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Ego-Syntonicity and Ego-Dystonicity Associated with Upsetting Intrusive Cognitions

Abstract

Ego-dystonicity and ego-syntonicity are usually considered opposite ends of the same dimension, and they are used to define both obsessions and eating disorder-related symptoms. This study aims to examine the characteristics of ego-dystonicity/syntonicity, their relationships with symptom contents, and with the emotions, behaviours, and evaluative appraisals provoked by these symptoms. A sample of 349 community individuals rated the ego-dystonicity and ego-syntonicity associated with their most upsetting obsessional intrusive thought (OIT) and eating disorder-related intrusive thought (EDIT). Three dimensions, Undesirability/Desirability, Immorality/Morality/, and Irrationality/Rationality explained ego-dystonicity and ego-syntonicity. The size of the relationships among these dimensions was medium, and no correlation exists between morality/immorality concerning the OIT. Since the OIT was rated as more egodystonic and less egosyntonic than the EDIT, both thought modalities were egosyntonic, as they were considered rational/coherent with the personality, but at the same time egodystonic, as they were undesirable. The ego-dystonicity of both the OIT and EDIT was associated with negative emotions, dysfunctional appraisals, and interference in on-going activities, with Immorality being the most noteworthy dimension of ego-dystonicity. Both subclinical OCD and ED subjects scored higher than non-clinical participants on the ego-dystonicity caused by their most upsetting intrusive thought.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the Spanish Ministerio de Investigación, Ciencia e Innovación (PSI2009-10957, and PSI2010-18340). CIBER Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN) is an initiative of ISCIII.

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Correspondence to Amparo Belloch.

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Belloch, A., Roncero, M. & Perpiñá, C. Ego-Syntonicity and Ego-Dystonicity Associated with Upsetting Intrusive Cognitions. J Psychopathol Behav Assess 34, 94–106 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-011-9255-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-011-9255-4

Keywords

  • Ego-dystonicity
  • Ego-syntonicity
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Eating disorders