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

childhood_trauma_and_early_signs_of_psychosis

‘Character depends essentially on whether a person is given love, protection, tenderness and understanding during the formative years or is exposed to rejection, coldness, indifference and cruelty.’

Alice Miller.


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

Kurt Cobain bpd
Did Kurt Cobain Suffer 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 abandonment 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.

 

 

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

Traumatic Memories Stored Differently To Normal Memories

brocas area, traumatic memories

Traumatic memories are first received by the part of the brain called the AMYGDALA for initial processing and are then sent on to another brain region known as the HIPPOCAMPUS. (Both the amygdala and hippocampus are part of the brain’s LIMBIC SYSTEM, which can be thought of as the brain’s EMOTIONAL CENTRE.

The function of the HIPPOCAMPUS is to help the brain with INTEGRATING MEMORIES; in order to help achieve this, extremely functions are performed by the HIPPOCAMPUS, including :

1) Connecting a memory to other memories

2) Placing the memory accurately in time and space so that it is integrated into one’s narrative of one’s life / properly contextualized in relation to one’s life history

3) Linking and connecting different aspects of any one particular memory to each other in a cohesive and coherent manner

4)  Sending the memory on to another part of the brain known as the PREFRONTAL CORTEX which subsequently sends it on to a specific part of the LEFT PREFRONTAL CORTEX called BROCA’S AREA; arrival here allows the memory to be named (verbally) and made logical sense of.

THE ABOVE PROCESS APPLIES TO ‘NORMAL’ MEMORIES.

HOWEVER, RESEARCH SUGGESTS THAT TRAUMATIC MEMORIES ARE PROCESSED AND STORED IN A DIFFERENT (AND DYSFUNCTIONAL) WAY. This seems to be due to a number of factors which I describe below:

1) Individuals with a history of trauma tend to have a SHRUNKEN HIPPOCAMPUS which in turn negatively affects its functioning when it is required to attempt to process subsequent traumatic events.

2) Furthermore, in such traumatized individuals, BROCA’S AREA SHUTS DOWN and OTHER PARTS OF THE PREFRONTAL CORTEX DEVELOP IMPAIRED FUNCTIONALITY.

3) However, these individuals, because of their traumatic histories, also develop problems with the functioning of their AMYGDALAE  – in such people, the AMYGDALA becomes hyper-responsive to stress, including, importantly, traumatic memories.

4) Traumatic memories seem to become lodged in the brain’s RIGHT HEMISPHERE (as opposed to the brain’s more logical, left hemisphere) which leads to :

– the traumatic memories being verbally inexpressible

– the traumatic memories being fragmented

– the traumatic memories being highly emotionally charged / highly emotionally distressing

– the traumatic memories lacking cohesiveness and coherence, making them seemingly unintelligible and resistant to logical analysis

– the traumatic memories remaining unprocessed

– the traumatic memories remaining unstored in the brain’s normal memory ‘file’ and, thus, unintegrated into the normal memory system

 

UNPROCESSED TRAUMATIC MEMORIES AND TRIGGERS :

The above also means that the traumatized individual is now very vulnerable to having their poorly integrated and dysfunctionally stored traumatic memories triggered by anything that reminds them of the original trauma (on either a conscious or unconscious level).

This leads to a situation in which objectively inconsequential and trivial events/reminders of the original trauma can trigger in traumatized individuals a severe emotional reaction including intense fear, terror, anger, and panic attacks, almost as if, in fact,  they were experiencing the original trauma for the first time.

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

Parental Antipathy Towards The Child And Psychological Abuse

The psychological researcher Moran, PhD, differentiates parental‘antipathy’ (towards the child) from ‘psychological abuse’, although there is clearly considerable overlap between the two.

Sadly, as a child, I had both inflicted upon me : direct, unmitigated psychological abuse came mainly from my mother, then, after she threw me out of her house when I was thirteen and I had to go and live with my father and stepmother, they subjected me to constant and unrelenting antipathy. I can only remember my father giving me one compliment in the years I lived with him and his second wife; from my stepmother, I recall none. My constant, overriding and abiding sense was that they both, frankly, disdained my very presence. In fact, I was essentially ignored unless they felt the need to criticize me, reprimand me, humiliate me or give me a (usually superfluous) instruction.

My mother’s last words, before I left her house, not addressed to me but to my father (who had come to pick me up in his car), regarding me, and in my presence, were : ‘Get this fucking little bastard out of my house and never bring it (she did not, apparently, deem it fit to dignify me with a personal pronoun) back’. And then, on the day I moved into my father’s house I was reminded by him that I was not wanted and was ‘being  done a great favour.’ I recall his precise words, in fact : ‘Remember! When Janet [my stepmother] married me, you weren’t part of the deal!’  You will agree, I think, that the implications of these words were fairly unambiguous?

