Category Archives: Bpd Articles

Questioning The Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Diagnosis

We have seen that if a person has suffered significant and protracted childhood trauma, s/he is at greatly increased risk of being diagnosed, as an adult, with borderline personality disorder (BPD). According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (usually abbreviated to DSM), a person diagnosed with BPD must meet at least FIVE of the following nine criteria:

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

NB These symptoms must have been stable characteristics present for at least six months

questioning BPD diagnosis

However, some theorists and researchers have pointed out certain problems with defining BPD in this manner and question the validity of the diagnosis; I outline the most serious of these problems below :

1) In order to be diagnosed with BPD, a person need display just five of the above nine symptoms. It logically follows from this that two people could each be diagnosed with five of the above symptoms, yet have only one of those five symptoms in common with one another. In other words, two people could each be manifesting very different symptoms, yet receive identical diagnoses.

2) Stipulating that an individual must have five or more of the above symptoms is essentially arbitrary (why not four or six?). Also, linked to this criticism, there seems to be a third problem with the diagnosis :

3) The third problem is this : a person with four of the above symptoms, even if they were very severe, would have to be (according to the diagnostic criteria) diagnosed as NOT having BPD whereas a person who just manages to be judged to be displaying five symptoms (even if none are as severe as the first person’s four symptoms) WOULD be diagnosed as having BPD. This brings us onto the fourth problem with the diagnosis :

4) In accordance with the diagnostic criteria, an individual is either deemed to HAVE BPD or NOT HAVE BPD. In other words, it is an ‘all or nothing’ diagnosis which doesn’t allow for grey areas. This is ironic as one of the symptoms BPD sufferers are said to show is ‘black and white’ or ‘all or nothing thinking’ (such as seeing others as ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’ but never as anything inbetween).

Because of this problem, some critics have suggested that it would be better to view BPD as a ‘spectrum’ disorder, with each individual occupying a specific place on this spectrum (in the way that autism is treated as a spectrum disorder).

5) A diagnosis of BPD does not seem to describe a unique, separate, distinct disorder clearly delineated from other personality disorders ; indeed, many who have been diagnosed with BPD are found to suffer from comorbid conditions such as antisocial personality disorder and narcissistic disorder

In conclusion it should be mentioned that many critics of the BPD diagnosis feel many individuals have been wrongly diagnosed with it (and unnecessarily stigmatized) and should be diagnosed with complex post traumatic stress disorder instead.

In relation to the above, you may wish to read these other posts:

Other Resources :

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Can Children Be Diagnosed With Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is usually diagnosed in adulthood or late adolescence. But can children suffer from this serious psychiatric condition?

Unfortunately, there exists a paucity of academic research published on this particular topic, but some research and evidence relating to the question does exist, some of which I look at here.

Anecdotal Evidence Reported By Parents Of Adult Children With A BPD Diagnosis :

Whilst anecdotal evidence is not scientific, many scientific theories, hypotheses and research projects are preceded by, and have their foundations in, anecdotal evidence, so it shouldn’t automatically be contemptuously dismissed. So what is the anecdotal evidence that has been collected from parents?

Many parents with (now grown-up) children who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (the adult children, not the parents) have reported that signs of BPD in their offspring started to show in early childhood and included the following :

  • particular proneness to worry
  • particular proneness to bouts of sadness
  • a greater than normal need for attention
  • hypersensitivity, especially in relation to criticism
  • proneness to becoming very easily frustrated
  • a susceptibility to developing physical symptoms in response to stress (called psychosomatic illness) such as headaches and stomach upsets
  • proneness to irritability, anger, rage and temper tantrums
  • easily upset

However, it is important to point out that not all parents of adult children diagnosed with BPD reported that these offspring had such childhood symptoms.

