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Family Court Strategies: When Your Partner Has BPD OR NPD Traits. Practicing lawyer, Senior Family Mediator, and former Licensed Clinical Social Worker with twelve years’ experience and an expert on navigating the Family Court process.
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Author Topic: Lonely Child Schema - discussion with therapist  (Read 3533 times)
sheepdog
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« on: May 26, 2013, 09:18:31 AM »

So last week I had told my therapist aht I had read something online that pretty much followed exactly what my relationship with BPD was like.  She was very interested and curious to read it so I sent her the link to the the abandoned child and the lonely child thread https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=161524.msg1548181

Yesterday I had another session and she pulls out the post.  And then completely floored me.  Because instead of talking about my relationship with BPD, she focused on me and what she saw of me based on that post.

She said that the way she read the post, the lonely child was basically desperately seeking attachment.  And unfortunately, they (I) found the pwBPD.  Then she brought it back to me.  

She started talking about herself and how she had attachment issues as well until she went through her own therapy.  I asked what that meant and she said children can sense/know when a caregiver does not want them and that this could go all the way back to the womb.  I am *very* open to things _ I really am - but the way she was talking, I have to admit I found it to be a bit like mumbo jumbo.  And she smiled and said, "Sheepdog, it's true.  My mother did not want me.  She was going to divorce my father and then found out she was pregnant.  She never wanted to have me, and didn't love that I was around when I was born, either."  And I said that I could see if she could sense that as a 5 or 6 year old but int he *womb*?  And she said, "Sheep, it is true.  There have been numerous studies about attachment with children, starting very early in their lives."  

So she started digging into my life but there really wasn't much there.     I guess I will keep digging.  But it made me really start to think and it kind of upset me.  I had a great relationship with my parents and she sense that I was getting uncomfortable and said, "We're not judging anyone here, sheep, and we're not here to throw stones... . "

She asked me how I would describe myself - meaning do I have a trusting nature or would I say that I am mistrustful of others and how they view me.  And honestly, my motto kind of has always been, "Trust no one."  Except sometimes I do wear my heart on my sleeve for certain people - like BPD.

She said being mistrustful goes along with the attachment studies.

Then, we started talking about the possible sexual abuse and... . yeah, yesterday was such a hard session.

Bt when I was leaving she reminded me that I wanted/needed this attachment to BPD.  Even after he treated me in not so kind ways and completely used me.  And we needed to figure out why.  

Anyone ever heard of any of this or have any thoughts about it?

Thank you.
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babyducks
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« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2013, 09:38:52 AM »

Yesterday I had another session and she pulls out the post.  And then completely floored me.  Because instead of talking about my relationship with BPD, she focused on me and what she saw of me based on that post.

She said that the way she read the post, the lonely child was basically desperately seeking attachment.  And unfortunately, they (I) found the pwBPD.  Then she brought it back to me. 

Sheepdog,

Being 100% honest, I find it pretty odd that she pulled out the post.   Creeps me out a little but hey that's just me.

I think everything is on a spectrum,   I have some very strong components of the lonely child.  And I ran into a pwBPD that offered me unconditional, unlimited, over the moon love.   I, of course, dived into that like into a pool on a 90 degree day.   It was wonderful, it was bliss, it wasn't real.   I have elements of the lonely child because after my birth my mother became quite ill with a tumor and I was way too much for her to handle while she was that sick.   So I got passed around from family member to family member.  There was nothing deliberate or nasty about it, just life happening. 

Therapy relationships are about trust and maybe she rattled your trust button?   

My two cents, it might be helpful to understand what drew you to your pwBPD.   It appears from what you wrote that before you are ready to concentrate on that, there might be some fence mending to do with the therapist.

babyducks

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« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2013, 09:40:17 AM »

Sounds like a good T and yes,we were all open to the RS with BPD's.We were missing something in ourselves that they were able to fill.It's one reason we have a difficult time detaching.The idealization was something we craved.We were whole.We're not too different from those with BPD.Our boundaries may be different.Our goals in life may be.But,when it came to RS's,we were very much their equal.

Sounds like your T is wanting you to look inside yourself and see why you needed your ex.There's a reason sheepdog or you(and I) would have called off the RS when you began to be treated unkindly.You're doing great work and it's hard,but you're going to come out much better for it.
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sheepdog
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« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2013, 10:08:32 AM »

Yesterday I had another session and she pulls out the post.  And then completely floored me.  Because instead of talking about my relationship with BPD, she focused on me and what she saw of me based on that post.

She said that the way she read the post, the lonely child was basically desperately seeking attachment.  And unfortunately, they (I) found the pwBPD.  Then she brought it back to me. 

Sheepdog,

Being 100% honest, I find it pretty odd that she pulled out the post.   Creeps me out a little but hey that's just me.

Hi babyducks - no I did not mean it like that.  I expected her to talk about the post, in fact, I wanted her to as it so exactly mirrors my relationship with BPD.  It just floored me that instead of talking about the relationship - it turned into a discussion about ME.

Which really is the issue.

