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Vol. 36, No. 6, 2003
Issue release date: November–December 2003
Psychopathology 2003;36:279–284

Defense Styles, Impulsivity and Suicide Attempts in Major Depression

Corruble E. · Hatem N. · Damy C. · Falissard B. · Guelfi J.-D. · Reynaud M. · Hardy P.
aPsychiatry Department, Bicêtre Hospital, Assistance Publique, Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris XI University, Le Kremlin Bicêtre, bPublic Health Department, Paul Brousse Hospital, Assistance Publique, Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris XI University, Villejuif, cCMME, Sainte Anne Hospital, Paris V University, Paris, and dPsychiatry Department, Paul Brousse Hospital, Assistance Publique, Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris XI University, Villejuif, France

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Background: The aim of our study was to identify if defense mechanisms are associated with impulsivity and lifetime suicide attempts in depressed patients. Sampling and Methods: The Defense Style Questionnaire, the Impulsivity Rating Scale and the Impulse Control Scale were used in 77 depressed inpatients. Results: Impulsivity was correlated positively with immature and neurotic styles and negatively with mature style. Some but not all defense mechanisms were relevant in this respect. The number of lifetime suicide attempts was positively correlated not only with impulsivity, but also with immature style and to a lesser extent with neurotic style. Several defense mechanisms were involved in these correlations: undoing, projection, passive aggression, acting out, splitting and somatization. Conclusions: Like impulsivity, defense styles may be relevant to discriminate recurrent suicide attempters in depression. Prospective assessment of defense styles and suicide attempts in depression is needed.

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