Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 247–265

Cognitive/Personality Subtypes of Depression: Theories in Search of Disorders

  • Lyn Y. Abramson
  • Lauren B. Alloy
  • Michael E. Hogan


As a complement to clinical and quantitative approaches to subdividing the depressive disorders, some recent researchers have taken a theory-based approach and hypothesized the existence of three cognitive/personality subtypes: Hopelessness Depression (HD), Dependent/Sociotropic Depression (D/S Dep), and Self-Critical/Autonomous Depression (S-C/A Dep). We describe and compare these hypothesized subtypes. In so doing, we present new findings from our ongoing Cognitive Vulnerability to Depression (CVD) project. Conceptual analysis and preliminary empirical results from our CVD project suggest that HD overlaps, in part, with D/S Dep and S-C/A Dep. However, the relationship does not appear to be as simple as vulnerability to HD in the interpersonal domain mapping directly on to D/S Dep nor vulnerability to HD in the achievement domain mapping directly on to S-C/A Dep. We identify and discuss three critical issues that need to be addressed to conduct a more powerful search for HD, D/S Dep, and S-C/A Dep: (1) the problem of specifying congruency between vulnerability and stress; (2) surprising vulnerability-stress interactions; and (3) going beyond common language definitions of symptoms. Finally, we conclude by pointing out that research on the cognitive/personality subtypes has a cumulative character and hasn't succumbed to the “General MacArthur Syndrome.”

theory-based classification hopelessness depression dependent/sociotropic depression self-critical/autonomous depression cognitive vulnerability personality vulnerability 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lyn Y. Abramson
    • 1
  • Lauren B. Alloy
    • 3
  • Michael E. Hogan
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Wisconsin-MadisonUSA
  2. 2.University of WisconsinMadison
  3. 3.Temple UniversityUSA

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