Category Archives: Self-hatred And Shame

Deep Feelings Of Shame Resulting From Emotionally Impoverished Relationships With Parents

shame due to dysregulating oyjers

According to DeYoung, author of the excellent book : ‘Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame : A Relational / Neurobiological Approach‘, the experience of shame comes about as a result of dysfunctional relationships with other people (in particular, of course, with our parents when we are growing up) who are of emotional importance to us as opposed to affecting us as isolated, independent individuals. Because of this, DeYoung describes the experience of shame as being RELATIONAL (i.e. linked to the quality of our relationships with others who are important to us).

More specifically, DeYoung proposes that we can develop a deep and pervasive sense of shame in early life when ‘we experience our felt sense of self disintegrating in relation to a dysregulating other.’

What Is Meant By A Dysregulating Other?

According to DeYoung, a ‘dysregulating other’ is :

‘A person who fails to provide an emotional connection, responsiveness and understanding of what another needs in order to be in order to be well and whole.’

And, of course, if this ‘dysregulating other’ is a parent when we are very young and that parent behaves in a chronic and consistently ‘dysregulating’ way towards us, then we are especially likely to grow up into adults with a deep, pervasive and abiding sense of shame.

DeYoung also states that a dysregulating other (who, as already stated, is important to us, especially a parent) is someone we ‘want to trust‘ and, indeed, ‘should be able to trust‘, but, when we turn to that person because we are in emotional distress and need to be comforted and soothed, the way the dysregulating other responds to us / fails to respond to us leaves us feeling WORSE STILL. This is because the dysregulating other is emotionally misattuned to / disconnected from us ; the relationship is emotionally impoverished.

cause of shame

In turn, this, according to  DeYoung, can lead to us developing ‘core feelings of shame‘ as we conclude, ‘consciously or unconsciously, that there is something wrong with our neediness and that we are somehow ‘bad’ because of the painful and troubling nature of our ongoing interactions (or lack thereof) with this dysregulating other.

However, we may not be consciously aware (see above) of the fact that such feelings of shame are directly attributable to our early relationships with our parents / important others and may, therefore, erroneously attribute these profound feelings of  shame to factors that, in truth, are NOT their primary source of origin (such as our physical appearance, sexuality, perceived lack of intelligence /abilities, social status or a vast array of other factors).

What Is Meant By A Sense Of Self Disintegration?

DeYoung states that such emotionally impoverished interactions with parents / important others, when sustained and chronic, make us feel that our sense of self is disintegrating. 

This sense of disintegration can include feeling of our ‘self’ being  ‘shattered,’ ‘incoherent’ ‘blank’, ‘fragmented‘, and, furthermore, can make us vulnerable to feelings of deep humiliation (even in response to small, objectively trivial events), under threat of ‘psychological annihilation’ or induce strong desires in us, metaphorically, to be ‘swallowed up by the ground’ or ‘disappear.’

In order to emphasize just how powerful the effects of shame can be, DeYoung offers the extreme example of the Japanese suicide ritual of hari-kiri which used to be carried out by warriors who had been ‘disgraced.’

RESOURCES :

  • DeYoung’s Book / eBook (Click on book’s title below) :

Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame: A Relational/Neurobiological Approach

 

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

 

 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2018 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Being Constantly Humiliated By Parents May Damage Brain’s Corpus Callosum

damage to corpus callosum

What Is The Corpus Callosum?

The brain is divided into two halves called the RIGHT HEMISPHERE and the LEFT HEMISPHERE. These two halves are connected by a structure called the CORPUS CALLOSUM. (It is located above the thalamus, underneath the cortex, see image below)
corpus callosum
Above : Thr location of the corpus callosum (marked in orange). Of all the brain’s white matter structures, it is the largest.

What Is The Function Of The Corpus Callosum?

The function of the corpus callosum is to allow communication to take place between the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere ; it facilitates this communication by transmitting neural messages between these two parts of the brain.

What Does The Corpus Callosum Communicate Between The Brain’s Right And Left Hemisphere?

The corpus callosum is responsible for the communication between the two hemispheres of emotion, arousal, sensory information, information relating to motor functions and higher cognitive abilities (including working memory, imagery and consciously controlled – or willed’ – action, amongst others).

The Effect Of Parental Maltreatment On The Corpus Callosum :

A study conducted by McCrory et al., 2001, found that children who were significantly maltreated by their parent (or parents) over a protracted period of time had corpus collosa that were, on average, significantly  smaller than those found in children who had been fortunate enough to have experienced relatively stable and happy childhoods.

 In more specific terms, their (i.e. the maltreated children’s corpus callosa had less thickness of the white fibre area.

Children Who Are Constantly Humiliated By Their Parents May Be At Particular Risk Of Incurring Impaired Development Of Their Corpus Callosa :

Subtle, emotional abuse by parents, due, not least, to its particularly insidious nature,  can be just as damaging, or even more damaging, than more blatant forms of abuse.

Indeed, studies suggest that children of parents who frequently mock and humiliate them are especially likely to sustain damage to the development of their corpus callosa. (To read my previously published article : Humor : How Parents May Use It To Emotionally Wound Their Children, click here.)

The effect of this is to impair communication between the brain’s left and right hemispheres and it is theorized that this may explain why such  children are frequently found to lack confidence in their linguistic skills and/or  to develop difficulties controlling their emotions.

eBook :

emotional abuse book   childhood trauma damages brain ebook

Above eBook now available for instant download from Amazon. Click here for further details.

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

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Self-Acceptance More Helpful To Mental Health Than Self-Esteem.

developing self-acceptance

We have already seen that, most frequently because how they were made to feel about themselves by parents / primary care-givers whilst growing up, one of the most painful, demoralizing and soul-destroying symptoms those with borderline personality disorder (BPD) must strive to endure is irrational feelings of self-hatred, self-loathing and self-disgust. (If you would like to read my article entitled : ‘ Childhood Trauma: How The Child’s View Of Their Own ‘Badness’ Is Perpetuated’ , please click here.)

Indeed, many individuals with BPD suffer from frequent, intrusive thoughts such as : ‘I am a terrible person’ ; ‘I am of absolutely no value to anybody whatsoever’ and so on…

In other words, their self-esteem is extremely low and sometimes it is hard to change such deeply entrenched, negative self-views through therapy, at least at the beginning of any such therapy. (If you would like to read my article entitled : ‘Childhood Trauma : A Destroyer of Self-Esteem’ , please click here.)

self-acceptance

However, one effective way of breaking into, and disrupting, this profoundly ingrained and seemingly perpetual cycle of self-derogatory thinking may be to develop first an attitude of SELF-ACCEPTANCE.

In relation to this possibility, Huber (2001) suggests that, in order to develop an attitude of self-acceptance, we can start off simply by trying to attain ‘a single moment of self-acceptance.’ For example, instead of thinking a thought such as :

I am a terrible person‘, we can try to replace it with the self-accepting thought :

‘Given how I was made to feel about myself as a child, it is completely understandable why I view myself as a terrible person.

Gradually, we can try to increase the frequency with which we modify our self-lacerating thinking style so that, when negative thoughts arise, we compassionately accept why we are having them as a matter of newly acquired habit.

The advantages of developing a self-accepting style of thinking, as outlined above, has been backed up by research. For example, Neff (2009) found that self-compassion is more positively correlated with psychological health than self-esteem is.

Neff also points out that, whilst self-esteem, at least in part, depends upon how we perceive others’ evaluation of us and how well we perceive ourselves to be succeeding in life’s myriad aspects at any given time, self-compassion (by definition) is self-generated and comes entirely from within ; it is always available to us no matter what the external circumstances. Because of this, it is more reliable and dependable than self-esteem and can comfortably co-exist along with feelings of inadequacy or, even, gross inadequacy.

