Negative Emotions and Defence Mechanisms in Obese People


Previous investigations, using an effective non-invasive procedure of short-term experimental stress, proved that Obese vs. Normal Women develop about double the intensity of negative emotions (anxiety, anger, sadness) when under stress (Bonaiuto et al., 1993). A high production of negative emotions as a reaction to many everyday life stressors forces people to resort to psychological defense mechanisms. In the case of Obese Persons, these include oral regression (“neonatal regression”) and somatization, together with repression and denial. The latter components are part of the so-called Lifestyle Defense Mechanisms, studied by Grossarth-Maticek (1980). In the rigorous revision and classification carried out by Spielberger (1988) and Spielberger & Reheiser (2000, 2009), these factors were defined as “Need for Harmony” (N/H) and “Rationality/Emotional Defensiveness” (R/ED). In order to develop further appropriate indications, more than seven hundred Italian adults were examined by also recording the Body Mass Index (BMI) and using some evaluation tools, including the LDM Inventory. Significantly higher N/H scores were found in Obese Persons when compared with Overweight, Normal weight and Underweight ones. Other personological differences included significantly higher frequencies of the Type B Behaviour Pattern and higher average levels of Hyperphagic tendencies among the obese people. A development of this study involved more than one thousand participants and provided a confirmation of the influence of these defence mechanisms and personality structures as co-factors in determining obesity.

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Biasi, V. & Bonaiuto, P. (2014). Negative Emotions and Defence Mechanisms in Obese People. Psychology, 5, 1979-1988. doi: 10.4236/psych.2014.518201.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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