Narcissistic Parenting – An Extended Look At The Potentially Devastating Effects On The Child

The narcissistic parent frequently demonstrate the following characteristics :

   – possessive of child

   – controlling (often by using emotional blackmail)

   – has no empathy (though pretend to have empathy)

   – uses the technique of ‘gaslighting’  i.e. (they deny your reality e.g. by constantly telling you that your experience of your childhood was not as you claim / believe / perceived it to be) to the extent that you may even begin to question own sanity)

   – blow sall criticism way out of proportion / exceptionally thin skinned

   – can be sadistic / relish psychologically crushing the child with devastating verbal abuse / enjoy being cruel to the child and the feeling of power / omnipotence this may provide

   – makes frequent use of ‘triangulation’ e.g encroaches upon the child’s friendships to use to his/her (i.e. the narcissistic parent’s) advantage, including turning them against the child if necessary)

   – lacks capacity to love in any meaningful way the child (though may ‘act loving’)

   – cares deeply about what others think so will present image of ‘perfect mother / father’ to the outside world

   – withdraws of any pretence of ‘love’ / approval as soon child fails to please (especially by giving the child the ‘silent treatment’) or outright punishment)

   – uses of emotional blackmail (especially by instilling feelings of guilt)

   – posseses a conscious or unconscious belief that child exists solely to fulfil his/her (i.e. the narcissistic parent’s) needs

   – ‘parentifies’ child / uses child as an ’emotional caretaker)

   – creates an atmosphere in which the child is constantly anxious / fearful / hypervigilant

   – only wants the child to succeed in a way which benefits him/her (i.e. the narcissistic parent), NOT on his/her (i.e the child’s) own terms

   – wants to keep the child dependent and needy so may derive satisfaction from him/her (i.e. the child) being emotionally upset as this puts the child in a weak position, makes him/her (i.e. the child) easier to manipulate and provides the narcissistic parent with the opportunity to display false concern. S/he (i.e. the narcissistic parent) is motivated NOT by the desire to alleviate the child’s suffering, but by the wholly egocentric wish to demonstrate what a ‘good parent’ s/he is – as such, s/he may toy with the child’s emotions, alternating between ensuring s/he (i.e. the child) becomes emotionally upset and then acting as his/her ’emotional rescuer.’

   – does not respect the child’s personal boundaries / right to privacy / may insist the child divulges highly sensitive information only to use this information against them at a later date

   – becomes jealous and resentful if the child tries to become independent and successful (in a way which does not benefit the parent)

The harmful emotional impact such parents may have on their children can be profound ; as an adult, the former abused child may suffer from a whole multitude of serious problems, including :

   – complex PTSD

   – inability to trust others

   – emotional detachment

    – self-sabotage  / self-defeating personality

   – invasive thoughts of emotional abuse

   – anxious attachment (constantly fearful people don’t like us or will suddenly ‘turn on’ us as we believe we are, in our very essence, in some indefinable but undeniable way despicable and others will surely ‘sense’ this, too – ‘it’s simply a matter of time,’ we tell ourselves)

   – avoidant attachment

   – equation of intimate relationships with making oneself unsafe and vulnerable ; this may cause us to become self-protectively aggressive

   – slowed down emotional development / arrested emotional development

   – narcissistic personality disorder

   – borderline personality disorder

   – anxiety

   – depression (frequently due to repressed anger which can, in turn, lead to physical illness)

   – desperation to achieve high goals (in frantic attempt to bolster profoundly undermined self-esteem).

   – self-blame and a perpetual feeling of being ‘a bad person’ (connected to the narcissistic parent’s focus on the child’s ‘faults’ / ‘failings’ and ‘failure’ to meet his/her (i.e. the narcissistic parent’s) impossibly demanding needs)

   – emotionally enmeshed relationship with the narcissistic parent and consequent profound uncertainty as to own identity and personal boundaries caused by the parent’s view of the child as an extension of him/herself (i.e. of the narcissistic parent’s self).

Psychotherapists frequently stress the importance of drawing clear boundaries with narcissistic parents, limiting contact with them or cutting off contact altogether (with the support , ideally, of a therapist who has expertise in this area). They also frequently advise that truly narcissistic parents have a mental illness which will make it extremely difficult for us to change them and that, therefore, our energies should be focused on our own recovery.

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

Self-Defeating Personality Disorder And Its Link To Childhood Trauma

Self-defeating personality disorder (also sometimes referred to as masochistic personality disorder), whilst not included in the current edition (fifth) of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), is still frequently referred to by mental health professionals to help explain various aspects of behavior.

What Is Self-Defeating Personality Disorder?

