[Validation study of the Depressive Experience Questionnaire]

Encephale. 2003 Sep-Oct;29(5):445-55.
[Article in French]


Sidney Blatt, considering as being insufficient the categorical-symptomatic approach of depression, has worked out a theory of depression and psychopathology that integrates the contributions of psychoanalysis as well as cognitive and developmental psychology. Within a broad psychoanalytic framework, Blatt's formulation focus on the quality of interpersonal relationship, the nature of object representation and early life experiences. Personality development is viewed as the consequence of the interaction of 2 basic developmental tasks: the establishment of the capacity to form stable, enduring, mutually satisfying interpersonal relationships and the achievement of a differentiated, realistic, essentially positive identity. The relationship between these 2 developmental lines involves a complex dialectical process during which progress in each line is essential for progress in the other and which contributes to the development of both a sense of identity and the capacity for interpersonal relatedness. These developmental lines permit not only to define an during individual's primary personality configuration but also enable to identify cognitive structures that are inherent in various forms of psychopathology, including depression. Disruptions at different developmental stages create vulnerability to different subsequent psychological disturbances. Blatt characterised as anaclitic or dependent the axis concerned with interpersonal relationship and as introjective or self-critical the axis concerned with development of the sense of self and identity. Depressive Experience Questionnaire was developed by Blatt et al. to determine the validity of this model of psychopathology which emphazises continuities between normal and pathological forms of depression. The instrument was developed by Blatt et al. by assembling a pool of items describing experiences frequently reported by depressed individual. Sixty-six items were selected and administered to a large nonclinical sample (500 female and 160 male undergraduates). Principal component analysis within sex performed on the answers to DEQ confirmed his assumption in identifying two principal depressive dimensions. The first factor involved items that are primarily externally directed and refer to a disturbance of interpersonal relationships (anaclitism); the second factor consists of items that are more internally directed and reflect concerns about self-identity (self-criticism). A third factor emerged, assessing the good functioning of subject and confidence in his resources and capacities (efficacy). Scales derived from these factors have high internal consistency and substantial test-retest reliability. The solutions for men and women were highly congruent. Factor structure has been replicated in several nonclinical and clinical samples, supporting considerable evidence to the construct validity of the DEQ Dependency and Self-criticism scales. An adolescent form of DEQ (DEQ-A) has successively been developed. Factor analysis revealed three factors that were highly congruent in female and male students and with the three factors of the original DEQ. The reliability, internal consistency and validity of DEQ-A indicate that the DEQ-A closely parallels the DEQ, especially in the articulation of Dependency and Self-criticism as two factors in depression. These formulations and clinical observations about the importance of differentiating a depression focused on issues of self-criticism from issues of dependency are consistent with the formulations of others theorists which, from very different theoretical perspectives, posit 2 types of depression, one in which either perceived loss or rejection in social relationships is central and the other in which perceived failure in achievement, guilt or lack of control serves as the precipitant of depression. These 2 types of experiences have been characterized as dominant other and dominant goal , as anxiously attached and compulsively self-reliant and as sociotropic and autonomous . Our work presents the results of a validation study of both forms of Blatt's questionnaire (for adults--DEQ--and for adolescents--DEQA) translated in French in a large population of normal subjects, aged 15 to 45 years. DEQ and DEQ-A were compared by inspection of items loading strongly on each factor and by correlation of the three factors of adults and adolescents. The exploratory factor analysis of DEQ and DEQA revealed three orthogonal factors, corresponding with Blatt's original dimensions. Consistency and external validity were adequate for all 3 factors of DEQ and DEQ-A. Anaclitism and self-criticism dimensions of DEQ and DEQ-A correlate positively with measures of depression (DSM-IV, Beck Depression Inventory), consistently with the results obtained by Blatt. Differently from this author, anaclitism appears to be less differentiated in males than in females, suggesting that the concept of dependence could assume different relevance for men and women.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Personality Development
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*