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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
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Minerva Psichiatrica 2003 September;44(3):171-84

language: Italian

Evaluation of global functioning and defence mechanisms in adolescents under psychotherapeutic consultation provided by the national health system

Finicelli C., Colombo A., Tomasoni L.


Aim. The main object of this study is to verify the existence of the correlation ­ as described in literature ­ between the level of global functioning and the defensive attitude displayed by adolescents.
Methods. Three assessors examined the texts of the initial interviews with 5 adolescents performed by the National Health System. The defence mechanisms and the levels of global functioning were examined by using standard scales and definitions proposed by DSM IV, i.e. VGF and DFS. The evaluations of the global functioning were compared to one another in terms of deviation and mean of the scores. The evaluations of the prevailing defence level were compared and classified on the basis of standard criteria.
Results. The comparison of the results obtained by the 3 assessors confirms the existence of a correlation between the global functioning and the defensive attitude when global functioning is lower, whereas, as to the remaining cases, the assessors' evaluations appear to diverge to a greater extent. Two out of the 3 assessors, in fact, noticed the prevalence of immature defences even with subjects presenting a slight or moderate disorder in their global functioning.
Whether or not this is prevailing, all assessors noticed a widespread presence of a defensive attitude in adolescents' actions.
Conclusions. The partial correlation between the assessors' evaluations and the spreading of a defensive behaviour in adolescents, not always related to significant disorders in their adjustment, makes it necessary to further understand the meaning of these clinical aspects. Finally, some guidelines are suggested, these being potentially useful for the clinical work with adolescents at the National Health System.

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