I had just never heard of the stuff she was talking about yesterday and left with even more questions about why am I the way I am.  It was nothing against the therapist.

I did not find her pulling out the article creepy - I sent her something and I would find it odd if she didn't want to discuss it with me.
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arabella
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« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2013, 11:42:38 AM »

It just floored me that instead of talking about the relationship - it turned into a discussion about ME.

Which really is the issue.

This makes sense to me. After all, you are her patient, not the relationship - her goal is to help you to move forward in your life. You seem to recognize that she hit upon the real issue (i.e. you) so that's great that she's able to keep you both focused!

I have actually heard of some of the theories and studies that your T was discussing with you. Very interesting stuff! Yes, the 'in the womb' stuff is hard to wrap one's head around, but multiple studies point to small changes in the chemical balances within the mother (and, thus, also in the developing fetus) that are mood dependent. This exposure to a different womb environment can set the child up for different behavioural patterns later in life as it affects their own neural development at a critical time in their brain development (i.e. before it is even fully formed). Most of the studies focus on depression or stress, but there are some that investigate more subtle moods as well, including unwanted pregnancies. Think of it as being similar to when a pregnant woman is malnourished - it affects the baby and those effects can last a lifetime.

I would add that sometimes the 'abandoned' or 'unwanted' child is not truly abandoned or unwanted by his/her mother/father but it is simply the child's perception of the situation. Keep in mind too that a child's perception is not necessarily rational or obvious to an adult mind. For example, it's possible (and I am not saying this is the case) that if you suffered sexual abuse, the child that suffered felt 'abandoned' by her parent(s) for not rescuing her or preventing it from happening. This is not to say that the parents could have prevented it, knew about it, or had any options - just that the child was unsafe and the child-mind blames the parent because that is where protection is supposed to come from (realistic or not). Does that make sense (in a round-about sort of way)?

Just a few thoughts for you (please bear in mind that I'm in no way an expert on any of this stuff)!
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fromheeltoheal
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« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2013, 12:10:54 PM »

I would add that sometimes the 'abandoned' or 'unwanted' child is not truly abandoned or unwanted by his/her mother/father but it is simply the child's perception of the situation. Keep in mind too that a child's perception is not necessarily rational or obvious to an adult mind.

Exactly arabella.  My parents did love me, but were very uncomfortable expressing emotion, so my perception was they were aloof and stoic, which left me wondering if I was loved growing up, plus my father wanted my mother all to himself, so there was palpable animosity coming from him at times, but other times he was a happy playmate.  Confusing.

Anyway, lonely child and abandoned child come from Jeffrey Young, who has written some amazing things on schema therapy; his description of the Lonely Child Schema fits me to a T.  I've learned that with my BPD ex we both brought core trauma to the relationship, and the ways each of us is wired created a loaded bond, which I now consider a gift because the pain that followed forced me to finally look at these issues, and I've noticed growth already, just by looking and understanding.  Healing work is feeling work, and now that I'm focusing on my emotions, instead of looking outward for validation and acceptance, a whole bunch of feelings are coming up.  I know what I'm doing is the right thing, but growth is painful, although I also have faith and curiosity towards whatever's on the other side.
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Rose Tiger
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« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2013, 12:22:36 PM »

Sometimes we have to work through the r/s issues before moving on to the childhood issues.  The r/s gives lots of clues.  If the T wants to move directly to childhood, well, it can be hard.  There can be a thick wall of denial built up around early experiences, feelings can be buried under 10 feet of concrete.  The r/s feelings are easier to connect with initially.  This is not boom boom overnight stuff, it can take some time.  I needed to focus on ex and his stuff first, it was my way of avoiding to deal with my own stuff.  But I needed to work through that first.  To get it out of the way.
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« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2013, 12:34:28 PM »

Sometimes we have to work through the r/s issues before moving on to the childhood issues.  The r/s gives lots of clues.  If the T wants to move directly to childhood, well, it can be hard.  There can be a thick wall of denial built up around early experiences, feelings can be buried under 10 feet of concrete.  The r/s feelings are easier to connect with initially.  This is not boom boom overnight stuff, it can take some time.  I needed to focus on ex and his stuff first, it was my way of avoiding to deal with my own stuff.  But I needed to work through that first.  To get it out of the way.

I agree Rose, when I left my BPD ex I didn't know what BPD was, just that I was hurting, living in the FOG, and thinking about her 24/7.  That pain motivated me to look for answers, and you're right, it was a process of getting over her, learning, digging, and eventually focusing on my stuff.  When I think about where I was the day I left her and where I am now, the contrast is stunning; do you guys notice that?
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« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2013, 03:20:01 PM »

Bt when I was leaving she reminded me that I wanted/needed this attachment to BPD.  Even after he treated me in not so kind ways and completely used me.  And we needed to figure out why. 

Sometimes we have to work through the r/s issues before moving on to the childhood issues.  The r/s gives lots of clues.  If the T wants to move directly to childhood, well, it can be hard.  T

Hi Sheepdog,

I had a really difficult session with my relatively new T last week for this reason.  I feel, finally, that I am out of the fog of my relationship but I'm at a new stage of realising just how messed up it all was and ashamed of my part in it.   