In order to be considered as suffering from self-defeating personality disorder, an individual will be suffering from a minimum of five of the following symptoms :

   – avoidance of accepting help offered by other people

   – drawn to people and situations which lead to negative outcomes (e.g. to relationships with abusive partners) despite availability of more positive options

   – avoidance of pleasurable activities despite having the psychological capacity to experience pleasure (unlike those suffering from anhedonia) or a reluctance to admit to feelings of enjoyment (e.g. due to feeling guilty such feelings and that they are ‘undeserved)

    – tendency to induce anger in, and rejection by, others, but then feeling emotionally shattered when this happens

   – undermines own abilities by not undertaking vital tasks (of which s/he is capable) that would allow him/her to achieve his/her personal goals, leading to under-achievement and under-performance. Also, may set self clearly unobtainable goals which ensure failure and humiliation.

   – indulges in excessive, unsolicited self-sacrificing behavior

   – rejects, or undermines relationships with, those who treat him/her well (instead, forming relationships with those who are likely to have a negative impact upon him/her – see above) as feels unworthy of love, particularly the love of ‘decent’ people

Theories Relating To How Self-Defeating Personality Disorder / Masochism May Be Related To Adverse Childhood Experiences :

   – Francis Broncek theorized that self-defeating personality disorder / masochism is linked to the episodic or chronic experience of not being loved as  a child, as having been rejected / abandoned as a child, and / or having been used as a scapegoat in childhood,.

   – Berliner (1947) stated : ‘in the history of every masochistic patient, we find an unhappy childhood, and frequently to…an extreme degree.’ He also proposed the idea the masochism serves as a defense mechanism which protects against the development of depression or, even, schizophrenia.

   – Grossman (1991) stated that self-defeating personality disorder and masochism are linked to severe traumatization inhibiting a person’s ability to sublimate the pain psychological pain generated by the traumatic experience into productive mental activity.

   – It has also been hypothesized that a child who has been brought up by a very strict parent or other significant authority figure ,and  has been treated in such a way as to make him/her feel worthless ,  unlovable and frequently deserving of harsh punishment, may grow up to internalize such views so that they form part of his/her set of core-beliefs. Such individuals are also likely to have profound, pent up feelings of shame and guilt which they seek to exculpate and atone for through self-punishment (both consciously and unconsciously) or by subjecting themselves to abuse, mistreatment and punishment by others.

Treatment :

Treatment for this disorder can be complex, not least because those suffering from it may well shun offers of help (a symptom of the condition – see above). However, treatment options include group therapy, family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and counseling.

RESOURCE :

Stop Self Sabotage | Self Hypnosis Downloads

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

 

 

 

Emotional Detachment Disorder And Childhood Trauma

Extreme emotional detachment can operate as an unconscious defense mechanism to help us cope with traumatic experiences including, of course, childhood trauma (such as emotional, sexual and physical abuse). If it is necessary for us to employ this coping mechanism for extended periods of time, it can become a deeply ingrained and pervasive part of our psychological make-up and we may continue to use it to protect ourselves from potential, emotional harm for the rest of our lives.

Conditions that we may develop which are profoundly linked to feelings of emotional detachment include depersonalization and dissociation, both of which are characterized by feelings of ’emotionally numbness.’  /psychic numbing.’ (To read my previously published article on ‘OVERCOMING EMOTIONAL NUMBNESS,’ click here.)

Extreme emotional detachment can also lead to a lack of empathy for others, which, in turn, is associated with a higher likelihood of developing other psychiatric problems such as antisocai personality disorder or pronounced sadistic tendencies.

More frequently, however, those who have learned to detach emotionally as a way of mentally escaping the psychological pain of their adverse childhood experiences go on to develop serious difficulties with adult relationships due to a deep mistrust of others and a general fear of intimacy ; furthermore, such individuals may come across to others (including family members) as ‘cold,’ ‘aloof’, ‘distant’ and ’emotionally unavailable’.

Other symptoms of being cut off from emotions include a lack of emotional intelligence, a tendency to have a preference for logical and rational thinking styles and a propensity to intellectualize potentially emotionally charged subjects.

Suppression of emotions may also result in dysfunctional, ‘compensatory’ behaviors including promiscuous sex / sexual addiction, drug / alcohol abuse and gambling.

In very extreme cases, some theorists believe that when emotional detachment gives rise to severe dissociation as in cases of, for example, posttraumatic stress disorder, multiple personality disorder may result.

To read my previously published article, OVERCOMING EMOTIONAL NUMBNESS,’ click here.

RESOURCE :

Get In Touch With Your Emotions | Self Hypnosis Downloads

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

 

How Childhood Trauma Can Make Us Constantly Hypervigilant

What Is Meant By Hypervigilance?

A person who is hypervigilant feels constantly ‘on edge’ , ‘keyed up’ and fearful. S/he experiences a perpetual sense of dread and of being under threat despite the fact, objectively speaking, there is no present danger. Indeed, the person affected in this way is so intensely alert to, and focused upon, any conceivable imminent danger that s/he may develop paranoia-like symptoms and frequently perceive danger in situations where no such danger, in reality, exists.

