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The Organization of Interpersonal Behaviour of Depressive Patients

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

A new type of analysis was carried out in order to determine organization of looking and 3 types of hand movements (body-touching, object-touching, and gestures) with respect to speech-pause behaviour during a psychiatric diagnostic interview. Of a group of 29 endogenously depressed patients, the organization of these categories has been shown in terms of their temporal distribution (i.e. timing variables and level variables) over 4 types of pauses and their bordering speech: i. e. , during pauses within the patient's and the psychiatrist's vocalizations and pauses between the patient's and the psychiatrist's vocalizations (switching pauses). It was shown how the 4 behaviours distinguished were systematically organized with respect to these four types of speech-pause-speech fragments. No clear relationships between the severity of the depression and the timing and amount of the 4 behavioural categories could be established. The degree of retardation, a measure for mental and physical activity, was negatively related to the amount of looking. Retardation was also related to the timing of looking during the switch from patient to psychiatrist. The more retarded the patient, the later the change from not looking to looking. Further it was found that retarded patients displayed fewer object-touching hand movements than not retarded patients, in particular during speech of the psychiatrist. No relationships could be established with respect to the organization of the other 2 types of hand movements and retardation. Clinical improvement of the patient was positively related to the amount of looking at the end of pauses within the patient's speech. Results are discussed in the context of the functions of looking and disturbed interpersonal behaviour (i.e., social skill).

Affiliations: 1: (Dept. of Biological Psychiatry, University Psychiatric Clinic, Oostersingel 59, 9713 EZ Groningen, The Netherlands


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