In the case of ego syntony, patients with mental illnesses perceive their thought patterns and behavior as meaningful, belonging to themselves and appropriate. Ego syntony often characterizes delusional disorders and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders. The phenomenon makes diseases more difficult to treat because those affected show no insight.
What is ego syntony?
According to abbreviationfinder, a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder or other ego syntonic disorder is made by a professional. The psychotherapist or psychiatrist makes the diagnosis according to ICD-10.
Psychology distinguishes between different compulsions and compulsive behaviors. Such deviance patterns are associated with either the term ego syntonia or the term ego dysontonia. Deviant thoughts and behaviors with which the person concerned identifies are present as ego syntony. The patient does not perceive ego-syntone deviations from the social norm as deviations, but considers them to be normal, correct and consistent.
A patient with ego dystonia carries out thoughts and behaviors because he has to. This means that obsessive-compulsive disorders with ego dystonia are perceived as compulsive by the person affected. Ego-dystonic patients find their obsessive thoughts and behaviors wrong or inconsistent. The actions and thoughts of OCD with ego syntony are not experienced as compulsions by the patient himself.
For example, patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorders like to think that an extreme need for order is sensible and right. Obsessive-compulsive disorder patients are usually ego-dystonic and thus usually experience the pressure of individual thoughts and impulses. In some cases, patterns and thoughts with ego syntonia and ego dystonia are present in the same patient at the same time.
Ultimately, ego syntony is the symptom of various psychiatric disorders. The most common associations with ego syntony are delusions and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorders are a group of mental illnesses.
In addition to rigidity and perfectionism, compulsions to control and the compulsion to have certain feelings of doubt or anxious caution are assigned to the compulsive personality disorders. In the visible symptoms, an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is clearly similar to the obsessive-compulsive disorder. Ultimately, however, the two diseases are fundamentally different disorders of the psyche. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by predominantly ego-dystonic symptoms.
The brain metabolism is disturbed in the context of the diseases. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorders are so-called Axis II disorders with significant ego syntony. An interplay of biological, psychological and environmental factors is assumed to be the triggering factor for obsessive-compulsive personality disorders. Psychoanalysis sees strict toilet training with punishments and the resulting superego as the cause.
In cognitive therapy, individual thought processes are held responsible for maintaining the personality disorder. Due to thought processes in black and white categories, they assume that possible mistakes on their part will be punished excessively severely. Fearing it, they act rigid, perfectionistic, and self-conscious. Brain damage or other psychiatric disorders are not the cause of the compulsive personality disorder.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder and ego syntony prioritize work and the pursuit of success over pleasure and at the same time over social relationships. Because of the ego syntony, they justify this behavior logically rationally. They often show zero tolerance for emotional behavior. You are indecisive and like to put off making decisions.
This also manifests her exaggerated fear of her own mistakes. They don’t even complete certain projects because of this fear. Nevertheless, they usually behave extremely conscientiously and prefer to become moralizers. They are extremely scrupulous about not only their own behaviors, but also the behaviors of others. They experience authority figures and their criticism as excessively hurtful.
Symptoms of other obsessive-compulsive disorders are often present at the same time. In their social environment, people with an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder appear rational and cool. They show little tolerance for any habits and peculiarities of their fellow human beings. They are true to their own principles and norms and demand the same from other people.
They are extremely concerned with rules and details and are inflexible in their thinking and actions. Her life ultimately seems frozen and lacks any dynamism. Those affected by the ego syntony perceive all these behaviors as appropriate, correct and belonging to themselves. In delusions, too, the subjective certainty of one’s own delusions is in the foreground for the ego syntony.
Diagnosis & course of disease
A diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder or other ego syntonic disorder is made by a professional. The psychotherapist or psychiatrist makes the diagnosis according to ICD-10. Four out of eight typical characteristics must be able to be understood in the person affected, such as excessive fear, caution, rigidity, perfectionism and a lack of tolerance for the habits of others.
The prognosis for people with ego-syntonic personality disorders is rather unfavorable, since the affected person does not perceive their disorder as obsessive and rather perceives it as a compelling part of their personality. For the diagnosis of any type of ego syntony, proof of certainty of correctness must be provided. The initial ego syntony is sometimes lost when illnesses become chronic. Ultimately, however, ego syntony stands for difficult treatability.
In the case of the I-syntony, not only physical, but also physical complaints and limitations can occur. In most cases, complications arise when the treatment cannot take place due to the patient’s lack of understanding. This often leads to social exclusion and the person concerned withdraws completely from social life.
This leads to relatively severe depression and other mental illnesses. There is also a great fear of making mistakes, which can lead to panic attacks or sweating in many simple situations. These complaints can severely limit the everyday life of those affected and reduce their quality of life.
Because of the ego syntony, friends and acquaintances often turn away from the affected person because they cannot understand the behavior. There are usually no complications in the treatment of ego syntonia. However, it can be a long time before the patient admits the disease and consents to therapy. In severe cases, treatment in a closed clinic may be necessary. Life expectancy is generally not affected by ego syntony.
When should you go to the doctor?
Anyone who notices signs of ego syntony in themselves or in another person should always consult a doctor. Since the disease is often not noticed by those affected themselves, friends and relatives must pay attention to any warning signs. If a person who is already suffering from a mental illness shows symptoms of ego syntony, medical advice must be sought. The doctor can first perform a physical examination and rule out physical causes.
If there is a concrete suspicion of ego syntony, a psychiatrist or psychotherapist must be called in, who can make the diagnosis and, if necessary, initiate drug treatment. People suffering from a personality disorder or other mental illness are particularly prone to developing ego syntony. Hormonal disorders and neurological diseases are also possible triggers. Anyone who belongs to these risk groups should consult a doctor if they see the typical warning signs. At the latest when friends and relatives point out behavioral problems, the help of a doctor and a therapist is necessary.
Treatment & Therapy
The treatment of patients with ego-syntonic disorders of the psyche is significantly more difficult than the therapy of ego-dystonic patients. In patients with symptomatic ego dystonia, there is often a subjectively higher level of suffering compared to ego syntonia. An insight into one’s own illness and the desire for healing are more likely to be achieved.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is typically used to treat ego syntony disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on cognition and its processes. The focus is on the attitudes, the individual thoughts, the evaluations and the convictions of the person concerned. In addition to raising awareness of the cognitions, the therapy ideally achieves a review of the cognitions and an assessment of their appropriateness.
Irrational attitudes should be recognized and corrected in this way. Patients learn to actively shape their perception process. The subjective view of things decides the behavior and the emotional state. By correcting one’s own perspectives, reactions to the environment can be permanently changed. For example, compulsive actions can be stopped by changing the causal thought.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis of ego syntonia is mostly unfavorable. It depends on the underlying disease, the overall diagnosis and the patient’s understanding of the disease. If the ego syntony occurs as a symptom of a schizophrenic or other mental disorder, for example, there is a good treatment option depending on the form of schizophrenia. Symptoms can be alleviated with comprehensive therapy. However, lifelong medical support and medication are necessary to prevent the symptoms from recurring.
In most cases, people who suffer from an ego-syntonic personality disorder do not show any insight into the illness. This is part of the nature of the disease. The lack of awareness of a psychological irregularity means that they typically do not seek adequate treatment. They either do not use the therapy offered at all or discontinue it prematurely due to their own decision-making power. This leads to an unfavorable prognosis.
If there is an insight into the illness, there are good prospects of alleviating the existing symptoms. In a comprehensive treatment and therapy plan, a change can be achieved as soon as the patient shows willingness to cooperate. The path to healing spans several years and involves coming to terms with past events and restructuring one’s way of life. If the therapy is discontinued, an immediate recurrence of the symptoms is to be expected.
Ego syntony is merely a symptom of higher-order diseases. In this way, the phenomenon can only be prevented to the extent that causative diseases such as compulsive or narcissistic personality disorder and delusional disorders can be prevented.
In most cases, the person affected with ego syntony has no special follow-up measures available. The person concerned is primarily dependent on a quick and, above all, early diagnosis of the disease so that no further complications or symptoms occur.
A psychologist should therefore be contacted as soon as the first symptoms and signs of ego syntony appear, and in many cases relatives and outsiders should draw attention to the symptoms of the disease. The patients depend on comprehensive psychological treatment, which in serious cases has to take place in a closed clinic.
The support and care of those affected by their own family or friends and acquaintances has a very positive effect on the further course of the disease. Intensive and loving conversations are often necessary. Ego syntony can also be treated by taking various medications. The person concerned should always pay attention to regular intake and also to the correct dosage. If anything is unclear or if there are side effects, always consult a doctor first. The ego syntony usually does not reduce the life expectancy of the affected person.
You can do that yourself
The I-syntony is by no means to be treated on its own by the person concerned. Due to the clinical picture, he does not experience any psychological strain, nor will he see that he has to change something in his situation. In any case, psychotherapeutic help must be provided, which starts with the existing mental illness and the ego syntony.
A combination of psychotherapy and self-help can only succeed once the person concerned has realized that his or her behavior is abnormal. This includes, for example, visiting self-help groups, but can also mean reflecting on one’s own actions and thoughts. Keeping a diary or talking to people around you can help. The point is that the person affected learns to evaluate their actions and thus recognize their behavior themselves, so that they are then accessible for behavioral therapy.
In order for the affected person to learn to adapt their perception process in such a way that they recognize their irrational behavior better, it is important that they communicate with their environment. This should therefore also be reflected upon. It is to be classified as questionable if the environment tries to convince the person concerned of their irrational actions, even though they do not yet feel this way. This is most likely to result in tensions that can lead to a lack of understanding, isolation, intensification of delusions or aggression.