David Hosier MSc. Founder of childhoodtraumarecovery.com

Author Archives: David Hosier Msc

Holder of MSc and post graduate teaching diploma in psychology. Highly experienced in education. Founder of childhoodtraumarecovery.com. Survivor of severe childhood trauma.

Relationship Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (ROCD)

relationship obsessive compulsive disorder (ROCD)

We have already seen, in other posts that I have published on this site, that significant and protracted childhood trauma can put the individual who suffers it at higher risk of developing various psychiatric problems later on in life, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (if you would like to read my article – Childhood Trauma And Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)– by clicking HERE.

In this particular article, however, I will concentrate upon a variant of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) called relationship obsessive  – compulsive disorder (ROCD) ; in those afflicted by this psychological condition the individual’s obsessive-compulsiveness is centered around a relationship with another person (this relationship may be current or in the past).

What Are The Symptoms Of Relationship Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (ROCD)?

The person suffering from ROCD experiences chronic, distressing, intrusive thoughts, images and urges that are not wanted and that interfere with the individual’s day-to-day functioning. Often, too, these obsessive thoughts / images / urges contravene the individual’s conscious beliefs, values and moral principles.

When particular urges / images / thoughts arise, the individual may feel compelled and driven to carry out certain behaviors /actions in an (irrational) attempt to prevent these urges / images / thoughts from leading to some dreaded consequences and to reduce anxiety.

Obsessions connected to relationships that the ROCD sufferer may experience :

  • whether they really love their partner or not / whether or not they are ‘right’ to love their partner
  • whether their partner really loves them or not (e.g. the individual with ROCD may constantly seek reassurances, their partner’s approval etc.) / whether their partner is ‘right’ to love them
  • whether or not they are in the ‘right’ relationship
  • whether their partner is having an affair / being unfaithful
  • intense anxiety about ending a relationship
  • intense focus upon the partner’s faults (as opposed to concentrating on the good in him/her)
  • constantly thinking (despite the relationship being good) they could be missing out on the opportunity of finding someone better
  • constantly fearing they’re not good enough for their partner and it is only a matter of time before s/he realizes this

 

Possible causes of ROCD :

Various factors may combine and interact with one another to cause ROBT ; these include :

Cognitive – dysfunctional styles of thinking (for more on this, see my previously published article entitled : Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Childhood Trauma).

Biological – their may be a genetic component. Also, there may be chemical, structural and/or functional abnormalities in the brain (to read my article about FUNCTIONAL AND STRUCTURAL  NEUROPLASTICITY, please click here). Or, to read my previously published article about PHYSICAL BRAIN DIFFERENCES IN THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM SEVERE ANXIETY, please click here).

Psychodynamic – fear of abandonment stemming from childhood trauma (for more on this, see my previously published article entitled : ‘Abandonment Issues’)or from low self-esteem stemming from childhood trauma (for more on this, you may wish to read my previously published article entitled : Childhood Trauma : A Destroyer Of Self-Esteem.

 

Possible Treatment For Relationship OCD :

These include :

  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy
  • exposure response prevention therapy
  • anxiety management techniques

 

RESOURCES :

10 Steps to Overcome Insecurity in Relationships | Self Hypnosis Downloads

OCD Treatment | Self Hypnosis Downloads

 

RELATED ARTICLES :

 

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

 

Effects Of Passive-Aggressive Parents

Having parents who treat us in a passive-aggressive manner can have an extremely adverse effect upon our mental health; indeed, Scott Wetzler PhD, an expert in these matters, based at Montefiore Medical Center, has said, quite unequivocally, that being on the receiving end of passive aggressive behaviour can lead to the victim feeling as if s/he were ‘a crazy person.’

What Is Passive-Aggressive Behaviour?

To sum up in just two words, passive-aggressive behaviour is disguised hostility.

Examples Of Passive-Aggressive Behaviour :

THE SILENT TREATMENT (to read my article on this, click here)

INSULTS AND CRITICISMS MASQUERADING AS HUMOUR (to read my article on this, click here)

– UNDERMINING OUR SENSE OF REALITY / MISREPRESENTING THE TRUTH (this is sometimes referred to as ‘GASLIGHTING’; to read my article on this, click here)

INVALIDATION (related to above, click here to read my article on how our parents can invalidate us and the enormous harm that this can do)

– STONEWALLING – i.e. completely ignoring our point of view, as if we are not worthy of a response, or, even, as if we are ‘beneath their contempt.’

– MANIPULATION (to read my article on the effects of manipulative parents, click here)

– PLACING US IN A ‘DOUBLE BIND’ (the long-term psychological effects of this can be devastating; to read my article about the phenomenon of the double bind, click here)

– CRITICISM PRESENTED AS ‘HELPFULNESS’ OR ‘CONCERN’ (e.g. ‘If you don’t mind my saying so, you’re putting on rather a lot of weight; I only mention it because I’m worried about your health, of course – the last thing I want to do is to offend you or make you feel self-conscious…)

– EXCLUSION – To take an example from my own experience : in the last several years of my (non-) relationship with my father / family/ step-family I was completely excluded from family occasions such as family meals; this is a typical example of passive-aggression and of hurting others through ACTS OF OMISSION) as opposed to by acts of commission.

