J. L. 146, 163 Petrides, K. V. 137, 140
Moran, J. D. 224, 238 Pezzarossa, B, 59, 62, 188, 193, 199
Morgan, M. K. 108 Pham, T. 109-10
Morphy, M.A. 174, 185 Pickering, A. D. 213, 219
Morris, E. 93, 110 Plutchik, R. 177, 184
Moss Kanter, R. 214, 219 Pollack, R. H. 225, 249, 258
Munz, D. 37, 43 Pomerantz, J. R. 242, 249, 258
Murphy, E. 110 Pomeranz, B. 145, 164
Murphy, S. T. 146, 156, 163 Poole, C. 110
Porges, S. W. 161
Nagaraja, H. N. 161 Postman, L. 28, 42
Nakamura, M. 201, 219 Pratto,F. 159, 161
Nakatani, K. 243, 258 Prinz, W. 41, 47, 162
Neisser, U. 244, 258
Nemeroff, C. 41, 43 Quigley, K. S. 145, 161
Neuman, F. 4, 127
Neuman, T. 34, 47 Rafanelli, C. 174, 185
Newman, L. S. 128, 140 Rapagna, S. O. 224, 237
Rapaport, D. 12, 20
Raphel, C. 251, 258

Raskin, E. 250, 261 Schub, W. 199

Rauch, S. L. 165 Schulkin, J. 158, 164
Regnell, G. 34, 44 Schulz, T. 243, 259
Rein, G. 158, 163 Schwartz, G. E. 127, 138, 141
Reinhardt, R. 201, 219 Schwarz, N. 159, 165
Rejskind, G. F. 224, 237 Schweiger, E. 165
Reynolds, R. I. 237, 243, 259 Sears, R. R. 176, 188
Richmond, B. O. 224, 237 Sekuler, A. B. 243, 259
Ricoeur, P. 249, 259 Shannon, D. C. 161, 164
Riemann, B. C. 164 Sharpe, M. 78, 89
Riggs, D. S. 92, 108 Sherer, K. R. 164
Risberg, J. 16, 19-20, 206, 217, 230, 236, 243, Shipley, P. 220
255 Shoda, Y. 215, 219
Robertson, L. C. 245, 258-59 Siegel, A. W. 250, 259
Robinson, M. D. 159-60, 164 Siegler, R. S. 244, 259
Romans, S. E. 93, 104, 110 Sifneos, P. E. 139, 140
Rosen, J. B. 158, 164 Sigal, J. J. 93, 108
Rosenheck, R. 108 Silfverskild, P. 16, 20
Rosser-Hogan, R. 96, 107 Simon, H. A. 163, 249, 256, 259, 288
Rossier, J. 138, 141 Singer, J. L. 177, 180, 188
Roth, S. 111 Singh, M. 93, 107
Rothbart, M. K. 213-14, 219 Siracusano, A. 34, 47, 133, 188, 191, 298
Royce, J. 275, 288 Sjbck, H. 13, 21, 31, 42, 47, 59, 62, 177,
Rubino, I. A. 4, 12, 21, 33, 47, 58, 59, 62, 171, 179, 188
173, 188, 191, 193, 199-200, 202, 206, 220, Sjstrm, M. 80, 90
298 Sloan, P. 94, 110
Rudmin, F. W. 130, 140 Smith Fawsi, M. C. 97, 110
Rudolf, G. 175, 186 Smith, C. A. 159, 164
Russell, B. 268, 288 Smith, D. E. 223, 238
Ryan, A. 109 Smith, E. R. 249, 260
Ryhammar, L. 13, 19-20, 208, 214, 219, 220, Smith, G. J. W. 1, 3, 5, 7-10, 12, 15-16, 19-21,
222, 235, 237 23-27, 29, 32-33, 35, 37, 39-50, 56-57, 61-
63, 65, 70, 76, 94, 97, 110-11, 114, 122-23,
Salley, R. D. 94, 110 127, 129, 131, 137-41, 149, 164-65, 171,
San Martino, L. 199 174, 177, 180, 183-84, 186-88, 191-92, 199-
Sander, F. 25, 27, 29, 35, 47, 53, 62, 244, 251, 02, 204-09, 214, 216, 219-22, 224, 226, 229,
259 235-38, 242, 244, 246, 248-50, 252-53, 255,
Sarajlic, I. 110 257-60, 269, 278, 288, 298
Sarajlic, N. 110 Smith, M. 208, 216
Sarlo, M. 164 Snidman, N. C. 161
Saul, J. P. 161 Soares, J. J. 146, 156, 160, 163-64
Saya, A. 62 Sderberg, S. 79, 90
Sayers, B. M. 145, 162 Sonnby-Borgstrm, M. 146-47, 156, 162
Schachter, D. L. 15, 20 Southwick, S. 108
Schacterle, R.S. 78, 89 Spence, D. P. 169, 185, 245, 260
Schafer, R. 177, 188 Spence, E. L 144, 165
Schimek, J. 170, 187 Spencer-Bowdage, S. 137, 140
Schlesinger, H. J. 168, 188 Spielberger, C. D. 130, 141, 148, 164
Schmidt Pedersen, S. 93, 104, 110 Stadler, M. A. 17, 21
Schmitt, L. 93, 107, 149 Stegagno, L. 164
Schneider, U. 35, 45 Steinbach, I. 244, 256
Schoon, I. 206, 219 Steinhauer, S. R 146, 162