Nervous System

In physiological terms, the nervous system becomes ‘stuck’in an over-activated state and it is very difficult for the hypervigilant individual to calm him/herself sufficiently to enable it to return to a normal level of activation ; instead, it becomes locked into the fight or flight mode (the hypervigilant person’s body is in a continuous state of preparedness to fight or flee because of the anticipation of threat the person feels).

Hypervigilane, Hyperarousal, Childhood Trauma And Complex PTSD :

Hypervigilance is one of the many symptoms of hyperarousal.

Hyperarousal, in turn, is a symptom of PTSD / Complex PTSD which are conditions linked to severe and protracted childhood trauma.

 

Other symptoms of hyperarousal may include :

  • insomnia (e.g. constant waking in night and finding it hard to go back to sleep)
  • extremely sensitive startle response
  • problems with concentration and mental focus
  • abiding feelings of irritability and anger, perhaps giving rise to outbursts of extreme rage / verbal aggression, or, even, physical violence
  • constant anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • reckless behavior
  • using short-term ‘solutions’ such as drinking too much alcohol or using street drugs to reduce painful feelings which, in the longer-term, are self-destructive

It is not difficult to see why the experience of childhood trauma should be linked to increased risk of develop hypervigilance as an adult : if we have lived our early life in an environment that made us feel constantly anxious, under threat and fearful ,our very neural development (i.e. the development of our brain) can be adversely affected and it is such negative effects that can leave us so vulnerable and predisposed to developing the disorder, particularly at times when  our adult lives expose us to further stressful experiences.

RESOURCES :

 

David Hosier BSC Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

Growing Up In An Environment Of Unpredictable Stress : Possible Effects

unpredictable_stress

Many children who grow up in dysfunctional family homes find themselves living in a state of hypervigilance, never knowing how their parents are going to respond to them at any given time (for example, this is often the case in homes where one or both parents are alcoholics or in homes where the parents are subject to dramatic mood swings and outbursts of explosive rage (perhaps due to substance abuse or to mental illness). In other words, such children live in environments in which they are frequently exposed to severely stressful events but are unable to predict when such events will occur.

A study conducted by J.M Weiss (1970) was conducted to investigate the somatic (i.e. bodily) effects of unpredictable stressors on rats.

How was the study carried out?

In the study, the rats were split into two groups :

  • GROUP ONE : The rats in this group were given UNPREDICTABLE electric shocks (the stressor)

  • GROUP TWO : The rats in this group were also given electric shocks (each shock that the rats in this group received were of exactly the same intensity and duration as the shocks that the rats in group one received – HOWEVER, the shocks given to the rats in this group were PREDICTABLE (a warning signal was given immediately prior to the application of each shock).

So, to summarize :

  • GROUP ONE RATS WERE SUBJECTED TO UNPREDICTABLE STRESSORS

  • GROUP TWO RATS WERE SUBJECTED TO PREDICTABLE STRESSORS

unpredictable_stress

Were The Somatic (Bodily) Effects On The Rats Different According To Which Group They Were In?

Yes. The rats in Group One (who were subjected to UNPREDICTABLE STRESSORS) suffered greater adverse somatic stress reactions than the did rats in Group Two (who were subjected to PREDICTABLE STRESSORS).

Somatic stress reactions shown by the rats included :

  • changes in body weight
  • stomach ulceration
  • effects upon plasma corticosterone concentration

Similarly, living in an environment in which one is exposed to unpredictable stress can seriously, negatively impact on a young person’s psychological develpopment. Indeed, studies show that parents who treat their children in harsh and unpredictable ways, especially when the child is in an emotionally distressed state, increase these children’s risk becoming emotionally deregulated and unable to cope effectively with stress.

Such children may also be placed at risk of developing various physical problems such as obesity.

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

 

Factors That Make Complex PTSD More Severe

severe_complex_PTSD

We have seen from several other articles that I have published on this site that the experience of a traumatic childhood is linked to the development of complex PTSD later on in life.

Whilst all cases of complex PTSD are extremely serious, certain factors are thought to increase the risk that we will develop an especially severe form of the disorder. These are as follows :

  • the person responsible for causing the trauma was a parent / primary carer (this worsens the effect of the trauma because of the emotional devastation caused by being harmed and betrayed by the very person whose responsibility it was to care for us and protect us)

  • how protracted the experience of the trauma was (on average, the longer the trauma lasts, the worse the effect will be ; tragically, some people experience pretty much ongoing trauma of one form or another (some of which may overlap and occur simultaneously) from birth to eighteen years which may, potentially, have a particularly adverse affect upon multiple stages of brain development and upon the young person’s development in general.

