Benefits of Distinguishing between Physical and Social-Verbal Aspects of Behavior: An Example of Generalized Anxiety
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Temperament traits and mental illness have been linked to varying degrees of imbalances in neurotransmitter systems of behavior regulation. If a temperament model has been carefully structured to reflect weak imbalances within systems of behavior regulation, then in the presence of mental illness, these profiles should exhibit distinct patterns consistent with symptoms of mental illness. In contrast to other temperament models used in studies of anxiety disorders, the Functional Ensemble of Temperament (FET) model differentiates not only between emotionality traits, but also between traits related to physical, social-verbal and mental aspects of behavior. This paper analyzed the predictions of the FET model, which maps 12 functional aspects of behavior to symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) as described in the DSM/ICD. As an example, the paper describes a study of the coupling of sex, age and temperament traits with GAD using the FET framework. The intake records of 116 clients in treatment with confirmed diagnosis of GAD in a private psychological practice were compared using ANOVA against records of 146 healthy clients using their scores on the FET-based questionnaire, in age groups 17-24, 25-45, 46-65. Patients with GAD in all age groups reported significantly lower Social Endurance, Social Tempo, Probabilistic reasoning (but not in physical aspects of behavior) and higher Neuroticism than healthy individuals, however, no effects on the scales of Motor Endurance or Tempo were found. These findings show the benefits of differentiation between motor-physical and social-verbal aspects of behavior in psychological assessment of mental disorders.