Category Archives: Bpd Articles

Identity Disturbance And Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

identity problems

BPD And Identity Disturbance :

We have seen from other articles that I have published on this site that one of the defining symptoms of borderline personality disorder (a condition strongly associated with childhood trauma) is identity disturbance. In other words, many individuals with BPD have an unstable self-image and no firm sense of their identity ; they may sum up such issues by using expressions such as : ‘I don’t know who I am.

Individuals suffering from identity disturbance may :

  • have an unstable self-image that frequently oscillates between two extremes and an inconsistent view of self over time
  • become obsessed by their appearance, even to the extent that they develop conditions such as body dysmorphic disorder and anorexia nervosa.
  • lose touch with reality (dissociation)
  • experience feelings of derealization and/or depersonalization
  • attempt to develop an unrealistic, idealized self (e.g. trying to adopt the image of a famous movie star) only to feel empty and deficient when this inevitably fails
  • act as ‘social chameleons‘ (find that, because of their weak and uncertain sense of their own identity, they mimic the behaviors, values and attitudes of those they happen to be associating with at any given time
  • live by inconsistent standards and principals
  • have inconsistent view of the world and their place in it

social chameleon

Categories Of Identity Disturbance :

Some psychologists break identity disorder associated with BPD into four categories ; these are as follows :

  1. ROLE ABSORPTION
  2. PAINFUL INCOHERENCE
  3. INCONSISTENCY
  4. LACK OF COMMITMENT

Let’s look at each of these four categories in a little more detail :

ROLE ABSORPTION :

This involves individuals with an intrinsically weak sense of their own identity desperately attempting to create one by defining themselves through a particular role or cause. This may involve adopting a different name and radically altering their world view, values and belief system. Such individuals are vulnerable to being lured into cults whereby they may completely subjugate any sense of their own identity and, instead, overlay it with the identity into which the cult leader inculcates and indoctrinates them. Such individuals are obviously at high risk of being exploited by unscrupulous others.

PAINFUL INCOHERENCE :

Those who fall into this category constantly experience a distressing sense of emptiness (to read my previously published article, which goes into greater detail about this, entitled : ‘Constantly Feeling Empty? Effects And Solutions’ , click here.

INCONSISTENCY :

Individuals in this category are prone to changing their values, attitudes and opinions according to the people they happen to be associating with at any given time and, because of this, are sometimes referred to as ‘social chameleons’, as referred to above.

LACK OF COMMITMENT :

Lack of commitment can manifest itself in relation to many important areas of life including education (e.g. frequently changing courses but never completing any) ; career (frequently changing jobs) ; geographic location (frequently moving home) ; relationships (e.g. inability to maintain relationships with friends / partners / spouses) ; interests / hobbies.

Addressing Identity Problems :

To read my previously published article about how to tackle identity problems stemming from childhood trauma, click here.

 

RESOURCES :

Find Your Identity | Self Hypnosis Downloads

The Real You | Self Hypnosis Downloads

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

 

 

Four Responses To Intense Feelings Of Shame

shame

We have already seen from other articles that I have published on this site that those of us who have experienced significant childhood trauma over a protracted period are at risk of, as adults, having to endure intense, irrational feelings of deep-rooted shame ; this can be extremely painful.

Nathanson (1992) identified four main ways in which an individual may respond to feelings of shame in an attempt (conscious or unconscious) to defend and protect him/herself from the emotional suffering such feelings can evoke.

The Four Defenses Against Shame :

Nathanson proposed that the main four defense mechanisms employed against shame (which he believed to be largely learned in early childhood to protect the self from intolerable feelings) are :

  • withdrawal
  • attack self
  • avoidance
  • attack others

Nathanson also suggests that whilst individuals may employ more than one of the above defenses against shame (depending upon the particular conditions which have given rise feelings of shame) they tend to have a kind of ‘default mode’ (i.e. a specific main defensive strategy against shame) which they most frequently rely upon.

The Compass Of Shame :

Nathanson referred to the above four defenses against shame (withdrawal, attack self, avoidance, attack others) as making up what he referred to as ‘The Compass Of Shame‘. He further explained that all four defenses were best seen as existing on a continuum running from ‘mild’ to ‘extreme’.

So, for example, a ‘mild’ enactment of withdrawal is the aversion of one’s gaze whereas, at the ‘extreme’ end of the spectrum, one might withdraw from others completely and live in a wooden hut in the forest as a hermit.

shame

The Continuums :

So now let’s briefly look at the four continuums upon which the four shame defenses lie :

1) DEFENSE AGAINST SHAME : WITHDRAWAL

MILD END OF CONTINUUM : slumped shoulders, looking downwards, blushing, covering mouth with hand, staying silent, averted gaze, chronic loneliness

EXTREME END OF CONTINUUM : physical, cognitive and emotional withdrawal, isolation, depression, retreat into ‘own internal world’, chronic loneliness, presentation of only a false and superficial self to the world, hypersensitivity to rejection and criticism (particularly criticism of character)

2) DEFENSE AGAINST SHAME : ATTACK SELF

MILD END OF CONTINUUM : deferential behavior, modesty, shyness, self-deprecating humor

MIDDLE OF CONTINUUM : self-sabotage, self-neglect, self-humiliation, self-effacement, obsequiousness, subservience

EXTREME END OF CONTINUUM : self-hatred, self-disgust, self-contempt, masochism, self-debasement, self-harm (e.g. cutting self, burning self with cigarettes etc), suicidal ideation / suicidal behavior

3) DEFENSE AGAINST SHAME : AVOIDANCE

MILD END OF CONTINUUM : self-deception, disowned shame, self-deprecating charm, impostor syndrome

MIDDLE OF CONTINUUM : ostentatious behavior / displays of wealth (jewelry, clothes etc.) arrogance,  competitiveness, thrill seeking / risk taking, hedonism, perfectionism,

EXTREME END OF CONTINUUM : pathological lying, narcissism, grandiosity, self-aggrandisement, addictions (e.g excessive use of alcohol, obsessive sexual activity,

4) DEFENSE AGAINST SHAME : ATTACK OTHERS

MILD END OF CONTINUUM : teasing, put downs, banter

MIDDLE OF CONTINUUM : bullying, humiliated fury, rage

EXTREME END OF CONTINUUM : violence

Whilst some of the above defenses against shame are clearly healthier than others, even these mostly fail to fully alleviate deeply entrenched shameful feelings – in such cases, therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy and compassion-focused therapy can be of significant benefit.

RESOURCE :

LET GO OF SHAME : SELF-HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

 

 

 

Often Aggressive? Is Your Sensorimotor System Primed To Deal With Threat?

sensorimotor system

Are You Easily Provoked Into Angry And Aggressive Behavior?

After my mother threw me out of her house when I was thirteen years old and I was reluctantly taken in by my father and step-mother (which I have written about elsewhere in this site, so I won’t repeat the details), I was quickly labelled by my unwilling new custodians as ‘morose’ and ‘hostile ‘ (amongst other less than complimentary descriptors); whilst perhaps less than helpful, I am forced to confess that these two adjectives had not been applied to me wholly inaccurately.

Whilst I see now that my ‘moroseness’ and ‘hostility’ were directly symptomatic of my experiences during my early life (I have also written about this elsewhere), this basic inference was emphatically not drawn by my father and new wife. To them I was just a ‘bad’ child, possibly even ‘evil’ (my step-mother was intensely, pathologically religious and, soon after I moved in I recall, as vividly as if it were happening now, her shouting at me in some utterly indecipherable way and in no language I had ever heard before ; she was, in fact, speaking in what she believed, or pretended to believe and wanted me to believe, were ‘tongues’).

But back to my hostility, or, more accurately, to a consideration of individuals in general who are more than averagely  prone to hostile / aggressive / angry behavior.

If we, in our early lives, were habitually threatened and made to feel unsafe  by our parents / primary caregivers then, over time, our sensorimotor system may have become ‘primed for threat’ (this is the case because it would have been evolutionary adaptive for our distant ancestors).  In other words, it may have become highly sensitive and driven into overdrive in response to the smallest, perceived provocation.

This, in turn, means that as adults, when we perceive a threat that in any way reminds us (usually on an unconscious level) of our frightening childhood experiences (even though we are, objectively speaking, in no danger in the present)  our sensorimotor system is liable to become automatically activated (e.g. discharge of the sympathetic nervous system, increased adrenalin production, increased heart-rate, tensed muscles etc, all of which, in turn, stimulate emotional arousal) in such a way that we become, whether we like it or not, disproportionately and inappropriately aggressive.