My new T really resists me talking about ex but I feel that I need to give examples of what happened to then be able to get to root of why I accepted the words/behaviours that were damaging.  I also have to maintain contact with him because of children so had mentioned something that happened during week in order to work on a strategy to deal with future contact.  I felt very frustrated at end of session - as if she was taking on role of ex and not letting me really say what I needed to say; not being heard properly!  I could feel myself doing what I did with exH - trying to explain myself, and not being able to really articulate it because I was aware of his 'disapproval'/interruptions.  I'm trying to stick with it because I think T has some valuable things to say and the fact that I am getting angry/sad/frustrated etc is telling me something.

I too feel that I had a good relationship with my parents so I also get annoyed when T starts poking around about them!  But some interesting things have come up.  For example, although my parents were loving and kind, they were loving and kind with everyone and our house was always full of 'waifs and strays'.   I resented not having their full attention at times but felt guilty for feeling that way because my parents were only trying to help others.  Then I meet my H who knows how to really give me his full attention (how I loved that feeling).  So when he withdrew it (which happened frequently), I would want to do anything to get it back.   I have always felt I had a happy childhood - I don't think that's necessarily untrue but we all pick up negative stuff that we carry into adult life and into our relationships. 

Seems to be relatively common here that having focus on us instead of the ex or the relationship has us feeling uncomfortable.  But I also read plenty of posts from folks further along than me that say that it was the best thing that could have happened, painful as it might be at the time.
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fromheeltoheal
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« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2013, 03:34:34 PM »

Seems to be relatively common here that having focus on us instead of the ex or the relationship has us feeling uncomfortable.  But I also read plenty of posts from folks further along than me that say that it was the best thing that could have happened, painful as it might be at the time.

Yes, and to me that's the gift of a BPD relationship.  The questions for me, after the fog cleared, were why did I get in a r/s like that to begin with, why did I ignore all the red flags, and how am I going to avoid it next time?  Obviously all those questions focus on me and the answers require digging.  Healing work is feeling work, my T says, and if it always felt good and easy I'd be doing it wrong.  And it's definitely the right thing to do; thanks BPD.  
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Clearmind
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« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2013, 05:20:53 PM »

 The lonely child schema is just one of the many.

To find out what your Schemas are: go to the Young Schema Questionnaire (YSQ)  https://bpdfamily.com/pdfs/schema_inventory.xls.

Sheepdog do the questionnaire yourself if you are questioning your therapist.
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sheepdog
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« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2013, 06:13:03 PM »

For example, it's possible (and I am not saying this is the case) that if you suffered sexual abuse, the child that suffered felt 'abandoned' by her parent(s) for not rescuing her or preventing it from happening. This is not to say that the parents could have prevented it, knew about it, or had any options - just that the child was unsafe and the child-mind blames the parent because that is where protection is supposed to come from (realistic or not). Does that make sense (in a round-about sort of way)?

Just a few thoughts for you (please bear in mind that I'm in no way an expert on any of this stuff)!

arabella - possible sexual abuse is one of the things we ARE talking about and what you said above actually makes a lot of sense.


Anyway, lonely child and abandoned child come from Jeffrey Young, who has written some amazing things on schema therapy; his description of the Lonely Child Schema fits me to a T.  I've learned that with my BPD ex we both brought core trauma to the relationship, and the ways each of us is wired created a loaded bond, which I now consider a gift because the pain that followed forced me to finally look at these issues, and I've noticed growth already, just by looking and understanding.  Healing work is feeling work, and now that I'm focusing on my emotions, instead of looking outward for validation and acceptance, a whole bunch of feelings are coming up.  I know what I'm doing is the right thing, but growth is painful, although I also have faith and curiosity towards whatever's on the other side.

Thank you - I will look into Jeffrey Young... . this is the first I've heard of him.  And yes, healing is feeling... . and hard.  Best to you!

Sometimes we have to work through the r/s issues before moving on to the childhood issues.  The r/s gives lots of clues.  If the T wants to move directly to childhood, well, it can be hard.  There can be a thick wall of denial built up around early experiences, feelings can be buried under 10 feet of concrete.  The r/s feelings are easier to connect with initially.  This is not boom boom overnight stuff, it can take some time.  I needed to focus on ex and his stuff first, it was my way of avoiding to deal with my own stuff.  But I needed to work through that first.  To get it out of the way.

Thanks, Rose Tiger.  Actually, she is kind of sticking with BPD right now.  This is the first we've ever really delved into my childhood.  She had said a few months ago that we needed to work through he and I before anything else.

Hi Sheepdog,

I had a really difficult session with my relatively new T last week for this reason.  I feel, finally, that I am out of the fog of my relationship but I'm at a new stage of realising just how messed up it all was and ashamed of my part in it.  

