The Association Between Child Abuse, Trauma and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

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THE ASSOCIATION BETWEEN CHILDHOOD ABUSE, TRAUMA AND BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER.

Many research studies have shown that individuals who have suffered childhood abuse, trauma and/or neglect are very considerably more likely to develop borderline personality disorder (BPD) as adults than those who were fortunate enough to have experienced a relatively stable childhood.

it is thought marilyn munroe suffered from BPD

It is thought Marilyn Monroe suffered from BPD

 

WHAT IS BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (BPD)?

 

BPD sufferers experience a range of symptoms which are split into 9 categories. These are:

1) Extreme swings in emotions
2) Explosive anger
3) Intense fear of rejection/abandonment sometimes leading to frantic efforts to maintain a relationship
4) Impulsiveness
5) Self-harm
6) Unstable self-concept (not really knowing ‘who one is’)
7) Chronic feelings of ‘emptiness’ (often leading to excessive drinking/eating etc ‘to fill the vacuum’)
8) Dissociation ( a feeling of being ‘disconnected from reality’)
9) Intense and highly volatile relationships

For a diagnosis of BPD to be given, the individual needs to suffer from at least 5 of the above.

frequently rejected in childhood, BPD sufferers live in terror of abandoment

frequently rejected in childhood, BPD sufferers live in terror of abandonment

A person’s childhood experiences has an enormous effect on his/her mental health in adult life. How parents treat their children is, therefore, of paramount importance.

BPD is an even more likely outcome, if, as well as suffering trauma through invidious parenting, the individual also has a BIOLOGICAL VULNERABILITY.

In relation to an individual’s childhood, research suggests that the 3 major risk factors are:

– trauma/abuse
– damaging parenting styles
– early separation or loss (eg due to parental divorce or the death of the parent/s)

Of course, more than one of these can befall the child. Indeed, in my own case, I was unlucky enough to be affected by all three. And, given my mother was highly unstable, it is very likely I also inherited a biological/genetic vulnerability.

 

EXAMPLES OF DAMAGING PARENTING STYLES:

 

1) Dysfunctional and disorganized – this can occur when there is a high level of marital discord or conflict. It is important, here, to point out that even if parents attempt to hide their disharmony, children are still likely to be adversely affected as they tend to pick up on subtle signs of tension.

Chaotic environments can also impact very badly on children. Examples are:

– constant house moves
– parental alcoholism/illicit drug use
– parental mental illness and instability/verbal aggression

 

2) Emotional invalidation. Examples include:

– a parent telling their child they wish he/she could be more like his/her brother/sister/cousin etc.
– a parent telling the child he is ‘just like his father’ (meant disparagingly). This invalidates the child’s unique identity.
– telling a child s/he shouldn’t be upset/crying over something, therefore invalidating the child’s reaction and implying the child’s having such feelings is inappropriate.
– telling the child he/she is exaggerating about how bad something is. Again, this invalidates the child’s perception of how something is adversely affecting him/her.
– a parent telling a child to stop feeling sorry for him/herself and think about good things instead. Again, this invalidates the child’s sadness and encourages him/her to suppress emotions.

Invalidation of a child’s emotions, and undermining the authenticity of their feelings, can lead the child to start demonstrating his/her emotions in a very extreme way in order to gain the recognition he/she previously failed to elicit.

 

3) Child trauma and child abuse – people with BPD have very frequently been abused. However, not all children who are abused develop BPD due to having a biological/genetic RESILIENCE and/or having good emotional support and validation in other areas of their lives (eg at school or through a counselor).

Trauma inflicted by a family member has been shown by research to have a greater adverse impact on the child than abuse by a stranger. Also, as would be expected, the longer the traumatic situation lasts, the more likely it is that the child will develop BPD in adult life.

 

4) Separation and loss – here, the trauma is caused, in large part, due to the child’s bonding process development being disrupted. Children who suffer this are much more likely to become anxious and develop ATTACHMENT DISORDERS as adults which can disrupt adult relationships and cause the sufferer to have an intense fear of abandoment in adult life. They may, too, become very ‘clingy’, fearful of relationships, or a distressing mixture of the two.