Such behavior is automatic and beyond conscious control because when such reminders of past dangers occur (often called ‘flashbacks’), cognitive processing is inhibited (i.e. our rational thinking processes essentially ‘shut down’) and we become devoid of the reasoning capacity necessary to realize that we are, at the present time, in fact, safe.

Instead of realizing we are safe, we automatically become hyperaroused and experience strong impulses to lash out verbally or even physically). This can be regarded, as far as our unconscious motivation is concerned) asdefensive aggression‘ ; we are overtaken by a desperate need to ensure we are not hurt again in the way we were hurt as children (I stress again that  we often will not be consciously aware that this is the driving force behind our overly aggressive and hostile reactions).

For survivors of childhood trauma, such automatic responses can cause myriad problems including frequent, destructive, impulsive behavior. This can lead to individual to feel profoundly ashamed and to see him/herself as seriously, psychologically flawed, unstable and often incapable of rational reflection, unaware of the underlying problem : how his/her sensorimotor system has been, due to early-life trauma, conditioned (now maladaptively) to operate.

 

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

Borderline Personality Disorder Test

borderline personality disorder test

Controversy Surrounding The Diagnosis Of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) :

Diagnosing borderline personality disorder (BPD) is often regarded as controversial. There are several reasons for this which you can read about by clicking on the links that I provide at the bottom of this article.

The DSM V Criteria For The Diagnosis Of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) :

However, currently, borderline personality disorder is most commonly diagnosed by psychiatrists according to the criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (usually referred to as DSM V and sometimes informally and, perhaps, a little disparagingly, described as ‘The Psychiatrists’ Bible).

The criteria from the DSM V for the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) are listed below. It is important to note that, in order to be diagnosed with the disorder, the individual must suffer from AT LEAST FIVE of the symptoms listed.

1) Extreme fluctuations in emotions
2) Outbursts of explosive anger
3) Intense fear of abandonment which can lead to frantic efforts to maintain a relationship
4) Impulsive behavior
5) Self-harm (e.g. cutting skin with sharp objects, burning skin with cigarettes)
6) Unstable self-concept / weak sense of own identity
7) Chronic and profound feelings of ’emptiness’ (often leading to excessive eating/ consumption of alcohol/ illicit drug-taking etc ‘to fill the void’)
8) Dissociation (click here to read my article : Symptoms Of Dissociation – Mild And Severe)
9) Highly volatile and intense relationships

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

Important Reasons Why Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis Is Considered By Many To Be Controversial :

As I pointed out in the introductory paragraph to this article, the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is considered by many to be controversial. In order to learn more about these controversies, you may wish to read my previously published articles relating to this which I list below. Please simply click on the titles of any of the articles you wish to read.

eBook :

childhood trauma

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

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

When Is BPD Diagnosed? The Continuum Of Personality Problems.

personality

The Nine Personality Problems Associated With Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) :

There is no clear demarcation between those who have borderline personality disorder (BPD) and those who do not ; this is because the personality problems that contribute to a BPD diagnosis lie on a continuum. I have described the symptoms of BPD in numerous other articles that I have previously published on this site, but, for the sake of convenience, will list them again :

Three Criteria That Contribute To A Diagnosis Of BPD :

According to DSM V (The Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) an individual must display at least five of these symptoms to be diagnosed as suffering from BPD.

However, as implied above, an individual does not either have these personality problems or doesn’t have them – things are not that clear cut or black and white. So how is it decided whether or not each symptom is serious enough to count towards a diagnosis of BPD?

Essentially, it is a question of three considerations. For each of the above nine key symptoms, it is necessary to ask :

  1. Is the symptom chronic?
  2. Does the symptom cause the sufferer, or other people, significant problems?
  3. Does the symptom adversely affect multiple areas of the sufferer’s life?

peronality continuum

Let’s briefly look at each of these in turn :

Conclusion :

Essentially, the more of the above nine symptoms an individual has (as stated above, it is necessary to have a minimum of five to be diagnosed with BPD), and the more chronic, the more problematic and the more pervasive these symptoms are are, the more likely the individual is to be diagnosed with BPD.

However, diagnosis is not an exact science so there is always the possibility of unreliable diagnoses ; for example, person A may be diagnosed as having BPD by Dr X whereas person B may NOT be diagnosed as having BPD by the same doctor.

