Patients with introjective disorders are plagued by feelings of guilt, self-criticism, inferiority, and worthlessness. They tend to be more perfectionistic, duty-bound, and competitive individuals, who often feel like they have to compensate for failing to live up to the perceived expectations of others. Within the introjective configuration, neurotic-level pathology ranges from paranoia, at the more primitive end of this spectrum, to obsessive compulsive disorders in the middle of the spectrum, to phallic narcissism and guilt-laden depression (i.e., introjective depression) at the higher end. Borderlinelevel pathology is of an introjective, or over-ideational type. Psychotic-level pathology includes paranoid schizophrenia, characterized by more rigid and fragmented-functioning compared with their more amorphous anaclitic counterparts (Ibid). If we are mapping introjective personality pathology onto DSM-III-R nosology, we find the Paranoid, Schizoid, Schizotypic, Antisocial, Narcissistic, Avoidant, Obsessive-Compulsive, and Self-Defeating personality disorders.
What is common among introjective pathologies is the preoccupation with more aggressive themes (as opposed to libidinal) of identity, self-definition, self-worth, and self-control. In the pathologically-introjective, development of satisfying interpersonal relationships is neglected as these individuals are inordinately preoccupied with establishing an acceptable identity (Ibid). As the authors note well, “The focus . . . is not on sharing affection—of loving and being loved—but rather on defining the self as an entity separate from and different than another, with a sense of autonomy and control of one’s mind and body, and with feelings of self-worth and integrity . . . The basic wish is to be acknowledged, respected, and admired.” It is suggested this preoccupation stems, in part, from a past in which important others have been controlling, overly-critical, punitive, judgmental, and intrusive—thus creating an environment in which independence and separation was made difficult.
The introjective tends to use counteractive defenses (as a means of controlling the conflict or impulse, as opposed to avoiding it), such as projection, doing and undoing, reaction formation, intellectualization, rationalization, isolation, identification-with the-aggressor, and overcompensation. The cognitive processes of the introjective tend to be more literal, focusing on thoughts, rationality, and things, as opposed to relationships. They tend to think more critically, and more linearly as opposed to simultaneously.