Stern, W. 29, 49 Vojvoda, D. 111

Sternberg, R. J. 48, 167, 188, 217, 223, 230, Volkov, V. N. 30, 42
238 Vrana, S. R. 144, 16465
Sternberg, S. 245, 260
Stillion, J. M. 223, 238 Wachtel, P. L. 171, 189
Stolorow, R. D. 78, 87, 89 Waehler, C. A. 114, 122, 125
Stone, P. H. 161 Wapner, S. 242, 254, 260
Straus, S. 78, 89 Warner, B. A. 93, 107
Strauss, M. E. 146, 162 Watkins, A. D. 158, 163
Sundbom, E. 5, 9, 21, 34-35, 49, 77, 79, 80-82, Watson, C. G. 92, 111
85, 87, 89-91, 94, 97, 108-11, 113-16, 118, Watson, D. 213, 217
123-25, 174, 298 Watts, F. N. 157, 162, 165
Svensson, B. 9, 13, 20-21, 34, 49, 59, 62 Weinberger, D. A. 127-29, 138, 141
Swanson, G. S. 94, 104, 111 Weine, S. M. 92, 96, 111
Sztulman, H. 93, 107 Weiss, K. E. 123, 125
Wendt, P. E. 16, 19, 206, 217, 230, 236, 243,
Taggart, P. 146, 162 255
Tatsouka, M. 201, 217 Werner, H. 4, 25, 33, 50, 52, 63, 242, 244-46,
Taylor, J. 138, 220, 245, 254, 260 248, 255-56, 260
Tegano, D. W. 223-24, 238 Wertheimer, M. 217, 249, 260
Teiling, P. A. 94, 110 Westby, E. L. 224, 238
Tempereau, C. E. 213, 220 Westerlundh, B. 13, 21, 31-33, 49, 52, 56, 59,
Terjestam, Y. 33, 50, 52, 63 62-63, 94, 111, 164, 216, 244, 246, 248,
Teubner-Berg, H. 186 253, 260
Theorell, T. 202, 218 Whalen, P. J. 156, 165
Thurstone, L. L. 206, 220 White, P. 59, 249, 261
Tiller, W. A. 158, 163 Wiemers, M. 186
Tolaas, J. 242, 260 Wiggins, J. S. 12, 21
Tomkins, S. S. 143, 164 Williams, J. M. 165
Tor, S. 109, 298 Williams, R. M. 157, 163
Trestad, B. 203, 219 Wilson, T. D. 109, 249, 258-59, 260
Torrance, E. P. 222, 224, 229-30, 238 Winkielman, P. 159, 165
Tozzi, F. 4, 191, 298 Winsch, D. L. 108
Trskman-Bendz, L. 44 Witkin, H. A. 169-70, 189, 250-51, 261
Truong, T. 109 Wittling, W. 146, 165
Trygg, L. 9, 21, 34, 49, 59, 62 Wold, S. 80, 90
Workman, E. A. 223, 238
Ubel, F. A. 161 Wyke, M. 244, 254
Uddenberg, G. 208, 216
Uhlarik, J. 243, 260 Yang, T. 109
Ursin, H. 110, 123, 125, 177, 187 Yau, C. 223, 238

Vaernes, R. J. 34, 49 Zaback, T. P. 114, 122, 125

Vaillant, G. E. 31, 39, 49, 129, 141, 177, 180- Zachrisson, A. 4, 65, 72, 74, 76, 298
81, 188-89 Zachrisson, H. D. 72, 76
Valsiner, J. 243, 245, 260 Zajonc, R. B. 38, 50, 146, 156, 159, 163, 165,
Van der Kolk, B. A. 92, 111 244, 261
van der Meer, G. 139, 141 Zanna, V. 199
van der Molen, M. W. 161 Zenasni, F. 230, 237
Varvin, S. 93, 106, 111 Zhirmunskaya, E. A. 30, 42
Vasilenko, S. V. 30, 38, 47 Zigler, E. 253, 261
Velmans, M. 245, 260 Zimmermann, G. 139, 142
Vipper, K. 243, 254