This site examines possible therapeutic interventions for BPD and ways the BPD sufferer can help himself or herself to reduce BPD symptoms. It also discusses many other topics related to the experience and effects of childhood trauma (see CATEGORIES in sidebar).

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Brains Of Children Exposed To Domestic Violence Affected In Similar Way To Exposure To Combat

effects_of_domestic_violence_on_children's_brains

A study carried out at University College London (UCL) has found that when a child is continually exposed to domestic violence, such as the father regularly beating the mother, their brains are negatively affected in a similar way to how the brains of soldiers are affected by exposure to combat in war.

As a result, the children’s brains may become HYPERSENSITIVE TO PERCEIVED THREAT, or, to put it informally, ‘stuck on red alert.’  This, in turn, may lead to the child becoming trapped in a distressing state of hyper-vigilance and extreme wariness/distrust of others.

eff ct_of_domestic_violence_on_kids

The research study which discovered this entailed children being shown pictures of angry/threatening faces whilst undergoing a brain scan and from this it was found that their emotional response to these faces was far more intense than was the emotional response of another group of children who were from stable backgrounds (known as the ‘control group’) who underwent the same procedure.

Specifically, the brain scans revealed that the children who had been exposed to domestic violence showed unusually high activity levels in two parts of the brain when shown the pictures of the angry/threatening faces, namely:

1) The anterior insula

2) The amygdala

compared to the children shown exactly the same pictures but whom had had a stable, loving and protected childhood.

amygdala

Similarity to effect of exposure to combat on the brain:

Such increased activity in these two brain regions has also been found to occur, from previous research, in the brains of soldiers who have experienced protracted exposure to armed conflict.

Short-term benefits but long-term losses:

One of the psychological researchers involved in the UCL study pointed out that this changed brain activity may be helpful to children who live in homes where there is domestic violence in the short-term by helping them to avoid danger.

However, in the long-term, the changes may cause the individual severe problems – for example, as an adult the individual may constantly overestimate the degree of danger that other people present to him/ her. In turn, this may lead that same individual to be prone to becoming disproportionately aggressive towards those s/he perceives to be a threat to him/her.

The individual, too, may perceive threats where they, in reality, do not exist due to his/ her constant wariness of others together with a pervasive sense of paranoia.

Resilience:

The researchers involved in this study also drew our attention to the fact that not all children who are exposed to domestic violence develop the kind of mental disturbance described above and that more research needs to be conducted in order to ascertain which factors contribute to this resilience.

Anxiety and depression:

Research also shows that children exposed to domestic violence are at significantly increased risk of developing anxiety and depression (click here to read my article on this); indeed, both the anterior insula and the amygdala play a prominent role in the generation of anxiety disorders.

child_trauma_and_NEUROPLASTICITY, functional_and_structural_ neuroplasticity

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Childhood Trauma Leading To Adult Emotional Shutdown

cut_off_from_emotions

How we were treated as children by our parents/primary carers will inevitably, of course, have given rise to powerful emotions. For those who experienced a stable and affectionate upbringing, most of these emotions will be positive, the most obvious being love.

However, for those of us who experienced difficult, painful and troubled childhoods, many of the emotions triggered in us as a consequence of our traumatic experience will be negative. At some point, because these emotions became so painful in their intensity, many of us may have buried them – a psychological defense mechanism also known as REPRESSION.

There are other reasons, too, why many of us who suffered significant childhood trauma may, as adults, bury/repress our feelings and emotions. For example, we may have been ridiculed, derided and belittled for demonstrating our feelings. Or we may have been punished for showing strong emotional reactions.

We may, too, have been so profoundly hurt by our parents/primary carers that we started to make a deliberate effort to NOT feel things, to protect ourselves from intolerable mental suffering. In this way, we might have adopted a kind of ‘couldn’t care less about anything, including myself’  attitude. For instance, I remember after I came downstairs on my thirteenth birthday, and was entirely ignored by both my divorced, single-parent mother and older brother; walking to school after suffering this deeply humiliating slight, I remember thinking birthdays were no big deal anyway and that I’d never care about them again.

