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Tag Archives: Mental Health

Borderline Personality Disorder – 3 Infographics to Help Explain It.

borderline-personality-disorder

causes of bpd

The link between the experience of childhood trauma and the later development of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is well established by numerous research studies (click here to read my article on this). The infographic below shows how BPD can affect our behaviour.

The term  AFFECTIVE DYSREGULATION in the table below refers to the great difficulty BPD sufferers have in controlling (or regulating) their emotions (‘affect’ being a word used by psychologists to mean emotions). To read my article on this, click here.

Finally, the word ‘cognitive’ used in the third category of the table below is simply a word used by psychologists to refer to ‘thinking.’

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE :

behavioural symptoms of borderline personality disorder

behavioural symptoms of borderline personality disorder

The infographic below gives details of what BPD is, its symptoms, its causes, how it is diagnosed and how it is treated. Click here to view an excellent documentary on BPD.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE :

diagram explaining borderline personality disorder

diagram explaining borderline personality disorder

The infographic below shows the chances during their lifetime of a BPD sufferer developing ‘comorbidities’. A comorbidity is a medical condition associated with another condition. For example, the table shows that of those who suffer BPD, 88% will also suffer from anxiety disorder (one of the comorbidities of BPD) during their lifetime.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE :

comorbidities of borderline personality disorder

comorbidities of borderline personality disorder

 

emotional_abuse

 

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

The Use of Hypnosis to Treat Trauma.

childhood-trauma

 

 

Research has shown that hypnosis can be of benefit for individuals suffering from trauma related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Hypnosis is not used in isolation to treat such conditions, but in conjunction with other therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy.

Research studies have demonstrated that the use of hypnosis as part of the therapy for trauma based conditions can be particularly effective in:

– reducing the intensity and frequency of intrusive, distressing thoughts and nightmares
– decreasing avoidance behaviours (ie avoidance of situations which remind the individual under treatment of the original trauma)
– reducing the intensity and frequency of the mental re-experiencing the trauma
– reducing anxiety, hyper-vigilance and hyper-arousal that the trauma has caused
– helping the individual to psychologically INTEGRATE the memory of trauma in a way which reduces symptoms of dissociation (I have written a post on dissociation which some of you may like to look at)
– helping the individual to develop more adaptive coping strategies

On top of the above benefits, the use of hypnosis has been shown to be very likely to improve the therapeutic relationship between the individual undergoing treatment and the therapist.

However, it is not recommended that hypnosis be used to ‘recover buried memories of trauma’ as this has been shown to be unreliable and it is also likely that the use of hypnosis for this purpose can create FALSE MEMORIES in the person being treated.

Some individuals have been significantly helped by the use of hypnosis as part of their therapy for trauma related conditions such as PTSD in as little as just a few sessions. As one would expect, however, the more complex the trauma related condition is, the longer that effective treatment for it is likely to take.

 

Hypnosis And ‘Buried Memories :

A central tenet of psychodynamic theory is that some traumatic memories are so painful that they are buried (repressed) in the unconscious (automatically rather than deliberately) denying us direct access to them (though it has been theorized indirect access may be available through dreams and other phenomena).

One theory is that these buried memories need to be brought into full consciousness via the psychotherapeutic process and properly ‘worked through’ in order to alleviate the psychological symptoms associated with their hitherto repression.

It is frequently believed, including by therapists, that ‘buried traumatic memories’ can be accessed by hypnosis. But can they? What does the research tell us?

In one study, 70% of first year psychology students agreed with the statement that hypnosis can help to access repressed memories. More worryingly, 84% of psychologists were also found to believe the same thing. It comes as little surprise, then, that many therapists use hypnosis in an attempt to help their clients recover ‘repressed traumatic memories’. Indeed, the therapy, known as ‘hypnoanalysis’, was developed on the theory that ‘repressed traumatic memories’ could be accessed by hypnosis to cure the patient of his/her psychological ailment.

Surveys of the general public indicate that many of them, too, believe in the power of hypnosis to aid memory recall.

Whilst some contemporary researchers still hold to the belief that hypnosis aids recall, the majority now believe this is NOT the case. On the contrary, hypnosis has generally been found to IMPAIR and DISTORT recall (eg. Lynnet, 2001).

Furthermore, studies reveal that hypnosis can CREATE FALSE MEMORIES (see my post on memory repression for more detail on the question of the reality of concept of buried memories) which, due to the insidious influence of the therapist, the patient can become very confident are real.

This is of particular concern if the hypnosis has been used to try to help an eye-witness or crime victim recall ‘forgotten details’ of the crime and this evidence is then presented before a court of law. Indeed, as the problem becomes increasingly recognized, such ‘hypnotically recovered evidence’ is becoming increasingly unlikely to be admissible.

Some therapists use hypnosis to age-regress their adult clients (i.e. take them back ‘mentally’ to their childhoods) in an attempt to help them recall important events that occurred in their childhood which may be connected to their current psychological state. However, here, too, research suggests (e.g. Nash, 1987) such attempts are of no real value.

CONCLUSION:

Hypnosis does not appear to be useful for retrieving ‘buried memories’ and can, in fact, be utterly counter-productive by creating FALSE or DISTORTED memories.

How Hypnosis CAN Help Those Who Have

Suffered From Childhood Trauma :

However, hypnosis can help with many psychological conditions that those who have suffered childhood trauma may suffer from and I outline examples some of these below :

ANXIETY :

If we suffered significant and protracted trauma during our childhoods, we are far more likely than those who were fortunate enough to have experienced a relatively stable and secure upbringing (all else being) to develop severe anxiety and associated conditions in adulthood.

We feel anxiety when we perceive a threat (and the threat may be real or imagined).

Our perception of being under threat causes stress hormones, such as adrenalin and cortisol, to be released into the brain.

The release of these stress hormones into the body can result in distressing physical sensations; these differ depending upon the particular individual concerned and include the following (to list just a few examples):

headaches

– stomach aches

– dry mouth

– trembling

– heart palpitations

– sweating

– feeling faint/dizziness

hyperventilation

Vicious Cycle:

These physical symptoms of stress form part of a vicious cycle; this viscous cycle is caused by the various aspects of stress feeding off one another as I describe below:

1) Anxious thoughts lead to the production of stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol

2) These stress hormones produce physical symptoms in the body which exacerbate anxious thoughts

3) These further anxious thoughts then cause yet more stress hormones to flood the brain…and, thus, the vicious cycle continues

How Do You Break This Vicious Cycle?

In order to break this vicious cycle, a component of it needs to be broken so that the elements it is made up of can no longer feed off one another. Using hypnosis for anxiety therapy can do this in different ways, for example:

– the excessive production of stress hormones flooding the brain can be halted using self hypnosis techniques such as calming imagery/visualisation.

OR:

anxious thoughts can be reduced under hypnosis. This can be achieved in many ways, two of which I describe below:

Example of a technique to used in hypnosis to reduce anxiety  : the ‘Compassionate Friend’ Technique.

To simplify: under hypnosis, the individual is given the post hypnotic suggestion that when s/he has negative, anxiety producing thoughts s/he will be able to imagine what an ideal compassionate friend would say in response to them in order to comfort and reassure, so it becomes rather like having a tiny personal counsellor taking up residence in one’s head!

And, finally, many readers will already be aware that mindfulness meditation is often an extremely effective way of coping with stress and anxiety, though requires practice.

DEPRESSION :

We have seen from many other articles that I have published on this site that those of us who have suffered significant childhood trauma are at increased risk of developing depression (as well as many other psychiatric conditions) in adulthood than those who had relatively happy and stable childhoods (all else being equal).

One method that can help to reduce feelings of depression, especially when used in conjunction with other therapies such as pharmacology and psychotherapy, is self-hypnosis.

One of the main prevailing theories of the cause of depression is that it arises due to imbalances in certain brain chemicals (called neurotransmitters), in particular serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.

What Is The Function Of These Brain Chemicals?

 – Serotonin is thought to be involved with appetite, digestion, social behaviour, sexual desire, sexual function, sleep, memory and mood.

 – Norepinephrine is thought to be involved with the body’s fight or flight’ response.

 – Dopamine is thought to play a very important role in internal reward-motivated behaviour (e.g. the pleasurable feelings generated by sex or a large gambling win).

In order to attempt to correct this chemical imbalance, and thus alleviate depressive symptoms, medications are frequently prescribed. Unfortunately, however, not everyone finds them effective.

Hypnosis For Depression :

Another way to alter the brain’s chemical balance in those suffering from depression, research has shown, is by self-suggestion, as used in self-hypnosis, and by altering a person’s level of expectancy regarding their recovery (which plays a major role, of course, in the placebo effect); both of these phenomena have their foundations in the well known phenomenon of  mind-body connection.

Indeed, self-hypnosis for depression (utilizing self-suggestion) combined with cognitive behavioral therapy and/or drug therapy may be a particularly effective way of alleviating depressive symptoms.

A meta-analysis of hypnosis for the treatment of depression (Shih et al.) found that it significantly reduced depressive symptoms and concluded that it was ‘ a viable non-pharmacological intervention for depression.

Commonly, too, depression co-exists alongside anxiety, and numerous studies (e.g. see Hammond) suggest hypnosis and self-hypnosis are often particularly effective for treating anxiety related conditions such as headaches and irritable bowel syndrome.

Depression can also be exacerbated by loneliness or due to poor relationships with significant others (an illustrative example of this is that, on average, married people are significantly less likely (some research suggests up to 70% less likely) to suffer from depression compared with their non-married counterparts; here, again, self-hypnosis can be of use in order to assist us to  improve our interpersonal relationships by, for example, helping to repair our disrupted unconscious processes, allowing us to be more able to give and receive love/affection, making us less withdrawn, and reducing tendencies to judge ourselves and others in an overly negative manner.

 

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) :

According to the psychologist, Spiegel, self-hypnosis can be a useful tool to help individuals suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) overcome problems associated with the troubling symptom of disturbing, intrusive memories of the original trauma.

Spiegel states that self-hypnosis may be particularly useful because certain qualities of the hypnotic experience have much in common with qualities of the experience of the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), examples of which include :

– a feeling of reliving the traumatic event

– feelings of dissociation (detachment from reality)

– hypersensitivity to stimuli

– a disconnection between cognitive and emotional experience

Spiegel argues that this similarity between hypnotic phenomena and the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) make sufferers of this most serious and disturbing disorder more hypnotizable than the average member of any given randomly selected population.

It follows from this that those suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be particularly likely to be helped by the utilization of hypnotic techniques and procedures, particularly ‘coupling access to dissociative traumatic memories with positive restructuring of those memories’ (Spiegel et al., 1990). By this statement, Spiegel is suggesting that hypnosis could help bring traumatic memories more fully into conscious awareness and alter the way in which they are stored in memory by associating / pairing / linking them with feelings of safety (such as the feeling of being safe and protected in the therapist’s consulting room) rather than, as had previously been the case, high levels of distress.

In this way, Spiegel suggests, when these previously disturbing memories are recalled in the future, because they are now associated / paired / linked with feelings of safety, they cease to induce distress.

In effect, then, the traumatic memories have become positively recontextualized  and deprived of their previous power to induce feelings of fear, anxiety and terror.

WHY PTSD SUFFERERS MAY BE MORE HYPNOTIZABLE THAN THE AVERAGE PERSON :

Those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder display an array of distressing symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, insomnia, hypervigilence and hypersensitivity to stress.

Fortunately, however, research has found that those who suffer from PTSD tend to be more hypnotizable than the average person (this is thought to be because they can vividly imagine things which is an important component that helps to make an individual able to respond to hypnotherapy positively.

Many PTSD sufferers, therefore, can potentially be helped by practicing self-hypnosis.

What Is The Evidence That Hypnotherapy Can Effectively Reduce Symptoms Of PTSD?

There is a growing body of scientific evidence showing that those with PTSD can be helped by taking advantage of hypnotherapy. I briefly examine some of this evidence below:

1) Bryant et al. carried out a research study that showed the more vividly PTSD sufferers experienced flashbacks and nightmares, the more hypnotizable they tended to be.

2) Brom et al. ran an experiment in which PTSD sufferers were split into three groups :

Group 1 received psychodynamic psychotherapy

Group 2 received were treated using systematic desensitization techniques

Group 3 received hypnotherapy

Results :

Whilst all three groups responded equally well, group 3, comprising individuals who underwent hypnotherapy, required the fewest treatment sessions.

Other Research:

Forbes et al. found hypnotherapy to be an effective means of reducing nightmares and flashbacks in PTSD sufferers.

Krakow et al. carried out research showing that children who had experienced early life trauma were able to use imagery under hypnosis which reduced their nightmares and intrusive thoughts, as well as reducing their levels of emotional arousal and improving their quality of sleep.

Furthermore, there is good evidence that hypnotherapy can substantially help those suffering from mental health issues linked to PTSD such as depression and anxiety.

    VISIT HYPNOSISDOWNLOADS.COM 

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

    Large Study Suggests Antidepressants Work No Better than Placebos.

     

    Do Antidepressants work?

    Do Antidepressants Work?

    The pharmaceutical industry makes over 12 billion pounds a year from antidepressant medication. Indeed, millions of adults and children take antidepressants and there are hundreds of thousands of doctors throughout the world who are happy to prescribe them.

    However, it has been suspected by many for a long time that a proportion of any beneficial effect given by the taking of antidepressants is due to THE PLACEBO EFFECT (the PLACEBO EFFECT is a phenomenon whereby the patient’s BELIEF that a medication will help causes any improvement in his/her condition, not the drug itself.

    A simple example of this would be to give someone who has a headache a dummy pill, such as a sugar pill, and then to tell the person who took it that it will cure his/her headache. Often, the person’s BELIEF the tablet will help him/her then causes an improvement. There is so much evidence of the placebo effect that it is now fully accepted by the scientific community – it is an excellent example of how the mind can affect the body).

    do antidepressants work?

    Major Study On The Effectiveness Of Antidepressants :

    A major study has now been undertaken to discover how much of any beneficial effect antidepressants have is not due to the drugs themselves, but, instead, to the placebo effect. The study was led by the academic, Professor Kirsch, from Harvard University.

    His method was to take an overview of 38 studies which had already been conducted on the effects of antidepressants (psychologists refer to this as a meta-analysis). The SHOCKING DISCOVERY was that the data showed that antidepressants worked almost no better than placebos.

    In other words, giving an individual an antidepressant for his/her depression, according to the extensive data reviewed by Professor Kirsch, is likely to work hardly any better than giving the individual a sugar (or ‘dummy’) pill. In fact, the difference in effect upon lessening depressive symptoms between the sugar pills and the antidepressants was found to be, by careful statistical analysis, CLINICALLY INSIGNIFICANT.

    Further investigation of the data revealed that the proportion individuals who were helped more by the antidepressants than by the placebo (and, even then, only in a very minor way) was just 10-15% (those who had the most extreme forms of depressive illness).The majority, then (85-90%), were not helped in a significant way by antidepressants per se anymore than they would have been by a placebo.

    Doctors have been made aware of this study, but a survey recently conducted has, worryingly, shown that over half of them did not intend to change the manner in which they prescribed antidepressants.

    Whilst criticisms of Professor Kirsch’s study were made, particularly, unsurprisingly, by those who had a vested interest in the pharmaceutical industry, none of them, on analysis, have been shown to carry much weight. Additionally, a study commissioned by the NHS has SUPPORTED Professor Kirsch’s findings.

    Despite these alarming findings, 235 prescriptions for antidepressants were made in the USA in 2010, and, in 2011, 47 million were made in the UK.

    It is clear that there needs to be a major review of medical policy in relation the prescribing of antidepressants and that alternative ways of treating depression now need to be considered more than ever.

    DISCLAIMER – DO NOT DISCONTINUE ANY PRESCRIBED MEDICATION WITHOUT FIRST SEEKING EXPERT MEDICAL ADVICE.

    childhood trauma and depression

     

    Above eBooks now available on Amazon for immediate download. 

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

    Research on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation as a Treatment for Trauma.

    high-and -low- functioning-BPD

    What Is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation? :

    Transcranial magnetic stimulation is normally abbreviated to TMS. Essentially, this treatment works by delivering short pulses of magnetic energy (which are generated by a hand held device that contains an electro-magnetic coil) to specific brain regions. It is a non-physically invasive therapy and the smallish, relatively simple device is merely guided over the relevant areas of the patient’s head by the doctor.

    Research has already shown that the treatment can significantly reduce depressive symptoms in patients and early indicators are that it may also be of benefit to individuals suffering from the effects of trauma.

    In order to help you visualize the simplicity of the procedure, imagine a hair-dryer being moved over the head – the only difference is that, rather than warm air being delivered,essentially painless, magnetic pulses are delivered instead.

    HOW DOES TMS WORK?

    I have already stated that the procedure is essentially painless (although some patients report that it has induced in them a headache) so the magnetic pulses are delivered whilst the patient is fully conscious. The procedure generally takes about twenty minutes. The magnetic pulses work by altering the way in which the brain cells communicate with each other (or, to put it more technically, the electrical firing between the brain’s neurons is altered) in the specific brain regions at which the treatment is directed. Research into the treatment has so far suggested that it may:

    – reduce symptoms of depression
    – reduce symptoms of anxiety – reduce the intensity of intrusive traumatic thoughts – help to reduce social anxiety by reducing avoidance behaviours

    POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF TMS :

    Unfortunately, TMS cannot be administered to those individuals who have been fitted with a pacemaker (or, for that matter, have had any other metal implanted in their body). Also, it cannot be administered to those who suffer from epilepsy in most cases.

    In rare cases, TMS may induce seizures or manic episodes.

    Anyone considering the treatment should discuss it with their doctor.

     

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

    Childhood Trauma And Self-Harm.

    childhood-trauma-fact-sheet

    Childhood Trauma And Self-Harm

    Many research studies (eg Arnold, 1995) have demonstrated a link between having been abused as a child and self-harm. In one study,84% of individuals who self-harmed reported that childhood trauma had contributed to their condition.

    WHAT IS SELF-HARM?

    The following are examples:

    -skin cutting
    -skin burning
    -compulsive skin picking
    -self-hitting
    -self-biting
    -hair pulling
    -interfering with wound healing
    -swallowing foreign objects
    -pulling off nails

    Whilst it sounds counter-intuitive, self-harm is fundamentally a COPING MECHANISM born out of trauma and a profound sense of powerlessness.

    childhood trauma and self-harm

    ‘PAIN-EXCHANGE’.

    Self-harm has been described as a kind of ‘pain-exchange’. This means invisible, extreme emotional pain is converted into visible, physical wounds. After a period of self-injury individuals report feeling calmer and more able to cope. Self-injuring causes the brain to release ‘natural pain killers’ which may have the twin effect of diminishing psychological pain. A further theory is that, due to an individual’s self-loathing (see later in the post), self-injury acts as a form of self-punishment which the individual consciously or unconsciously believes s/he deserves.

    Typically, people who self-harm are emotionally fragile and highly sensitive to rejection.

    INDIRECT SELF-HARM.

    Not all self-harm is direct. Indirect methods include:

    -substance misuse
    -gambling
    -extreme risk taking
    -anorexia/bulimia
    -staying in an abusive relationship

    With these, the damage is not immediate, but, rather, they are physically and/or psychologically damaging over the long-term.

    TYPES OF CHILDHOOD TRAUMA ASSOCIATED WITH SELF-HARM.

    The following have been found to be associated with self-harm:

    -physical/sexual/emotional abuse
    -loss of primary care giver (eg through divorce)
    -having ’emotionally absent’ parent/s
    -growing up in a chaotic family (eg due to parental mental health problems)
    -being raised in the care system
    role reversal in child-parent relationship (eg child acting as a disturbed parent’s counselor)

    Furthermore, many who self-harm have NEGATIVE CORE BELIEFS such as the following:

    -I am bad/evil
    -I am worth nothing
    -I shouldn’t have been born
    -I’m never good enough
    -I don’t deserve to be happy
    -I’m unlovable
    -I’m inferior
    -I don’t fit in anywhere
    -there’s something wrong with me

    Such beliefs lead to: SELF-LOATHING and EXTREME LOW SELF-ESTEEM. This in turn leads to emotional distress which can trigger acts of self-harm such as those illustrated in this post. My next post will look at ways we can minimize our risk of self-harming.

     

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    (OTHER TITLES AVAILABLE.)

     

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

    My Own Story : A Brief Overview.

    childhood trauma story

    My own childhood was highly chaotic and traumatic.

    I started to suffer severe emotional problems very early on (for example, when I was 8 the teachers at the prep school I was at thought I had gone deaf, so I was taken to see my GP. It transpired, however, that there was nothing at all wrong with my ears, rather, the problem was psychological in origin: I had been ‘retreating into my own inner world’). Psychiatrists term this ‘dissociation’, which is a topic I refer to in my posts in the EFFECTS OF CHILDHOOD TRAUMA category.

    As an adolescent I became deeply depressed and my behaviour became erratic, compounded by heavy drinking.

    In adulthood, I became very ill indeed. I was hospitalized many times with depression so acute in nature I underwent electro-convulsive shock therapy (ECT) during more than one admission.

    I made several suicide attempts, one of which left me in a coma on life-support for five days in intensive care.

    It is these experiences which motivate me in my study of childhood trauma, its effects and what one can do to help oneself recover. I am fortunate in having a relevant academic background which helps facilitate this.

      borderline personality disorder ebook

    Above eBooks now available from Amazon for instant download. Click here for further details. (Other tiles available by same author –see Amazon).
    David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Challenging Our Negative Thoughts.

     

     

    Challenging Negative Thoughts :

    This article examines how we can use cognitive behavioral therapy to challenge our negative thoughts.

    When we have negative thoughts, it is important to ask ourselves:

    ‘What is the evidence to support this negative thought/belief?’ OFTEN, WILL WILL FIND THERE IS VERY LITTLE OR AT LEAST NOT THE COMPELLING EVIDENCE WE’D ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED.

    It is important for us to get into the habit of challenging negative thoughts in this way because very often the negative thoughts come to us automatically (due to entrenched negative thinking patterns caused in large part by our traumatic childhoods) without us analyzing them and examining them to see if they are actually valid.

    So, to repeat, we need to try to get into the habit of CHALLENGING OUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS AND ASKING OURSELVES IF THERE REALLY IS PROPER EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THEM.

    A SUGGESTED EXERCISE FOR CHALLENGING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS :

    1) Think of two or three negative thoughts that you have experienced lately.

    2) Ask yourself what evidence you have to support them.

    3) Ask yourself how strong this evidence actually is.

    4) Now think of evidence AGAINST THE NEGATIVE THOUGHT.

    Step 4 above is very important.This is because when we are depressed and have negative thoughts we tend to focus on the (often flimsy) evidence which supports them BUT IGNORE ALL THE EVIDENCE AGAINST THEM (in other words, we give ourselves an ‘unfair hearing’ and , in effect, are prejudiced against ourselves). This is sometimes referred to as CONFIRMATION BIAS.

    Challenging our negative thoughts and FINDING EVIDENCE TO REFUTE THEM is a very important part of CBT. It is, therefore, worth us putting in effort to search hard for evidence which weakens or invalidates our automatic negative thoughts/beliefs.

    ALTERNATIVE THOUGHTS:

    When we have successfully challenged our negative thoughts, and found, by reviewing the evidence, reason not to hold them anymore, it is useful to replace them by MORE REALISTIC APPROPRIATE THOUGHTS.

    One way to get into the habit of this is to spend a little time occasionally writing down our automatic negative thoughts. Then, for each thought, we can write beside it:

    1) Evidence in support of the negative thought.

    2) Evidence against the negative thought.

    3) In the light of the analysis carried out above in steps 1 and 2, replace it with a more realistic, valid and positive thought. Here is an example:

    Negative Thought: I failed my exam which means I’m stupid and will never get the job I wanted or any other.

    1) Evidence in support of negative thought:

    ‘after a lot of revision, I still didn’t pass.

    2) Evidence against negative thought:

    I only failed by a couple of per cent and was affected by my nerves – failing one exam does not make me stupid’.

    3) Alternative, more valid, realistic and positive thought:

    ‘I can retake the exam and still get the job. Even if I don’t get my first choice of job, that does not mean there won’t be other jobs I can get, and they may turn out to be better.’

    Getting into the habit of occasionally writing down negative thoughts, challenging them, and coming up with more positive alternative thoughts will help to ‘reprogram’ the brain not to just passively accept the automatic negative thoughts which come to us without subjecting them to scrutiny and challenging their validity.

    Ten Steps To Overcoming Negative Thinking. 

    David Hosier BScHons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).