Depressive defenses on the Rorschach Inkblot Test
Exner's Comprehensive System of Rorschach scoring includes a Depression Index (DEPI) that is designed to detect depression by analysis of variables that are hypothesized to be associated with depression. The DEPI has received poor reviews by critics for its limited diagnostic efficacy and Exner reports that it has a 25% false negative rate. This dissertation posits that there is a specific, remediable flaw in the DEPI: it does not reflect common defenses against dysphoric affect, an essential component of the depressive experience. Therefore, individuals who are defending against depression may go undetected on the DEPI. A coding manual was developed to identify Rorschach responses that contain denial-based defenses commonly found in depression. Denial responses are hypothesized to reflect a defense against depression that succeeds, at least momentarily. Negated Denial responses are hypothesized to reflect a less successful defense against depression. Participants were grouped based on endorsement of symptoms of depression on the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) or depressive diagnoses on diagnostic testing reports. It was hypothesized that depressed individuals who are not detected by the existing DEPI variables—False Negatives—were defending against depression with some success and, therefore, would have elevated production of Denial and Negated Denial responses on the Rorschach. However, False Negative participants did not produce significantly more Denial, Negated Denial and total Denial and Negated Denial responses than True Positives, True Negatives and False Positives. A trend of significance showed that True Positives produced more Negated Denial responses than True Negatives. Supplementary analyses may help to explain the DEPI's shortcoming in detecting depression.
0632: Psychological tests