Related to this, we may, too, bury/repress our emotions as a way of trying to communicate to our parents/primary caregivers that they no longer have power over us and that they can no longer hurt us (whether or not this is actually the case); we attempt, in this manner, to render them impotent and simultaneously empower ourselves.

If, due to our childhood experiences, we have shut our feelings and emotions down in this as a means of self-preservation, we may well find, as adults, that we are unable to ‘switch them back on’. If, indeed, we do find ourselves in this situation, we may (falsely) believe that we are now incapable of feeling anything and conclude we have simply become a ‘cold’ person and that the feelings we once had are now permanently numbed or deadened.

Worse still, we may negatively judge ourselves for this, perhaps believing we have become ‘callous’. In fact, in many ways, the opposite is true – it is likely to be because we used to be, in fact, intensely sensitive and felt things too deeply, that we now find ourselves to be unemotional. The pain of feeling emotions became too unbearably strong.

The overwhelming likelihood is, however, that we have not lost our ability to feel but, rather, have deeply buried our emotions. Indeed, we may have buried them so deeply that we would require professional therapy to help us to gently get in touch with them again.

If we do decide to seek therapy to help us to reconnect with our emotions there is, however, a significant chance that, because we may discover very painful, hitherto repressed feelings ( such as anger, despair and mourning for our lost childhood) we may well feel worse before we start to feel better.

repressed_emotions

Above : The view of Sigmund Freud on repressed emotions.

Indeed, Sigmund Freud (pictured above) took the view that repressed emotions were potentially very dangerous and were the primary cause of many mental disturbances. However, it also should be stated that Freud is a somewhat controversial figure in the eyes of many present-day psychologists, despite his widely acknowledged genius.

This is why, when contemplating such therapy, it is important to realise it is not at all a ‘quick-fix’, requires a highly skilled and experienced therapist, may initially cause a worsening of symptoms and, as no therapy is guaranteed, may not be effective in the long-term.

It is because of this that many therapists these days prefer to make use of therapies that address ‘the here and now’ (such as cognitive behavioural therapy – click here to read my article on this) rather than those therapies that focus on the past.

EBook:

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Symptoms Of PTSD Most Prevalent According To Different Age Categories

effects_of_childhood_trauma_ptsf

We have seen in other articles that I have published on this site that severe childhood trauma can lead to us developing serious psychiatric conditions such as borderline personality disorder or BPD (click here to read one of my articles about this) and posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD (sometimes referred to as complex posttraumatic stress disorder, or CPTSD (click here to read my article about some psychologists distinguish between the two).

PTSD_in_children_and_teenagers

In order to be diagnosed with PTSD it is necessary that the individual has displayed the relevant symptoms for a month or more. Unfortunately, in the worst cases, the effects of childhood trauma can last far longer than a month. Indeed, it will sometimes occur that these negative effects last a lifetime unless appropriate therapy is undertaken (to read about available therapies and professional help please refer to the MAIN MENU at the top of this page).

Symptoms of PTSD/CPTSD differ depending upon the age of the person suffering from it. In this article, I want to focus upon how PTSD/CPTSD can express itself in three specific age groups of young people. These three groups are:

a) the under 5 year olds

b) children aged 5 to 12 years

c) teenagers

and I list typical symptoms each age group may experience below:

a) under 5- year -olds:

– SEPARATION ANXIETY : this manifests itself through the young child becoming excessively upset when separated from his/her primary carer or other individual with whom s/he has developed a strong emotional bond.

– ANXIOUS BEHAVIOUR IN GENERAL : this symptom refers to the young child frequently becoming excessively anxious/nervous/fretful. In some cases, the young child may start to show fear of people s/he was previously comfortable with.

– LOSS OF CURIOSITY/INTEREST : the young child may lose his/her sense of curiosity and lose interest in activities s/he once enjoyed such as playing with toys, going to park (indeed, in some cases the child may develop a marked reluctance even to leave the house).

