A study of the relationship between transliminality and interpersonal difficulties: Is the severity of interpersonal difficulties related to sensitivity to unconscious psychological material?

Prof Doc Thesis


Rock, Stephen 2014. A study of the relationship between transliminality and interpersonal difficulties: Is the severity of interpersonal difficulties related to sensitivity to unconscious psychological material? Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsRock, Stephen
TypeProf Doc Thesis
Abstract

Despite a growing literature supporting the view of a dynamic unconscious, there have been few attempts to empirically investigate the role of unconscious processes in relation to existing models of psychopathology. In this study, the concept of transliminality (defined as ‘a hypothesised tendency for psychological material (trans) thresholds (limines) into or out of consciousness’, Thalbourne & Houran, 2000, p. 853) and a standardised self-report measure of this construct were used to explore relationships between unconscious processes and interpersonal difficulties. Transliminality and two of the central components of the mentalization-based model of interpersonal difficulties – attachment hyperactivity and mentalization, were examined. The mentalization model was seen as a fitting context for this investigation given that mentalization draws on attachment theory, psychoanalytic principles and makes reference to unconscious processes. Using standardised self-report measures this study attempted to answer two research questions. Firstly, is transliminality related to interpersonal difficulties and what is the nature of this relationship? Secondly, does transliminality mediate the effects of mentalization and attachment hyperactivation on interpersonal difficulties? These questions were investigated using a clinical sample recruited from two NHS specialist adult psychological therapies services (N = 16) receiving referrals for those between the age of 18 to 65 and a non-clinical sample (N = 60). The data from the non-clinical sample revealed that transliminality, mentalization and attachment hyperactivity were all predictors of interpersonal difficulties. The variance uniquely accounted for by each predictor and the lack of relationships between them, was seen as a reflection of these constructs representing distinct psychological processes that contribute to interpersonal difficulties. Kernberg’s (1975) notion of borderline continuum and Kelly’s (1955, 1977) personal construct theory were used to explain the role of translimality. The etiological pathways common to psychosis and interpersonal difficulties were seen as a possible explanation as to why high levels of transliminality are found in both of these populations. It is hypothesised that a necessity to revise constructs more frequently in response to traumas is facilitated by transliminal states, which allow construct boundaries to shift. Clinical implications and future research possibilities are considered in light of these findings.

Year2014
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.15123/PUB.4064
Publication dates
Print12 May 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited11 Mar 2015
Publisher's version
License
CC BY-NC-ND
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https://repository.uel.ac.uk/item/85q09

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