Defense Mechanisms and Hope as Protective Factors in Physical and Mental Disorders

  • Louis A. Gottschalk
  • Janny Fronczek


Whether defense mechanisms may serve as markers of increased vulnerability or resistance to illness is an issue that merits being more clearly and definitively addressed and investigated. Anna Freud (1936/1946) focused on defense mechanisms as tools used to relieve anxiety and their presence might, hence, be seen as clues to some underlying psychopathological process. The ways in which defense mechanisms function to influence the course of illness have been rarely studied. On the other hand, hope is a state or trait that has been examined over many years in empirical studies to determine whether it is capable of influencing the onset or course of illness. French (1952) and Frank (1968) regarded hope as a personal incentive toward encouraging a person to cope better with inner psychological conflicts. Perley, Winget, and Placci (1971) found that elevated hopefulness predicted patients who followed up recommendations that they seek psychiatric treatment. Gottschalk, Kunkel, Wohl, Saenger, and Winget (1960) found that hope scores derived from verbal samples predicted the duration of survival of patients with terminal cancer receiving irradiation treatment. Gottschalk, Mayerson, and Gottlieb (1967) and Gottschalk, Fox, and Bates (1973), moreover, found that high measures of hopefulness pointed to relatively favorable outcome in psychotherapy. Udelman and Udelman (1986) reported a significant correlation between hope scores and indicarors of immune competence, namely mitogenic stimulation by concanavalin A and percentage of B cells.


Positron Emission Tomography Inanimate Object Death Anxiety Verbal Category Opposite Cerebral Hemisphere 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis A. Gottschalk
  • Janny Fronczek

There are no affiliations available

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