My mothers’ (above) words were, fairly obviously, an example of psychological abuse, whilst my father’s words (above), equally obviously, were an example of antipathy. However, I have written about these incidents elsewhere, so will not elaborate further upon my personal experiences here; instead, I shall endeavour to define the terms ‘psychological abuse’ and ‘antipathy’ (as a form of emotional abuse) in more general terms:

According to Moran (see above), antipathy expressed towards the child by the parent involves the parent treating the child with constant  coldness and/or irritation, frequently intimating, or directly expressing, dislike/distaste and behaving towards the child in a generally rejecting manner.

Whereas, also according to Moran, psychological abuse can be split up into the following subcategories:

– terrorizing (such as playing on the child’s deepest fears)

– extreme rejection (such as driving a child to a distant location, making him/her get out of the car and leaving him/her there)

– humiliation

– cognitive disorientation (such as blatantly lying to the child in a way that causes mental confusion and/or undermines the child’s sense of reality; for example, verbally abusing the child and then denying it ever happened)

– deprivation of basic needs (eg sleep)

– deprivation of valued objects (eg a favourite soft toy the child relies on to feel less emotionally insecure)

– inflicting marked distress and discomfort

– corruption (eg encouraging the child to deal drugs)

[It is worth noting, too, that although Modern does not classify them as psychological abuse, he points out that role-reversal (whereby the parent turns the child into his/her carer) and making the child feel frequent shame (eg the parent may frequently get drunk and show up his/her child in front of his/her friends, or make the child wear filthy, shabby clothes to school)) can both inflict severe emotional harm upon the child].

Related Resource:

eBook:

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

A Description Of Different Types Of Guilt

types of guilt

I have discussed in many other articles that I have published on this site that if we experienced significant childhood trauma then, as adults, we are at increased risk of having a negative self-view and, therefore, of being particularly prone to feelings of guilt,  frequently including much irrational guilt (unless, that is, our childhood experiences have turned us into a psychopath, as psychopaths feel very little or no guilt as I have written about here).

Therefore, in this article, I thought it might be interesting to consider the main types of guilt which I list, and describe, below:

 

The Main Types Of Guilt:

1) Guilt arising from acts of commission:

This refers to guilt a person feels due to a particular way s/he has acted; in simple terms, then, it is the feeling of guilt about something we have done wrong such as harming someone else and/or falling short of our own specific moral standards.

2) Guilt arising from acts of omission :

This refers to guilt induced by not doing something we feel we should have done such as not visiting a dying relative in hospital or not ever donating to charity.

3) Guilt arising from one’s own unwanted desires:

This refers to guilt caused by desiring to do something, even though we haven’t done it. For example, 50 years ago in the UK, when homosexuality was illegal and thought by many to be immoral, many gay individuals felt guilty about even thinking about having a homosexual relationship (the British comic and actor Kenneth Williams was internally tormented in this way as is made clear in his diaries – sadly, he eventually committed suicide)

4) Survivor guilt :

This form of guilt is frequently associated with soldiers who have survived a battle in which their comrades died. However, it can also apply in other situations such as when a family member survives a car crash in which all other family members died.

5) Feeling guilty about something we think is our fault (when, in fact, it is not):

This type of guilt is irrational guilt and frequently occurs in those who have experienced child abuse. You can read more about how this happens by reading my article : ‘How The Child’s View Their Own ‘Badness’ Is Perpetuated.’ or another of my articles : ‘Overcoming Guilt Caused By Childhood Trauma.’

Possible Treatments For Pathological / Irrational Guilt:

Acceptance And Commitment Therapy (ACT) can be a helpful treatment for feelings of guilt deriving from unwanted desires (see number 3 above) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can work well for those whose guilt stems from irrational thinking.

 

Conclusion:

A certain amount of appropriate guilt is functional as it keeps our behavior in check and thus facilitates our interaction with others.

However, guilt can become highly dysfunctional and ‘toxic’ when we obsessively ruminate on our mistakes to no purpose; feelings of such ‘pathological’ guilt are very common in those suffering from clinical depression and, as we saw above, those who were subjected to child abuse.

