A greater amount of emphasis on either self-definition or relatedness during one’s personality development may increase the individual’s vulnerability for specific types of depression. In fact, there is a great amount of empirical research that suggests that high levels of self-criticism or dependency are vulnerability dimensions for depression. Individuals with a dependent personality style may experience depressive states in response to disruptive interpersonal events and their experience an “anaclitic” form of depression, centered on feelings of loneliness, abandonment, and being unloved.

On the other side of the personality dialectic, individuals with a self-critical personality style may be more vulnerable to depressive states in response to disruptions in self-definition and personal achievement. These individuals may experience “introjective” depressive states around feelings of failure and guilt centered on self-worth. In “Levels of Object Representation in Anaclitic and Introjective Depression,” Sidney Blatt reviews Fenichel and Bibring’s theories of development and extrapolates that introjective depression is considered more developmentally advanced than anaclitic depression. This conclusion is supported by both Bibring and Fenichel’s discussions that one source of depression (anaclitic) is primarily oral in nature, originating from unmet needs from an omnipotent caretaker; while another source is related to the (more developmentally advanced) formation of the superego and involves the more developmentally advanced phenomena of guilt and loss of self-esteem during the oedipal stage.

Be that as it may.

Most of my therapists say that my depression centers on loneliness. They say that I need to make friends. They see that as the road to cure.

Dr. Palombo never talked about my need to make friends. It always seemed odd to me. He emphasized my need to take up the practice of law. He said this would improve my self esteem.

Did Dr. Palombo see what other therapists did not: that my depression is “introjective” relating to issues of guilt and loss of self-esteem during the Oedipal stage — as opposed to anaclitic depression relating to my lack of relationships, primarily oral in nature, originating from unmet needs from an omnipotent caretaker?


Personality development in clinical social workers – the signific