Image result for bpd

Studies Related To The Question Of Whether Children Can Be Diagnosed With Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

In 1983, Cohen et al (Yale University) devised a set of diagnostic criteria for children suffering from what they called borderline syndrome; however, after further research they renamed the condition multiple complex developmental disorder (MCDD). This disorder incorporates three main categories of symptoms which are as follows :

  • poorly controlled (regulated) emotions
  • impaired perception and thinking
  • markedly disturbed relationships

NB The above symptom categories also occur in borderline personality disorder and complex post-traumatic stress disorder. (It should be noted, too, that MCDD has not been included in either DSM IV or ISD-10).


MCDD is also associated with anxiety conditions, psychotic thought processes and disruptive behaviour (de Bruin et al, 2007)

Physiological Basis :

Cohen also pointed out that many of these children were found to have physiological brain disturbances and believed that there was a biological basis to MCDD. This adds further to the obvious argument that children affected in such a way are in crucial need of understanding, treatment and therapy – not judgment.

Vital Importance Of Early Detection And Treatment:

Whilst it may well be stigmatizing to be ‘labelled’ with borderline personality disorder (or similar condition), early detection of the disorder, or of symptoms displayed in those at risk of developing such conditions, is vital so that effective therapy may be started. The earlier detection and effective, sensitive, expert treatment begin, the better are likely to be the results of treatment (indeed, if left untreated, such conditions are likely to become more severe, entrenched and complex).

 

Finally, it must once again be reiterated that environmental factors / childhood trauma / childhood abuse are strongly linked to the development of BPD and similar conditions. In other words, a child with a genetic/biological predisposition that puts him/her at risk of developing BPD, or similar condition, may not do so if s/he grows up in a secure, loving stable family, whereas a child similarly genetically/biologically predisposed is at far greater risk of doing so.

 

   

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Early Trauma’s Effect On Development Of Id And Ego

 

early trauma id ego

According to psychodynamic theory, originally associated with Sigmund Freud (but modernized by various psychologists since), the most crucial part of our psychological development takes place in the earliest years of our lives, between birth and about five years old (this is why very early trauma is especially damaging). A central concept of psychodynamic theory is that our minds comprise three parts, namely the id,  the ego and the superego, which I briefly describe below:

THE ID : According to Freud, the id can be viewed as the primitive part of the mind, driven by biological needs (such as for food and sex), which demand instant gratification ; it is completely unsocialized and its operations are unconscious. It is also described as acting according to the ‘pleasure principle‘ which means it is constantly and potently urging us to gain pleasure, irrespective of consequences (including harmful effects on others and harmful effects on ourselves).

THE SUPEREGO : Basically, the superego represents our conscience which we form by internalizing a sense of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ (or morality) derived from the influence of our parents, education, social environment and culture. Freud stated that whilst some of the operation of the superego is conscious, much of it also occurs on an unconscious level. Our ‘punishment’ for transgressing the superego’s exacting moral standards is guilt.

THE EGO : Freud said that whilst the id operates according to the ‘pleasure principle’, the ego operates according to the ‘reality principle’. Essentially, its task is to mediate between the deeply conflicting demands of the id, the superego and the outside world (and it is this constant need to mediate and reach an unending series of compromises that contributes much to the inner turmoil, tension and anxiety being human must necessarily entail, Freud helpfully informs us). It acts according to reason and will try to inhibit impulses that, if acted upon, would lead to harm; in other words, it takes into account the possible consequences of our actions.

I remember, as a first year psychology undergraduate, our lecturer telling us that the ego’s job could, perhaps not wholly inaccurately, be compared to that of a referee who finds himself constantly obliged to oversee a fight between a ‘crazed chimpanzee’ and ‘a puritanical, pious and forbidding grandmother.’

early trauma id ego superego

 

Above : The perpetual battle between the id and superego, with the ego always having to act mediator.