– WITHDRAWAL/LACK OF RESPONSIVENESS: the young child may seem to withdraw into him/herself and become less responsive to external stimuli

– RE-ENACTMENT : sometimes the child will re-enact the trauma through play (eg with dolls etc) or through painting and drawing. This tends to mean that they have become mentally fixated upon the traumatic experience which may impair their ability to develop emotionally and socially

– REGRESSION : developmental problems may even include the young person regressing (click here to read my article about this), in terms of their behaviour and functioning, to an earlier stage of development. In other words, they may start to act as if they were significantly younger than their actual chronological age. For example, if they’d reached the age whereby they were feeding themselves, they may revert to wanting to be fed (demonstrating a sudden increase in their level of dependency).

– SIGNIFICANT DISRUPTION OF SLEEP : this may include the child frquently experiencing nightmares and night terrors

– NEW FEARS : the child may suddenly become fearful of people or situations s/he used to be comfortable with

PTSD_in_children_and_teenagers

b) 6 to 12 -year – olds

– SIGNIFICANT DISRUPTION OF SLEEP : as above

– PSYCHOSOMATIC ACHES AND PAINS : ie aches and pains caused by psychological factors such as stress rather than being caused by physical factors

– PROBLEMS AT SCHOOL : eg inattentiveness, lack of concentration and focus, rebellious and confrontational behaviour, getting into fights.

PTSD_in_children_and_teenagers

c) Teenagers :

– IRRATIONAL GUILT AND SELF-BLAME : it is extremely common for children to wrongly blame themselves for the traumatic events they have experienced (eg many children falsely believe themselves to be the cause of their parents’ divorce).

– FLASHBACKS : ie intrusive, intense and distressing memories of the traumatic events

– NIGHTMARES/NIGHT TERRORS and problems with sleep in general

– AVOIDANCE OF PLACES AND SITUATIONS in which they used to feel safe

– EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIOURAL AGGRESSION: ie reversion to earlier stages of development in relation to their emotions and behaviour (eg by having toddler-like tantrums).

– USE OF DRUGS/ALCOHOL in an effort to numb their emotional pain (sometimes referred to as DISSOCIATING – click here to read my article on this)

– COMING INTO CONFLICT WITH THE LAW eg due to involvement with drugs, shoplifting, fighting/violence, fire starting

– DIFFICULTY CONTROLLING EMOTIONS resulting in , for example, increased impulsivity and hostility/aggression

– SELF-DESTRUCTIVE/SELF-SUBBOTAGING BEHVIOUR

– CONSTANT PUSHING OF BOUNDARIES

– PROBLEMS AT SCHOOL – as above, but on a bigger/escalating scale

– SELF-ISOLATION/SOCIAL WITHDRAWAL and problems with interpersonal relationships in general, including difficulties forming and maintaining friendships/relationships

– INSECURITY which may manifest itself as extreme ‘ clinginess’ in any friendships / relationships that the teenager does manage to form. Click here to read my article about this.

– SEVERE MOOD SWINGS – significantly exceeding what one would expect from an ‘average’ teenager

– DEPRESSION – including loss of interest in, and loss of ability to gain pleasure from (sometimes known as ANHEDONIA – click here to read my article on this) activities that were previously enjoyed

 

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Anger And ‘Thinking Errors’ (Cognitive Distortions).

anger_caused_by_errors_in_thinking_and_unhelpful_learned_beliefs

I have already written several articles which have been published on this site about how certain types of childhood trauma can make it more likely we will develop difficulties with controlling our anger as adults (click here to read one of these articles), or, worse, may lead to us developing psychiatric conditions such as Intermittent Explosive Disorder (click here to read my article on this).

In this article, however, I want to specifically examine how ‘erors in thinking’ can cause us to experience excessive and counterproductive feelings of anger:

 

Thinking errors (sometimes referred to as COGNITIVE DISTORTIONS) we may make that can cause us problems managing our anger as adults:

1)  Jumping to conclusions:

Psychologists also refer to this as ‘mind-reading’ (though this is not meant literally). It means that we may be prone to drawing definite conclusions about what’s motivating another individual based on flimsy evidence. An example might be:

‘I just know that person is deliberately trying to irritate me’

when, in fact, if we were to be more objective, we’d see there was little evidence that the person was , in fact, deliberately trying to do this.

