Tag Archives: Emotional Pain

3 Core Unmet Needs Underlying Emotional Pain

emotional pain

3 core unmet needs underlying emotional pain

Core Unmet Needs

Many of us who have suffered significant childhood trauma experience intense emotional pain as adults; such pain may present itself as severe anxiety, depression or anger, for example.

According to Timulak et al., 2012, three core unmet needs underlie such emotional suffering; these are :

  • unmet needs for safety and security
  • unmet needs for love and meaningful connection to others
  • unmet needs for acceptance, validation and recognition by others 

Sadly, such unmet needs frequently stem from growing up in a  dysfunctional family. (To read my previously published article : Dysfunctional Families : Types And Effects, click here).

 

Core Feelings Associated With Core Unmet Needs :

Timulak elaborates on the above by stating that these three core unmet needs are associated with corresponding core feelings as shown below :

  • unmet needs for safety and security are associated with feelings of fear and insecurity
  • unmet needs for love and meaningful connection to others are associated with feelings of sadness and loneliness
  • unmet needs for acceptance, validation and recognition by others are associated with feelings of shame and worthlessness

emotional pain

Secondary Distress And Obscured Core Unmet Needs And Feelings :

Timulak also alerts us to the fact that when individuals suffering from emotional pain present themselves to therapists, their core unmet needs and corresponding core feelings may be obscured and concealed because these are overlayed by surface, ‘secondary distress’ (i.e. distressing, surface feelings that have their roots in the underlying core unmet needs and associated core feelings).

Examples of such ‘secondary distress’ / ‘surface feelings’, Timulak states, include :

  • feelings of helplessness
  • feelings of hopelessness
  • feelings of depression
  • feelings of anger
  • feelings of anxiety
  • somatisation (e.g. insomnia, physical tension, exhaustion, teeth grinding, stomach pains, chest pains, loss of appetite, headaches, dizziness etc.)

It is important for patients and therapists to consider the possible core issues that may lie beneath adverse surface feelings (secondary distress). Often, these core issues will have their roots in childhood trauma.

 

Can Emotional Pain Be Treated Like Physical Pain ?

 

It hardly needs stating that emotional pain can feel unbearable; after all, it drives some to suicide. As well as knowing this from a theoretical perspective, I know from personal experience; I spent five days in a coma in intensive care following a suicide attempt, as I have written about previously in other articles that I have published on this site.

[NB. If you are feeling suicidal, you are strongly advised to contact an appropriately qualified professional].

But what is actually going on in the brain, in physiological terms, to cause such excruciating suffering?

Findings Of Recent Study:

A recent study was conducted on volunteers who were shown a photograph of a partner who had recently rejected them. Whilst looking at the photographs, these volunteers (a little cruelly, it could feasibly be argued!) were told to concentrate upon how badly the rejection made them feel.

Brain scans revealed that whilst the volunteers were focusing on the pain of rejection whilst looking at the photographs, the brain regions that were activated were very similar to those known to be activated by physical pain, in particular:

– THE SECONDARY SOMATOSENSORY CORTEX

– THE DORSAL POSTERIOR INSULA

This suggests that both physical and psychological pain have similar neurological underpinnings.

ap-pain-in-the-brain-4_3

Above : Image thought to show regions in brain activated in response to painful stimuli.

 

Implications Of The Above Study For The Treatment Of Psychological Pain:


Traditionally, physical pain and psychological pain have been treated in separate ways :

Traditional Treatment Of Physical Pain :

By medications such as paracetomal, aspirin, ibuprofen, Tylenol

Traditional Treatment Of Psychological Pain :

By medications such as antidepressants and sedatives

However, another study (carried out at the University of British Columbia) involved an experiment in which one group of volunteers had symptoms of anxiety treated using a placebo whilst the other group had symptoms of anxiety treated by the administration of 1000 mg Tylenol.

Results showed that those administered Tylenol had significantly reduced anxiety symptoms when compared to those in the placebo treatment group.

Conclusion:

It seems reasonable to conclude, on the basis of the above two studies described above, that not only do physical and psychological pain share common neurological foundations, but that, because of this, some psychological pain (such as that connected with anxiety) may respond to treatments (such as Tylenol, see above) originally intended to combat physical pain.

However, research into this area of study is at an early stage so definitive conclusions must be drawn with caution.

eBook:

childhood trauma and depression

 

.Above eBook now available on Amazon for instant download. Click here. (Other titles by David Hosier also available).

 

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

Latest Research Leads to New List Of Main Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Symptoms: The List

Main Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms :

Recent research has led to an expansion of the description of the main borderline personality disorder (BPD) symptoms. Following the development of the Sheldern Western Assessment Procedure 200 (an assessment tool which includes 200 questions that aid in the diagnosis of BPD) experts, based on up-to-date research, have now developed a much more detailed and comprehensive list of symptoms of BPD than used to be the case.

The list is published in a book by Patrick Kelly and Francis Mondimore -called Borderline Personality DisorderNew Reasons For Hope – who are experts in the field of BPD. I reproduce the list of symptoms in full below:

 

FULL OF PAINFUL AND UNCOMFORTABLE EMOTIONS : unhappiness, depression, despondency, anxiety, anger, hostility.

INABILITY TO REGULATE EMOTIONS : emotions change rapidly and unpredictably; emotions tend to spiral out of control leading to extremes in feelings of anxiety, sadness, rage, excitement; inability to self-soothe when distressed so requires involvement of others ; tends to catastrophize and see problems as unsolvable disasters ; tends to become irrational when emotions stirred up which can lead to a drop in the normal level of functioning ; tends to act impulsively without regard for the consequences

BECOMES EMOTIONALLY ATTACHED TO OTHERS QUICKLY AND INTENSELY : develops feelings and expectations of others not warranted by history or context of the relationship ; expects to be abandoned by those s/he is emotionally close to ; feels misunderstood, mistreated and victimized ; simultaneously needy and rejecting of others (craves intimacy and caring but tends to reject it when it is offered) ; interpersonal relationships unstable, chaotic and rapidly changing.

DAMAGED SENSE OF SELF : lacks stable self-image ; attitudes, values, goals and feelings about self may be unstable and changing ; feels inadequate, inferior and like a failure ; feels empty ; feels helpless, powerless and at mercy of outside forces ; feels like an outsider who does not belong ; overly needy and dependent ; needs excessive reassurance and approval.

 

eBook :

borderline personality disorder

 

Above eBooks now available for immediate download on Amazon. CLICK HERE.

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

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