It is theorized that if the infant is traumatized in early life, through lack of adequate care, s/he will fail to learn to control his/her basic drives and impulses and the development of his/her ego will be impaired. This can lead to various problems including :

  • poor ability to tolerate frustration
  • poor ability to inhibit impulses that may lead to harm (too likely to act in accordance with the dictates of the id due to deficits in ego development)
  • lack of consideration concerning the possible effects of one’s actions upon others / not taking into account the needs of others (including, as an infant, impaired ability to pick up on verbal and visual cues of the mother / primary care-giver)
  • impaired judgment
  • impaired ability to think logically and with clarity

It is thought that these problems occur as inadequate care that traumatizes the infant can damage the actual physical development of certain vital brain regions.

The infant who experiences satisfactory care, attention and nurturing, on the other hand, will learn to better control his drives and impulses, having learned from the mother to keep him/herself relatively calm and not exhibit unwarranted distress if his/her biological needs happen to not be instantaneously met (this ability is known as the competence to ‘self-regulate’).

Many of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD), which is linked to childhood trauma, reflect some the symptoms listed above.

 

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OTHER RESOURCES :

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Traumatic childhoodCONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS

 

 

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

 

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BPD Sufferers May Have Subtle Learning Difficulties

Research suggests that individuals who suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD) may have mild to moderate dysfunctions in certain areas of cognitive processing, in particular in the area of learning and memory that involves the processing of complex information.

However, such problems tend to be subtle and are therefore difficult for doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and other clinicians to detect.

Notwithstanding this difficulty of detection, brain abnormalities have shown up in EEGs of borderline personality disorder (BPD) sufferers that are consistent with the learning/memory problem hypothesis.

In particular, the difficulties in cognitive processing appear to be associated with both visual and verbal memory (including, it is currently thought, both the encoding and retrieval of information) in which complex information is involved.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Sufferers Frequently Seem Incapable Of Learning From Experience – Is This Why?

These findings have given rise to the hypothesis that these subtle problems relating to learning and memory may help to explain why those suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD) so frequently seem to make the same mistakes over and over again, seemingly incapable of learning from their social and interpersonal experiences.

Why May These Subtle Memory And Learning Problems Exist In Borderline Personality Disotder (BPD) Sufferers?

Many people who suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD) experience periods of dissociation ( you can read about my article on dissociation by clicking here), particularly when under severe stress, and this state is clearly likely to seriously impair their memory functioning and, it follows, their ability to learn.

Also, the majority of individuals who go on to develop borderline personality disorder (BPD) as adults have suffered significant childhood trauma due to abusive parenting and it is known that this can lead to damage being done to the vulnerable, highly plastic, developing physical brain (to read my article about how childhood trauma can damage the developing brain on an organic level click here).

Further, severe clinical depression frequently co-morbidly exists alongside borderline personality disorder (BPD) which itself can impair both memory and learning.

Finally, it should be noted that research into this area is still at an early stage so more research needs to be conducted in order to confirm or shred further light upon the above theories.

eBook:

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

 

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Overcoming Early Life Insecure Attachment

effects of insecure attachment

As we have seen in other posts that I have published on this site, some babies are prevented from forming a secure attachment (bond) with their mother and this can have disastrous effects upon their future mental health.

What Can Cause An Insecure Attachment To Develop Between The Mother And Baby?

There are numerous reasons why this failure in healthy bonding between the mother and baby may occur, including:

– the mother being an alcoholic/drug addict

– the mother suffering from clinical depression

– the mother being abusive

– neglect

– the baby being separated from the primary carer (eg due to divorce, hospitalization, death)

(The list provided above is not intended to be exhaustive).

The Adverse Effects Of The Development Of An Insecure Attachment Between The Mother And Baby:

Whether or not a secure attachment is created between the mother and her baby has very serious implications as the quality of the attachment effects how the baby’s brain physically develops.

If a secure attachment has not been achieved, the child is at risk of going on to develop poor self-esteem, difficulties forming and maintaining relationships with others, problems with trusting others, an inability to effectively ‘self-sooth’ and reduced ability to cope with stress / weakened resilience.

