This study sought to test the theory that patients coming to a cancer detection clinic would reveal more indications of body image disturbance associated with egocentricity, hypochondriasis, and anxiety than would psychiatric patients. It was further postulated that they would more nearly resemble patients attending the tumor clinic. The human (same-sex) figure drawings of 50 female CD patients were compared to those of 50 psychiatric patients (OPD) and 24 TC patients. Drawings were scored for flaws on a 54 item check list. A group of 25 student nurses provided drawings that served as a “normal” comparison group.
Both assumptions were confirmed. There was no significant difference between the mean flaw scores of TC and CD groups, the significance of the difference between CD and OPD groups was at or better than the .01 level of confidence, and a p of .02 differentiated the TC and OPD groups significantly.
Certain inferences drawn from the types of flaws found in the drawings of CD patients suggested a personality pattern characterized by many regressive features, which comprise infantile oral-sadistic impulses, a disturbed sexual identification, egocentricity, emotional immaturity, guilt feelings concerning hostile and sexual impulses, and defective interpersonal relationships.
The possibility that anticipation of danger in this real-life stress situation contributed to disorganization of the figure drawings warrants further study of this group, with emphasis on a comparison of pre and postexamination productions after the assurance that no malignancy was found. It is also hoped that inside-of-the-body drawings11 might offer some clue to fantasied site of the feared malignancy and that the psychodynamic implications of the fantasy can be delineated.
Received June 30, 1960
Copyright © 1961 by American Psychosomatic Society