  • the individual is isolated during the period of trauma (this worsens the effect of the trauma due to the fact that emotional support from significant others (such as members of the wider family, teachers, therapists etc) have a protective effect on mental health ; this protective effect is unavailable to those who experience their trauma in isolation.

  • the earlier in life the traumatic experience occurs, the more psychological harm it is likely to do. This is because the young brain is especially ‘plastic’ / malleable and, therefore, more vulnerable to being damaged by the experience of protracted, high levels of stress / fear / anxiety.

  • the person responsible for causing the trauma is still in contact with the traumatized individual

RELATED ARTICLES :

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

 

 

Sex Addiction Therapy

sex_addiction_therapy

Sex Addiction And Childhood Trauma :

We have seen from other articles that I have published on this site that those who have suffered significant and protracted childhood trauma are at higher than average risk of developing an addiction to sex in adulthood (for example, see my post entitled : Childhood Trauma And Its Link To Hypersexuality‘).

Blotting Out Emotional Pain :

One reason why those who have suffered childhood trauma may become addicted to sex is that the act of sex helps them to ‘blot out’, or make themselves feel ‘numb to’, or ‘dissociate’ from unbearable emotional pain connected to their early life experiences (for example, those who have suffered severe childhood trauma may go on to develop borderline personality disorder and a major symptom of this condition is a propensity to develop addictions – including sex addiction).

Related Addictions And Psychological Conditions :

 Indeed, because most people who suffer from sex addiction are generally unwilling to discuss their problem with others, the fact that they are suffering from it only becomes apparent when then develop a trusting relationship with a therapist who they initially went to see for help with other addictions such as alcoholism or drug abuse. Alternatively, they may have initially gone to see the their therapist in order to seek treatment for depression, anxiety or low self-esteem (all of which are also more common in those with a history of childhood trauma).

Currently, sexual addiction is regarded as being similar in nature to addiction to chemical substances because the act of sex seems to have a similar ‘numbing’ effect (see above) on feelings of mental anguish (however, it should be noted that, as a discrete condition, ‘sex addiction’ is not yet  (at the time of writing) included in the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders.

How Does Sex Addiction Manifest Itself?

Sexual addiction can manifest itself in a number of ways, including :

  • Voyeurism

  • Exhibitionism

  • Fantasies

  • Internet Pornography

  • Sadomasochism
  • Compulsive use of prostitutes

High Sex Drive :

In fact, sexual addiction is NOT the same as simply having a high sex drive (indeed, a high sex drive can be a sign of good psychological health) but involves a compulsive quality that brings about negative results (for the sufferer, those s/he comes into contact with, or both).

Negative Consequences :

Sexual addiction can seriously, adversely impact upon the individual’s quality of life. For example, it may :

  • cause financial problems

  • result in the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases

  • lead to legal problems

  • impair relationships

Sex Addiction Therapy :

sex_addiction_therapy

Once a person suffering from sex addiction recognizes that s/he has a problem which is significantly spoiling his/her quality of life, seeking help from a therapist can be very helpful. Confiding in a trusted, accepting, empathetic therapist can help to reduce feelings of shame related to the addiction and the therapist can provide advice about how to avoid triggers and how to develop healthier and more functional coping mechanisms to deal with negative feelings.

Therapies used to treat sex addiction include cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy (the latter may be more appropriate when the problem is clearly related to childhood issues).

RESOURCES :

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

Postpartum Depression And Childhood Trauma

postpartum depression

A study conducted by Choi et al., (2017) suggests that women who have suffered from traumatic childhoods are at higher risk than average of suffering from postpartum depression.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression (also called postnatal depression) is a sub-type of depression which occurs within twelve months of the baby’s birth and affects over 10 per cent of women (it can also affect the father / partner, although this is rarer).

Symptoms may include :

  • feeling one cannot care for the baby adequately

  • frustration, anger and irritability

  • feelings of guilt / shame

  • feelings of emptiness

  • problems bonding with baby

  • anxiety and sadness

  • anhedonia

  • decreased or increased appetite

  • insomnia

  • social withdrawal

  • poor self-care

  • fear of hurting self, partner or baby

  • impaired ability to make decisions

  • extreme fatigue / lethargy

N.B. The above list is not exhaustive

The Study :

The study involved one hundred and fifty adult, female participants, each of whom provided self-reports about :

  • whether they had suffered childhood trauma

  • whether they had suffered postpartum depression during the first six months following the birth of their child

Also measured, a year after the birth of the baby, were :

  • the quality of mother / infant bonding

  • infant development

  • the physical growth of the infant

postpartum_depression

RESULTS OF THE STUDY :

The main findings of the study were as follows :

  • those women who had experienced childhood trauma had significantly greater symptoms of depression in the six months following the birth of the baby compared to those women who took part in the study and had not experienced childhood trauma

  • one year after the women had given birth to the child those women who had developed postpartum depression, on average, bonded significantly less well with their babies compared to the group of women who had not developed postpartum depression

  • one year after the women had given birth to the child those children born to the women who had suffered postpartum depression were, on average, significantly less well physically developed than the infants of the women who had not developed postpartum depression

From these findings the researchers concluded that those women who had suffered childhood trauma were more likely to suffer postpartum depression which, in turn, increased risk of impaired mother-infant bonding and sub-optimal physical development of their children.