However, if both seek a second opinion from Dr Y, the diagnoses may be reversed (i.e person A is diagnosed as NOT having BPD whilst person B is diagnosed as having BPD. Of course, in the case of individuals suffering from particularly extreme (even within the context of the disorder) symptoms, diagnoses are likely to be more consistent and reliable.

eBook :

BPD ebook

Above eBook now available on Amazon for immediate download. Click HERE for further information.

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

Eighteen Maladaptive Schemas BPD Sufferers Might Experience

dysfunctional schema

What Are Maladaptive Schemas?

The term ‘schema’ can be defined as basic, fundamental beliefs we have in relation to ourselves, others, and the world in general. They are very deep rooted, persistent, enduring and difficult to change.

Our schemas develop during our childhood and, if our childhood involves significant and chronic trauma, abuse or neglect, resulting in our core emotional needs going unmet, these schemas can become extremely negative, maladaptive and dysfunctional, leading to myriad severe problems in adult life.

Research conducted by Young et al., (2003) provides empirical evidence for the existence of eighteen maladaptive schemas that may be displayed by individuals who, as a result of their disturbed and emotionally turbulent childhoods, have gone on to develop borderline personality disorder (BPD) or other personality disorders.

 

Schema Domains :

Young and his colleagues also proposed that these eighteen maladaptive schemas fit into five categories which they called SCHEMA DOMAINS. These five schema domains reflect the basic emotional needs of the individual which went unmet during his/her childhood ; I list each of the five below :

  1. DISCONNECTION AND REJECTION
  2. IMPAIRED AUTONOMY AND PERFORMANCE
  3. IMPAIRED LIMITS
  4. OTHER-DIRECTEDNESS
  5. OVERVIGILANCE AND INHIBITION

maladaptive schemas

The Eighteen Schemas Grouped Within Their Corresponding Schema Domains :

  • DISCONNECTION AND REJECTION (First schema domain) :

Abandonment : The belief that significant others cannot be depended upon to provide support and will, sooner or later, abandon one.

Shame : The belief that one is a bad person, inadequate, deeply flawed in character and inferior to others.

Alienation : The belief one does not fit into society and that one is doomed to be a permanent outcast and social pariah

Emotional deprivation : The belief that one will never receive the emotional support that one requires.

Mistrust : The belief that others will always manipulate, use, take advantage of, mistreat and betray one

  • IMPAIRED AUTONOMY AND PERFORMANCE (Second schema domain) :

Dependence : The belief that one is incompetent and incapable of functioning adequately in life without substantial help and support from others

Vulnerability : The excessive and abiding fear that some disaster or catastrophe is imminent and that one is utterly powerless to prevent it

Undeveloped sense of self : The belief one must be deeply emotionally close (sometimes referred to as ‘enmeshment’) to others at the expense of one’s own sense of an independent identity.

Failure : The belief that one is an utterly inept and ineffectual person who will never be able to achieve any significant goals

  • IMPAIRED LIMITS (Third schema domain) :

Self-control : The belief that one cannot control one’s impulses or tolerate frustration.

Grandiosity and sense of entitlement : The belief that others are inferior to oneself and that one’s own behavior is exempt from being dictated to by societal norms, rules and conventions.

  • OTHER-DIRECTEDNESS (Fourth schema domain) :

Approval Seeking : The belief that one always needs to be approved of, and accepted by, others, at the expense of developing one’s own sense of an independent identity.

Self-sacrifice : The belief that one must meet the needs of others at the expense of meeting one’s own needs.

Subjugation : The belief one must subjugate (suppress) one’s own needs, desires and feelings to avoid the disapproval of others.

  • OVERVIGILANCE AND INHIBITION (Fifth schema domain) :

Extreme self-criticism : The belief that one must achieve exceptionally high (and unrealistic) standards in everything one undertakes (perfectionism) fueled by a fear of criticism or of not being accepted.

Punitiveness : The belief that others should be severely punished for their mistakes.

Emotional inhibition :  The belief one needs to inhibit spontaneous action to an excessive degree in order to avoid negative repercussions such as bringing shame upon oneself, being disapproved of by others or losing control over of one’s impulses.

Negativity : Excessive pessimism involving obsessively focusing on the negative aspects of life whilst ignoring, or greatly minimizing, its positive aspects.

