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Introduction Separation-individuation is a crucial developmental process by which adolescents establish self-other boundaries in the context of mutually-

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Presentation on theme: "Introduction Separation-individuation is a crucial developmental process by which adolescents establish self-other boundaries in the context of mutually-"— Presentation transcript:

1 Introduction Separation-individuation is a crucial developmental process by which adolescents establish self-other boundaries in the context of mutually- validating relationships. The goal is relational autonomy whereby independence and self-governance are affirmed within the context of ongoing relational commitments. Hence the developmental task for adolescents is to flexibly manage separation and connectedness while avoiding the undesirable outcomes of fusion and enmeshment, on the one hand, and complete detachment and isolation, on the other. Moreover disturbances in separation-individuation are assumed to adversely affect psychosocial functioning across a broad range of functioning. There are few assessment options available for measuring dysfunctional separation-individuation, and none that can function as a diagnostic screen. The purpose of this study was to investigate further the construct validity of a new measure of dysfunctional separation-individuation. This measure was adapted from a 39-item scale that was originally designed to assess pathology of separation-individuation as manifested in borderline personality symptoms, including differentiation failure, splitting and relational disturbance. However, in a series of studies, Lapsley and his colleagues identified a19-item scale that demonstrates strong psychometric properties, including predictions of insecure attachment style, poor college adjustment, depression and psychiatric symptoms. Moreover, confirmatory factor analysis has confirmed two subscales that reflect the dual nature of the task of separation-individuation: self and relational dysfunction. In the present study we (1) assess the construct validity of this new measure in a sample of young adolescents and (2) attempt to determine the utility of the two subscales in differentiating self and relational dysfunction. Participants One hundred forty-five adolescents in 6th-grade (N = 20, 11 females, Mean age = 12.05), 7th-grade (N = 54, 31 females, Mean age = 12.98) and 8th-grade (N = 71, 39 females, Mean age = 13.77) participated. Participants were predominantly Caucasian from a rural middle school in the Midwest. Results Table 1 reports internal consistency and correlations of dysfunctional separation-individuation with SITA, RADS, and the self-image and self- concept scales, partialing age. The internal consistency of scales was satisfactory. Dysfunctional separation-individuation was unrelated to healthy separation but moderately correlated with other SITA scales. Dysfunctional separation-individuation was also associated with more depressive symptoms, poorer self-image and poorer family and social self-concept. Grade x Gender ANOVA revealed a significant Grade effect for Self Dysfunction (p <.03), with 6th-graders reporting more self- dysfunction than 7th- and 8th-graders.. Summary Dysfunctional separation-individuation was positively related to engulfment and separation anxiety, self-centeredness and dependency denial, and unrelated to healthy separation. It counterindicated measures of positive adjustment, including mastery coping, superior adjustment, family and peer relations, and two indices of self-concept, but was positively correlated with depressive symptoms. The results support the convergent and predictive validity of dysfunctional separation-individuation, although its two subscales do not appear to offer interpretive advantages over the total scale. Instrumentation Dysfunctional separation-individuation was measured by the 19-item scale (10-step Likert format) which includes a self-dysfunction (9 items) and relational dysfunction (10 item) subscale. Participants also responded to 5 subscales from the Separation-Individuation Test of Adolescence (SITA) selected on the basis of their differential relationship to MMPI adjustment; to the Reynolds Adolescent Depression (RADS) scale; to 4 subscales from the Self-Image Questionnaire for Young Adolescents; and 2 subscales from the Multidimensional Self-Concept Scales. TABLE 1 Internal Consistency Estimates and Partial Correlation of Dysfunctional Separation-Individuation with Indices of Mental Health, Adjustment, and Separation-Individuation (Partialing Age) Dysfunctional Separation-Individuation Self ( α =.79) Relational (α =.82) Total (α =.88) Separation-Individuation Test of Adolescence (SITA) Engulfment Anxiety (α =.79) Self-Centeredness (α =.85)ns.20 Separation-Anxiety (α =.76) Dependency Denial (α =.85) Healthy Separation (α =.74)ns Self-Image Questionnaire for Young Adolescence (SIQYA) Mastery Coping (α =.69) Superior Adjustment (α =.66) Family Relations (α =.87) Peer Relations (α =.81) Multidimensional Self-Concept Scale (MSCS) Family Self- Concept (α =.96) Social Self- Concept (α =.92) Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale (RADS) **Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Psychological Association, May 2005** Selected References Christianson, R.M. & Wilson, W.P. (1985). Assessing pathology in the separation-individuation process by means of an inventory. J. of Nervousand Mental Disease, 173, Lapsley, D., Aalsma, M. & Varshney, N. (2001). A factor analytic andpsychometric analysis of pathology of separation-individuation. J. of Clinical Psychology, 57 Lapsley, D. & Horton, M. (2002). The construct validity of pathology of separation-individuation (PATHSEP). Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, New Orleans. Lapsley, D. & Edgerton, J. (2002). Separation-individuation, adult attachment style and college adjustment. J. of Counseling and Development, 80, Levine, J., Green, C. & Millon, T. (1986). The separation-individuation test of adolescence. Journal of Personality Assessment, 50, Contact Information Dan Lapsley Department of Educational Psychology Ball State University Muncie, IN, Ph


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