CONCLUSION :

The researchers concluded that perinatal care should address both maternal histories of childhood trauma as well as depressive symptoms.

It should also be noted that, as well as stressful life events potentially contributing to the development of postpartum depression, genetics and hormonal changes may well also play a part ; more research is needed.

RESOURCE :

Overcome Postnatal Depression | Self Hypnosis Downloads

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

Let Go Of The Past

let_go_of_the_past

The following six strategies can help us to let go of the past and move on with our lives more effectively :

1) VALIDATION :

According to Horowitz, if our past childhood trauma and the pain it has caused is, subsequently, invalidated (e.g. denied, ignored, dismissed, minimized, mocked etc.) by those who have harmed us, the psychological harm done to us is amplified. This makes it harder to move forward in our lives.

However, if this is the case, it can be helpful to seek and obtain validation from significant others, such as a therapist who is trained to work with childhood trauma survivors, or from what Alice Miller (1923-2010) referred to as an ‘enlightened witness.’ Miller defined an ‘enlightened witness’ as a compassionate and empathetic person who helps the childhood trauma survivor ‘recognize the injustices [s/he] suffered and give vent to {his/her] feelings.’

2) EXPRESSION OF PAIN :

This pain we have been caused does not necessarily need to be expressed directly to those responsible ; for example, we may describe our experiences and feelings in a journal, or, as Franz Kafka did, write a letter to the person/s responsible (in the case of Kafka, the letter was to his abusive and narcissistic father) without actually sending it (instead, his biographer informs us that he gave it to his mother to give to his father – he was too frightened to approach his father directly – but she never did, possibly because she believed it wouldn’t do any good).

Talking about our traumatic childhood experiences can, however, be very difficult ; you can read about why this is in my previously published article entitled : Why It’s So Difficult To Talk About Our Experiences Of Extreme Childhood  Trauma.

Sadly, too, some doctors may be reluctant to discuss our childhood trauma with us for reasons that I outline in my previously published article entitled : Why Don’t Doctors Ask About Childhood Trauma?

3) CONSCIOUS DECISION : 

Because we might have been ruminating, perhaps obsessively, on the trauma and injustice contained in our past, the process of turning things over and over in our minds may have become almost automatic. It is therefore necessary to make a firm, conscious decision to embark upon the journey of letting go. In connection with this, you may wish to read my previously published post : ‘Mindfulness Meditation : An Escape Route Away From Obsessive, Negative Ruminations.’

4) ADOPT BENEFICIAL TIME PERSPECTIVE :

According to TIME PERSPECTIVE THERAPY (developed by Zimbardo, Sword and Sword) we should use the past to our advantage (such as learning from previous mistakes and focusing on good things that happened rather than dwelling on the bad) ; develop the ability to live in the present and enjoy it, but not in such a heedless and hedonistic way that it endangers our future ; and, also, adopt an optimistic view of the future and plan for it (by setting achievable goals). To read more about TIME PERSPECTIVE THEORY, click here.

5) CULTIVATION OF COMPASSION :

Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) can effectively help people move on from their traumatic childhood experiences. It was initially developed in the early part of this century by Paul Gilbert and can be particularly effective in helping those suffering from feelings of shame resulting from their traumatic experiences (such feelings are a very common response to a traumatic childhood which is why I have devoted a whole category to the examination of it on this site : see the SHAME AND SELF-HATRED section).

Specifically, CFT can help with :

  • alleviating feelings of being ‘worthless,” inadequate’, ‘ a bad person‘ etc

  • alleviating negative emotions such as self-disgust and anxiety

  • reducing concern about what others think of one

  • reducing feelings of anger towards those who have mistreated us

  • reducing levels of arousal and hypervigilance

6) REFRAME :

Many people do not realize the damage that their childhood has done to them and may take a sanitized view of it due to what they are taught to believe by those who harmed them or by society more generally (in connection with this, you may be interested in Alice Miller’s classic book entitled : ‘Thou Shalt Not Be Aware : Society’s Betrayal Of The Child.’

By reframing the past, with the help of a psychotherapist, we can start to obtain a genuine insight into what really happened to us which, in turn, empowers us and makes us less of a slave to the unconscious forces that may be ruining our lives.