TREATMENT :

SCHEMA THERAPY aims to help the individual suffering from maladaptive schemas such as those described above by :

  • identifying the individual’s maladaptive schemas (caused by his/her unmet emotional needs)
  • to change these maladaptive schemas into more helpful ones
  • to change the individual’s maladaptive life patterns into more helpful ones
  • to improve the individual’s coping styles / coping strategies / life skills

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

BPD Sufferers Need To Be ‘Held’ According To Theory

holding

Buie And Adler :

Buie and Adler propose that the pathology displayed by sufferers of borderline personality disorder (BPD) such as instability, uncontrolled rage and anger, can be attributed, primarily, to early dysfunction in the relationship between the individual as a young child and his/her mother.

More specifically, Buie and Adler hypothesize that, as a young child, the BPD sufferer was insufficiently ‘held’ by the mother, particularly during the rapproachment phase of interactions.

What Is Meant, In Psychotherapy, By ‘Holding’?

In psychotherapeutic terms, the word ‘holding’ does not necessarily entail literal, physical holding (although, ideally, of course, a mother would physically hold her young child when s/he was distressed and in need of comfort), but can also involve its emotional equivalent (verbally comforting and soothing the child, for example).

However, because of the mother’s failure to sufficiently ‘hold’ (physically, emotionally or both) the BPD sufferer when s/he was a young child in distress, s/he never had the opportunity to internalize adequate maternal ‘holding’ behavior so that now, as an adult, s/he lacks the ability to self-soothe in response to the further distress that s/he will inevitably experience as an adult.

self-soothe

Profound Feelings Of Aloneness :

Buie and Adler further propose that the BPD sufferer’s inability to ‘self-sooth’ at times of high stress leads to a pervasive and profound sense of aloneness ; indeed, Buie and Adler consider this deep sense of loneliness to be a core feature of the BPD sufferer’s psychological experience and describe it in the following manner :

‘an experience of isolation and emptiness occasionally turning into panic and desperation.’

Projection :

Also, according to Buie and Adler, BPD sufferers use the psychological defense mechanism of projection in relation to their profound feelings of inner isolation which means, in short, that they project these feelings onto the external environment, and, as a result of this, perceive the outside world, and life in general, to be empty, meaningless and devoid of purpose.

Longing To Be Held By Idealized Others :

Furthermore, Buie and Adler propose that this inability to self-soothe and self-nurture (due to the original failure to internalize maternal holding behavior, itself a result of the mother’s dysfunctional interaction with the BPD sufferer when s/he was a young child) leads to intense, desperate longing and desire to be ‘held’ by idealized others.

Separation Anxiety :

Additionally, according to Buie and Adler, such longings perpetually leave the BPD sufferer vulnerable to feelings of extreme separation anxiety.

Rage :

Because of the BPD sufferer’s proneness to idealize others (see above), Buie and Adler point out that this can lead to him/her (i.e. the BPD sufferer) to develop extremely exacting expectations of such idealized others that it is not possible for them (i.e. the idealized others) to live up to.

This inevitable failure of the idealized others to live up to the BPD sufferer’s stratospheric expectations can then induce feelings of extreme rage and anger in him/her (i.e. the BPD sufferer) directed at the ‘failed’, idealized other.

Implications For Therapy :

In line with their theory, Buie and Adler put forward the view that it is the role of the therapist to provide the holding and soothing functions that the BPD sufferer is not capable of providing for him/herself. The ultimate goal of this is that the BPD sufferer is eventually able to internalize these functions (holding and self-soothing) so that s/he learns to provide them for him/herself in a way that s/he was unable to as a child due to the defective nature of the mothering s/he received.

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

 

Body Dysmorphic Disorder : Its Link To Childhood Trauma

childhood trauma and body dysmorphic disorder

Studies (see below) suggest that those of us who suffered traumatic childhoods are significantly more likely to develop body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) than those who were fortunate enough to have experienced relatively stable and nurturing childhoods. I briefly summarize two of these studies below :

Study One :

A study conducted by Didie et al., 2006 involving 75 participants who had been given a diagnosis of body dysmorphic disorder (with an average age of 35 years) found that 78.7 % reported having experienced maltreatment during childhood ; and, more specifically, of these 78.7 % :

  • 68 % reported emotional neglect
  • 56 % reported emotional abuse
  • 34.7 % reported physical abuse
  • 33.3 % reported physical neglect
  • 28 % reported sexual abuse

(NOTE : the above figures add up to more than 100 % because some participants in the study had suffered from more than one type of childhood trauma.)

Study Two :

A study conducted by Semiz et al., 2007 compared 70 in-patients suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD) with 70 matched, healthy controls.

