A PSYCHODYNAMIC, ACTION-ORIENTED METHOD TO ASSESS THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF A PERSON'S BODY IMAGE TO PERSONALITY FUNCTIONING

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Abstract

In contrast to the original conceptualization of body image as an expression of meanings-emotions stimulated by body activity, many investigators conceptualize body image as satisfaction with one's physical appearance assessed with questionnaires. However, authors following psychodynamic psychology advocate that meanings-emotions expressed with body activity and when fantasizing or verbalizing are interrelated unless developmental interferences resulted in the repression of embodied meanings. In response, a method was developed that asks a participant to perform various actions-gestures and share thoughts - emotions that came to mind. The heuristic value of this method is illustrated by studies that explored the relations among meanings-emotions that participants expressed in response to body activity, Rorschach inkblots and when discussing upsetting events. The results support the proposed body image test and illustrate its potential for psychodynamic approaches to personality assessment and psychotherapy.

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