However, we need not equate self-acceptance with ‘standing still in life’ and with not trying to improve ourselves – indeed, self-acceptance can be a great aid to self-improvement as it allows us to take a compassionate attitude towards ourselves when we face inevitable set-backs on our journey of personal development (as opposed to despising ourselves and giving up).

 

RESOURCES :

SELF-ACCEPTANCE : SELF-HYPNOSIS DOWNLOAD.

Click here for more information.
 

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

 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Family Systems Theory And The Family Scapegoat

family systems theory

FAMILY SYSTEMS THEORY :

FAMILY SYSTEMS THEORY was developed by the American psychiatrist, Murray Bowen (1913-1990). The theory proposes that :

a) The family acts as a highly complex system

b) This system is made up of family members who are emotionally intertwined

c) The ‘units’ of the system (i.e. the emotionally intertwined family members) interact in highly complex ways

d) Family members, through emotional interaction, affect each other’s thoughts, behaviors and emotional states (though are often unaware of the degree to which this process is taking place)

e) Some family members are more emotionally interconnected than others, but all are emotionally interconnected to some extent.

THE EFFECTS OF ANXIETY PERMEATING THE FAMILY SYSTEM :

When one or more of the family members become anxious, the anxiety becomes ‘contagious’ and ‘infects’ other members of the family. As the level of anxiety increases, so, too, do the emotional interactions between family members become correspondingly, increasingly stressful.

Eventually, a particular family member (the most sensitive and vulnerable) starts to absorb the majority of the anxiety produced by the family system which puts this person at risk of developing various forms of mental illness including depression and anxiety disorders. In this way, this individual acts as a kind of ‘container’ or ‘vessel’ into which the lion’s share of the stress and anxiety generated by the entire family system is poured ; this process, in turn, can result in him/her becoming the ‘family symptom bearer‘ and/or ‘family scapegoat’ (see related article recommendations below).

I provide an example of how this can play out below :

Let’s take a hypothetical family consisting of four members : mother, father, oldest son (age 16), and youngest son (age 14). Now, let’s imagine the following scenario :

The family functions relatively well until the parental marriage comes under strain. The stress and anxiety generated by this marital friction permeates the whole family.

In response to the increased anxiety in the family home, the father spends much more time at the office, becoming a workaholic; the mother, to distract herself and bolster her self-esteem and self-image, throws herself into charity work and religious activities; the oldest brother cuts off from the family, spending his time in his bedroom listening to music or doing homework (when he is not bullying his younger brother); the youngest son responds by getting drunk, taking drugs, getting into fights and becoming involved in petty crime.

The family then identify the youngest son as being at the root of the family problems and decide they should all attend family therapy sessions.

However, the family therapist points out that the youngest son is NOT, in fact, the source of the family’s problems, and that therapy can only work if all family members face up to their own specific problems.

However, the father, mother and older brother do not wish to entertain the idea that they might have anything to do with the way in which the family has become dysfunctional, insisting, instead, that it is the youngest son who needs to be ‘fixed’, certainly not any of them!

Having made their feelings on the matter abundantly clear, the family then terminates the family therapy. Permanently.

Because the family is still convinced that the youngest son is, as it were, ‘the root of all evil’, the family pack him off to a psychiatric hospital for a couple of months.

Due to the fact that the youngest son is now away from the malign influence of the family atmosphere (rather than due to any treatment the hospital attempts to provide proactively) the youngest son’s psychological condition improves considerably. Eventually, therefore, his family (magnanimously, in their own grossly distorted and self-serving view) grant him permission to return home.

However, when the son does return home, because the other family members have failed to acknowledge, let alone address, their own issues, the youngest son’s psychological condition deteriorates again and things go from bad to worse…

In other words, it is the system as a whole that needs to be ‘repaired’, not just one part of it (i.e. the family member displaying the most inconvenient, and least socially acceptable, symptoms / psychological defenses).

 

You may like to read two related articles from this site (see immediately below) :

 

eBook :

emotional abuse book

Above eBook now available from Amazon for instant download. Click here or on image for further information.

