Ego-control and ego-resiliency in systemic autoimmune disorders  

Gyöngyösiné Kiss E., Czirják L., Hargitai R., Nagy L., Paksi E.
First author's affiliation: University of Pécs, Institute of Psychology, Pécs, Hungary

The aim of our scientific project at the Institute of Psychology with collaboration of the Dept. of Immunology and Rheumatology is a complex clinical and health psychological approach of patients suffered in different systemic autoimmune diseases. One part of the research deals with the connection of ego-resiliency and distress in systemic autoimmune diseases. Earlier psychodynamic studies dealt with the role of aggression and ego-control in different, inflamed chronic illnesses (Alexander, 1948; Müller, 1961; Cobb, 1968; Beck, 1974). In modern personality psychology ego-control refers to the inhibition/expression of impulse and ego-resiliency to the dynamic capacity to contextually modify one’s level of ego-control in response to situational affordances (Block, 1950, 2002; Block, 1951; Block & Block, 1980). Highly ego-resilient individuals are characteristically able to modify their level of control, either up or down, as may be appropriate or necessary according to the situational context. Individuals with a low level of ego-resiliency are more restricted to the same level of impulse containment or expression regardless of situational demands (Letzring, Block, Funder, 2004). In our research it was proposed that we would find higher trait anxiety and lower ego-resiliency in systemic autoimmune patients compared to the healthy subjects. We examined patients with systemic sclerosis (SSC, N = 100), rheumatoid arthritis (RA, N = 20), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, N = 50) and compared to a healthy sample as controls (N = 100). We measured ego-resiliency with the short version of Wagnild and Youngs’ questionnaire (1993) made by Neill and Dias (2001) (RS15), and examined the degree of anxiety by the Hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS; Zigmond and Snaith, 1983). The results can be useful for clinicians, doctors, nurses and the patients’ close relatives as well.