Self-criticism and dependency: Dimensions of depression in adolescents

Catherine Gilmartin Morrison, Pace University


The study of depression has important implications in its relationship to suicide, which has increased by 300% over the past 30 years (NIMH, 1986) among adolescents. Even when depression does not result in suicide, it usually results in impaired social, emotional, and cognitive functioning. This study focused on two dimensions of depression, dependency and self criticism, in a sample (N = 204) of putatively normal 14 to 19 year olds. There were 90 male and 114 female participants. Loevinger's Washington University Sentence Completion Test was used to measure level of ego development. Blatt's Depressive Experiences Questionnaire was used to measure the two dimensions of self criticism and dependency in depression and to classify subjects as anaclitic, introjective, mixed depressed style, and nondepressed. A central theoretical concern was whether anaclitic depression is characterized by lower levels of ego development than introjective depression as has been theorized. Anaclitic depression is characterized by feelings of helplessness and dependency. Introjective depression is characterized by feelings of self criticism. It was hypothesized that depressive type and gender would interact to significantly influence level of ego development. This hypothesis was confirmed, F (3,196) = 2.87, p $<$.05 Post hoc analyses revealed that introjective male subjects were below the conformist level of ego development, and scored significantly lower on level of ego development than the nondepressed males and females, who were above the conformist level of development. No differences on ego development were found between the four depressive types among females. Introjective subjects were not at a higher developmental level than were anaclitic subjects. The meaning of these findings seems complicated by a broad range of influences from cultural and social factors to the underlying theoretical models and properties of the surveys used in this study. It was further hypothesized that females were more likely to be classified as anaclitic, while males were more likely to be classified as introjective. This hypothesis was also confirmed, Chi square (3) = 20.21, p $<$.001. There seems to be validity to the idea of anaclitic and introjective depressive experiences among adolescents.

Subject Area

Personality|Developmental psychology|Psychotherapy

Recommended Citation

Morrison, Catherine Gilmartin, "Self-criticism and dependency: Dimensions of depression in adolescents" (1990). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9034641.



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