Personality in boys with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: Rorschach perspectives

Davis, Daniel (2009) Personality in boys with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: Rorschach perspectives. Other Degree thesis, Victoria University.


Despite the voluminous body of published research on childhood Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), very little research has specifically investigated personality functioning in these children. This anomaly is curious given the evidence from prospective studies of significant disturbance of personality functioning in children, adolescents, and adults diagnosed with ADHD. Rorschach Inkblot Method studies of children with ADHD, along with psychoanalytic studies and theorising, has been one of the few streams that have investigated the personality functioning of these children, recognising the destabilising influence of neuropsychological dysfunction on personality development and functioning. The present study represented an attempt to replicate and build upon aspects of the findings of the five published Rorschach studies of children with ADHD, framing the research within a psychoanalytic conceptualisation concerning Pine’s (1990) core domains of personality, namely ego functioning, object relations, and sense of self. Further, given the known negative influence of co-morbid Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), the study sought to clarify its influence on specific aspects of personality functioning in ADHD boys with and without ODD. The study design was cross-sectional and entailed two types of comparisons of constituent aspects of personality functioning, assessed by select variables from the Comprehensive System for the Rorschach, of the three core domains of personality. The first consisted of comparison of Rorschach findings of the present ADHD sample with those found by previously published Rorschach studies on children with ADHD, and one study on children with Conduct Disorder (CD). The second consisted of comparison of Rorschach findings of the present ADHD sample, divided into sub-groups of boys diagnosed with and without co-morbid ODD. Participants were 17 boys diagnosed with ADHD, 9 of who had a co-morbid diagnosis of ODD. Rorschach and Mutuality of Autonomy Scale data were analysed parametrically and non-parametrically. Regarding the first type of comparison, the present sample of ADHD boys was found to resemble ADHD samples of children from published studies in terms of the presence of coping and social difficulties (CDI), poor reality-testing (X-%), and depressive features (DEPI). Additionally, the ADHD sample was found to resemble a published sample of children with CD in terms of frequency of severely maladaptive representations of object relations (MOA Scale score of 6 and 7) in Rorschach responses. With respect to the second type of comparison, a sub-group of ADHD boys with ODD, compared to those without ODD, were found to have significantly more boys evidencing disturbed thinking (WSum6) and lack of empathy (M-). On the basis of these and published Rorschach findings, an emerging prolife of the personality functioning of children with ADHD was proposed. The latter was discussed with respect to its implications for future theory, practice, and research. Study limitations and strengths were also discussed.

Additional Information

Doctor of Psychology (Clinical Psychology)

Item type Thesis (Other Degree thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1103 Clinical Sciences
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Keywords Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, Rorschach, boys, males, children, Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ODD, personality functioning
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