 

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

 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Why Some Parents Can’t Love Their Children

parent unable to love

It is generally assumed that parents (in particular, mothers) have an innate, instinctive, natural and inborn capacity to love their children unconditionally. However, sadly, this is not the case. In this article, I will look at some of the most common factors that may inhibit a parent’s inclination to love his/her children :

 

Factors  That  May  Inhibit Parents’ Inclination To Love Their Children :

  • Parents may resent the responsibility / burden placed on them by having children
  • A parent may resent character traits in their child that , consciously or unconsciously, remind them of aspects of their own personalities that they dislike or aspects of their partner’s / ex-partner’s (i.e. the child’s other biological parent) personality that they dislike
  • Parents may resent being made to feel inadequate by children ; for example, narcissistic parents may find the child’s challenges to his/her (i.e. the parent’s) impossible demands intolerable, especially if the child becomes, due to quite natural, normal and necessary survival mechanisms, rebellious in response to such impossible demands when s/he reaches puberty.
  • The parent may feel bitterly jealous of the child’s youth (e.g. a narcissistic mother may resent being reminded of her fading looks by her daughter’s youthful appearance)
  • A parent may have low self-esteem and a child’s success, or future prospects of success, may serve to make the parent feel inadequate or that s/he has, by comparison, wasted his/her life
  • Postpartum depression : biological changes that a woman undergoes when pregnant can lead to chemical changes in the brain that result in depression and impair  her ability to bond with her new born baby in the usual way.
  • A parent may have been emotionally neglected or abused during his/her own childhood, restricting his/her ability to express and feel love
  • A parent (most frequently, but not exclusively, the mother) may resent his/her child whom s/he perceives as having ‘got in the way’ of his/her career.
  • A parent may resent his/her child if that child does not share, or actively rebels against, his/her (i.e. the parent’s) strongly held beliefs (e.g. religious beliefs, especially in relation to sexuality)
  • Projection: parents who have a poor self-image, low self-esteem and, essentially, don’t like themselves, may off-load their negative feelings about themselves by projecting them onto their children (e.g. a parent who has latent homosexual inclinations and dislikes himself for it may project these feeling onto his son by using deprecating language in relation to his son’s (real or imagined) homosexuality, or, even, by disowning him (and thereby, on a symbolic level, disowning his own repressed, sexual feelings).

The Importance Of Showing Love :

Some parents may believe they love their children but the way in which they act towards these children does not reflect this ; in other words, despite the parents’ beliefs, their children do not perceive themselves as being loved – such parents may not be properly attuned to their children’s emotional needs ; this, too, can be very psychologically damaging to the child. Indeed, children who are not loved or perceive themselves not to be loved, especially in very early life (but at other stages, too) can incur damage to the physical development of their brains which, in turn, can lead to serious psychiatric problems.

You can go to the section of this site that contains articles on childhood trauma and brain development by clicking here.

 

eBook :

 

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

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

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Do Only Good People Get Depressed?

do only good people get depressed?

If, when we are growing up, our parent/s make us feel constantly inadequate and that we were never ‘good enough’ due to their constant criticisms and general, perpetual air of  disapproval, we are put at risk of developing a serious depressive illness later on in life which produces feelings in us which echo what we were made to feel in childhood – that we are somehow deficient, unacceptable and, in short, not good enough.

However, Dorothy Rowe, a world renowned clinical psychologist and author, has, in fact, stated that it is her belief that only good people get depressed. After all, if an individual were a very bad, wholly amoral person without a conscience, s/he would hardly be concerned about not being good, let alone about not being good enough; such an individual couldn’t care less. In other words, only essentially good people worry about the possibility that they are not good enough. And, as, according to Rowe, a sense of ‘not being good enough’ lies at the heart of depression, it follows, as Rowe sees it, that it is only good people get depressed.

As well as good people being more prone to guilt, self-blame and self-hatred for (in their minds) ‘not being good enough’, Rowe also suggests that those who believe the world is ‘fundamentally just’ are also at greater risk of suffering from depression.

