Emotional intelligence and sociotropy-autonomy in young women with DSM-IV-TR hypochondriasis: a mixed-method study
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AuthorsPapis, Karol Grzegorz
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractDSM-IV-TR classifies hypochondriasis as a complex somatoform disorder, characterised by physical complaints for which no organic cause could be identified. DSM-5 replaced it with two new diagnostic terms: somatic symptoms disorder and illness anxiety disorder. The distinction was based on the presence or absence of somatic symptoms, and concerns have been raised with regards to the validity of these new diagnostic concepts. While there has recently been an increase in recognising the role of the underlying anxiety in this condition, the psychological needs of individuals with hypochondriasis remain unclear. It is conceivable that specific emotional and interpersonal dimensions play a mediating role in the onset of hypochondriacal presentations, and have explanatory power with regards to the improvement of tailored therapeutic interventions. The present study used a mixed methodology, with an emphasis on the qualitative component, to investigate emotions and the interpersonal aspects of hypochondriasis. Six young adult females meeting the diagnostic criteria for both DSM-IV-TR hypochondriasis and DSM-5 illness anxiety disorder formed a clinical group for the present study. Semi-structured interviews were administered and analysed in line with the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Four major themes emerged from the qualitative data: 1) Early life experience; 2) Inward focus; 3) Learned helplessness; and 4) Experience of psychological therapy. Eight subordinate themes were identified: (i) Unmet emotional needs; (ii) Emotional isolation; (iii) There is something wrong with me; (iv) Emotional reasoning; (v) Self-fulfilling prophecy; (vi) External locus of control; (vii) Over-reliance on other people; and (viii) The experience of psychological therapy. Fifty-one female undergraduate psychology students formed a matched comparison group for the study and enabled a supplementary quantitative analysis to be conducted. The quantitative measures included measures of trait (TEIQue-SF) and ability emotional intelligence (MSCEIT) as well as a measure of sociotropy-autonomy (SAS). The quantitative data showed that the clinical group scored significantly lower than the comparison group on the measures of trait emotional intelligence, understanding emotions, and autonomy. Additionally, the clinical group scored significantly higher than the comparison group on the measure of sociotropy. The theoretical and therapeutic recommendations are discussed in light of the limitations of the present study. In conclusion, emotional and interpersonal aspects of DSM-IV-TR Hypochondriasis and DSM-5 illness anxiety disorder in young women provide a useful framework for the conceptualisation and therapeutic management of these conditions. It appears that with its scientific knowledge base, therapeutic flexibility, focus on reflective practice, and the emphasis on an effective working relationship, the discipline of counselling psychology is well-suited to address the needs of participants with hypochondriacal presentations.
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA portfolio submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the Practitioner Doctorate in Counselling Psychology