Compensatory / Alternative Attachments :

However, if the child has had a bad start in life and has not been able to form a secure attachment with the mother, s/he still has the possibility of forming compensatory /alternative attachments with:

  1. Other Individuals
  2. Institutions, clubs, societies, groups
  3. Pets
  4. ‘Site Attachments’

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

1) Other individuals :

Such as friends, members of extended family etc

2)  Institutions, clubs, societies, groups :

Such as sports clubs, political societies, social clubs etc

3) Pets :

Mammals like cats, dogs and rabbits have a need to bond as we do. Also, stroking a pet is soothing and can have beneficial physiological effects (such as reducing heart rate and lowering blood pressure). However, bonds with pets should not substitute completely for necessary human relationships. ) I myself have a rabbit (called Rambo) who hops around my flat and is currently in the process of gnawing his way through all my furniture

 4) ‘Site attachments’ (familiar/comforting/soothing places of perceived safety and security):

It is also possible to become attached to places (this is sometimes referred to by psychologists as ‘site attachment’).

Children tend to have special ‘safe-havens’ that they can retreat to in times of distress (such as a bedroom, ‘den’ or friend’s house).

Adults, too, may have their own preferred retreats (such as a garden shed or allotment).

It is also possible to retreat into ‘a place of safety’ in one’s imagination; a particularly powerful and effective way of achieving this is through the use of self-hypnosis and visualization.

 

If sufficient compensatory / alternative attachments are made and these are stable, reliable and of good quality, the individual can still move from insecure attachment to secure attachment.

RESOURCES:

Downloadable MP3 self-hypnosis audio :

Develop a ‘safe place’ in your imagination with self-hypnosis. Click here.

eBook :

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

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)

 

 

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Vital Environmental Factors That Can Prevent Recovery From PTSD And BPD

 

borderline personality disorder environmental factors

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).

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

 

 

 

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BPD, Object Relations Theory And Splitting.

 

object relations theory

The OBJECTS RELATIONS THEORY of borderline personality disorder was proposed by Kohut at the beginning of the 1970s and is a modern psychoanalytic theory.

Object Relations Theory states that BPD can be traced back to an individual’s early (from the age of approximately 18 months to 36 months) dysfunctional relationship with his/her mother.

What Is The Nature Of This Dysfunctional Relationship Between The Infant And The Mother?

According to Kohut, the problem lies in how the mother relates to the infant :

  • she reinforces the infant’s ‘clingy’, ‘dependent’ and ‘regressive’ behaviour

BUT

  • withdraws love and affection when the child attempts to assert his/her individuality and separate personality

The result of this dysfunctional interaction between the mother and child is that the child develops a confusion about where the psychological boundary lies between him/herself and his/her mother.

This confusion, in turn, leads to yet more confusion in that the child goes on to have problems identifying the psychological boundaries that lie between him/her and others in general.

Abandonment Depression :

The mother’s tendency to withdraw her love from the child when s/he attempts to assert his/her separate personality and individuality causes the child to experience ABANDONMENT DEPRESSION and s/he is likely to be plagued by this depression throughout his/her life (Masterson, 1981).

SPLITTING :

Such early experiences contribute towards the individual developing a perception of other people as being either ALL GOOD or ALL BAD (Kernberg); in other words, s/he sees others in terms of black and white – there are no shades of grey.

‘GOOD’ people are seen as people who will keep the individual ‘safe’, whereas ‘BAD’ people are seen as ones who will re-trigger his/her early experience of ABANDONMENT DEPRESSION.

THIS PHENOMENON IS KNOWN AS ‘SPLITTING’ AND OPERATES ON AN UNCONSCIOUS LEVEL.

However, whether s/he perceives another as ‘ALL GOOD’ or ‘ALL BAD’ does not stay constant; his/her perception of others FLUCTUATES FROM ONE POLAR OPPOSITE TO THE OTHER (this is technically known as lacking ‘object constancy’).

