In contrast to the clinical psychopathological approach to emotion, we used aspects of the cognitive emotion theories formulated by Lazarus [1966] and Folkman and Lazarus [1985]. According to these theories, emotion is a product of cognitive appraisal and coping a mechanism regulating emotion. We put into operation four coping types in a two-dimensional way (using the amount of anxiety and social desirability and the repressor-sensitizer concept of Byrne [1961] in the extended version of Krohne [1974]) in order to differentiate 30 patients labeled as ‘dysphoric’ (n = 15) or ‘depressed’ (n = 15) from a clinical point of view. It was possible to distinguish subpopulations of dysphoric patients as well as depressed patients (discriminant anlysis, analysis of variance), which served as a basis for answering our questions to the effect that a clearly defined group of dysphoric patients – all diagnosed as bipolar manic depressives – predominantly employs rigid repressive coping strategies, i.e. defensively denying anxiety. Thus, rigid defensive reactions (i.e. perceptual defense) prevent a change in the direction of distressing emotions but leave the person in a state of high arousal. This psychological theory of coping disposition agrees very well with the clinical view of dysphoric state.

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