My new T really resists me talking about ex but I feel that I need to give examples of what happened to then be able to get to root of why I accepted the words/behaviours that were damaging.  I also have to maintain contact with him because of children so had mentioned something that happened during week in order to work on a strategy to deal with future contact.  I felt very frustrated at end of session - as if she was taking on role of ex and not letting me really say what I needed to say; not being heard properly!  I could feel myself doing what I did with exH - trying to explain myself, and not being able to really articulate it because I was aware of his 'disapproval'/interruptions.  I'm trying to stick with it because I think T has some valuable things to say and the fact that I am getting angry/sad/frustrated etc is telling me something.

I too feel that I had a good relationship with my parents so I also get annoyed when T starts poking around about them!  But some interesting things have come up.  For example, although my parents were loving and kind, they were loving and kind with everyone and our house was always full of 'waifs and strays'.   I resented not having their full attention at times but felt guilty for feeling that way because my parents were only trying to help others.  Then I meet my H who knows how to really give me his full attention (how I loved that feeling).  So when he withdrew it (which happened frequently), I would want to do anything to get it back.   I have always felt I had a happy childhood - I don't think that's necessarily untrue but we all pick up negative stuff that we carry into adult life and into our relationships.  

Seems to be relatively common here that having focus on us instead of the ex or the relationship has us feeling uncomfortable.  But I also read plenty of posts from folks further along than me that say that it was the best thing that could have happened, painful as it might be at the time.

clairedair - so much of what you wrote resonated with me!  Your first paragraph - soo where I am.  I am so ashamed of my part in it.  So realizing how messed up I was.  Completely out of the fog.  I know if he contacted me now I would not want to engage AT ALL.  His pull on me in that way is over.  My therapist asked if I'd been following the Jodi Arias trial (I hadn't).  SHe said Arias has BPD.  She said that she took her boyfriend's life and she said that in a sense my BPD took my life and she wants that to stop now.  I loved what you said about though it's hard, you're going to stick with it BECAUSE the fact that you are getting angry/upset etc. is telling you something.  LOVE that!

The lonely child schema is just one of the many.

To find out what your Schemas are: go to the Young Schema Questionnaire (YSQ)  https://bpdfamily.com/pdfs/schema_inventory.xls.

Sheepdog do the questionnaire yourself if you are questioning your therapist.

Hi Clearmind.  I noticed that my title got changed.  As I said to babyducks earlier, I am NOT at all questioning my therapist.  I agree with her.  I was actually inquiring about the whole womb thing and attachment thing.  She never mentioned Lonely Child... . I sent it to her.  Again, I'm not upset with therapist.  I just was surprised because I thought we would be talking about my relationship with BPD due to 2010s post but instead, it became a discussion about me.  Necessary.  Sorry for the confusion.

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Clearmind
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« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2013, 06:21:24 PM »

No confusion Sheepdog! Doing the questionnaire is always a good idea - helps to tease out our thinking.
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« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2013, 06:52:28 PM »

Clearmind, I did the questionaire a couple of days ago, but I couldn't figure out how to score it.  Can you explain that to me?

Sheepdog, I just want to add that my mom didn't want any of her children.  One was the product of date rape, one an affair with a married man, and I was the result of an extremely unhappy marriage.  I've always felt unwanted, and questioned whether my mother had thought about aborting me. 

It was confirmed by my aunt after my mother died that she had never wanted me.  She told me that my mother had finally found a job that she loved, and when she got accidentally pregnant my dad made her quit. My aunt actually used those words, "your mom never wanted you".  My mom had a miscarriage before me, and the doctor told her she couldn't have any more children.  So on the one hand I was her "miracle baby", but on the other hand she never wanted me, and ended up neglecting me pretty badly.  I remember that she had a habit of leaving the house, and locking the door when I was around  4 or 5 years old, being gone for a couple of hours and leaving me outside to "play".  She snuck away when I wasn't looking so I wouldn't make a fuss.  I had no access to food or water, but worse no access to a toliet. 

So I'm sure my mom's ambivalence about wanting me was felt by me in the womb.  It's caused a lifetime of looking for love from outside sources because I didn't get it from the person I was supposed to get it from early on in life.

My exBPDbf seemed to offer me complete and unconditional love.  It was magical, until he decided eight months later that he was done and broke up with me by email with no prior warning or discussion about it.

Just wanted to say that it can happen that if a child is truly unwanted like in my case, that you come in with these issues.  My ex is not the first disordered person I dated, hopefully he'll be the last if I do the work on myself to heal what is so hungry/lonely/desperate for love.

I'm not saying this is the case in your childhood, just felt like sharing my own and how it may have led me to fall for a BPD person.  Good luck on your journey - I wish happiness for both of us.
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« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2013, 07:16:47 PM »

Clearmind, I did the questionaire a couple of days ago, but I couldn't figure out how to score it.  Can you explain that to me?

Hi leftbehind.  On that web page there's a link called Schema Mode Inventory 1.1 Scoring Information.  Go there and download the doc, and there's a list of schemas by title, along with the questionnaire numbers that correspond to that schema.  You go back to your questionnaire and add up the numbers you gave for each of the questions listed in that schema, and then divide by the number of numbers (it will say n = 10 after the title, for example, which means there are 10 questions that 'matter' in that schema).  Or in English, average your responses to the questions in the list.  On the second page of that doc there's a table of scores of control people and Axis I and Axis II patients.

