Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Leonard Handler

Committee Members

John Lounsbury, Robert G. Wahler, F. Stan Lusby


The purpose of this study was to further the developing understanding of mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Although recent studies have examined this construct using various self-report measures, there is a paucity of research concerning the potential impact of mindfulness on unconscious aspects of personality structure as understood in psychodynamic theory. A total of 81 university students were recruited from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and administered several cards from the Thematic Apperception Test, along with two validated self-report measures of mindfulness, and a measure of social desirability. The TAT stories were scored for defensive functioning using the Defense Mechanism Manual (Cramer, 2002), and for quality of object relations using the Social Cognition and Object Relations Scale (Westen, 1995). Findings were expected to demonstrate a general maturity of character structure for those participants evidencing greater levels of dispositional mindfulness. The study’s hypotheses were not supported. The study’s discussion touches on the frequently modest relationship between self-report and projective measures of personality characteristics, the potential use of mindfulness as a coping strategy in some cases, the potential relationship between mindfulness and psychotherapeutic outcome, and the need for further research to clarify the role of mindfulness in change processes.

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