2) Catastrophizing:

This involves exaggerating in our own minds how serious the consequences of something that has gone wrong actually are. People who tend to think in terms of extremes (sometimes referred to as ‘black or white’ thinkers) are particularly likely to do this (ie ‘catastrophize’).

For example, we may tell ourselves that a person ‘has ruined’ our ‘life forever’ and thus become extremely angry whereas a more objective judgement might be that the person has caused us a temporary and quite easily surmountable set-back.

cognitive_errors_and_anger

3) Selective attention/perception:

This involves disproportionately focusing on negatives. For example, we may become very angry with a person by focusing solely on what s/he has done to upset us whilst ignoring the person’s good intentions/motivation and/or all the positive things the person has done for us.

4) Using Emotive Language :

This refers to when we think or speak about a person using exaggerated and emotive language. For example, we might tell ourselves a person is ‘evil’ whereas a more sober assessment of the person we’ve deemed to have wronged us clearly would not warrant such a melodramatic judgment. Therefore, the anger we display towards the person may be as disproportionate as the language we use to describe him/her.

5) Over- generalisation :

This involves seeing a person as always behaving in ways that upset us when, in fact, for example, s/he may only occasionally upsets us with his/her behaviour. A common expression which reflects such over -generalisation is :

‘You never think about anyone but yourself!’

when, in fact, if we gave the matter more thought, we would be able to think of plenty of evidence which contradicted this.

Conclusion:

All of the above then, can make us feel more intensely angry than would be objectively warranted. To put it in a very colloquial way, the above represent examples of how we can fall into a trap of unnecessarily ‘winding ourselves up’. 

anger_and_cognitive_distortions

It is in our own interests to avoid making these errors as anger is so often destructive and counterproductive. Also, being constantly angry is a very painful state of mind which is emotionally exhausting and a waste of energy; energy that could be channelled in far more constructive directions.

Research has shown that a very effective way of treating these types of ‘thinking errors’ is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Click here to read one of my articles on this.

 

Resources:

Control Anger audio download. Click here.

 

EBook:

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Above eBook now available on Amazon for instant download. Click here.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Erotomania: How Childhood Trauma Can Contribute To Its Development In Adulthood.

de_clerambaults_syndrome

Erotomania is also sometimes known as de Clerambault’s Syndrome and refers to a psychotic delusion held by the person suffering from it that someone else is deeply in love with them. This ‘someone else’ usually has an elevated social status such as a pop star, film star or other successful prominent public figure and will usually be completely unobtainable. Usually, too, the sufferer does not know the person they believe to be in love with them but admires him/her from afar (perhaps keeping a scrapbook dedicated to the object of desire).

erotomania

The delusion includes the false belief that the admired person is sending the sufferer covert, subtle messages. The so-called messages (which the admired person is not actually sending – they exist only in the sufferer’s imagination) the sufferer believes, are intended to convey the admired person’s love for him/her and desire to have a relationship with him/her (both males and females can suffer from erotomania).

de_clerambaults_syndrome

The erotomaniac wrongly perceives these ‘messages’ are being sent in various ways which can include the admired one’s facial expressions, posture, body language, looks and glances (even if these are from behind a TV screen). The sufferer of the condition may also believe that the admired one is sending these supposed ‘messages’ telepathically.

Psychologists call such misperceptions delusions of reference (the erotomania believes the admired one’s glances, body language etc are being directed at him/her whereas, in reality, this is not the case).

The delusion is usually elaborate and the sufferer may convince him/herself that the reason the admired one is sending the ‘ messages’ subtly/convertly is because s/he (the admired one, too, can be male or female) is desperately trying to keep the ‘incipient love-affair’ (as the sufferer of the condition perceives it) a secret from the media and public.

de_clerambaults_syndrome

Above: Front cover of Ian McEwan’s utterly compelling novel about a de Clerambault’s syndrome sufferer, ambiguously entitled : Enduring Love.

Because the erotomaniac believes the admired one is encouraging him/her to communicate, the sufferer of the condition will frequently bombard the high status individual with letters, phone calls (if the erotomaniac has managed to obtain the relevant phone number – and s/he is likely to go to extraordinary lengths to do just this) and unsolicited gifts.

