Tag Archives: Identity Problems

Need For Fame Can Stem From Childhood Trauma

need for fame

 

Why Do Some Seem To Have A Need For Fame?

Our sense of self and true identity is most heavily influenced, according to modern psychodynamic theory, by the quality of our relationship with our primary carer (most frequently the mother) during our first year of life.

Those of us who experienced a poor quality of care during this critical developmental period, such as not having been treated with sensitivity or empathy, not having had our fundamental emotional needs met, or because we were abused or otherwise neglected, are at the greatest risk of developing a poor sense of self-identity in adulthood (i. e. a feeling of not knowing, or being uncertain about, ‘who we really are’).

Fame As A Coping Strategy :

Some people attempt to deal with their weak sense of identity by excessive use of drink and drugs, not infrequently leading to addiction.

However, others, to compensate for their feelings of lack of identity, may become addicted to the feelings, emotions and sensations that being famous can induce.

For example, being recognized in the street (although in many ways annoying, or even distressing) can provide an ephemeral sense of identity and temporarily heighten one’s feelings of self-esteem and personal worth.

Similarly, being on stage in front of enraptured, adoring, possibly hysterical fans floods the celebrity’s brain with chemicals such as oxytocin and dopamine, providing an almost transcendental ‘buzz’ which no drug, it is said, can accurately recreate.

 

But Who Am I?

However, the problem is that part of being famous frequently involves adopting a persona, or, to use a more clinical expression, false self.

Because it is the false self that is recognized by fans, rather than the real self, identity confusion is intensified; the real self is neglected and remains unknown, increasing feelings of isolation and loneliness. The famous person may then become even more out of touch, or dissociated from, who s/he ‘really is’.

Indeed, famous people frequently lament the fact that their fans think they know them but, in reality, have no idea of what they’re really like. In fact, the persona and ‘true self’ may be radically different – the former confident, even swaggering, and the latter, the real self, deeply insecure and emotionally fragile.

 

Effects On Relationships:

The false self / persona may become so dominant (in effect, the famous person may take to ‘hiding behind’ it) that people who knew the famous person before his/her success may no longer ‘recognize’ him/her and become alienated. This can then lead to the breakdown of such relationships, leaving the famous person feeling more vulnerable than ever and more reliant still on unhealthy relationships with ‘hangers on’ who serve only to encourage the development of the false self.

 

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Constantly Feeling ‘Empty’? Effects And Solutions.

We have seen in other articles posted on this site that those who suffered significant childhood trauma are at increased risk of developing conditions such as depression, anhedonia and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). One of the main symptoms of all three of these disorders is chronic and intense feelings that life has no meaning or purpose and a sense of emotional deadness / sense that one’s feelings have ‘shut down’ (sometimes referred to by psychologists as having flat affect). In short, a feeling of absolute emptiness.

Feeling like this can lead the individual into a desperate search to at least feel something, even if that ‘something’ is negative ( in terms of its effect on self and others).

This drive to feel something rather than nothing is generally fueled by an unconscious motivation.

Because it is so hard for an individual suffering from this pervasive sense of emptiness to feel anything, the experiences that s /he may seek to pursue (to at least feel something) may be ones that are intense (whether they be emotional or physical experiences).

Such experiences may include:

– provoking others into angry and aggressive arguments

– provoking physical fights

– impulsivity/thrill seeking/risk taking (eg. high stakes gambling)

– extreme use of alcohol/street drugs

– being cruel to animals

– testing others to their limits ( to see if they remain loyal)

– sef-harm

Above: This may explain why some people self-harm

– compulsive shopping

– compulsive eating

– mirroring : the individual who experiences feelings of emptiness tends to have a very weak sense of his/her own identity and feels hollow as a person. In extreme cases, this can lead him/her into taking on the persona of someone else in order to fill this vacuum. In so doing, s/he may imitate the person’s mannerisms, behaviour and style of dress and take up the person’s interests and hobbies. In very extreme cases s/he may take on the person’s name and pretend to have their past.