This is because their ‘just world’ belief entails the (erroneous) idea that ‘the good will always be rewarded and the bad will always be punished.’

Therefore, when something (randomly) happens to such people that is bad (like contracting an illness), then, based on their erroneous ‘just world’ theory, they may make the irrational inference that they somehow ‘deserve’ to be ill and are ‘being punished.’ And it is this mistaken view that adds another (unnecessary) layer of suffering which, in turn, makes it more likely that they will succumb to depression.

eBook :  Childhood Trauma And Its Link To Depression And Anxiety :

Above eBook available from Amazon, click here for further information.

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

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

How To Stop Taking Things Personally

stop taking things

Taking Things Personally And Low Self-Esteem :

If we suffered significant childhood trauma, we are at greater risk as adults of suffering from psychological difficulties, including low self-esteem. And, if we have low self-esteem, we are particularly vulnerable to being hurt by others who criticize us and negatively evaluate us ; to put it in colloquial terms, we may be ‘thin-skinned’ and prone to ‘taking things personally’. (To read my article on the link between childhood trauma and low self-esteem in adulthood, click here.)

So what can we do to stop taking things personally? Below you’ll find several suggestions :

Methods We Can Use To Help Us To Stop Taking Things Personally :

  • understand that, often, those who criticize and negatively evaluate others do so because of their own problems – they may be inadequate, unhappy, frustrated, angry etc and displace (take out) these feelings on you or project their own shortcomings onto you (displacement and projection are defense mechanisms – click here to read my article relating to these).
  • if a person criticizes you and you feel s/he might have a point, try not to be defensive, but, instead, see if it’s possible to learn from what’s been said and then, if necessary, make changes rather than waste energy feeling bad
  • related to the above is the fact we are complex and, often, contradictory beings who make mistakes and that the mistakes that we make are just one aspect of us that does not define who we are
  • remember that even the most popular people will always be criticized and disapproved of by some – nobody  garners universal admiration, respect and approval
  • remember that not everyone has to approve of you all the time for you to live a contented life ; self-esteem is based upon what one thinks of oneself, irrespective of what others think. Allowing others to control how one feels about oneself is to give away power to them that need not be relinquished
  • real progress in society is very frequently made by those who are prepared to go against the grain irrespective of making themselves unpopular ; this is a virtue, not a fault and demonstrates strength of mind, character and possession of the courage of one’s convictions
  • ask yourself if you may have misinterpreted the situation. For example, if someone seems uninterested in what you’re saying, it may be that they’re preoccupied with their own concerns and not a sign you are boring them. Or if someone you know passes you in the street and seems to ‘blank’ you, could it be they simply didn’t see you?
  • realise it won’t benefit you (quite the opposite, in fact) if you ruminate on the perceived insult/slight/criticism etc. -to read my article on controlling rumination, click here
  • realize that whilst you cannot control what others think, you CAN control how you react to what they think
  • if you have done something wrong remember that, even if you have not been able to stop thinking about it, this does not mean others are thinking a lot about it too – they have myriad other things to worry about and what you do is unlikely to be central to their concerns and thought processes
  • develop self-confidence

 

Related Post :

HIGHLY SENSITIVE PEOPLE (HSPs)

RESOURCE :

DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY –AUDIO DOWNLOAD (MP3)

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Development Of Self-Worth And Its Relationship To Trauma

The journey of recovery from trauma is facilitated by our understanding of how our feelings of self-worth (or self-worthlessness) developed and how our experience of trauma affected this development.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF SELF-WORTH IN EARLY LIFE :

Early Childhood :

Our incipient self-concept first begins to develop around about the age of 18 months (coinciding with the initial stages of our language development). Around about the age of 3 – 4 years, the newly formed self-concept is (assuming no maltreatment or abuse has occurred) essentially wholly positive.