The sufferer of the condition may, too, start to stalk the admired one, perhaps standing outside his/her house, gazing through windows or going so far as to repeatedly knock at the victim’s door and try to gain entrance. In some cases, the police may become involved as the erotomaniac frequently becomes intensely obsessive about forming a relationship (or, as the sufferer perceives the case to be, taking the ‘relationship’  with the admired person to ‘the next level’) and may pursue him/her with a disturbingly tenacious zeal.

de_clerambault's _syndrome

Above : The great British writer, Ian McEwan, author of Enduring Love.

It cannot be stressed too much the sufferer’s belief that the admired person is deeply in love with him/her is patently false and delusional. However, if a third party tries to gently explain to the erotomaniac that s/he is, as it were, barking up the wrong tree, s/he will often become upset, hostile, angry and highly defensive.

So the erotomaniac’s  belief is resolutely and unquestioningly held – indeed, the belief becomes central to his/her raison d’etre. All evidence against the belief being true is discounted by him/her. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of the individual who suffers from erotomania is that s/he completely lacks insight into his/her delusional state.

It has been estimated that about 15 people out of every 100,000 suffer from erotomania; however, this figure is likely to be an underestimate as those who suffer from the condition tend to avoid becoming involved with psychiatric services.

Erotomania can exist as a primary condition (ie exist on its own in the absence of any other psychiatric condition) or it may be secondary to coditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

A major factor that may contribute to its development is thought to be a childhood which involved being rejected, abandoned or feeling unloved. However, because the condition is, comparatively speaking, so rarely seen within the world of psychiatry and psychology more research is needed.

Interestingly, it has also been found by researchers that some people who have suffered damage to their brain’s right hemisphere spontaneously develop the condition.

Some sufferers of the condition respond to psychiatric medication and it is also thought that cognitive behavioural therapy can play a useful role in some cases.

The superb writer, Ian McEwan, has written an utterly compelling novel in which the central character is suffering from de Clerambault’s syndrome in the ambiguously entitled Enduring Love (front cover pictured above).

 

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Signs Of Obsessive Love Disorder

signs_of_obsessive_love_disorder

I have written in other posts (eg click here) on this site about how some forms of childhood trauma may lead the traumatised individual, in later life, to develop what has been referred to as ‘obsessive love disorder’).

But how do we know how if we are suffering from this condition? What are the signs?

signs_of_obsessive_love_disorder

Signs of suffering from obsessive love disorder:

Experts involved in the study of the phenomenon of obsessive love disorder have identified the following possible signs that we may be suffering from the condition:

– finding that people who used to be important to us, when compared to the desired one, no longer seem so important to us any more; instead, they seem to pale into insignificance.

– the desired one completely fails to reciprocate our feelings; instead s/he is indifferent, cold or hostile

– feelings of awkwardness, self-consciousness and interpersonal discomfort when in the presence of the desired one. Terrified of saying something ‘dumb’

– as a result of above, when with the desired one we become tongue-tied, our mind goes blank, our voice may shake or change tone, we may stutter and find conversation becomes very stilted or quickly grinds to a (from our perspective) premature stop

– we feel isolated and alienated from society, exacerbated by the fact that we believe that nobody could ever possibly understand the ardency of our passion nor the agony that accompanies the permanently abiding knowledge of our intense feelings remaining resolutely, stubbornly, adamantly, inflexibly and insurmountably unrequited.

– related to the above, we may hold the firm belief that ‘no one could ever possibly love, as much as [we] do’ the object of our desire

– find that we cannot stop thinking about the person

– believe that whether we feel ecstatic or despairing, both now and in the future, lies entirely under the control of the desired one and that, in relation to this, we have no, or, at best, severely circumscribed, control over our own destiny.

