Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 85–103 | Cite as

Sociotropy, Autonomy, and Depressive Response to an Unconscious Challenge

  • Staffan Sohlberg
  • Joakim Axelsson
  • Wanda Czartoryski
  • Gustaf Ståhlberg
  • Ylva Strömbom

Important, but not unequivocal, support has been found for Sociotropy and Autonomy as vulnerability factors for depression. Using a novel approach we gave subliminal sociotropy-related and autonomy-related visuoverbal stimulation to nondepressed students (Study 1, N=36), and patients treated for clinical depression (Study 2, N=34) in completely balanced within-groups designs. Autonomy, as measured with the Personal Style Inventory, was unrelated to response. Sociotropy predicted negative outcome after a sociotropy-related abandonment stimulus in both Study 1 (r=−.34 to a decrease in positively valenced autobiographical memories) and Study 2 (r=.38 to an increase in selection of depression-related words on a word-selection task). This finding may interest developers of depression therapies, and support further attempts to study Sociotropy as a putative vulnerability factor for depression.


depression sociotropy autonomy anaclitic introjective dependency self-criticism; unconscious 



We thank Anna Maria Carlsson for allowing us to use her translation of the Depressive Experiences Questionnaire. Joakim Axelsson translated the Personal Style Inventory. Thanks also to the Clinical Department of Psychiatry, Gävle-Sandviken County Hospital, and to Andreas Birgegård and Katja Claesson for interesting discussions on how to belong and be free at the same time.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Staffan Sohlberg
    • 1
    • 3
  • Joakim Axelsson
    • 1
  • Wanda Czartoryski
    • 1
  • Gustaf Ståhlberg
    • 2
  • Ylva Strömbom
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Uppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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