Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Alvin G. Burstein


Over the past two decades, termination of a marriage by divorce has become increasingly common in our society. However, little information is available concerning the impact of psychotherapy on the nature of post-divorce love relationships which people form. The primary intent of this research project was to examine whether divorced women who have been in insight-oriented psychotherapy were less likely than women who had not been in therapy to become seriously involved with men who possess personality characteristics that are similar to those of their ex-husbands. Two groups of 20 subjects each were interviewed and administered the Leary Interpersonal Adjective Checklist. All subjects were divorced women who were currently in serious relationships with men lasting at least six months. One group had not been in therapy, while the other had been in insight-oriented psychotherapy for at least six months prior to or after their divorce. A rater assessed personality characteristics of the boyfriend and ex-husband by performing Q-sorts on the interview data and completing an Overall Evaluation form. Nonparametric statistics were used in the data analysis. The results indicated that there was no significant relationship between participation in psychotherapy and choice of a mate unlike the ex-husband. However, certain patterns emerged during the data analysis: (1) The therapy group tended to have selected a boyfriend who was either very like or not at all like the ex-husband; whereas no such relationship was found for the nontherapy group; (2) For the therapy group, greater changes in self-maturity and maturity of the current relationship were associated with a greater dissimilarity between ex-husbands and boyfriends, while no such relationship was found for the nontherapy group; (3) The therapy group appeared to be less identified at a conscious level with their mothers than the nontherapy subjects; (4) Therapy subjects reported more similarity between their ex-husbands and boyfriends than the nontherapy groups. The potential significance of these findings, along with the methodological errors inherent in the study and future areas of research were discussed.

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