All the number crunching is a pain; I used Excel, easier.  Good luck!
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Skip
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« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2013, 03:51:40 PM »

Bt when I was leaving she reminded me that I wanted/needed this attachment to BPD.  Even after he treated me in not so kind ways and completely used me.  And we needed to figure out why.  

Anyone ever heard of any of this or have any thoughts about it?

This thread that you shared with your therapist was conceived to be about our issues - PERSPECTIVES: From idealization to devaluation - why we struggle - so your T's redirect was consistent with what she read.  

This thread was an interesting one as when it originally appeared, many members enthusiastically chimed in with "I'm a lonely child" and "me too" and we're all lonely childrenuntil it was pointed out that this schema mode is one of three schema modes associated with narcissism.  The thread then went dead quiet  (the 5 pages of "me too" were later pruned out to keep thread readable).

The conceptual model for narcissism revolves around schema modes, which are defined as separate facets of the self that have not been fully integrated with each other.

The patient is characterized by three modes:

  • the Lonely Child, who feels lonely and devalued;


  • the Self-Aggrandizer, who overcompensates through entitlement and approval-seeking; and


  • the Detached Self-Soother, who seeks stimulation to avoid painful affect.  


The patient alternates between the Self-Aggrandizer and Detached Self- Soother modes to avoid experiencing the isolation of the Lonely Child.

Schema therapy treatment includes helping the patient value nurturing and empathy more than status and approval; combating entitled behavior; accessing early feelings of loneliness and defectiveness.


Who of you that identify with the "Lonely Child" are ready to take this on?

Who of you that identify with the "Lonely Child" are struggling to break through your own coping mechanisms?[/quote]
Here is direct quote from Schema therapy: a practitioner's guide by Jeffrey E. Young, Janet S. Klosko, Marjorie E. Weishaar

This is good material to look at (Schema in general) - don't limit your vision to one Schema - we are not all lonely children - many of use struggle with other isssues - but some of us fit this mode.  And above all, don't become fearful of any label.  The value of this material is to see ourselves and explore ways to work through it for a more stable and rewarding life.

Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

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« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2013, 04:52:22 PM »

Yes Skip, the Lonely Child schema does have corresponding schemas that allow us to cope, and it's a little disconcerting to have that labelled narcissism, but as you say, labels are just labels, not to be given undue weight.

Without the labels, I've had a life-long feeling of inferiority that I've coped with in a variety of ways:

Significant achievement, fine in it's own right, but also a mask for the feelings of inferiority.

Workaholism to focus out and make work the 'problem' to be solved, distracting me from me.

Substance abuse, to numb feelings, provide stimulation and excitement, or 'check out' from reality, depending on the chemical.

Taking a superior stance with people, again in an attempt to mask the feelings of inferiority.

None of those really work, although they can provide the illusion they do for a while, and the masks are always transparent, other folks see right through them, although they may work to delude me until someone calls me on them.

So what's the answer?  This awareness is not new, but the labels are, and the schema therapy has helped.  What's important for me is to acknowledge all of it and find people I can talk to about what's going on with me, real connectedness.  Not everyone is capable or willing, and that goes back to new-found boundaries, developing relationships while maintaining boundaries, and letting the right people in at the right pace.  All new, but it's right.  Moving forward... .  
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« Reply #17 on: May 27, 2013, 05:31:54 PM »

Yes Skip, the Lonely Child schema does have corresponding schemas that allow us to cope, and it's a little disconcerting to have that labelled narcissism, but as you say, labels are just labels, not to be given undue weight.


Which makes sense.  The literature tell s that one common pairing of pwBPD traits is pwNPD traits.  So clearly some of us are in this category.

And Bowen's family theory tells us that we often mate with people that are our emotional peers (similar emotional maturity).  And this makes sense too - how many times have you seen a member here painting a pwBPD traits black, blaming them, talking about how we were persecuted, etc. - sometimes the same things we report the pwBPD traits are doing to us.

I'm not saying we are the same - if we were we would understand our partner better - but we have our baggage.

This is a hard self awareness to face... .  at first.  But once we see our role, its a gift.  We now have a target to fix, overcome, compensate for.

I like to ski.  I like to be videoed as when I see my style problems, I'm well on the way to getting better.  I then only need to accept them, and have enough thirst to be better that I'm willing to do things different.  And then it happens.

Same here.   Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #18 on: May 27, 2013, 06:21:14 PM »

Enough thirst to be better, I also need enough self discipline to stay focused, enough will power to maintain the hard work of finding myself and recovering, and enough self love to overcome the loneliness of needing to be on this road alone. I also need the faith to know that I can persevere and come closer to becoming a whole person.
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« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2013, 06:57:02 PM »

Enough thirst to be better, I also need enough self discipline to stay focused, enough will power to maintain the hard work of finding myself and recovering, and enough self love to overcome the loneliness of needing to be on this road alone. I also need the faith to know that I can persevere and come closer to becoming a whole person.