Related Resource:

OVERCOME SHAME AND GUILT – downloadable MP3. Click here.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

How Our Own Pain Can Reduce Our Concern About The Pain Of Others

According to psychodynamic theory, if, as young children, we experienced feelings which caused us severe psychological pain, we are likely to have REPRESSED them (buried them in our unconscious) as continuing to experience them would have been intolerable to us. This results in the pain remaining UNPROCESSED and UNRESOLVED.

However, although this process (which is automatically triggered on an unconscious level rather than deliberately willed) means we are no longer directly aware of this psychological pain, there is a very heavy price to pay – namely that the repressed feelings start to wreak psychological havoc with us ‘behind the scenes’, even though we are not aware it is doing so. (We may, many years later, however, gain insight into the mechanics of this process with the help of an effective therapist).

unconscious mind

Above : Most of what goes on in the mind and influences our feelings and behaviour happens beneath the surface (on an unconscious level). Even what we consider to be our ‘conscious choices’ are heavily affected by information held in our unconscious of which we are utterly unaware.

For example, if a mother does not provide her infant with love and affection, the infant’s desperate need for this love and affection will be so intense and unbearable that s/he REPRESSES this need and the feelings associated with having the need unmet. Whilst this process of repression removes the pain of his/her need for love from conscious awareness, the repressed information will, nevertheless, express itself indirectly; for example, the child may start to have intense nightmares. And, as the child continues to get older, s/he is very likely display other symptoms of the repression, such as becoming highly disruptive in the classroom (and, perhaps, as a result, being inappropriately diagnosed with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD).

REPRESSION SHUTS DOWN OUR FEELINGS IN GENERAL, INCLUDING OUR FEELINGS FOR OTHERS :

In both children and adults, when we are repressing severe psychological pain our feelings in general tend to shut down – they become blunt and we may consequently feel ‘numb’, as if we are’living in a dream world‘ or as if we are ‘zombies‘ and functioning on ‘autopilot’.

download

Tragically, when our feelings shut down in this way, life becomes essentially meaningless – because of this, the pain of others, too, becomes less of a concern for us and we may find a significant reduction, therefore, in feelings of empathy and sympathy where others are concerned.. We become, in effect, desensitized to both our own pain and that of others.

Also, we are expending so much mental energy on the process of repression (although we are unaware of this) we lack the mental energy to focus on the needs of others. We are overwhelmed and engulfed by our own problems. Indeed, the more we are repressing, the more mental energy we will be expending, and the more shutdown our feelings, for both ourselves and others, are likely to be.

A Possible Psychodynamic Solution :

In order to recover, according to psychodynamic theory, it is necessary, under the guidance of a suitably qualified therapist, to bring the painful, hitherto repressed, information into consciousness and then work through it and process it in such a way that the issue becomes resolved. This is a complex process, and, therefore, the expertise and experience of the therapist is of paramount importance.

Related Resource :

 

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

Basic Human Emotional Needs

basic human emotional needs

We have seen from numerous other articles that I have published on this site that if we suffered significant childhood trauma we are at much increased risk, as adults, of developing various psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, complex post traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism / drug addiction.

These mental illnesses can lead to a whole host of behavioral problems such as an inability to control emotions and unstable personal interaction, especially with intimate partners.

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that, due to such problems, many of our emotional needs may fail to be met.

But what are our basic human emotional needs? I list some of the main ones below:

 

A LIST OF SOME BASIC HUMAN EMOTIONAL NEEDS (in no particular order) :

Image result for unmet emotional needs

A CAPACITY TO TRUST : this includes both being able to trust others and trust oneself

OPTIMISM / HOPE FOR THE FUTURE : having the ability to adopt a positive mental attitude whilst guarding against unrealistically high expectations

A MEANINGFUL LIFE PURPOSE : including meaningful work and relationships

CONTRIBUTION TO SOCIETY / OTHERS : having a sense of ‘giving something back’ in life

CONNECTION TO SOCIETY / OTHERS : feeling connected to one’s community, culture, family, friends and society in general

ABILITY TO ADAPT / FLEXIBILITY : having good coping abilities when things work out less then ideally / not as one expected

SENSE OF CONTROL / PERSONAL AUTONOMY : having freedom of choice and being able to direct one’s own life / confidence to make one’s own decisions

A CAPACITY FOR SELF-ACCEPTANCE : including being in touch with, and respectful of, one’s own needs and being compassionate with oneself when one makes mistakes

FREEDOM FOR SELF-EXPRESSION / AUTHENTIC LIVING : not being afraid to be oneself and being able to express that self free of fear or intimidation

STATUS AND RECOGNITION : being treated as an equal and being accepted for oneself ; not being treated as inferior / beneath others / as a ‘second class citizen’

FEELING SAFE AND SECURE : this includes feeling safe within one’s family and in one’s personal space and being free from fear of physical or psychological attack/intimidation

LOVE AND AFFECTION : this includes being able to both give and receive love and affection

(NB. this list is not intended to be exhaustive)

 

Of course, different individuals will attach different degrees of importance to the above emotional needs.

