The Flip Side of the Reassurance-Seeking Coin: The Partner's Perspective

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Comments on the article by T. E. Joiner, Jr. et al (see record 2000-13319-001) that described a program of research on excessive reassurance-seeking and its relation to depression. The current authors believe that the excessive reassurance-seeking of depressed persons is problematic not so much because it signals that their partners are being ignored but because it threatens their partners' fundamental beliefs about who they are. Specifically, when depressed persons indicate that they are unconvinced by their partners' expressions of love and reassurance, their partners receive the implicit message that they are not credible source of feedback. It is proposed that self-verification theory can provide some insight into the relationship difficulties of depressed people and their partners. The authors also suggest that the experience of trying to reassure an excessive reassurance seeker might actually promote depression in the (previously) nondepressed partner. Implications for therapy are discussed.

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Psychological Inquiry, v. 10, issue 4, p. 302-304