Core self 276-77, 285
A C-phase 72-73, 75
Activity Questionnaire 226-27, 231, 233, 235, Creative flexibility 205-06, 212, 214
298 Creative fluency 137, 205, 212, 221
Affective responses 91, 99, 101, 103-04, 106 Creative functioning test (CFT) 5, 11, 27, 35,
Akrasia 285 56, 201-02, 204, 214, 221, 226, 232, 237,
Altered consciousness 279 252, 260
Amauroscopic 11, 13, 21, 31, 62 Creativity 5, 19, 23, 26-27, 35, 45, 48, 123,
Anorexia nervosa 193-194 137-41, 183, 201-39, 255, 260, 277-78
Antecedent configurations 272
Anxiety 14-16, 18, 20, 24, 26, 32-33, 44, 48,
50, 57-60, 62, 75, 86, 88, 91-92, 99, 101, Deconstructionism 265
103, 127-28, 130-37, 139, 141, 143, 147-49, Defence Mechanism Test (DMT) 8, 13, 21, 49,
151-54, 157-64, 168, 171, 177, 179, 182, 61-62, 123
186, 206, 216, 220, 265, 281, 285 Defence Mechanism Inventory (DMI) 177, 182
Associationism 1, 14 Defence Mechanism Rating Scale (DMRS)
Authenticity 263, 266, 277, 283-84, 286 180
Automatization 8, 29, 48 Defence Mechanism Technique, modified
Autonomic nervous system 145 (DMTm) 9, 11, 13
Defence mechanisms 13, 17, 26, 28-29, 31-32,
B 39, 41, 43-45, 75, 93, 95, 110, 114, 117,
Biological perspective 15 122-23, 127-28, 131, 137, 141, 167-88
Blocking defense style 87, 91, 99-100, 103, Denial 55, 83, 88, 101, 106, 129, 170, 285
106 Distorting defence style 88, 99-100, 106
Borderline personalities 34 Dream questionnaire 130
Brainstormers 233-34 Dreams 29, 59, 127-28, 130-31, 134, 136, 204,
Bulimia nervosa 193-194 211-12, 226, 257, 259
Buddhist metaphysics 266


Character 8-9, 34, 59, 263-66, 270, 275-77, Eating disorders 34, 44
283-86 Evolutionary brain process 273
Chronic fatigue syndrome 5, 77-79, 80-90 External constraints 270, 274
Cognitive styles, 33, 45, 167-71, 175-76, 183, Extraversion 5, 201-20
186, 188
Cognitivism 17, 263
Coherence 276, 283-87 Field dependence 169-72, 251-52, 257
Conflict 13, 21, 37, 42, 46-47, 50, 62, 74, 138, Field independence 169, 171, 251
149, 168, 177-178, 182, 186, 191, 199, 280- Free association 33, 40, 52, 171-72
82, 284-86 Frustration 56, 214-15, 282
Conformists 232
Constrictive-flexible ego control 169 G
Construction 7, 10, 12, 15, 21, 24, 28, 40, 48, Gender differences 39, 113-15, 121-24, 221,
65, 67, 69, 72, 88, 265, 273 224-25, 227, 235, 237
Continuity 18, 27, 69, 275-76, 280
Conversion disorder 34, 49, 77, 79, 81-82, 84-
88, 90, 110, 125