RESOURCE :

Let Go Of The Past | Self Hypnosis Downloads

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

Childhood Trauma And Getting Trapped In The ‘Shame Loop.’

shame

When I was a young child I remember that one of my mother’s methods of making sure my behavior met her exactingly high standards was through the use of shame. In particular, if I was out with her in public and did something to upset her she would shout : ‘If you don’t do as I say immediately I will pull your trousers and pants down right now in public and spank your bare backside until it’s red raw. Red raw!’ (she had a penchant for repeating particular phrases at the end of sentences for dramatic effect), seemingly oblivious to what others in the shop (or wherever we happened to be) thought of her.

She would then grab my hand and drag me on my way (without, to my memory, her ever carrying out her threat, at least not to its fullest extent, which would, presumably, have led to her arrest, even in the 1970s). I say ‘drag’ because it was usually at a volicity with which my little legs, whirring around in a blur like a cartoon character’s, struggled desperately to keep up (I only have memories of my mother holding my hand in this controlling, even punitive way, via exertion of excessive, vice-like pressure ; never tenderly or affectionately). Anyway, suffice to say this left me mute and compliant for the rest of my maternally-imposed excursion, if not the rest of the day.

When, as children, our parents consistently rely, due to their own inadequacies, on shaming us in order to control us or simply to demean us to make them feel powerful, the long-term effects can be severe indeed, especially in the absence of effective therapy (such as cognitive behavioral therapy).

shame

THE SHAME LOOP :

Scheff (1990) proposes that in response to a childhood in which we were persistently shamed to a significant degree we can become trapped in a SHAME LOOP in which :

  • (Stage one) shame becomes internalized and cannot be discharged which, in turn, leads to :

  • (Stage two) feeling shame for feeling ashamed, which results in :

  • (Stage three) the feelings of shame intensifying ; this builds up even greater feelings of shames being fed back into the shame loop so that :

  • Stage one is reactivated with still greater destructive energy and the cycle, in the absence of effective therapeutic intervention, is reinvigorated.

RELUCTANCE TO SEEK TREATMENT :

And, as you might guess, because individuals feel shame for feeling ashamed, they find it very hard indeed to confide in others about what they perceive as their ‘dark secret’, thus failing to seek professional help and compounding their problems.

CHILDHOOD TRAUMA, SHAME AND SELF-HATRED :

Sadly, intense feelings of shame and self-hatred are very common in adult survivors of chronic and significant childhood trauma which is why I have included a whole category of articles devoted to the topic within this site which you can access immediately by clicking here.

RESOURCES :

Let Go of Shame | Self Hypnosis Downloads

 

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

‘Splitting’ – What BPD Sufferers And 18 – 36 Month Old Infants Have In Common

splitting andBPD

Infants and toddlers (aged from approximately eighteen months to thirty-six months old) find it extremely hard to tolerate ambiguity and ambivalence. For this reason, their perception of features of the external world become polarized, or, as it is often, informally and metaphorically put, ‘black and white’.

For the infant / toddler (18 – 36 months, approx.) then, what we might call ‘grey areas’ are effectively eliminated as everything including, most significantly, the infant’s / toddler’s mother (or primary carer) is CATEGORIZED AS EITHER ‘GOOD’ OR ‘BAD’, depending upon how she is behaving in relation to him/her at any given point in time.

When the mother fails to satisfy adequately the infant’s needs, s/he perceives her as ‘all bad’. And, in stark contrast, when the mother DOES satisfy the infant’s needs (e.g. with a satisfying feed or by providing appropriate physical comfort) s/he perceives her as ‘all good’.It is only as the child gets older and develops and his/her understanding of the world and of those who inhabit it becomes increasingly sophisticated that s/he is able to integrate such contrasting perceptions and come to realize that both good and bad elements can exist in the same person simultaneously.

 

However, the adult sufferer of borderline personality disorder (BPD) becomes stuck in this toddler-like state of seeing others as either all good or all bad and, as a result, forms extremely unstable relationships with others, particularly significant others, perpetually vacillating and between idealizing them and demonising them ; this phenomenon is known as SPLITTING and, in essence, is a defense mechanism serving to protect  the individual with BPD from  feelings of potentially overwhelming anxiety.

 

splitting

The concept of ‘SPLITTING’ was initially developed by Ronald Fairbairn and was a component of his psychoanalytic theory known as‘object relations theory’.

 

Finally, it is worth pointing out that it is not just people with BPD who employ the defense mechanism of ‘splitting’ ; for example, adolescents tend to do so quite a lot. Adults who do have have BPD and who are not mentally ill use it too. However, in the case of those suffering from BPD, the defense mechanism of ‘splitting’ is used abnormally frequently in comparison to the average individual and the extremes in which they perceive others vacillate more dramatically. (NB Although I employ the term ‘used’, defense mechanisms are UNCONSCIOUS processes i.e. the BPD sufferer does not deliberately choose to exercise the psychological response of ‘splitting’).