WHY MIGHT OUR EMOTIONAL NEEDS REMAIN UNMET?

Accepting, admitting (both to ourselves and to others) and facing up to our unmet emotional needs can feel very awkward, uncomfortable or painful. Indeed, we may avoid thinking about them, or distract ourselves from them by, for example, working excessively hard (sometimes informally referred to as ‘workaholism‘) albeit, perhaps, with a constant, inner, vague aching sensation for something of fundamental value missing from our lives (even though we may not be consciously aware of, much of the time, what that ‘something‘ is), creating a sense of emptiness.

A certain amount of courage may, therefore, be required if we are to set about trying to meet our thus far unsatisfied emotional needs, whether we attempt to do it with the aid of a professional therapist, through self-help, or through a combination of the two.

Related Resources:

Get in touch with your emotions – click here

Improve self-acceptance – click here

Learn to trust again – click here

Control your emotions – click here

Increase positivity – click here

Accept love – click here

Develop optimism – click here

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shame And Its Agonizing Effects

As we have seen from other articles I have published on this site, those who suffer severe trauma in early life may go on to experience irrational, deep-seated feelings of shame in adulthood, particularly if they have developed conditions highly likely to be linked to their adverse childhood experiences such as clinical depression or borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Feelings of shame can be excruciatingly painful; at their worst, they can cause us to completely isolate ourselves so that we avoid contact with others to the extent that we may become virtual recluses, perhaps only daring to venture out of our house or flat when absolutely necessary. Indeed, the word ‘shame‘ derives from the Indian word ‘sham‘ which means ‘to hide.’

What Is Shame?

When we feel ashamed we feel very negatively about ourselves and believe we are, to put it simply, a deeply bad person. We also tend to assume that others are judging us in a similarly disparaging manner. The sensation of shame also frequently involves feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, incompetence, self-disgust, self-hatred, anxiety, anger, bodily tension, nausea and sweating/feeling too hot.

Effects On Relationships :

Because of our own jaundiced and self-lacerating view of ourselves, we assume others will feel the same way about us (or soon will do once they discover’ what a ‘horrible and disgusting’ person we are). We therefore avoid trying to form close relationships, believing such efforts to be futile given that we will ‘inevitably be rejected’ once the ‘real’ us is ‘discovered.’

Other Possible Effects Of Shame :

We may also try to psychologically defend ourselves from deep rooted feelings of shame. For example :

– we may become preoccupied with managing a superficial image of ourselves when interacting with others which we desperately hope will keep ‘our true badness‘ concealed; this can lead to the creation of a ‘false self’ which precludes any chance of authentic or meaningful interaction with others (in other words, we ‘become afraid to be who we are’).

   – perfectionism / ‘workaholism’ (in a desperate attempt to compensate for the profound inner feelings of inadequacy and inferiority that may accompany a pervasive sense of shame).’Workaholism’ and perfectionism are both extremely precarious ways of maintaining some semblance of self-respect and self-esteem as we tend to continually set ourselves targets which, inevitably, we sometimes fail to achieve. We are then highly vulnerable to suffering a catastrophic collapse in our sense of self-worth as it has not been built upon strong enough, nor sustainable, foundations.

Image result for shame

Differentiating Between Three Types Of Shame :

We can differentiate between three specific types of shame. These are :

1) INTERNAL SHAME

2) EXTERNAL SHAME

3) REFLECTED SHAME

I define these three types of shame below :

Internal Shame : this is a sense of shame we feel about ourselves

External Shame : this is when we perceive that others have a very low view of us which makes us feel ashamed

Reflected Shame : this is when we feel shame vicariously due to how someone else connected yo us has behaved, such as a family member or a member of a group with which we identify.

Often, a sense of internal shame and external shame co-exist within the same person. However, in the case of shame related to childhood trauma, we may (irrationally) feel a strong sense of internal shame even though we can accept that others are not negatively evaluating us as a result of what happened to us (i.e. there is an absence of external shame).