That's quite a list Cumulus!  I've always developed lists of things I need to do to 'fix' myself, and although some have been effective, I always felt like I was addressing surface stuff and not getting to the root of the problem.  Turns out I was right.  My relationship with my BPD ex 'activated core trauma', as it's put, which was great in hindsight since it shined a spotlight on the real issues, issues I haven't necessarily been avoiding, I just didn't know they were there or what they were, so that experience has presented an opportunity for major growth, and for that I thank her.

And what I've found is once I address those core issues, it affects everything downstream, kind of like a ripple effect. An example is anger, which I denied myself forever, anger was an inappropriate emotion, not to be expressed, didn't exist, could always be explained around.  Well no more.  Sometimes it's appropriate to get pissed off, and I do, and that has changed my relationships with several people, for the better; they say respect is not granted but earned, and I've been earning it, an unexpected consequence of getting pissed off.  And Hallelujah!

Another one is my 'need' to excel in my business and other areas, which just gets exhausting, and is really about compensating for a sense of inferiority.  Addressing that belief in my inferiority head-on and where it came from has already reaped benefits from just noticing and acknowledging it, as well as addressing it in schema therapy.

My point?  I'm learning that addressing those core issues does have a ripple effect, and I can relax into it without overloading myself with things to 'do', and it works.  And it's a process, huge changes, I don't need to swallow it all at once, especially since it's only been a few months and I've realized major growth already.  So the point is to do less, but do the right things, and settle into me.  Whew!
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« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2013, 04:44:44 PM »

Bt when I was leaving she reminded me that I wanted/needed this attachment to BPD.  Even after he treated me in not so kind ways and completely used me.  And we needed to figure out why.  

Anyone ever heard of any of this or have any thoughts about it?

This thread that you shared with your therapist was conceived to be about our issues - PERSPECTIVES: From idealization to devaluation - why we struggle - so your T's redirect was consistent with what she read.  

This thread was an interesting one as when it originally appeared, many members enthusiastically chimed in with "I'm a lonely child" and "me too" and we're all lonely childrenuntil it was pointed out that this schema mode is one of three schema modes associated with narcissism.  The thread then went dead quiet  (the 5 pages of "me too" were later pruned out to keep thread readable).

The conceptual model for narcissism revolves around schema modes, which are defined as separate facets of the self that have not been fully integrated with each other.

The patient is characterized by three modes:

  • the Lonely Child, who feels lonely and devalued;


  • the Self-Aggrandizer, who overcompensates through entitlement and approval-seeking; and


  • the Detached Self-Soother, who seeks stimulation to avoid painful affect.  


The patient alternates between the Self-Aggrandizer and Detached Self- Soother modes to avoid experiencing the isolation of the Lonely Child.

Schema therapy treatment includes helping the patient value nurturing and empathy more than status and approval; combating entitled behavior; accessing early feelings of loneliness and defectiveness.


Who of you that identify with the "Lonely Child" are ready to take this on?

Who of you that identify with the "Lonely Child" are struggling to break through your own coping mechanisms?

Here is direct quote from Schema therapy: a practitioner's guide by Jeffrey E. Young, Janet S. Klosko, Marjorie E. Weishaar

This is good material to look at (Schema in general) - don't limit your vision to one Schema - we are not all lonely children - many of use struggle with other isssues - but some of us fit this mode.  And above all, don't become fearful of any label.  The value of this material is to see ourselves and explore ways to work through it for a more stable and rewarding life.

Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

Skip - she didn't have the whole thread (title, where it came from, etc) just the post from 2010 that I copied and pasted.

I feel as though my original post is veering off track.  

I *know* she should have turned it on me.  I'm *glad* she did.  I was just asking about the attachment stuff she had talked about.  I've never heard of it before.

And, just trying to understand - are you saying that lonely children are narcissists?
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« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2013, 09:47:16 PM »

And, just trying to understand - are you saying that lonely children are narcissists?

Jeffrey Young says that the lonely child schema is a mode and the self-aggrandizer and detached self-soother schemas are modes a person uses to cope with the feelings generated by the lonely child mode, and that group of schemas describes narcissism.  I recommend you check out his book Schema Therapy, which has detailed descriptions of all the schemas and how they interrelate, better than just the label, and not all of it fit for me, but a lot of it did, very enlightening.
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« Reply #22 on: May 31, 2013, 12:07:20 PM »

If I understand correctly, not all 'lonely children' are narcissists, but lonely children who cope via specific schema types are narcissists. It's the coping mechanisms that define that particular disorder, not the underlying cause.
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« Reply #23 on: May 31, 2013, 03:53:57 PM »

Awhile back, I found something about the dynamics that exist between the lonely child and abandoned child that really resonated with me, and dramatically shifted the focus of my therapy/healing process.

