Research: CCRT Method comparison of Personality Organization

Diguer (2001) used the Core Conflictual Relationship Theme (CCRT) method to differentiate between patients diagnosed with psychotic, borderline and neurotic personality organizations (PO). This model of  3 POs — the psychotic, the borderline and the neurotic– is the work of Otto Kernberg in 1984. Refer to these articles: Normal Personality Traits vs. Personality Disorders, Working with the Antisocial and Malignant Narcissistic Personality Disorder Spectrum . 

This is the abstract of the paper:

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Participants in the research were evaluated with SCID-I and SCID-II plus other diagnostic instruments, one of which is the Personality Organizations Diagnostic Forms (PODF) by Diguer & Normandin (1997), which is an observer rated scale. They were then asked to give 10 narratives relating to incidents or events in relation to another person, according to the Relationship Anecdotes Paradigm (RAP) interview method by Lubrovsky (1998). Participants were also asked to describe 3 significant others as well as themselves according to Object Relationship Inventory (ORI). In all over 800 narratives were collected.

The test revealed little differentiation between the 3 PO groups of patients, although in the graph below one can see that the PPO group rated less (were less pervasive) in most categories, their results were also less negative. There are many factors that can account for this. I am not discounting for the possibility of medication as affecting the results. Kernberg also mentions that there is more repression going on with people with this condition.

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The article also alluded to the non-significance of measuring more than the dimensions of WS, RS, WO and RO, due to the psychoanalytic theory of displacement.

Other studies were also mentioned in the paper with pointed towards a general negative rating of ROs and RSs, even in non-clinical samples. This alludes to the general tendency of people to remember the negatives better, and that these are unfinished businesses.


My Comments and Notes

I was looking forward to seeing marked differences in their results, however, this article provides an explanation for what the CCRT method is not effective at doing, and that is , making general comparisons of different groups of people.

The other question I have is, if it is justified to measure a predicate as “negative” or “positive”.

“Negative defines a reaction that is restrictive to the patient’s fulfillment of a wish, and positive means that a patient’s wishes have been fulfilled. (Stirn et. al, 2005)”

Could it be useful to used this method to observe how the predicates change for each client over time. E.g. RO (controlling) –> RO (likes me) ?


Diguer, L., Lefebvre, R., Drapeau, M., Luborsky, L., Rousseau, J. P., Hébert, E., … & Descôteaux, J. (2001). The core conflictual relationship theme of psychotic, borderline, and neurotic personality organizations. Psychotherapy Research11(2), 169-186.

Stirn, A., Overbeck, G., & Pokorny, D. (2005). The core conflictual relationship theme (CCRT) applied to literary works: An analysis of two novels written by authors suffering from anorexia nervosa. International Journal of Eating Disorders38(2), 147-156.

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