H Process-oriented methods 11
Projective tests 27-28, 114, 177
Harvard Trauma Questionnaire 91-92, 95-96,
Psychic causation 266-67, 278, 280
102, 107, 109
Psychoanalysis 2-3, 7, 12-15, 17, 19, 50, 52,
Heart rate 143-45, 147, 149, 154, 158, 161-64
54, 111, 176-77, 179, 185, 187, 243, 297
I Psychosomatic diseases 92, 139
Psychotherapy 4, 61, 90, 105-06, 110-11, 125,
Identification Test (IT) 11, 27, 40, 56 167, 173-83, 185, 187
Immature defense mechanisms 127 Psychoticism 173, 223
Intelligence 173, 236, 277
Introjection 100, 117, 119, 170, 172 R
Introversion 5, 202, 207, 209, 211, 218, 223
Radical interactionism 248
Isolation 33-34, 51, 57-59, 101, 117-18, 132-
Reaction formation 26, 56, 83, 101-03, 119,
33, 137-38, 170, 172-73, 179, 181
123, 172-73
L Reconstruction 15, 19-20, 41, 54, 65, 67, 69,
218, 237
Leveling-sharpening 168-69, 171 Regional Cerebral Blood Flow 37
Regression 11, 59-60, 93, 121, 132-33, 138,
M 171, 199, 207, 245
Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale Repression 2, 26, 33-34, 51, 57-59, 62, 100,
128, 130, 140 127, 132-33, 135-38, 170, 172, 181, 186,
Medium Creative Flexibility 212, 214 188, 271
Meta-Contrast Technique (MCT) 4, 9, 11, 21, Repressor 4, 34, 127-41
23, 26, 44, 49, 129, 141, 143, 149 Rorschach 28, 53, 61, 94, 104, 108-11, 139,
Metaphoric thinking 242, 272 170, 188
Microgenesis 2, 19-20, 24-25, 30-31, 33, 35,
37-38, 40-45, 52, 186, 241-61, 269 S
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity77, 79, 81, 84-89 Self-actualization person 269-70
Self-esteem 78, 114, 127-28, 238, 285
N Self-image inventory 5, 221, 226
Negation 55, 83, 101-03 Sensitivity-projection 114
Neoteny 278 Serial Color-Word Test (S-CWT) 4, 11, 21,
Neuroticism 173, 208, 223 169, 171, 173, 183, 191-200, 206
Spielberger State and Trait Anxiety Inventory
P 130, 148
Spiral Aftereffect Technique (SAT) Stress
Parallelistic hypothesis 52 control 5, 11, 207, 210-13, 216
Partial least squares (PLS) 36, 80, 97, 113, Stabilization 29, 31, 48
115-116 Standing wave 12, 18
Patterns of adaptation (in the Serial Color- Subliminal perception 16-17, 19, 37, 40, 43,
Word Test) 188, 191, 206 269
Perceptgenetic Object Relations Test (PORT) Suicidal ideation 174
11, 13, 40 Suicidal individuals 34
Personality inventories 27, 123 Sympathovagal balance 4, 143, 145-47, 150,
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 91-93, 160
96-98, 102-04, 108, 111 Syncretic mode of cognition 241, 248
Potential to Actual 267-68, 270, 273-74, 277-
78, 283 T
P-phases 52-53, 59-60, 66, 246, 248
Preattentive processing 146 Test of Flight Phobia 26, 40
Presentness of the immediate past 274 The self 28, 31-32, 55, 61, 91-93, 102-03, 209,
Process monism 266 228, 234-35, 265-66, 275-81, 283-87

Torrance Test of Creative Thinking 222 Visual afterimages 10

Transference 175
Witkin's Rod-and-Frame Task 250
Unusual Uses Test 222, 225-27, 229-33, 238
Zero-phases 11
Visionaries 232-34

Amnr, Gunnilla, Ph.D., senior advisor, Learning and Teaching Development Centre,
Lund University, Sweden
Brown, Jason W., Ph. D., professor, Medical Faculty, New York University, 952 Fifth
Ave, New York NY, 10021 USA.
Carlsson, Ingegerd, Ph.D., professor, Dept. of Psychology, PO Box 213, SE-22100,
Lund, Sweden
Draguns, Juris G., Ph.D., professor, Dept of Psychology, Penn. State Universiy, 417
Bruce Moore Bld, University Park PA, 16802 USA.
Fransson, Per, Ph.D., assoc. professor, Dept. of Psychology, Ume University, 90187
Ume, Sweden.
Glicksohn, Jospeh, Ph.D., assoc. professor, Dept. of Criminology and the Multidicipli-
nary Brain Research Center, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, 52100 Israel.
Henningsson, Mikael, Ph.D., assoc. professor, Dept.of Psychology, Ume University,
90187 Ume, Sweden.
Hentschel, Uwe, Ph.D., professor, Department of Psychology, Leiden University, Was-
senaarseweg 52, RB2300, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Hoff, Eva, Ph.D., lecturer, Malm College, Hjlmaregatan 1, 20506 Malm, Sweden.
Jnsson, Peter, Ph.D., lecturer, Dept. of Psychology, Lund University, PO Box 213,
22100 Lund, Sweden.
Kivling-Bodn, Gunilla, Ph.D., deceased
Kragh, Ulf, Ph.D., deceased
Neuman, Fredrik, B.A., Dept. of Psychology, Lund University, PO Box 213, 22100
Lund, Sweden.
Rubino, I. Alex, Ph.D., professor, Dept of Psychiatry, Tor Vergata University, Rome,
Siracusano, Alberto, M.D., Chairman, Dept. of Psychiatry, Tor Vergata Univesity,
Rome, Italy
Smith, Gudmund J.W., Ph.D., professor, Dept. of Psychology, PO Box 213, 22100
Lund, Sweden.
Sundbom, Elisabet, Ph.D., professor, Dept. of Clinical Sciences, Ume Univesity,
90187 Ume, Sweden.
Tozzi, Federica, Ph.D., Psychiatrist, Dept. of Psychiatry, Tor Vergata University,
Rome. Italy.
Zachrisson, Anders, Psychoanalyst, Professor Dals Gate, 0353 Oslo, Norway.
Process Thought
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