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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2010 Feb;198(2):144-9. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181cc41ca.

Mental representations in women with panic disorder: an urban African-American sample.

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Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI 48307, USA.


Psychodynamic theories of panic disorder (PD) suggest an association between PD and impairments in mental representations. This study tested this hypothesis by comparing mental representations of 25 African-American women recruited from an urban primary care clinic with PD with a group of 25 women without PD and matched on race, age, marital status, education, and income. Mental representations were assessed through spontaneous descriptions of mothers and reliably coded with the Qualitative and Structural Dimensions of Object Representations scale (Blatt et al., Unpublished manual, 1992). Results essentially supported the hypotheses for impaired mental representations (lower benevolence, higher ambivalence, and lower conceptual level) for women with PD as compared with women without PD. No differences in mental representations were found between women with PD with major depression and women with only PD. The findings provide preliminary support for a psychodynamic theory of PD in a sample of African-American women.

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