You can find the whole article here (www.dailystrength.org/c/Physical_Emotional_Abuse/forum/13391054-lonly-child), but for me, what caught my attention back in January was this line:

"Trauma for the lonely child occurs mainly because of perceived failure they cannot “understand” enough (essentially an obsession at this point) ... . "

At the point when I read this article, I'd already spent the better part of 2+ years trying to "understand" why my undiagnosed partner of 12+ years decided to have an affair, lie to/about me in order to do so with impugnity, leave me when he got caught, empty our bank accounts, destroy my professional reputation/business, sever all ties with the five children he helped raise, mount a massive smear campaign against me, enable/allow/encourage/help/reward my replacement for slandering, harassing, stalking, and threatening me as well as my children, family, and friends - and, in general, consistently making decisions and engaging in behaviors that kept hurting me over and over and over again on a variety of levels and in a variety of different ways.

After reading this article, and starting to explore some of the ideas it presented with my therapist, I started to realize that trying to "understand" how/why my ex could do any of these things was the only way I'd ever been allowed to cope with the similar feelings of being hurt by someone I loved, trused, and depended on when I was a child and didn't have the power, means, or ability to simply remove myself to a safe distance from people whose decisions and behaviors were insensitive, reckless, irresponsible, irrational, self-serving, frightening, violent, and abusive.

"Understanding" may not have changed the fact that I was hurt, but it kept me from being further hurt for not understanding by being humiliated, punished, shamed, and made to feel stupid/selfish/petty for being hurt by what was said/done in the first place.

It was - without any doubt - an essential mechanism for coping with the effects of being the oldest child of a single (and very resentful) undiagnosed NPD/BPD mother of six when I didn't have the physical/emotional ability to actually say enough is enough, and just leave.

But it became an automatic, compulsive and completely unconscious reaction to being hurt that I kept doing, never really questioned or thought about it at all - even as an adult - until I found myself so obsessed with "understanding" why my ex would say/do all these things that hurt me so much over and over again - staying in contact with him to both get the information I needed in order to "understand" and let him know I did "understand" so it/he wouldn't have any reason to hurt me anymore - and not being physically/emotionallyable to stop myself from doing it even though it clearly wasn't working - that I had no choice but to address it in therapy.

Five months later, and many hours of writing/therapy later, I know that "understanding" why someone would choose to hurt me doesn't change the fact that they did, I am, I have every right to be, and that it does/should change the way I feel/think about them.

That all my "understanding" actually does is make me feel stupid, selfish, petty, vindictive, immature, and ashamed of allowing myself to feel hurt in the first place. That it forces me to reject, deny, marginalize, invalidate, question, repress and suppress a whole bunch of really appropriate, predictable, and completely justifiable feelings/thoughts/reactions to behaviors that are hurtful and/or frightening.

That it doesn't make me feel any safer or better.

That all it really does is make it physically/psychologically possible for me to continue to allow myself to be subjected to that kind of behavior.

That it's an inherently non-responsive, ineffective, and ultimately very self-destructive way of dealing with how it feels to be hurt by someone I love, trust, and depend on.

That there is no reason that makes it "okay" for anyone to hurt me. Ever.

That I don't need to let it happen anymore. That I don't have to stick around. That I'm not a child. That I can take care of myself. That I do have the freedom to walk away/not leave myself in a position where I have to be subjected to it/find a way to cope with how it makes me feel.

And, you know what, that works exactly the way I always secretly believed, felt, thought, hoped it would: it keeps me from being hurt in the first place.

The compulsion I had to "understand" what happened to me, and why, is what got me into therapy and even brought me to this board. It helped me get through a really difficult period for me physically/emotionally again even. But ultimately, I had to shift the focus of what I was trying to understand to myself in order to really be able to make any kind of definitive progress/change in the way I felt inside at all.

Not like I'm perfect or anything. I still struggle. I still self-aggrandize. Still engage in detached self-soothing (ahhh, the hours I've lost to pinterest and Netflix!). Still find my thoughts wandering back to trying to figure out/understand what happened and why on occasion even. But less and less as time goes by, and I'm better at seeing all those things for what they are now so am a little more mindful/respectful of both what I'm doing and why I'm doing it, and tend to make myself at least try to do something different/better/more effective/less ultimately self-destructive to get the comfort I need.

And it seems to be working. For now anyway. Which is about all I can hope/ask for. One day, one step at a time.




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« Reply #24 on: May 31, 2013, 10:50:06 PM »

Talithacumi, I love your whole post!  I've been there, and I get it.  Sometimes "Why" is a maze with no cheese in the center.  Understanding doesn't negate your right to be angry or hurt.  Great post!
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« Reply #25 on: June 01, 2013, 07:10:21 AM »

Hey Talithacumi 

I can understand the detached self soothe, hello Hugh Grant movies but what does self-aggrandize mean?

So in attempting to understand the ex, it was a way to avoid thinking about wondering why I let myself be subjected to being misstreated for so long?  Instead of thinking, hey this is not cool and I'm not putting up with it, I put all my energy into trying to crack the code on his actions and wondering how a person could act like that.  Because that was all I was allowed to do growing up.  Makes sense.  It did finally reach a point where I was so fed up, that I did say enough, I guess we all have our breaking point.

