Dependency, self-criticism, and the Symptom Specificity Hypothesis in a Depressed Clinical Sample

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Mattias Desmet
Stijn Vanheule
Paul Verhaeghe
Cite this article:  Desmet, M., Vanheule, S., & Verhaeghe, P. (2006). Dependency, self-criticism, and the Symptom Specificity Hypothesis in a Depressed Clinical Sample. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 34(8), 1017-1026.


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It has been suggested that interpersonal dependency and excessive self-criticism are characteristics of personalities prone to depression. Here the results of a study are presented in which the hypothesis that these personality styles are connected to specific depressive symptoms in a sample of depressed outpatients (N = 163) was evaluated. Hypotheses were that dependency is specifically associated with the somatic symptom cluster of the Beck Depression Inventory-II (Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996) and that self-criticism is specifically associated with the cognitive symptom cluster. In measuring the personality styles, the Depressive Experiences Questionnaire (Blatt, D’Affliti, & Quinlan, 1976) was used. No evidence suggesting that dependency is specifically connected to somatic depressive symptoms was found. Self-criticism was specifically associated with cognitive depressive symptoms. However, the results suggest that content overlap might explain the relationship between self-criticism and cognitive depressive symptoms.

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