Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 50 Issue 2 (June 1977), Pages 113-208

Psychogenic vertigo within an anxiety frame of reference: An experimental study (pages 187-201)

The theoretical point of departure here was the assumption that a psychogenic vertigo patient displaces affect, or experience of anxiety to one of dizziness, the dizziness serving as an anxiety equivalent. This is seen to imply a change in the locus of experience from the me to the not‐me sphere. ‘Percept‐genetic’ techniques and a spiral after‐effect measurement were used to compare 23 patients with presumed psychogenic vertigo with a control group matched in sex, age, education and occupation. Results of the percept‐genetic techniques showed the patients to display stronger signs of affect anxiety than subjects in the control group. Also two main subgroups of patients were differentiated with the help of the descriptive instruments, one group with signs of a primitive‐hysteroid mode of functioning, the other with signs of an obsessive‐compulsive mode. For both subgroups the suggested displacement mechanism seemed to be functioning. Its apparent effect differed, however, for the two subgroups: in the ‘primitive‐hysteroid’ group the displacement mechanism was more effective. The ‘obsessive‐compulsive’ group showed stronger signs of affect anxiety, dizziness here being better characterized as a concomitant than as an equivalent of anxiety. Results of a follow‐up two years after the investigation also showed a poorer development of symptoms within the ‘obsessive‐compulsive’ group.

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