I don't think I'll ever get over liking Hugh Grant movies though.  (He must be a cad in real life, Laugh out loud (click to insert in post))
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« Reply #26 on: June 01, 2013, 08:05:53 AM »

Superior to 'everyone', like everyone on the planet?  Or the stupid fool that pulls out in front of me, forcing me to slam on the brakes and almost hit them?

To quote Jeffrey Young's book Schema Therapy:

"The Self-Aggrandizer mode is an overcompensation for the patient’s feelings of emotional deprivation and defectiveness. When patients are in this mode, they behave in entitled, competitive, grandiose, abusive, or status-seeking ways. Typically, this is their “default” or automatic mode, especially around other people: It is the mode patients with narcissistic personality disorder experience most of the time. They generally flip into the Detached Self-Soother mode when they are by themselves for extended periods, and only rarely do they flip into the Lonely Child mode."

In your example I guess one way to deal with someone's 'unique' driving is to get mad at them, which is maybe healthy, the other way is to consider yourself a better person than them in general, and as Young says, entitled, competitive, grandiose, yadda.

This whole train of thought has been profound for me, painful actually, as real growth can be.  It started by looking at the loaded bond between me and my BPD ex, and asking, really asking, why did I get in so deep with someone who was so incredibly abusive and devaluing?  Turns out it's because that's what I'm used to.  Core trauma meets core trauma in a relationship between a pwBPD and someone like me, who is running those 3 schemas as modes, and is labeled a narcissist.  I just started digging here, and it ain't pretty, but it is enlightening.  Like Talithacumi I am an 'understanding' driven person; more later, as I process. 

This is really good growth, and I consider my relationship with my BPD ex as the catalyst.  Everything happens for a reason.
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« Reply #27 on: June 01, 2013, 08:24:18 AM »

I guess I need to understand better.  This superior thing that is so hard to look at.  I do detached very well.  I'm not sure what lonely mode is, is that when I feel so overwhelmed with the weight of world and don't want to be on this planet anymore?  The "I can't take this anymore" mode?

What would be a good example of self aggrandizer?  I'm not sure which of my behaviors could be this mode?

My ex was BPD/NPD combo.  My self tests are schizoid/avoidant.  So very shy.  Could this be also considered narcissisim?

This is pretty deep stuff and I'm not a pro, but that book discusses schemas in depth first, and then how to treat them from a therapist's perspective, and then goes into the 'special cases' of BPD and NPD, which according to him are groups of schemas operating as modes.

Labels can be limiting, and although some of it applies to me, some doesn't, so I take what I need and leave the rest.  I think labels are more useful to therapists, so they can talk to each other about conditions they see.  For me the descriptions speak to me almost exactly, and the book shows what to do about it; very enlightening.

The book is available on Amazon, you can be reading it on your computer 5 minutes from now, and I recommend it.
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« Reply #28 on: June 01, 2013, 09:30:39 AM »

Labels can be limiting, and although some of it applies to me, some doesn't, so I take what I need and leave the rest.  

This is an important point. If your question is, "do I have a personality disorder - yes/no", you will most likely be looking for something that says no until you find it.  This is not "personal inventory" - it's more along the lines of denial /  defensiveness.  

If you're struggling and you can identify the cause, you can make your life better.  This is personal inventory.

For me the descriptions speak to me almost exactly, and the book shows what to do about it; very enlightening.

Sounds like great progress - great attitude

Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #29 on: June 01, 2013, 01:16:39 PM »

For me, self-aggrandizing is less about thinking I'm superior to anyone/everyone in the world but more about EITHER how I really can't be blamed or responsible for whatever I'm going through because I'm really such a great person all around OR (more insidiously) how dysregulated, misguided, belligerent, incapable, and unhappy my ex is because he's disordered and how much, therefore, he really needs my undisordered and therefore inately superior knowledge, insights, understanding, guidance, direction, and support so he can reregulate and stop hurting me/cutting his own nose off to spite his face like the moronic ass he's always had such a tendency to be.

Like that.

It's a mindset I've found I tend to adopt when I can't find a way to understand why someone is choosing to say/do something that hurts me. I've noticed I seem to do it mostly/only when I'm feeling really overwhelmed, confused, frustrated by my inability to find or, I guess especially in my case, be given a reason to excuse, justify, dismiss, suppress, and otherwise exert some kind of control over the hurt I feel inside.

I always end up feeling guilty when I realize I'm doing it, but I realize now that all it really does is give me the shot of mental energy/strength I need in order to go back to trying to figure it all out again. Totally, spectacularly self-indulgent and comforting. I even know, while I'm doing it, that I'm not being particularly honest or fair. Doesn't stop me from doing it though. Just stops me from acting on it beyond, say, ignoring everyone/everything else and writing for hours about how great I am and unfair/undeserved all of this is.

It also doesn't last very long for me. Isn't my primary means of coping. More a stop gap measure designed to pump me back up.

Emergency rations for my ego when I've spent too long looking for real food in all the wrong places.

That's what I mean when I say I'm being self-aggrandizing anyway.

Does that help?




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