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Minerva Psichiatrica 2019 March;60(1):17-23

DOI: 10.23736/S0391-1772.19.01996-4


language: English

A study on narcissism: a comparison between the overt and covert typologies using the Thematic Apperception Test

Doriana DIPAOLA, Valentina TRISCIO, Elisa F. BOSCO, Marta FERRARIS, Gabriella GANDINO

Department of Psychology, University of Turin, Turin, Italy

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this work was to help better understand narcissistic personality disorder by focusing on the differentiation between the overt and covert typologies in order to provide further empirical evidence of their actual existence. We aim to demonstrate that the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) is proving to be an effective instrument for identifying the thought processes of individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and can be extremely useful for differentiating between the two typologies mentioned above.
METHODS: This is a pilot study. It is based on the analysis of the stories produced in the TAT by 10 patients diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. The tests were administered and interpreted according to the French School model, especially as regards the score sheet proposed by Vica Shentoub. This approach investigates the main psychical processes and defense mechanisms in order to provide specific information about how subjects address reality and access their inner world.
RESULTS: The data collected showed a clear prevalence of narcissistic personality functioning (series C/N processes) in the analyzed sample. Such processes were primarily associated, in overt subjects, with lability traits (series B processes) and mechanisms to fight depression (series C/M processes), and in covert subjects with rigid, controlling (series A processes) and inhibitor (series C/I processes) traits.
CONCLUSIONS: The study confirmed the hypothesis that the TAT constitutes a precise diagnostic instrument, capable of detecting the characteristics of both of the narcissism typologies highlighted in the literature.

KEY WORDS: Personality disorders - Narcissism - Thematic Apperception Test

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