I remember, on one occasion, my father phoning me up and saying :

Oh, we’re having your [my brother and stepbrother] over to celebrate [my step-mother’s/ my father’s second wife] 60th birthday. Of course, we’d invite you but you wouldn’t want to come, would you?’

This would almost be funny had I not been so acutely, psychiatrically ill at the time, having recently had ECT and had spent five days in a coma following a suicide attempt.

(To be fair to my father, however, it was my stepmother who manipulated him into such behaviour, threatening to leave him if he did not comply with her wishes regarding his relationship with him – a threat that she was ultimately to carry out. To what degree my father allowed himself to be manipulated, because his wishes coincided with hers, I don’t know).

– ACTING WEAK AND POWERLESS to elicit sympathy

–  PLAYING THE MARTYR

– USING MONEY TO CONTROL / INSTIL FEELINGS OF GUILT / INSTIL FEELINGS OF DEPENDENCY

– PROCRASTINATION

– NEVER GIVING (OR WITHHOLDING) PRAISE

– NEVER GIVING (OR WITHHOLDING) AFFECTION

– PERPETUAL LATENESS for no obvious reason

– PERPETUAL PROCRASTINATION

– EXCESSIVE USE OF PETTY, TRIVIAL COMPLAINTS

– INDIRECT AND UNDERHAND EXPRESSIONS OF RESENTMENT AND BITTERNESS

– COMMUNICATING HOSTILITY THROUGH FACIAL EXPRESSION/TONE OF VOICE/BODY POSTURE RATHER THAN DIRECTLY THROUGH LANGUAGE

(the above list, of course, is not exhaustive – the subtle ways in which individuals can express their hostility are myriad)

 

EFFECTS OF PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE PARENTS ON THEIR CHILDREN :

– the child may is at risk of growing up with communication problems similar to those of his/her parents and may him/herself develop passive-aggressive ways of interacting with others and find it very difficult expressing anger directly

– the child may feel a profound sense of confusion in relation to the ‘mixed messages’ sent out from the passive-aggressive parent; this can lead to the child growing up not really knowing ‘where s/he stands’ with the passive-aggressive parent and not, therefore, being able to fully trust this parent. This can lead to the child growing up unable to trust other people in general.

– if the child does indeed develop communication problems similar to those of his/her passive-aggressive parents, s/he is also likely, as an adult, to find both forming, and maintaining, interpersonal relationships problematic

depression / anxiety / low self-esteem

RESOURCES :

What Are The Effects Of Trauma On Young Children (0-6 Years)?

What Are The Effects Of Trauma On Young Children?

 

The possible effects of childhood trauma on children under the age of six years are extensive and can be divided into three main categories. These three categories are as follows :
  • BEHAVIORAL EFFECTS
  • COGNITIVE EFFECTS (i.e. effects on thinking and conscious mental processes)
  • PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECTS (i.e. effects on physical health and biological processes)

Below, I list the possible effects of being exposed to prolonged and significant trauma on young children :

A) FROM 0 YEARS OLD TO TWO YEARS OLD 

B) FROM THREE YEARS OLD TO SIX YEARS OLD 

 

A) POSSIBLE EFFECTS ON CHILDREN AGED 0 TO 2 YEARS :

 

BEHAVIORAL :

Aggression

Regressive behavior

Extreme temper tantrums

Fear of adults connected to the traumatic experiences

Fear of separation from the parent / primary caregiver (see my article about separation anxiety)

Irritability

Anxiety

Sadness

Withdrawn behavior

Highly sensitive ‘startle response’

Prone to excessive screaming and crying

COGNITIVE :

Memory impairment

Impairment of verbal skills

PHYSIOLOGICAL :

Sleep problems

Nightmares

Reduced appetite

Low weight

Problems with digestive system

B) POSSIBLE EFFECTS ON CHILDREN AGED 3 TO 6 YEARS :

What Are The Effects Of Trauma On Young Children?

BEHAVIORAL :

Aggression

Regressive behavior

Extreme temper tantrums

Fear of adults connected to the traumatic experiences

Fear of separation from the parent / primary caregiver (see my article about separation anxiety)

Irritability

Anxiety

Sadness

Withdrawn behavior

Highly sensitive ‘startle response’

Low self-confidence

Anxiety / Fearfulness

Avoidant behavior

Difficulty placing trust in others

Difficulties making friends

Self-blame in relation to traumatic experiences (e.g. blaming self for parental separation or believing physical abuse ‘deserved’ for being a bad person‘)

Acting out

Imitating the abusive behavior suffered (e.g. by bullying school peers)

Reenacting traumatic event

Verbal aggression

COGNITIVE :

Memory impairment

Impairment of verbal skills

Problems with concentration and associated problems with learning

PHYSIOLOGICAL :

Sleep problems

Nightmares

Psychosomatic complaints such as headaches and stomach aches

Regressive behavior  (i.e. behaving in ways associated with an earlier period of development such as stress-related bed-wetting)

 

Read my associated article :

Signs An Adult Was Abused As A Child – click here.