Middle Childhood :

However, by middle-childhood the self-concept becomes more complicated and, due to various influences, starts to change; important reasons for this change include the following:

  • the child begins to compare him/herself to others (such as school-friends, siblings etc) both positively and negatively
  • the child develops the capacity to feel emotions such as pride, shame and inadequacy
  • the child is able to imagine/fantasize about an ‘ideal self’ and compare him/herself (unfavourably) to this

Adolescence :

During adolescence, the young person undertakes the difficult task of trying to integrate different aspects of him/herself into a cohesive sense of self (self-concept). This is made especially problematic as adolescence is frequently a period in which young people experiment with different personas, thus adding to their confusion about ‘who they really are.

The psychologist, Harter, proposes that a person’s ‘overall’ self-concept (which she termed ‘THE GLOBAL SELF-WORTH‘) is made up of two parts, these being :

  • ASSETS
  • APPROVAL/DISAPPROVAL FROM SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

 

 

Let’s look at each of these in turn :

  • ASSETS :

These include intelligence/academic ability, sports/athletic ability, physical appearance, popularity/likeability, one’s reflections upon one’s own behaviour/personal conduct

  • APPROVAL/DISAPPROVAL FROM SIGNIFICANT OTHERS :

These significant others include parents, primary carers, teachers, sport coaches, peers, siblings, wider family members and authority figures. Self-concept is especially dependent upon the approval/disapproval of others during the period of adolescence.

VARIABILITY OF SELF-WORTH :

One’s self-concept can therefore fluctuate according to which particular assets one is focused on and the nature of one’s relationships with significant others. However, by adulthood one’s sense of global self-worth tends to be relatively stable (assuming reasonable mental health) as compared to during adolescence.

BASELINE SELF-WORTH AND BAROMETRIC SELF-WORTH :

Relevant to the fact that our sense of self-worth is variable is Harter’s proposal that our self-worth can also be divided up into baseline self-worth and  barometric self-worth.

Baseline self-worth is closely tied to global self-worth, Harter states, and this is relatively stable in comparison to barometric self-worth which fluctuates according to who we’re with (and what opinion we perceive them to have of us) and what we’re doing (eg we might feel competent at work, thus raising our barometric level of self-worth, but this level may dramatically plummet when we get home to spend the evening with our cold and rejecting spouse/partner); like the reading on a barometer, this level of self-worth changes according to the temporary and inconstant personal conditions within which we find ourselves.

TRAUMA AND SELF-WORTH :

Our self-worth derives from our self-concept and as a result of a traumatic childhood we often tend to focus upon global self-worth and view this as very low (indeed, sadly, many people who have suffered significant childhood trauma erroneously see themselves as essentially ‘worthless.’ In relation to this, you may wish to read my article : ‘How The Child’s View Their ‘Badness’ Is Perpetuatedor, alternatively, my article entitled : Childhood Trauma : Destroyer Of  Self-Esteem.

Resources :

Related Article : Recovering Our Self-Esteem : Six Key Elements

Self-hypnosis MP3/CD : Build Self-Esteem With Hypnosis

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

 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Harmful Effects Of Labelling The Child As ‘Bad’.

 

harmful effects of labelling child as bad

Many children who have been emotionally hurt and traumatized ‘act out’ their intense feelings of confusion, pain, fear, loneliness, isolation and vulnerability, which are too strong and powerful to contain, by expressing these feelings through negative behavior such as getting into fights, extreme verbal aggression, vandalism, getting drunk or numbing themselves with drugs.

This is, of course, commonly known as ‘acting out’ and children express their pain in this way as they are unable to articulate their feelings, understand the cause of these feelings, or mentally process their traumatic experiences in a meaningful way.

Acting out’, then, is an unconscious, desperate expression of inner turmoil and of a profound need for help, love, compassion and understanding, however counterintuitive and paradoxical this may sound to some.

