McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Defense Mechanisms, Lerner Defense Scales, Premature Termination, Primitive Defense, Psychotherapy
This study explored whether a predictive relationship exists between primitive defense scores on the Lerner Defense Scales and premature termination from psychotherapy. A review of literature that described the history and development of the construct of primitive defense, as well as the purpose and formation of the Lerner Defense Scales was conducted in order to provide a context for the relevance of this study. Using achieved patient files from the Duquesne University Psychology Clinic, subjects were chosen for this project based on properly archived Rorschach Protocols (which are used to score the Lerner Defense Scales) and descriptive Final Summaries that described the conditions of termination. The Lerner Defense Scales were scored for the presence and frequency of primitive defense use, and subjects were determined to fall into either a Premature Termination Group or a Non-Premature Termination Group. Statistical analysis were run in order to determine 1) whether there was a predictive relationship between any Lerner Defense Scales and the termination group status and 2) whether there were statistically significant descriptive differences between these two groups. Results of these analyses showed that there was predictive value between combined scores measuring splitting, projective identification, and denial. Descriptively, the use of splitting was found to be significant between groups, with all individuals who used this defense terminating prematurely. These findings are discussed in more detail, and potential future directions for expanding this research are also addressed.
Fitzpatrick, T. (2014). Primitive Defenses and Unilateral Termination of Psychotherapy: Are the Lerner Defense Scales Useful in Predicting Premature Termination in Psychotherapy? (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/543