A POSSIBLE SOLUTION : COMPASSION FOCUSED THERAPY :

There is evidence to suggest that COMPASSION FOCUSED THERAPY may be of particular benefit to those suffering from distress connected to the experience of shame.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

 

Feelings Of Emptiness : A System To Reduce Them

reducing feelings of emptiness

It is extremely common for those of uswho have suffered severe childhood trauma, especially if we’ve gone on to develop borderline personality disorder (BPD) as a consequence, to experience feelings of profound despair and emptiness – this involves feeling that life is utterly devoid of meaning or purpose and a general sense of being emotionally numb or ‘dead inside.’

Such feelings of emptiness are also symptomatic of clinical depression and anhedonia (a condition that prevents one from being able to experience any feelings of pleasure), both of which illnesses are associated with the person suffering from them having undergone early life trauma).

How We Attempt To Cope With Feelings Of Emptiness In Dysfunctional Ways :

Dysfunctional ways of trying to lessen feelings of emptiness include the following :

  • overeating
  • drinking too much
  • harmful use of narcotics
  • smoking
  • overspending / compulsive shopping
  • overuse of internet / social media
  • overuse of computer games
  • gambling
  • promiscuous sex
  • inappropriately gaining attention of others (e.g. by getting angry, over-caretaking, being a compulsive ‘people-pleaser’, blaming others)

The Link Between Feelings Of Emptiness And Self-Abandonment :

Feelings of emptiness have been linked to the concept known as self-abandonment. Self-abandonment is characterized by extreme self-judgment, ignoring / not paying proper attention to one’s feelings and emotions, dissociation, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-compassion.

Developmental And Systems Approach For Reducing Feelings Of Emptiness :

Charles Wang M.D, developed a therapeutic system to address feelings of emptiness called the Developmental And Systems Approach.

Initially, this system was developed to help to quickly stabilize psychiatric inpatients.

The system focuses on five key areas :

  1. The patient is helped to understand that feelings of profound emptiness are at the root of many of his/her problems
  2. The patient is helped to form a more accurate sense of his/her relationship with others with whom s/he interacts
  3. The patient is encouraged to understand the underlying causes of his/her ‘acting out‘ behaviours
  4. The patient is encouraged to accept that s/he is in a state of deep emotional pain in order to help to motivate him/her to undergo treatment
  5. The patient is empowered to undergo this treatment

As well as helping to reduce feelings of emptiness, Wang’s Developmental And Systems Approach also seeks to help individuals develop feelings of trust and security.

RELATED RESOURCE:

Hypnosis MP3 :

DOWNLOADABLE SELF-HYPNOSIS MP3 : FINDING MEANING IN LIFE.

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

Vital Environmental Factors That Can Prevent Recovery From PTSD And BPD

secondary victimization

If, as a result of childhood trauma, we have developed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or borderline personality disorder (BPD) our post-traumatic environment can have an extremely strong impact upon our chances of recovery. I list some particularly important factors below :

  • LACK OF SUPPORT FROM FRIENDS, FAMILY AND THE WIDER COMMUNITY / SOCIETY

If we are not provided with such support, but, instead, are shunned and ignored, it is highly likely that our feelings of worthlessness, vulnerability and isolation will be intensified.

Support needs to be non-judgmental, empathic and validating both of our emotional pain and also of our interpretation of how our adverse experiences have affected us.

Also, those providing the support need to be ’emotionally literate’ (i.e. able and willing to discuss feelings and emotions in a compassionate and understanding manner)

  • NOT BEING BELIEVED

Obviously, if people we talk to about our traumatic experiences don’t believe what we are saying or believe we are exaggerating the seriousness of what happened to us (or the seriousness of the effect it has had upon us) our psychological condition is likely to be severely aggravated : our lack of self-esteem, sense of despair, sense of worthlessness, sense of unlovability, feelings of isolation and any feelings of anger, bitterness and resentment we may have are all likely to be severely intensified.

  •  SECONDARY VICTIMIZATION

We need to avoid those who would cause us secondary victimization. Secondary victimization occurs when those who ought to be helping us instead harm us further. Indeed, the example of not being believed (see above) is one such form of secondary victimization.

Other examples of secondary victimization include :

having a doctor who minimizes / trivializes the seriousness of what has occurred to us and its effects

– being stigmatized by society for having developed a psychiatric condition

– being shunned and ostracized by friends / family due to our condition

– being made to feel ashamed in connection with what has happened to us and its effects

– having the vulnerable nature we have developed as a result of our mental condition exploited by an intimate partner (the risk of this is especially high as those who have suffered significant abuse in their early lives are frequently (on an unconscious level) driven to seek out intimate partners who are likely to abuse them further (this is sometimes referred to as a repetition compulsion).

Above eBook now available from Amazon for immediate download. Click here.

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