Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



First Advisor

Danielle Knafo, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Eva Feindler, PhD

Third Advisor

Dustin Kahoud, Psy.D.


This dissertation conceptualizes the psychopathological implications of morality and moral reasoning. In the process several theoretical and practical concerns salient to the field of clinical psychology will be addressed. It is my contention that certain symptom presentations - depression, obsessive-compulsive, dissociative, and psychotic - may be conceptualized as disturbances in the self through the mechanism of dissociation, based upon fundamental incongruities between traditional moral values and human nature. I present this thesis, beginning with an introduction to its underlying premises and followed by an examination of the place and standing of morality within the field of psychology. The development of the self as well as morality will be discussed from the perspective of Freud’s topographical model of the mind, with additional insights from his theoretical posterity. The literature on psychological defense mechanisms, particularly from the perspective of their relative adaptiveness, will be introduced, with an emphasis on dissociation and its effect on the integration and experience of self-states. These elements are then combined and presented in a section describing their theorized interplay as a psychopathological vector due to varying degrees of recognition of the incongruence between oneself and one’s moral ideals. I propose a spectrum of four typical positions along a continuum, each associated with a particular symptom presentation, which will then be discussed individually along with its theoretical justification and a clinical example. Finally, I conclude with a discussion of the clinical and theoretical implications of my proposed typology.