I’M NOT CRAZY –
just a little ‘off’!
PREVIOUS: Communication (#6)
POSTs: Principles of Character 1 & 2
SITEs: • STARLING: online educational videos, community support, and evidence based tools – to help improve mental health
✦ PERSONALITY: A pattern of relatively permanent traits & unique characteristics that give both consistency & individuality to a person’s behavior.
✦ TRAITS contribute to individual differences in behavior, consistently over time, & across a variety of situations.
✦ CHARACTERISTICS are unique qualities of a person that include temperament, physique & intelligence.
✦ SOCIAL INTERACTIONS are based on a person’s level of healthy character or disorder, & can be looked at from 3 points of view:
• Inward-facing perspective – the Self judging itself (self-concept)
• Outward-facing perspective – the Self judging other people
• Inner-outer: Introject judgments about the Self, but from the perspective of others
BEFORE looking at the various degrees of psychological disorders, we need a look at what mental health is – to use as a comparison.
Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, & Neuroticism
These BIG FIVE are dimensions of character (CHART) which represent the most important qualities shaping our social interactions. Extensive research shows these qualities have biological origins & are remarkably universal. One study that looked at people from more than 50 different countries found that these 5 traits accurately described personality from Germany to China. (Descriptions). Traits are rated on a scale from most to least. (People at the extremes)
ACoA reminder: Most of us think that our usual way of being is our actual personality (who we were born as) because it’s how we’ve been since childhood. However – anyone growing up in a very damaging environment forms a False Self as protection, in response to their environment. It’s the FS, a combination of the PP & the WIC, which houses the different disorders. With a lot of FoO work, most can be improved if not totally healed, but not all wounded people are willing to go thru the process needed to Recover.
▶︎ HEALTHY – According to Otto Kernberg, someone is mentally healthy if they have a well-organized personality, which functions reasonably well because their reality testing is mostly intact. Such people have an integrated sense of Self, with an accurate Self-to-Other concept, allowing them to hold opposite feelings about any person (& themselves) – at the same time – without changing their realistic opinion of them. Everyone is experienced as a consistent ‘whole’, even tho they have both positive & negative qualities. NOTE: This does not mean they like everyone!
Thomas Fuchs (U. of Heidelberg) states: “Narrative Identity* implies a continuity of the personal past, present & future – essentially based on the capacity of a person to integrate contradictory aspects & tendencies into a coherent, overarching sense & view of themselves.”
*Narrative Identity = forming an identity by combining life experiences into an internalized, evolving story of the Self that provides them with a sense of unity & purpose in life.
▶︎ UNHEALTHY – However, people with a fragmented sense of Self cannot easily do this. (This is not about multiple personality or schizophrenic dissociation).
Instead, their minds store separate split-off images of others as being either all bad or all good at any given moment, rather than as a single cohesive personality who has many different aspects.
So they don’t understand that their own experience of someone has changed – depending on the circumstance of their interactions, but actually believe the person has somehow changed. This prevents them from holding a consistent sense of Self & others across time & situations.(Object Relations Theory)
EXP: If you smile & are friendly to me, you are a totally good person – in that moment – who I like & feel safe with. If at some other time you hurt my feelings or ignore me, you are then a totally bad person – in that moment – & so I absolutely don’t feel safe with you.
😟 As a way of coping, the brain compartmentalizes traumatic experiences to keep us from feeling too much pain (physical &/or emotional) – creating dissociation. It can show up as a detachment or spacing out. A part of our attention is missing, so we don’t recognize what we’re thinking or need, & often don’t notice or hear things in our surroundings, or right in front of us all the time. But fundamentally – what’s missing is a connection to some or all our emotions.
SITE: Help for Organizing your mind
NEXT: Personality Disorders (Part 2)