 

eBooks :

emotional abuse book   childhood trauma damages brain ebook   effects of childhood trauma   

Above eBooks now available on Amazon for immediate download. Click here for further details and to view other available titles.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arrested Psychological Development and Age Regression

arrested psychological development

Arrested Psychological Development

Traumatic life events can cause the child to become ‘stuck’ at a particular level of psychological development for an extended period of time – s/he may, therefore, often seem immature as development was frozen at an earlier stage.

For example, an eleven year old child who was abandoned by his/her primary carer at age four may throw tantrums similar to those one might expect of a four year old when left with an unfamiliar baby-sitter. In other words, s/he may regress behaviorally to the developmental stage at which s/he became frozen. Such regressive behavior is a temporary reaction to real or perceived trauma.

 

Severe trauma can result in commensurately severe developmental delays. For example, a ten year old child who has experienced severe trauma may not yet have developed a conscience (even though a conscience usually develops around the of ages six to eight). This does NOT mean that the child is ‘bad’, it is just that s/he has not yet reached the relevant developmental stage. This can be rectified by the child identifying with a parent or carer and internalizing that identification.

It is vital to point out that if a child has never had the opportunity to identify with a safe and rational adult and has not, therefore, been able to internalize adult values, we cannot expect that child to have developed a conscience.

Indeed, if there has been little or no justice or predictability in the child’s life, and s/he is ill-treated for no discernible reason by adults in a position of trust, developing a conscience may not even have been in the child’s best interests. In extreme circumstances, for example, it may have been necessary for the child to lie, steal and cheat purely in order to survive; once s/he has learned such behaviors are necessary to his/her very survival, these same behaviors become extremely difficult to unlearn.

Below I list some of the main factors that may lead to arrested development.

EXAMPLES OF TRAUMAS WHICH CAN INTERRUPT PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT :

separation from the primary care-giver

– all forms of abuse

– foster care

adoption

neglect

– parental alcohol/drug misuse

ATTACHMENT DISORDER :

One of the main traumas a child can suffer is a problematic early relationship with the primary care- giver; these problems can include the primary care-giver having a mental illness, abusing alcohol/drugs, or otherwise abusing or abandoning the child. In such cases, attachment disorder is likely to occur in the child – this disorder can impair or even cripple a child’s ability to trust and bond with others. In such cases, it is the child’s ability to attach to other human beings which is impaired by developmental delays.

Since such a child’s development has essentially become frozen in relation to his/her ability to bond with others, s/he will not ‘grow out’ of the problem behaviors associated with attachment disorder without a great deal of emotional ‘repair work.’

WHAT KIND OF BEHAVIORS MIGHT A CHILD WITH AN ATTACHMENT DISORDER DISPLAY?
the main examples of these are listed below :

little eye contact with parents

– lack of affection with parents

telling extremely obvious lies

– stealing

delays in learning

poor relationships with peers

cruelty to animals

lack of conscience

– preoccupation with fire

– very little impulse control /hyperactivity

– abnormal speech patterns

abnormal eating patterns

– inappropriate demanding behavior

inappropriate clingy behavior

 

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT AND FAILURE TO DIFFERENTIATE :

‘Differentiation’ refers to the process by which, as s/he grows up and goes through adolescence into early adulthood, develops his/her own identity and becomes independent of his/her parents and original family, thus differentiating him/herself from them. And, with increasing independence, s/he is also able to take on increasing responsibilities.

However, sometimes an individual fails to undergo this healthy process, but, instead, remains dependent upon his/her parents financially, emotionally, physically or a combination of these three ways. Such individuals may continue to live with their parents well into adulthood and/or rely on their parents to pay their bills, perhaps because they are unable to hold down a job. 

It has been theorized that the adult child’s inability to differentiate may be due to an enmeshed emotional relationship between the child and the parent in which the parent ‘needs to be needed’ and so, unconsciously’, prevents the child from emotionally separating from him/her and keeps him/her (the now adult child) dependent. This ‘need to be needed’ may derive from a number of causes :

  • the fact that the parent’s identity has become so closely tied to that of being a ‘carer’ that s/he cannot let go of the role
  • loneliness / fear of loneliness
  • the need to have continued power and control over the child

Another possible explanation is that the adult child has a personality / behavioral problem which prevents him/her from becoming independent of the parent. If their dependence on their parents is particularly acute, they may be suffering from dependent personality disorder. This could be due to trauma the now adult child experienced in early life. However, a possible drawback of a parent continuing to care for a child who has failed to make the transition to adulthood is that it maintains the now adult child’s dependence.

eBook :

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

 

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

Deep Feelings Of Shame Resulting From Emotionally Impoverished Relationships With Parents

cause of shame

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).

 

 

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