The Structured Interview for Personality Organization (STIPO) is an outgrowth of Kernberg's conceptual model (1984) positing three levels of personality organization: neurotic, borderline, and psychotic. These levels of personality organization derive from an assessment that places particular emphasis on the ego functions of reality testing, sense of identity, and defensive style. The STIPO assesses these dimensions, as well as quality of object relations, coping/rigidity, aggression, and moral functioning, dimensions also thought to be determinative of personality organization.
The STIPO differs from measures typically found in the personality assessment literature by its sampling of psychoanalytically oriented constructs (e.g., defenses, quality of object relations) and its assess- ment of functioning across the spectrum of normal and disordered personality. The STIPO differs from other psychoanalytically informed measures of personality in its clear grounding in a specific theory of personality organization, and its highly structured and standardized format of administration.
The objectives of this preliminary reliability/validity study were to demonstrate the internal consistency of the STIPO subscales, and to test the convergent validity of the STIPO—i.e., correlations between STIPO domains and variables relevant to character pathology and health (e.g., measures of aggression, negative temperament, and indices of Axis II symptoms).
Data for this study were pooled from two ongoing investigations involving the STIPO. The first is a reliability/validity study drawing
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on patients being treated in inpatient, day hospital, and outpatient clinics. Patients with an active bipolar illness or psychotic disorder were excluded from this study. The second study is an investigation of patients accepted or rejected for psychoanalytic treatment by candidates at the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. A total of 64 patients participated, 60% of whom were female, with ages ranging from 18 to 55 years. Fifty-seven percent of the patients were outpatients, and 43% inpatients.
The STIPO subscales are generally internally consistent, suggesting that the item content within each scale coheres, tapping a similar underlying construct. Consistent with our predictions, the STIPO Identity, Primitive Defenses, and Reality Testing scales were all significantly related to the parallel scales of the self-report Inventory of Personality Organization (IPO). Further, the current data are consistent with the findings of Lenzenweger et al. (2001), demonstrating relations between the STIPO Identity, Primitive Defenses, and Reality Testing domains and measures of aggression and negative temperament. Results also indicate that the STIPO Identity, Primitive Defenses, and Reality Testing subscales are strongly predictive of the presence or absence of a DSM-IV personality disorder as assessed by symptom cutoffs on the self-report Schedule for Non-Adaptive and Adaptive Personality (SNAP). In sum, these data indicate that personality constructs of interest to analytically oriented clinicians can be reliably assessed using an interview method—the STIPO—and that these constructs are related to variables central to the diagnosis of character pathology and health.
KERNBERG, O.F. (1984). Severe Personality Disorder: Psychotherapeutic Strategies. New Haven: Yale University Press. [→]
LENZENWEGER, M.F., CLARKIN, J.F., KERNBERG, O.F., & FOELSCH, P.A. (2001). The investigation of personality organization: Psychometric properties, factorial composition, and criterion relations with affect, aggressive dyscontrol, psychosis proneness, and self-domains in a nonclinical sample. Psychological Assessment 13: 577-591.