Results showed that 54.3 % of those suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD) (a disorder which itself is closely linked to childhood trauma) were also suffering from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).

Further statistical analysis revealed that these individuals (i.e. who were suffering from both BPD and BDD) had experienced significantly more trauma in childhood than those without BDD and that traumatic experiences during childhood were a significant predictor of the comorbid diagnosis of BDD in BPD sufferers.

body dysmorphia disorder

What Is Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) ?

BDD is the preoccupation with a specific ‘blemish’ of physical appearance in an individual who is, in fact, of normal appearance. It mostly occurs during adolescence and affects males and females equally.

As we saw above, it is linked to childhood trauma but can also be influenced by parental attitudes to appearance, the prevailing culture (e.g. general high value placed upon youth and beauty, especially in the media) and low self-esteem.

How Does Body Dysmorphic Disorder Make The Individual Suffering From It Feel?

Typically, the individual suffering from BDD perceives him/herself as ‘ugly’ and is obsessively concerned about some imagined physical ‘flaw.’ In order to be diagnosed with BDD, the individual’s concern with his/her appearance must be severe enough to negatively impact upon his/her daily functioning (including avoidance of social interaction due to self-consciousness in connection with the imagined physical ‘flaw.’

Can A Person Diagnosed As Having Body Dysmorphic Disorder Actually Have A Physical Defect?

Yes, but the individual exaggerates its significance in relation to his/her appearance.

Considerations Relating To Diagnosis :

For BDD to be diagnosed it must exist ‘in its own right’ and not be explained as a symptom of another disorder such as anorexia nervosa, social phobia, avoidant personality disorder, delusional disorder (somatic type), other somatization disorders or normal concerns about appearance.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy :

One of the main treatments for BDD is cognitive-behavioral therapy aimed at psychosocial functioning and body image.

 

RESOURCE :

OVERCOME BODY DYSMORPHIC DISORDER

 

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

 

Family Therapy And Adolescent BPD Sufferers

family therapy and adolescent BPD

 


Borderline Personality Disorder In Adolescents :

I have written elsewhere about why some mental health clinicians are reluctant to diagnose borderline personality disorder (BPD) in adolescents. However, when an adolescent is believed to be suffering from this extremely serious psychiatric condition, family therapy can be of potentially crucial importance.

What Is Family Therapy?

Quite simply, family therapy is a form of counseling that treats more than one member of the family in the same therapy sessions; this is predicated on the notion that the behavior of a specific individual within the family is intimately connected to how other family members interact with him/her. (Two related posts that I have previously published about this phenomenon are : ‘Did Your Dysfunctional Family Make You Identified Patient?’ and ‘The Dysfunctional Family’s Scapegoat’

How Does Family Therapy Help?

The aim of family therapy is to educate all its relevant members about :

  • how family dynamics influence and maintain the behaviors of individuals within it
  • communication within the family
  • how adaptive (desirable) behaviors can be reinforced
  • ways in which the family can collaborate (work together) to solve problems within the family

It is often the case that, prior to such therapeutic intervention, the adolescent, due to his/her acting out‘, was seen (by the other members of the family) as the source of the family problems but, as the therapy sessions unfold, it becomes apparent that, in fact, the collective dysfunction of the whole family is at the root of the issue.

It is also not infrequently the case that through the process of family therapy it is revealed that other members of the family, too, have serious psychological conditions which need addressing (e.g. many adolescent sufferers of BPD will have a parent with the same condition or a similar personality disorder such as narcissistic personality disorder). When this found to be the case, such parents can also be helped (assuming they are willing) by the therapist which can, in turn, help them to relate to their family in a healthier way, hopefully culminating in a less dysfunctional relationship between them and their adolescent child.

Another very important aspect of family therapy is the therapist’s close observation of non-verbal communication between the parents and the adolescent (e.g. body language, facial expressions, intonation etc). By carrying out such observations, the therapist can point out to the family when such non-verbal signals may be less than helpful.

Family therapy can also include group training in parenting skills which can provide parents with :

  • emotional support
  • advice on how to create less dysfunctional family environments
  • how to set their children good examples / be good role models
  • how to reinforce their child’s positive behaviors

RESOURCES :

Enhance Parenting Skills – click here for further information.

Couples Therapy – click here for further information

eBook :

adolescent borderline personality disorder

Above eBook now available on Amazon for intant download. Click here for further details or to view other 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.

age regression

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

eBook :

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

 

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