Thus, an individual suffering from BPD may, at times, behave as if s/he ‘loves and adores’ another but, then, suddenly and dramatically, switch to behaving as if s/he ‘hates and despises’ this same individual, without objective reason.

Needless to say, this can be highly confusing and bewildering from the perspective of the person on the receiving end of such wildly and unpredictably vacillating emotions.

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

‘Distress Intolerance’ : Do Your Feelings Sometimes Feel Unbearable?

distress intolerance

The term DISTRESS INTOLERANCE refers to a frame of mind in which we consider the mental pain, anguish or discomfort we are experiencing to be UTTERLY INTOLERABLE AND UNBEARABLE so that we become frantic and desperate to avoid it/escape it.

The emotions we feel unable to tolerate usually belong to three main categories; these are:

  1. Emotions connected to sadness (such as depression, shame and guilt)
  2. Emotions connected to fear (such as dread, anxiety and terror)
  3. Emotions connected to anger (such as hatred, rage and frustration)

Those who have suffered severe childhood trauma, especially if, as a result, they have gone on to develop Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), tend to feel emotions particularly intensely, tend to have impaired ability to control their emotions, and tend not to be adept at self-soothing/ self-comforting/ self-compassion and are therefore much more likely to suffer from DISTRESS INTOLERANCE than the average person.

Unsurprisingly,the more we tell ourselves our feelings are unbearable and intolerable, the more difficult they become to manage. In effect, we start to feel bad about the fact that we feel bad. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as meta-worry (worrying about the fact that we worry) and adds a superfluous layer of suffering to our already less than optimal mood state.

A simple example of such meta-worrying would be:

‘My constant worrying is ruining my life.’  (but doing nothing to address one’s worrying)

 

THE PARADOX OF TRYING TO ESCAPE AND ‘RUN AWAY’ FROM OUR MENTAL DISTRESS

Counter-intuitively, research suggests that when we mentally struggle hard to stop feeling our emotional distress, frequently the effect is actually to intensify it (rather like thrashing about in quick sand – we just sink deeper in).

HOW OUR BELIEF SYSTEM IS LINKED TO OUR STRESS INTOLERANCE :

Individuals who find distress very difficult to tolerate tend to have a set of beliefs that contribute to this intolerance; such beliefs may include :

  • it is essential I rid myself of these feelings immediately
  • these feelings are going to send me permanently insane
  • these feelings mean I’m a weak and pathetic person
  • these feelings are completely unacceptable

Such beliefs are sometimes referred to as catastrophizing beliefs and worsen our psychological state; cognitive therapy can help us to reduce catastrophizing thoughts.

 

HOW WE TRY TO ESCAPE OUR MENTAL DISTRESS

Three ways in which we try to escape our mental distress are as follows:

  • avoidance
  • dissociation (self-numbing)
  • self-harm

Lets look at each of these in turn:

1) AVOIDANCE :

For example, avoiding social situations due to social anxiety or avoiding going outside due to agoraphobia.

2) DISSOCIATING /SELF- NUMBING :

People may try to achieve this by using alcohol, drugs or overeating

3) SELF-HARM :

For example, some people cut themselves in an attempt to release emotional distress; this may be because the physical pain detracts from the psychological pain and/or because physical self-harm releases endorphins (the body’s natural pain-killers) into the brain.

 

WHY THESE METHODS DON’T WORK :

There are obvious problems with these methods which I list below :

  • whilst they may afford some short-term relief their long-term effects are damaging
  • relying in negative coping methods such as those detailed above erodes self-esteem and increases feelings of depression
  • continually ‘running away from’ and desperately trying to avoid difficulties means one never provides oneself with the opportunity to learn how to deal with them effectively or how to cope with distress using healthier methods
  • by constantly avoiding distressing emotions (e.g. by using drugs and alcohol) one deprives oneself of the opportunity to put one’s catastrophic beliefs (see above) to the test (e,g. the catastrophic belief that one’s feelings of distress are intolerable) and, hopefully, prove them to be inaccurate.