More healthy ways of strengthening one’s sense of identity include:

– voluntary work for a cause one supports and believes in (eg. Amnesty International)

– taking up a new hobby or resuming an old one

– getting a pet

– developing spirituality

– going to adult learning classes to study a subject that interests one

– training for a new career

Possible Therapies:

Therapies that can potentially help people suffering feelings of emptiness include:

– existential psychotherapy

– humanistic psychotherapy

– logo therapy (this therapy was developed by Frankl, the writer and holocaust survivor)

Other Resources:

FIND THE MEANING OF LIFE (self-hypnosis MP3) : Click here.

FIND YOUR IDENTITY (self-hypnosis MP3) : Click here.

 

David Hosier BSc; MSc, PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

How Childhood Trauma Can Motivate Individuals To Become Famous

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

I have discussed elsewhere on this site how, if we were deprived of love and proper care during our early life, and had nobody was adequately responsive to our needs, we are likely to grow up with a poor sense of our own identity and have a weak sense of self (click here to read one of my articles that relates to this).

When we become an adult, if we have sufficient insight into this problem, we may undergo extensive therapy to address it. However, few people take this course as they do not possess such insight (not to mention the fact that, in the UK at least, such therapy would be very hard to obtain for free -i.e. on the NHS – and would, for most, therefore, be prohibitively expensive).

Instead, however, in order to compensate for their lack of personal identity/poor sense of self, they may become highly driven, sometimes to the point of obsession, to seek great success and fame (indeed, seeking such success can be highly addictive; the reason for this is that aspects of the process involved can cause significant and pleasurable electrochemical changes in the brain, and thus create feelings we are compelled to try to constantly recreate).

In this respect, one could compare it to becoming addicted to a drug – think of the ‘high’ many performers get from appearing on stage and from receiving the seemingly limitless adulation from fans. (Justin Bieber springs to mind; interestingly, his father left the family home when Justin was very young. Could a lack of a male role model, at least in part, driven him to seek his stratospheric rise to fame? Clearly, I’m not in any position to say).

Justin Bieber, with his obligatory, omnipresent entourage.

Specifically, regarding how fame can lead to addictive electrochemical changes in the brain, performing on stage to thousands of worshipping and besotted fans raises the level of CORTISOL (a hormone) in the body, whilst DOPAMINE and OXYTOCIN levels are raised by being constantly and deeply adored by fans.

Great success and fame, then, give people (at least in the early days) a feeling of worth and power, compensating, in some cases, for a lack of these sensations, due to abuse and neglect, in childhood.

HOWEVER – in cases of great fame the the ‘self’ or ‘identity’ created is a PERSONA; it is superficial and is not a ‘real self’.

THEREFORE – the problem of creating a strong, REAL identity is NOT SOLVED. The famous individual is just left with a different kind of identity problem and may still be very confused as to who he ‘really is’ (especially if those he has social/financial power over constantly REINFORCE HIS FALSE PERSONA by being sycophantic ‘Yes Men’).

FURTHERMORE – because the creation of a persona does not reflect the true person, he may find that people he used to know before he was famous no longer know how to relate to him.

To read my article about the downside of fame, click here.

RESOURCES :

OVERCOME IDENTITY PROBLEMS MP3. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

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Copyright 2014 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Childhood Trauma: Identity Problems and How to Tackle Them.,

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

One outcome of childhood trauma can frequently be that the person who has suffered it is prone to develop IDENTITY PROBLEMS.

A person’s identity represents their attempt to pin down the essential elements s/he sees (rather than what others see) that make the individual who s/he are. One’s identity develops over time.

Our identity can be helpful to our psychological health (if we see ourselves in largely positive terms) or unhelpful to it (if we see ourselves in largely negative terms). People, especially if suffering from depression, lacking in confidence etc, extremely often view themselves FAR MORE NEGATIVELY THAN WOULD BE OBJECTIVELY WARRANTED; whereas many others (not suffering from mental illness, in many cases) may see themselves in far too glowing terms (this ‘over self-congratulatory’ view adopted by many is thought to have developed to confer evolutionary advantages on those who have it – appearing confident to potential mates, for example – provided, I suppose, it is not absurdly exaggerated).

Aspects of our lives which can affect our identities include:

– our values
– our physical appearance
– our mental/physical health
– our education
– our achievements (or lack, thereof)
– our work (Freud attributed especial importance to this, as he did to sexual fulfilment, the thwarting of which, he proposed, could lead to extreme neurosis)
– our relationships
– our age (please, don’t remind me)
– our financial situation
– our perception of our social status (or lack, again, thereof)

The identity which emerges from such factors is strongly related to our self-esteem and self-confidence.

IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT:

This begins very early in our lives. Ages 4 years to 6 years are thought to be a critical time; TRAUMA during this period is LINKED to the DEVELOPMENT OF IDENTITY PROBLEMS IN LATER LIFE. From the ages of about 6 years to 12 years, the child normally develops the skills necessary to MANAGE EMOTIONS, a skill strongly linked to identity (eg ‘cool’ versus ‘volatile’); indeed, if TRAUMA INTERFERES WITH THIS PROCESS AN EXTREMELY TEMPESTUOUS ADOLESCENCE CAN FOLLOW).

In ‘normal’ development, adolescents may experiment with various identities and this process gradually leads to the stage in which there is a sense of the identity becoming crystallized. Again, however, individuals affected by trauma will often find this period exceptionally stressful and find that NO CLEAR SENSE OF THEIR OWN IDENTITY EMERGES – THEIR SENSE OF THEIR OWN IDENTITY CAN BE CONFUSED AND THEY MAY FEEL THAT THEY ‘DON’T KNOW WHO THEY REALLY ARE’.

CONFUSED IDENTITY IN ADULTHOOD AS A RESULT OF CHILDHOOD TRAUMA:

By adulthood, then, those who have experienced childhood trauma will often find that their identity is UNSTABLE and FRAGILE – this will often mean that their attitudes, values and sense of who they are are all prone to wildly fluctuation; these changes are frequently dramatic (eg oscillating between feeling deep love and deep hatred towards the same person; or, sometimes, perhaps, feeling exceptionally important only to shift without warning or obvious trigger into a feeling of despair, self-loathing and worthlessness).

IDENTITIY PROBLEMS AND BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (BPD):

Identity problems in adulthood are often a symptom of BPD. BPD frequently occurs as a result of childhood trauma and much more about the condition can be discovered in the by clicking here to read my article about it.

DEVELOPING A MORE CONSISTENT AND STRONGER SENSE OF ONE’S IDENTITY:

How can people with identity problems make their sense of identity stronger? One possible place to start this process, which needs to be gradually worked on over time, is for the individual suffering from the crisis in identity to consider the things which are of most importance to him/her in life; identities are largely formed based on these considerations. Prorities in life which people choose to concentrate on, and, which, therefore, contribute to making up their identities include:

– friendships/relationships/family
– academic interests
– career
– creativity (eg painting, writing, acting)
– hobbies
– choice of entertainment (eg musical taste, taste in film/cinema/theatre, favourite kinds of books etc)
– material possessions
– spirituality/religion/atheism/agnosticism
– charity work (eg for homeless, rehabilitation of ex-prisoners, environment, hospice, Amnesty International)
– physical appearance
– financial situation

This is not, of course, an exhaustive list and there may well be other areas that can be added, depending on preferences.

A starting point might be to pick out 3 or 4 areas of interest (this, in itself, reflects identity, and, therefore, can be seen as providing foundational pieces of the jig-saw yet to emerge, as it were) and to concentrate on these at first (other elements can be added later; merely starting the process may lead to other ideas emerging at a later time).

For each of the factors selected, it can then prove of use to set some goals relating to how these areas may be incorporated, or, more fully incorporated, into one’s life (these goals need to be quite specific and achievable; there is little point starting with such challenging goals that they may prove impossible to meet and thus damage morale).

Here are some examples:

– because academic achievement is important to me, I will enrol in a night-school class (investigate and specify appropriate course) and complete the course
– because family and/or friends are important to me I will attend an anger management course
– because creativity is important to me I will set aside two hours a week to write poetry/novel
– because my mental health is important to me I will seek out appropriate counselling and complete the sessios recommended (provided the therapy proves of potential value, of course)

The more the individual is able to incorporate and develop areas such as those listed above, which reflect his/her true values, interests and priorities, the more AUTHENTIC and REWARDING the person’s life is likely to be; the more, too, will the individual’s true and stable sense of self continue to evolve.

RESOURCES :

OVERCOME IDENTITY PROBLEMS MP3. CLICK HERE.

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

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery