Tag Archives: Self-sabotage

Self-Defeating Personality Disorder And Its Link To Childhood Trauma

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

 

What Is Self-Defeating Personality Disorder?

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

– avoidance of accepting help offered by other people

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

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

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

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

– indulges in excessive, unsolicited self-sacrificing behavior

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Treatment :

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

 

 

RESOURCE :

Stop Self Sabotage | Self Hypnosis Downloads

 

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

 

 

 

 

Self-Defeating Personality? Its Link To Childhood Trauma.

self-defeating personality

Why Do Some Seem To Have A Self-Defeating Personality?

I have written elsewhere on this site about how my illness caused me to behave in ways that were self-sabotaging in the extreme.

Some psychoanalysts refer to people who are, to put it informally, their own worst enemy, as having a self-defeating personality disorder; below, I briefly explain how this disorder, according to psychodynamic theory, can be strongly connected to traumatic childhood experiences.

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Self-Defeating Behaviour And Its Relationship To Childhood Trauma:

Self-defeating and self-sabotaging behaviour in adulthood, with its roots in adverse childhood experiences, often lies at the heart of addictions (such as drugs and alcohol), compulsions (such as gambling) obsessions (e.g. in connection to romantic relationships), depression, low confidence, pride and poor self-esteem.

However, most people are unaware that the source of their problematic behaviours lies in their difficult early life.

This lack of awareness of what really lies behind our self-destructive inclinations is due to the fact (according to psychodynamic theory) that we repress (banish to the unconscious) the true cause (our painful childhood) as to be conscious of it would be too distressing. This is known as a psychological defense mechanism.

Psychodynamic theory also postulates that it is necessary to break through our psychological defense to bring into consciousness understanding and insight into these clandestine, dark and dysfunctional motivational forces.

Only then can we turn our behaviour around so that it helps, rather than hinders (putting it very mildly in many cases, including my own) us.

Essentially, then, to cure ourselves we need to resolve our, thus far, unresolved childhood emotional conflicts; these may include, for example:

– having been rejected or abandoned by our parents.

– having been unloved by our parents.

– having been emotionally deprived by our parents.

– having been excessively controlled and manipulated by our parents.

If we do not resolve these issues (again, according to psychodynamic theory) we will continue to be unconsciously driven to put ourselves in situations that cause us to re-experience the highly distressing emotions originally generated by our traumatic childhood experiences.

BUT WHY ON EARTH WOULD WE BE UNCONSCIOUSLY DRIVEN TO RE-EXPERIENCE THESE DISTRESSING EMOTIONS TIME AND TIME AGAIN?

Well, according to Sigmund Freud, the answer is that this repetition compulsion (as he phrased it) represents our inwardly driven frantic and desperate attempts to gain mastery over the original trauma and its associated negative emotions, something we (inevitably, because we were powerless) failed to do in childhood.


Example:

A woman rejected in childhood by her parents may be unconsciously driven to try to form relationships with utterly unsuitable men who are bound to reject her.


Yes, incredible as it may sound, according to psychodynamic theory, her unconscious mind compels  her to form relationships that are doomed to failure (some go as far as to say all our behaviours are, in the final analysis, unconsciously driven and our sense of control over our own fates is a foolish fantasy; but we are submerging ourselves in murky and hazardous philosophical waters here).

Finally, it is also theorised that we will also interprete events negatively, when it is not objectively justified, in an attempt to recreate our adverse childhood experiences and the negative emotions which pertained to them at the time.

So, following on from the example above, if we were rejected by our parents as children, we may constantly believe others are rejecting us when this is, in fact, NOT the case.

SELF-HYPNOSIS DOWNLOAD : STOP SELF SABOTAGE 

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

Feel Guilty About Enjoying Yourself?

A profound sense of guilt and of worthlessness can develop within us if we experienced significant trauma during our childhood as has been written about extensively elsewhere on this site. One way in which this can manifest itself is that it can make us feel guilty and undeserving about experiencing good things in life such as relationships, career success or simply enjoying ourselves.

Occasionally, a kind of irrational, superstitious belief system can develop around this; for example, an individual might think something along the following lines : ‘if I dare to enjoy myself something bad is bound to happen to me.’ Indeed, such  faulty thinking can take on dramatic dimension, such as, ‘there’s no point in me trying to form a relationship with someone – if I do, I’m bound to be immediately struck down by terminal cancer.’

The guilt we feel that produces such distorted thinking is very likely to have its roots in the childhood trauma we experienced; specifically, we may consciously, or subconsciously, irrationally believe that the bad things we experienced in childhood ‘were our own fault.’ This phenomenon is sometimes referred to by psychologists as ‘MAGICAL GUILT.’ (Click here to read my article about overcoming guilt that is linked to the experience of childhood trauma.)

 

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SELF-SABOTAGE

If we do become successful, and such guilt has not been resolved, we may unconsciously punish ourselves by, for example, by becoming depressed or developing psychosomatic illnesses. In my own case, as I have written about elsewhere, I gambled away the money my father had left me after his death almost immediately upon receipt of it (click here to read my article about this experience).

 

SURVIVOR GUILT

Another cause of this ‘magical guilt’ may be that we feel luckier than another member of our family. For example, if, say, one of our parents is suffering from serious clinical depression during a period of our lives when we feel relatively well, we may develop the false belief that we are only well at their expense. Again, this leads us to believing we are not entitled to our relative good fortune.

 

THE BURDEN OF GUILT

The burden of guilt that we take on in the ways explained above leads to us constantly denying ourselves pleasure or unconsciously spoiling it should we inadvertently stumble upon it.

 

RESOURCES :

STOP SELF-SABOTAGE – CLICK HERE

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)