– feelings of lightheadedness/dizziness/faintness when in the presence of the person

– feelings towards that desired one can quickly fluctuate between love and hate

– seeing the desired one as having ‘transcended normal humanity’, almost as if s/he is, in fact, a kind of demi-god

– feeling that our own sense of personal identity is gradually becoming eroded away

– the object of desire is a person that we don’t know on a personal level or is someone we have never actually met (such as a film star)

– the person is, by any objective and realistic viewpoint, unobtainable

– feelings of wanting to ‘possess’ the object of desire, even involving fantasies of capturing and locking him/her up (as occurs in the novel called ‘The Collector’ by the brilliant writer John Fowles).

signs_of_obsessive_love

Above: Cover illustration of John Fowles’ brilliant book, The Collector. 

 

It’s Just An Illusion.

Sigmund Freud suggested that our IDEALIZTION of the desired one is a PROJECTION of our ideal self. In other words, we create in our minds a fantasy figure who possesses the ideal traits, characteristics, qualities and values that we ourselves would like to have and project these onto the desired one.

Therefore, the desired one, as we perceive him/her, is an illusion/fantasy figure created by our own emotional needs.

Freud pointed out that this was an immature form of love and that, if mature love were to develop for the desired  person, then our fantasy image of perfection of this person would need to be discarded and replaced by a more realistic (‘warts and all’) image of him/her.

It should be noted, however, that even within relationships based on ‘mature love’, partners often see each other through, as the expression has it, ‘rose tinted glasses'; this acts, unconsciously, as an adaptive psychological mechanism to help cement the relationship and, in evolutionary terms, provide a better environment in which to raise children.

Possible Causes:

Often, people who suffer from this tortuous condition have suffered significant childhood trauma in one way or another. This may have ncluded:

– abuse

– abandonment

– rejection

– neglect

– being made to feel unlovable / unworthy of love

Such experiences, in turn, may lead to us, as adults :

– feeling deeply inadequate

– feeling intensely insecure

– having very poor self-esteem

– becoming emotionally and psychologically dependent upon others

All of the above correlate with the likelihood of any given individual developing obsessive love disorder.

Resources:

Ten steps to overcoming insecurity in relationships – click here

EBook:

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Above eBook now available from Amazon for instant download. Other titles available. Click here.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Splitting: Effects of BPD Parent Seeing The Child Only In Terms Of ‘All Good’ Or ‘All Bad’.

BPD parents who split their children

Parents with borderline personality disorder (BPD) – click here to read one of my articles on signs that a parent may have BPD- have a pronounced tendency to project – click here to read one of my articles ‘projection and other defense mechanisms – aspects of their own self-view onto their children.

For example, if the parent sees him/herself as possessing a very bad side to his/her nature, s/he may well project this view of him/herself onto the child and thus view him/her (ie the child) as being a very bad person.

If the parent also regards part of his/her own nature to be very good, s/he will also, at times, project this view of him/herself onto his/her child, idealising the young person.

Indeed, often those with BPD will switch between these extremes of self-aggradizement and mental self- laceration.

However, these two projections/views of the child will tend to vascillate so that the child, depending on the parent’s whim, is sometimes treated as if s/he is all-bad and sometimes as if s/he is all-good. As far as the parent is concerned, there is no middle ground; there are no shades of gray, just black and white, when it comes to the parent’s assessment of the child’s moral worth.

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There is likely too, to be a significant degree of randomness and unpredictability attached to how the parent chooses to view the child at any given point in time; this creates an alarming and distressing state of confusion in the child’s mind.

SPLITTING

What the parent is doing in the scenarios described above is described by psychologists as ‘splitting’ : seeing things in terms of one extreme or the other.

But why does this happen? Essentially, the parent manifests this ‘splitting behaviour’ because s/he has failed to develop the capacity to see that people tend to be a mixture of good and bad but only as ‘all-good’ or ‘all-bad’ at any given point in time.

The child will only be seen as ‘all-good’ for as long as long as s/he acts strictly in accord with the parent’s wishes/demands. However, as hinted at above, the parent might keep shifting the goal posts so that how the parent wants the child to behave becomes nebulous and opaque.

Primarily, as far as the parent is concerned, it is essential that the child remain at all times utterly obedient, loyal, compliant and amenable to satisfying his/her (ie the parent’s) emotional needs. As long as the child can do this, s/he is approved of and accepted by the parent.