 

A leading treatment for BPD is, currently, dialectical behavior therapy which you can learn more about by clicking here.

 

eBook :
bpd_ebook

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

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

How Narcissistic Parents Weaken Our Sense Of A Personal Boundary.

weak personal boundaries

Because narcissistic parents are so unpredictable, and their mood changes so mercurial and frightening, the young child quickly learns, largely on an unconscious level, that s/he (i.e. the young child) must be able to ‘read’, with great precision, such a parent’s feelings and emotions lest s/he fails to respond in such a way that meets the parent’s emotional needs and, as a result of such failure, inadvertently upsets him/her (sadly, this is never possible to fully achieve as the narcissistic parent’s emotional needs are infinite and cannot ever be fully sated).

In other words, the child is driven and compelled to develop a profound level of empathy for the narcissistic parent as a means to helping to ensure his/her (i.e. the child’s) psychological survival (the alternative is to be psychologically crushed). I remember, as a child of about four, I had a recurring nightmare of being a tiny insect next to an enormous boulder which was invariably and inexorably rolling towards me, threatening to crush me. In fact, sometimes this image would intrude on my mind when I was awake, seemingly out of nowhere. At the time, of course, I could not discern its (now) all too obvious meaning.

personal-boundary

By the time I was eight or nine years old my empathy for my mother was so acute that she (in her typically melodramatic manner) would tell me that I had ‘a sixth sense’ and could ‘read her mind’ or, even, that I was ‘psychic’, so good was I at being able to tell exactly what she was feeling within a second of her entering the room. Absurd nonsense, obviously. The truth is, I’d simply had no choice, and no conscious control, over developing my unusual empathetic abilities.

There is a heavy price to be paid for this process. When my mother was very depressed, for example, I felt her pain as my own and would become obsessively preoccupied by her unhappy condition, able to think of nothing else. This could last for days at a time.

Indeed, because the child of the narcissist becomes so deeply attuned to his/her parent’s mental state, this substantially interferes with his/her own sense of self as a separate, distinct, individual person in such a way that his/her sense of a personal boundary between him/herself and the parent becomes blurred and nebulous. This, in turn, is highly likely to lead to a collapse of his/her incipient and precarious sense of a personal identity as well as of his/her sense intrinsic value (if, indeed, any has been allowed to develop).

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

How Childhood Trauma Can Make You Oversensistive To Light, Sound And Touch

light oversensitivity

Before babies and young children are able to learn through the use of language, they learn through the information they receive through their senses (i.e. taste, touch, smell, sight and sound) and by integrating this information in meaningful ways.

The main part of the brain that is responsible for putting together this sensory information in ways that facilitate learning is the CEREBELLUM, located at the back of the head (see diagram below).

How Childhood Trauma Can Adversely Affect The Development Of The Cerebellum : 

Neuroscientific studied suggest that the development of the cerebellum depends significantly upon the perceived security, consistency, reliability and rhythmicity of the mother’s (or primary carer’s) physical holding of the infant.

Neglect :

If the mother (or primary carer) is neglectful and does not hold the baby sufficiently frequently in a manner that transmits to him/her (i.e. the baby) feelings of deep and meaningful emotional connection , this may lead to impaired development of the cerebellum which, in turn, can lead to cerebellar dysfunction.  It is this dysfunction of the cerebellum which may then cause problems integrating sensory information (Teicher st al., 2003).
cerebellum

Effects Of Cerebellar Dysfunction :

Dysfunctions which may result from impaired development of the cerebellum due to the kind of neglect described above include :
  • extreme sensitivity of touch. Examples include the affected individual  :

– being easily irritated by ‘coarse’ feeling clothing

– being easily made to feel uncomfortable by the touch of others (therefore the individual may feel compelled to actively avoid coming into physical contact with others and to be averse to their touch). Alternatively, s/he may crave tender, physical contact with others, as adults, in order to to compensate the perceived lack of loving, nurturing touch by his/her mother (or other primary carer) in early life.

  • extreme sensitivity to light (e.g. having to wear sunglasses in conditions the vast majority of people would not feel the need to do so)

 

  • extreme sensitivity to sound / noise (e.g. feeling intense irritation or anger in response to small sounds that the vast majority of others would not find bothersome).
  • learning difficulties : problems organising sensory input can lead, in turn, lead to difficulties organising a cohesive sense of the world.

Also, according to Doyon (1997), the cerebellum represents the brain’s main seat of PROCEDURAL MEMORY – this is a part of long-term memory that stores information about how to do things (i.e. carry out procedures, skills and actions, both cognitive and motor, such as talking, reading, walking) and FORMS THE FOUNDATION OF ALL LEARNING.

