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Unusual ego-defence in HIV encephalopathy: A case report


du Toit, SW and Pridmore, S and Khan, M, Unusual ego-defence in HIV encephalopathy: A case report, Psychiatry On-Line ISSN 1359-7620 (2009) [Refereed Article]


Emotion focused coping strategies, such as denial and escape-avoidance techniques, might have short-term benefits for patients with chronic illnesses (including those with Human Immunodeficiency Virus), however it is associated with increased psychological distress and depressive symptomology in the long-term. The authors present the case of a 34 year old man, who is HIV-positive and presented with auditory and visual hallucinations, persecutory delusions, somatic passivity, cognitive deficits and executive dysfunction. It is argued that in addition to the demonstrated psychotic symptoms and cognitive deficits, there were unusual responses on mental state examination, which had an ego-defensive function, i.e. the inability to function in his usual manner was perceived by the patient as ego-threatening. This case study illustrates some important aspects of disease progression in HIV/AIDS and its neuropsychiatric complications, as well as interesting psychophenomenology. The authors conclude that although the mental state signs appear unusual and worthy of mention, the underlying psychodynamic processes involved seem to be that of emotion focused coping strategies, which are employed subconsciously as a defence mechanism in order to preserve the patientís own ego-integrity.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Mental health services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Mental health
UTAS Author:Pridmore, S (Professor Saxby Pridmore)
ID Code:73448
Year Published:2009
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2011-10-06
Last Modified:2011-10-06

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