However, it is, of course, impossible for the child to keep up with the parent’s overly exacting expectations and perpetually fulfil their insatiable emotional needs.

It is also impossible for the child to keep the parent permanently appeased as to do so would involve entirely subjugating his/her own will, identity and authenticity to the impossible demands of the parent. To allow this to happen would be psychologically shattering to the child as his/her own psychological development would be severely impeded and, even, arrested. S/he would exist only as the parent’s ‘puppet.’

Indeed, the child who has these impossibly exacting demands upon him/her is very likely to develop:

– depression

– feelings of helplessness (click here to read my article on LEARNED HELPLESSNESS)

– anger/resentment

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When the child, utterly unavoidably, fails to satisfy the parent’s perpetual and unmeetable needs, the parent is liable to swap from idealizing him/her to demonizing him/her. Indeed, the parent may express intense verbal hostility towards the child or even resort to physical violence against him/her.

Indeed, when the parent view of the child swings to seeing him/her as ‘all-bad’, s/he may express intense hatred towards the young person. My own mother, before I was a teenager, would scream at me that she ‘felt murderous towards’ me or that she felt ‘evil towards’ me and that she ‘despaired’ that I had ‘ever been born’, so I know just how devastating being demonized by a parent can be.

In accordance with this confusing treatment the child may grow into an adult who is very uncertain about their own identity and about what kind of a person they really are. Reflecting how they were perceived by their parent as a child, they may constantly switch their self-image from an idealised one to a demonized one.

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Above eBook now available on Amazon for instant download. Other titles available. Click here for more information.

Other Resources:

Build self-esteem – click here

10 steps to self-esteem – click here

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Child Trauma Linked To Adult Poverty. But Does Money Buy Happiness?

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I have written elsewhere about how, if we suffered significant childhood trauma, we are more likely to have financial difficulties in adulthood compared to those who had a more stable childhood, all else being equal. A main reason for this is that we are more likely than average to develop emotional and psychological problems which can impede progress in our chosen career.

However, does having a large amount of money actually make people happier?

A study about this, conducted by researchers at Princeton University, found that those with wealth tended to be no happier in terms of their ‘moment to moment’ experience of life than those who did not possess such wealth. The researchers concluded that: ‘the view that high income is associated with good mood is widespread but mainly illusory.’

One aspect of the study was to compare those who earned $20,000 per year with those who earned $100,000 per year. The result of this survey was that the high earners experienced bad mood states during the course of their day-to-day lives only very slightly less frequently than the low earners.

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Whilst individual wealth has increased dramatically since 1960, this has not made us any happier

Other research has found that once a person is earning $75,000 per annum, any subsequent increase in earnings (even extreme increases) make no significant difference to the person’s happiness.

It has also been found, however, that those who don’t merely lack wealth, but actually live in a state of poverty/have very low income are more likely to feel unhappiness than the average non-poverty stricken individual. The main reasons for this are thought to be:

– increased stress, anxiety and worry (eg about paying bills, debts etc)

– lack of control in life / perceived lack of control in life

– feelings of inadequacy and failure induced by comparing selves with the financially well-off (made worse by living in a consumerist and materialistic society that tends to equate financial success with higher social status/more worth as a person)

– deprivation of dignity

– a sense of ‘missing out’ in life (irrespective of whether this ‘missing out’ is real or imagined).

As having sufficient money helps a person to avoid the the above problems, whilst money does not seem to have much effect on increasing happiness, it does appear that it can decrease unhappiness.

However, over-focusing and becoming obsessive about acquiring wealth can get in the way of enjoying the things in life which we could be enjoying without it.

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Finally, further research has concluded that if we want to spend our money in ways that are most likely to benefit our psychological and emotional health we should be guided by the following findings:

– people tend to derive more satisfaction from spending money on experiences (eg going to the theatre) than on material possessions (eg buying a new watch).

– people often gain more satisfaction by spending money on others rather than on themselves

– in general, people get more satisfaction by using their time to make and solidify good relationships with others rather than using it to make superfluous money

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Above eBook now available on Amazon for immediate download. Click here for details.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).