Developmental Processes and Psychopathology: Separation-Individuation and Ego Development

Kathryn DeRoss, Pace University


Literature dating back to the 1920's has linked the developmental processes of separation-individuation and ego development with each other as well as with psychopathology. The current study explored the relationship between ego development, as measured by Loevinger's (1996) Sentence Completion Test, and sell-representations as measured by Hart and Ward's (1991) Profile of Adolescent Depression and Individuation (PADI). In addition, this study investigated the relationship between self-representations and psychopathology, as measured by the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) (Morey, 1991). Gender differences were also investigated to determine if differences occurred between males and females in analysis of the relationship between separation-individuation and psychopathology. One hundred and ninety individuals completed questionnaires assessing self-representations relevant to the separation-individuation process, level of ego development and psychopathology including suicidal ideation, anxiety related disorders, depression, aggression, borderline features, drug problems and alcohol problems. Due to the lack of variability across ego development levels, no significant results were found in the relationship between ego development and separation-individuation. Self-representations related to ruptures in the separation-individuation process were associated with varying psychopathologies. These findings suggest that individuals who successfully navigate the separation-individuation process are able to call upon internalized resources in times of stress and as a result are able to avoid or minimize psychological symptoms and maladaptive ways of coping.

Subject Area

Psychobiology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

DeRoss, Kathryn, "Developmental Processes and Psychopathology: Separation-Individuation and Ego Development" (2011). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3486039.



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