 

 

LEARNING DISTRESS TOLERANCE :

By learning to interpret distress differently (e.g. by changing our catastrophizing belief system in relation to distressing feelings) and how to develop healthier ways of coping with uncomfortable/difficult emotions we can start to put together a set of skills which will help us to cultivate distress tolerance (SEE RESOURCE BELOW).

 

RESOURCE :

TO DOWNLOAD DISTRESS TOLERANCE HANDOUTS FREE, CLICK THIS LINK OR CLICK ON IMAGE BELOW:

 

BOOK :

 

FREE APP, CLICK LINK BELOW:

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

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How To Control Emotions

 

How to control emotions

We have seen that significant, protracted childhood trauma, particularly if it leads us to develop borderline personality disorder or complex post traumatic stress disorder, can result in us having extreme difficulty knowing how to control emotions, such as anger and anxiety, as adults : in psychological terms, we are at risk of developing emotional dysregulation.

Sometimes, intense emotions become so painful that, as a defense mechanism, we shut our these feelings down (we may do this deliberately by using alcohol and drugs, or it might happen automatically – in the latter case we are said to be dissociating).

REASONS SOME INDIVIDUALS KEEP THEIR EMOTIONS ‘BURIED.’

Some people try to keep their emotions ‘buried’ (suppressed). There can be a number of reasons for this, including:

– growing up in a household in which any display of emotions and feelings was considered a sign of weakness or ‘not the done thing’

– being in an occupation in which displays of emotions are not encouraged e.g.police, military

– fear of losing respect

– fear of losing control

THE PROBLEM OF SUPPRESSED FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS:

However, keeping feelings and emotions buried takes up large amounts of mental energy and means they tend to be kept simmering beneath the surface, building up pressure and ready to explode.

And, very often, the emotion of anger is the one that is nearest to the surface, and therefore the one that is most frequently experienced and expressed.

HOWEVER, anger very often conceals, and has its primary roots in, the fundamental emotions of FEAR and HURT.

So, in fact, very often, when we express anger, what we are really expressing is this fear and hurt; to put it concisely:


OUR FEAR AND HURT IS MASQUERADING AS ANGER.


 

Acknowledging Our True, Authentic Feelings And Having The Courage To Express Them:

It is therefore necessary to become aware of the real feelings behind our anger, feelings that are likely to be intensely painful and that we have preferred not to acknowledge (or even not allowed ourselves to become consciously aware of) and to start the process of expressing them, understanding their origins, working through them and resolving them (ideally with a highly trained, professional therapist).

By getting in touch with our feelings beneath our anger, and working through them therapeutically, we can reduce or overcome outbursts of rage, self-destructive behavior and bodily complaints such as fatigue.

If we do not get in touch with feelings such as hurt and fear (completely normal emotions that everyone experiences to one degree or another), but instead keep them ‘locked out’ and ‘buried’ , we pay the very high price of not being able to get in touch with, experience or express positive emotions, such as happiness and joy, too. Our aim is to feel comfortable with all our emotions and to channel them constructively.

How To Control Emotions :

In order to control our emotions we can apply certain skills, such as:

– learning to identify what we are feeling and linguistically label our emotions e.g. ‘anger’, ‘fear’ etc – when we verbally name our emotions and describe them in spoken (or, indeed, written) language we are more likely to be able to control them and are less likely to act them out.

– acknowledge and accept emotions nonjudgmentally (as taught through mindfulness).

– change our thinking. Our feelings are connected to our thinking processes – consider trying cognitive therapy which can help retrain our thinking style and which, in turn, can lead to much improved emotional experiences.


Links to resources relating to how to control emotions shown below:

Control Anger Pack (Download or CD). Click here.

How To Control Emotions(Download or CD). Click here.


 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

 

 

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