  • lack of co-ordination and clumsiness

 

 

  •  RHYTHMIC DYSREGULATION (this is too complex to go into detail about here, but you may wish to read more about it by clicking on this link)

 

David Hosier BSc Hons: MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

Study Shows PTSD Sufferers Can Be Willing To Risk Life For Cure

PTSD sufferers

Anybody who has suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) / complex post traumatic stress disorder (cPTSD) knows that the mental torment and anguish it entails can be extreme and unremitting.

Frustratingly (putting it mildly), such pain is impossible to describe in words to those who have been fortunate enough never to have experienced such conditions much in the same way as it would not be possible to describe to a person who has been blind from birth what it’s like to experience the color red (or any other color, for that matter).

It may well be useful, therefore, to outline the findings of the following study which helps to demonstrate how desperate sufferers of PTSD may become to be free from their ineffable suffering.

THE STUDY :

Zoellner and Feeny (2011) carried out interviews with 184 individuals who had been diagnosed with PTSD.

RESULTS :

Two main findings that help convey just how desperate people can be to be free from the constant distress PTSD can induce were as follows :

  1. On average, participants in the study said they would be prepared to undergo a treatment that would completely cure their PTSD even if such a treatment carried 13 per cent risk of resulting in their immediate death.
  2. On average, participants said they would be prepared to give up 13.6 years of their lives to be relieved of their PTSD symptoms.

Through the interviews conducted in the study, it was also found that symptoms linked to hyperarousal, hypervigilance, insomnia and irritability were particularly difficult to tolerate.

RESOURCES :

eBook :

Above eBook now available for immediate download from Amazon. Click here, or on image above, for further details (other titles available).

Downloadable Self Hypnosis Audios / MP3s / CDs :

Overcome Hypervigilance | Self Hypnosis Downloads. Click here for further details.

Further information about PTSD and complex PTSD. Click link below :

www.nhs.co.uk/PTSD

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

Marriage Counseling can Help with Childhood Trauma Affecting Your Marriage

Is Your Childhood Trauma Affecting Your Marriage?

(Guest post by Marie Miguel).

It’s no secret by now that the trauma you experience as a child can haunt you into adulthood. Being abused as a child can make you aggressive, timid, or experience other emotions or behaviors that can affect your marriage.

 

If you believe that your childhood may be affecting your marriage, it’s worth it to talk to a counselor. Here are a few ways a traumatic childhood can change your marriage.

 

Neglect Can Make You Feel Avoidant or Fearful

 

If your needs were neglected by your parents, you may have a difficult time trusting your partner, even if all evidence points to them being loved. You may feel that one day, your partner will leave you, and you don’t want to show any affection because you feel your partner will not like it. You may not express your feelings and you may even keep secrets because you don’t want your partner to be mad at you.

 

A Violent Childhood Can Make You Violent

 

There is no excuse for yelling at your spouse or assaulting them. However, it’s also undeniable that a violent past can make you more violent. If you were hurt as a child, you may be prone to anger or outbursts. If you find yourself being violent, seek help as soon as you can.

 

When Your Parents Were Both Neglectful and Provided

 

Sometimes, your parents could have changed from being providing and loving to neglectful. Maybe a change cause this, or another reason. Either way, it can make you feel clingy as an adult. You want your partner to always be around you, and any change in your relationship makes you feel paranoid.

 

These are just a few ways how a traumatic childhood can affect you. It’s no excuse for any of these behaviors, but instead an explanation. In the end, it’s up to you to get the help you need, and a marriage counselor can help. Here are a few ways the can help.

 

Helps You Identify the Source of Trauma

 

Sometimes, you may not know that your childhood trauma is making you act this way. Other times, you may have blocked the trauma out of your memory, and it’s lurking in your unconscious mind. A counselor helps with both of these situations by talking to you and allowing the memories to come out naturally. Once you’re able to find the source, you can work to fix it.

 

Helps Your Partner Understand

 

It can be hard for your partner to understand why their spouse behaves in a certain way, even if they know about the past trauma. They may not realize how the trauma can change how they see things and how they act. A counselor will help the partner to empathize while the person is being treated.

 

They Can Help the Person Move On

 

The goal of counseling is to help the person move on from the trauma. This isn’t to say they’ll forget it, but instead not let it affect their life. This can be difficult and can require much therapy. Sometimes, it may require the person to act out their trauma and have a favorable outcome. Other times, they use cognitive behavioral therapy to change how they think. Either way, this can allow the person to move on.

 

Seek Help!

If you’re having trouble in your marriage, speak to a counselor. Online counseling services such as BetterHelp allow for counseling at any time and for any situation. Don’t let a past trauma ruin your relationship. Learn how you can move on and enjoy your life.

Marie Miguel Biography

 

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.