 

Tragically, instead of receiving the help they so desperately need, such children are all too often criticized, disparaged, rejected and labelled as ‘bad’ by the very people (i.e. their parents) who are responsible for inducing the child’s highly distressed condition, rather like injecting a person with a cancer causing agent and then blaming them for being ill ; or punching someone in the face and then blaming them for bleeding over you.

harmful effects of labelling child as bad

This, of course, can be psychologically crushing for the child, destroying his/her confidence and self-esteem, inducing depression, anxiety, self-harming behaviour and alcohol/drug dependence.

Additionally, the child may go through the rest of his/her life (in the absence of effective therapy) feeling utterly unlovable, intrinsically and irrevocably flawed in terms of character, unable to form healthy relationships, deeply mistrustful of others, cynical, pessimistic and intermittently suicidal.

Also, being labelled as ‘bad’ is likely to intensify the child’s sense of injustice, isolation and rejection, increasing his/her feelings of anger ; this anger may then become a protective shield – a thin and flimsy veneer, unconsciously engineered, to conceal deeply entrenched feelings of powerlessness, vulnerability and despair.

Alternatively, the child may try to cope by ‘shutting off’ emotionally (when this reaches a clinically significant level it is referred to as dissociation‘) and may, as a psychological defense, affect a kind of indifferent, insouciant, disinterested, ‘couldn’t-care-less’ attitude in an attempt to conceal feelings of vulnerability and a fear of being perceived as ‘weak’.

The earlier children suffering in this way can be identified, and remedial, therapeutic interventions instigated, the greater the chance that psychological damage is minimized, allowing the individual to go on to live a satisfying, fulfilling and productive life.

Resources :

eBook:

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

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

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Are You The Family Symptom Bearer?

Family symptom bearer

What Is A Family Symptom Bearer?

In psychology, the term ‘family symptom bearer’  essentially refers to a scapegoat in the family who displays psychiatric problems brought on by the extreme dysfunction, especially with regard to communication, of the family as a whole.

In other words, the family symptom bearer is a kind of conduit through which the psychological problems of the whole family unit are expressed.

It is also suggested that the dysfunctional family of the family symptom bearer is unconsciously motivated to ensure his/her status as the mentally ill member of the family is maintained and that his/her mental illness does not improve…

But why should this be?

One theory is that identifying one family member as ‘the mentally ill one’ detracts attention from the psychological problems of the other family members, of which they may feel ashamed or wish to conceal for other reasons (perhaps wanting to put out the coded message : ‘we’re not the problem, s/he is!’).

Often, however, the family symptom bearer is the least psychologically disturbed of the family on many levels and may have the greatest insight into the disturbed family’s extreme dysfunction – making him/her a kind of ‘family truth revealer’, in effect.

The psychiatrist RD Laign suggested that certain family members may have an unconscious need to take on and maintain a caretaker role, due to their own inadequacies, which motivates them (again, on an unconscious level) to prevent the family symptom bearer from recovering. Furthermore, the focus on the family symptom bearer helps to avoid a focus on, and analysis of, the toxic interactions of the family as a whole.

family symptom bearer

It is also suggested that the family symptom bearer is, in effect, acting out and representing in a tangible manner the whole family’s psychological problems.

The family may frequently deny that the family symptom bearer’s psychiatric problems are a representation and expression of the whole family’s pathological interactions, scapegoat him/her, deem him/her a destructive influence, troublesome and difficult and even exclude him/her from the family, thus evading their own culpability.

The family symptom bearer’s response to the dysfunctional family is, however, unwilled, non-deliberate and unconsciously driven – often, too, s/he is the most sensitive and vulnerable of all the family members.

Frequently, the family symptom bearer has suffered abuse from his/her family and will have unprocessed trauma issues; s/he is also at increased risk of developing problems relating to excessive alcohol and/or drug consumption.

It is important to note that the family symptom bearer’s problems are the RESULT OF WIDER FAMILY PROBLEMS, NOT THE CAUSE OF THEM.

It is therefore vital that the family symptom bearer’s psychiatric difficulties are analyzed in the context of the dysfunctional family dynamics responsible for their genesis ideally by the means, in most cases (if the family is amenable), of intensive family therapy.

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

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery