Passive Aggressives – Review for ACoAs (Part 3)

not Pass-Agg 

Honest doesn’t mean hostile. 
Pleasant doesn’t mean passive!

PREVIOUS: Passive-Aggressive ACoAs (Part 2)

SITEs:” Emotionally Volatile People
• “Difficult People & how to Handle Them


REVIEW (cont.)
3. CAUSEs of the game
ACoAs – from our family, school, religion…. we were NOT allowed :
• to be angry, to the point of not even knowing we are!
• to know what we wanted, how we felt, what we preferred (being too much of an individual got smashed – so it left us confused)
• to ask for anything (don’t bother them)
• taught to never put ourselves first
• always had to always be perfect (no mistakes) – so better not choose anything
• no matter what we did, we were punished, so we couldn’t win
• safer to not be too visible (in a dangerous family, & later in abusive relationships)
taking any risk was discouraged, made fun of, punished (so now we can’t risk ‘failing’& being disappointed)

4. EFFECTs of the game
a. Negative BenefitsWE DON’T:
• have to figure out who we are, what we want & need
• have to disobey any of the toxic family rules
• have to admit we’re angry, even raging, underneath
• have to stand up to the ‘control freaks
• have to make a mistake & deal then with the consequences
• AND we get to blame others when something goes wrong
• & maintain the illusion of being nurtured (taken care of by others)

b. Negative Consequences:
• we are dis-empowered, loose self-esteem, stay a victim, are infantilized, stay mute, don’t risk anything
• always feel scared of losing people (FoA), of being disapproved
• increases our Self-Hate & Loneliness

• never get what we really want, unless by accident or by luck
• lose out on many opportunities to grow, to be heard, to have fun
• always feel scared of losing people, of being disapproved of
• make other people mad at us, a lot! for forcing them to carry all the responsibility & then getting blamed

a. General: We need to identify
• all the ways we were hurt as kids, including the specific messages we got & still obey, like ‘don’t feel’ , ‘don’t talk’ (Toxic Rules)
• prevent the Wounded Inner Child from running our life BY growing a Healthy Adult & Loving Parent  who then can make executive decisions about how to own & express our needs
book-end with the IC, to outgrow living in the past. If done consistently, it will teach the IC the difference between what’s possible & real in the present, vs the way it was in our dysfunctional family

b. For Passive-Aggressives – we need to:
own our resenpassiveagrro3tments, anger, rage, bitterness, which are hidden
• learn safe ways of discharging our rage & healthy ways of expressing it to others, when it’s needed
• practice saying what we need, want, like, prefer – to find out that nothing bad happens to us or others
• stop looking for other people to be in charge of our lives, tell us what to do, make our decisions & choices
• keep a safe distance from anyone who is easily provoked to anger

Practice making ‘I statements’ every day, silently to yourself, so that it becomes easier & easier to say out loud:  “I want… I need… I don’t like… I’d rather…  that’s not for me… ” UNTIL it’s second nature!

c. For Volatiles – we need to:
• find out what’s under the rage: the reality of child abuse & neglect we lived thru, and the pain it created
• accept that the rage is legitimate, but our actions are not always healthyScreen Shot 2016-06-17 at 10.24.27 PM.png
• work on getting our rage out in safe, appropriate places (therapy groups, 12-step programs, doing rage-work at home, drawing, writing…)

own our Inner Sadist: make friends with it, but don’t ever let it act out
• learn calming techniques (bio-feedback, meditation, prayer, visualizations…)
• become safe enough to feel what’s underneath – grief, sadness, loneliness, hurt, sorrow, vulnerability
• keep a distance from P-As, who try to pull us in by their surface charm & ‘interest’ in us

Practice comforting & mentally holding the IC, so he/she doesn’t feel so alone with all it’s pain.  Give ourselves permission to cry – it is not a weakness – no matter what our family taught us!  Crying clears out toxins & releases pent-up emotional stress. It’s very necessary!

Realistically, while P-As can definitely work on having permission to express anger & rage, it’s usually up to the V. to STOP the game, stop reacting to / expecting (anything) from the P-A. Maybe even have to leave!

NEXT: Qs – Are you P-A?

ISSUES for Angry ‘Nice’ People (Part 1)

P-A issues
I’ll be OK (I 


SITE: Danger of Suppressing Anger

QUOTE: Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways”.  Sigmund Freud

• to be loved  //  to not be attacked // to not be alone or lonely

BASIC FEARS:sad girl
• of self-reflection //  being abandoned //  being punished

• feel inadequate, not entitled, self-hating, shame-bound
• not allowed to be assertive or angry, always assume rejection

• controlling, critical, unforgiving // indirectly cruel, attacking, vengeful
• depressed, fussy, hard to please, moody, shy, thin-skinned, withdrawn

PAY-OFFS for using defenses (ie. Negative Benefits)
1. False Weakness (see Original LL)
a. Avoid facing childhood pain
• Connecting with the pain of past & current emotional injuries makes us feel vulnerable, out of control, small & helpless. Anger is energizing – but not allowed – so we end up in constant anxiety, & don’t know why

bCreate physical pain (real or not), as substitute for #a.
• If we’re workaholic (do, do, do) and not allowed to rest / relax / have fun, we can get sick to slow us down
• If we’re not allowed empathy, sympathy, emotional support…. then physical ailments become a way to elicit some of it ‘legitimately’, since sufferthey are tangible & considered acceptable, while emotional hurts can’t be seen & are often considered a weakness
• If we’re not allowed to be/feel taken care of or to find the right kind of help, practically or psychologically, then being weak, sick, incapacitated…. can get us some attention

cContinue being mistreated & abused

• Some of us are so used to being in the victim role – which we really were as kids – that we don’t want to give it up as adults, because it would create separation anxiety from the family & our bad-parent Introject.
Being a victim is about the ‘poor MEs’, staying emotionally immature, waiting to be taken care of. While there is a lot of anger under this position, it’s not supposed to show!

dGet approval for a role
STOIC:Es in the body
Not letting ourselves experience & deal with jealousy, anger, sadness, fear…. is considered ‘strong’, & gently admired in many parts of our society, including the religious community.  They tells us it’s not OK (weak or un-spiritual) to admit to or show unpleasant ‘negative’ emotions, especially anger. It’s called  ‘loosing it, being emotional’. 
We’re even told that all emotions ‘cloud our judgment’.
Unfortunately obeying these dictates is harmful both physically & psychologically   (CHART)

DOORMAT: Being such a ‘nice’ person that you have no opinions or boundaries may make it easier on some people to be around us – especially narcissists – & superficially satisfies our WIC’s desperation to never be abandoned by others, but it insures that we abandon ourselves  (MORE….”Recovering Doormat”)

2. False Strength (See Reverse  LL)
a. Superiority
• Admired – as martyr, ‘good guy’, saint, ‘spiritual’
• One-up – needing others to be needy, sick, dependent, not successful

b. Controlling
• Emotional blackmail, to keep others fearful, attached to us
• Demand our own way (always) – ‘nice’ is only superficial
• Destroy ‘loved ones’  – if they try to be free, happy, themselvesignoring you

c. Punishing
• When we – the ‘good’ GIVER (G) – continually help / rescue/ dominate – another person, the Receiver/ victim/ inferior (R) must:
— have unquestioning, blind loyalty, never object or question
— always provide affection & total attention, care-take
• If the R. objects, withdraws or rebels, then:
— Giver (G) sees R. as selfish, ungrateful, abusive
— G. will punish R. overtly or covertly, attacking or withdrawing

NEXT: SYMPTOMS of Hidden Anger (#1)

ACoAs: DIS-comfort & Comfort (Part 1)

minor discomfort

to ignore my discomfort!


SITE:  Fill-In Qs – Identify your stressors


Do What’s Comfortable” is one of the many helpful & profound phrases in Al-Anon. This is a useful suggestion, especially as ACoAs tend to live in perpetual dis-comfort (in the “wreckage of the future or in the misery of the past), subjecting ourselves to almost constant physical anxiety & the endless rumination of self-defeating ‘mantras’ (S-H), sometimes called ‘spinning’.

HOWEVER, we are so used to being uncomfortable that we barely notice, thinking it’s ‘normal’, AND believe we have no other option. So this phrase is incomplete, since ACoAs stick to what we know – no matter how bad – & avoid better/healthier/safer things – so we can cling to the connection to our abusive family (refuse to S & I), and so we don’t have to risk being disappointed – yet again!

stress curve

SOME stress in our life is not only inevitable, but also needed in order to gently push us to take actions & grow. As the bell curve shows, there’s the calm state, which is good, & the ‘beneficial’ Eustress, to keep up us alert, motivated & on our toes. But ACoAs typically live in the far right – in various intensities of distress. Too much stress tends to paralyze. While there are plenty of external situations in life which can be aggravating, & many things we are truly powerless over, this post focuses mainly on how we experience & categorize Comfort & Discomfort, negative & positive .

Originally, our harmful life patterns were learned grown up, which we had little or no control over. Now we keep them going :
— because they’re deeply ingrained // to obey family rules
— to avoid deeper painful realizations, anxiety & accumulated terror
— from the belief that we don’t know any better or can’t possibly change.
Still hanging on to them actually comes from the mistaken belief that the way we’ve always thought, felt & acted (T.E.A.) is our actual personality, & therefore no changes can be expected or even attempted. This belief persists even in ‘recovery’ !!

IN REALITY – all ongoing negative behaviors (character defects) are expressions of our False Self, developed in childhood in response to the abuse & neglect of our family & other environmental dysfunctions (baby sitters, neighborhood, school, ‘church’….). Therefore, the main goal of Recovery is to shed as much of this made-up persona as possible, in order to uncover, own & live in the REAL Self we were born into before the damage.

NOTE: Many of the items on the list below also fall into the more severe category of reprogram brainNegative Discomfort in Part 2, (like self-injury, bad relationships, lack of self-care….),
Also, it may seem counter-intuitive that these damaging patterns would be considered comfortable. READ/ review posts “Negative benefits of.…)” & info about how we learns, in posts “CDs — Info & the brainto understand why. What we experienced from birth on is what makes the most sense to our ‘computer’,  which will fight tooth & nail to keep from having to change – as if we’re asking it to destroy itself!

Changing our programming will create great anxiety – at first. So for some time in our efforts to grow it will genuinely feel more comfortable (a great relief) to go back to doing things the old way – no matter how ‘sick’. Unfortunately. But with persistent repetitions of new thinking & actions, that terror will lessen a great anxiety

IRONY: Identifying these dysfunctions as ‘comfortable’, just because they feel ‘natural’, doesn’t mean they promote happiness & calm. While some ACoAs are in such deep denial that these patterns may seem like minor disturbances – from being numb to their long-term consequences – they in fact create endless stress, anxiety, shame, self-hate, frustration, physical & mental illness… all of us, whether acknowledged or not.

NEXT: Negative Discomfort – #2



& have nothing left for myself

PREVIOUS: Fear of Responsibility (FoR)  #2a


AS ADULTS (cont.)

a. re. OTHERS – Part 2a
b. Re. US
Being aleaver’ includes leaving ourselves – not just putting ourselves last, but barely enough survive, or to make life worth living.

We do NOT:
• take care of ourselves – appearance, health, living space…..
• acknowledge the damage done to us, & get the right help
• stand up for our rights, provide for our own needs
• use our inborn talents, so don’t contribute our best to society
• prosper, perpetuate general ‘anorexia’ – such as under-earning, bad relationships, isolation, no fun ….

Most ACoAs do not show outward signs of our underlying wounds, but all of us suffer from it to some degree, even in Recovery.
• We didn’t learn self-care from our family, having been neglected & mistreated, thus given the message that we didn’t deserve any better, and
• This left us with a lack of information about self-care, so we don’t actually think in terms of what we need

At the extreme, the self-neglect of some ACoAs is more visible.
Gibbons (2006) defined self-neglect as: “The inability – intentional or not – to maintain a socially & culturally accepted standard of self-care, with the potential for serious consequences to the health & well-being of the self-neglecters, perhaps even to their community.” (Wikipedia) (MORE….)

Some symptoms of self-neglect include hoarding items & pets, compulsive need to isolate, living in an unclean environment, poor personal hygiene, neglecting household maintenance, unwillingness to take medication, unkempt personal appearance, eccentric behaviors……

OVER-RESPONSIBLE = the “Stayers”
Being ‘over-responsible’ toward others includes our children & grandchildren (small or grown),
BY: • doing too much for them
• people-pleasing & not setting boundaries
• letting them get away with unhealthy behavior, spoiling them
• giving in to unhealthy requests or demands
• not holding them responsible for bad behavior
• not teaching them the best ways to live in the world

As long as the WIC is still running our life, we focus all our attention outside of ourselves. We’re looking for someone to take care of us – to give us permission to even be alive, much less be ourselves.

• doing too much for them But most of the PPT we pick to do that are just are incapable of being there for us as our family, with a few exceptions.
Also –
• Because our parents were so angry, depressed & unhappy, ACoAs are convinced (unconsciously) that everyone else is the same.  We project the way our family was onto every situation we encounter in our daily lives, whether it’s similar or not.

That means we have to react & behave in the same way we did as kids = that we have to be responsible (R) for others’ feelings & needs, to ‘help’ / fix everyone we deal with, whether important to us or not (lover, parent, sibling, OR “butcher, baker, candle-stick maker”…..).

We BELIEVE that:
• without our intervention they too will fall apart, which would be our fault, so we rush to put out other people’s firesput out fires
• if we don’t take care of them they won’t have any need for us, & ‘leave’
• by so doing we will finally become worthy of getting our needs met (‘earning’ love)

⚡️ For prolonged rescuing, we stay with those:
• who are more wounded than we are (assuming we’re not), so we can feel useful, appreciated, even superior
• who don’t want to take care of themselves & could, but live in Victim mode – so would rather we do it for them, since we’re so good at it (& desperate to please)
• who are intensely narcissistic, using us to feed off of, which we agree to, at least for a time, because it makes us feel needed & important

AND, we automatically stay away from anyone who is reasonably healthy – competent, self-directed, doesn’t need or want rescuing…. because they don’t ne-e-ed us & we wouldn’t know how to interact with them as equals

 Fear of Responsibility – #2c


defense typesI USE WHATEVER I CAN
to escape my fears

PREVIOUS: Enneagram Humor #4

REVIEW posts: Abandonment Pain

SITE: Defense Mechanisms Quiz

BOOK:In sheep’s Clothing (re. manipulative people) go to slide 50 ++

DEF: Unconscious & conscious processes to defend against or escape from conflicts, frustration & depression, so that the person can make useful adjustments to be able to live in their society.

REMINDER – as such, defenses are NOT bad. They’re needed to cope with life’s difficulties, as when we use humor to lighten our mood or altruism to lighten someone else’s load.
At best – most are delaying tactics, giving us breathing room to take a break & re-group.
The problem comes when any one of them become ‘land-locked’, so deeply ingrained that it can’t be given up easily, so rigid that it’s used like a hammer on every problem, regardless of size or importance.
tree of defenses
• In that case they become Negative Benefits” – used to avoid childhood or other trauma which the person does not want to deal face. To better understand what these are, we need to know about Defense Mechanisms, which were first identified by Freud, & then added to over the years by others.
He noted that people have wishes, desired & impulses that are either unacceptable to their society, religion or family – or their own sense of self  (CHART)

• The fact that the impulses don’t go away, but are usually hidden in our unconscious, leaves a residue (like at the bottom of a bottle) of anxiety*.
Keeping the impulses pushed out of awareness takes a lot of energy – which is exhausting, but considered by the ‘user’ to be safer than admitting them
(EXP: wanting to kill one’s parents or oneself). We do this by using Defenses. Which ones we pick will depend on our upbringing & our native personality.

*ANXIETY types, according to Freud
1. Neurotic – the unconscious worry that we’ll lose control of the id‘s urges, resulting in punishment for inappropriate behavior
2. Moral – the fear of violating our own principles
3. Reality – the fear of real-world events, usually easy to identify.
EXP: Fear of being bitten when near a menacing, snarling, barking dog is appropriate – so it’s best to avoid genuinely dangerous situations (PPT) if at all possible.

Defense Mechanisms distort reality
In proper proportion & with limited use they can also be adaptive, allowing us to function normally in very difficult situations, where there are no better options

The big problem comes from over-use, as a way of life, especially when they’re no longer needed. What was once a way to cope then becomes the problem. A goal in Recovery is to make the extreme / harmful use of defenses conscious so the we can develop healthier ways of handling anxiety & stress – without eliminating defenses altogether.

Sdefenses hierarchy


NEXT: 27 Defenses

Letting GO of ACTING Controlling (Part 2)


to stop controlling

PREVIOUS: Letting Go, Part 1

See : “Negative Benefits of… posts

Use Acronyms Page for abbrev.


Exercise: Write as much as you can about these 4 Qs.  Put it away for a week or a month & then go back & read it, adding more as they surface. Share about them where it’s safe

1. NEGATIVE BENEFITS (-+) of being Controlling
Q: What do you get from holding on to it?
• N.B. are patterns that keeps us attached to our damage, familiar but stunt growth. It’s the narcissistic grandiosity of the WIC, as well as the ‘entitlement’, which makes people temporarily feel powerfuldream control

• When in C. mode, we’re functioning from the underlying position that everything revolves us – good or bad.
“My way or the highway , It’s late – I’ll let you go , I don’t understand why you don’t (like what I like, think the way I do)….” .

This style lets us feel important, to always: be right, get our way, never be vulnerable, be heard & paid attention to, have an effect on the world…. so many things we didn’t get as a kid – but don’t actually heal us, because it keeps us totally dependent on others

Q: How does it hurts you & others?in a vice
• This may be hard to answer at first, because Cs are not really interested in other people’s experiences, emotions or needs…
But we can remember how it felt when someone controlled us: resentful, stifled, belittled, disrespected….

• Being C. limits our option, keeping us from the flow of life – preventing us from finding out what wonderful things can happen if we stopped trying to force the world to conform to our narrow vision

Q: What are you afraid will happen?
Changing a deeply ingrained pattern like C. can bring up a lot of anxiety, especially if we’ve built our whole persona on ‘running things’, like Heroes. (However, the other Roles each control in their own ways).
It means giving up a way of experiencing ourselves we thought was our personality, but is actually the False Self

• We think we’ll be in some kind of danger, as if our actual life would be threatened! But it will only be the emotion of fear – feeling old abandonment pain & having to give up cherished illusions
• we’re afraid someone we love will be in danger. This may seem realistic positive negativesif we’re dealing with an active addict bent on self-destruction.
We can present info & options for Recovery, but they have to want it. Sometimes formal interventions work, but not always. And sometimes, no matter what we do, addicts die.

• When taking care of a very sick person we love, we may be the one responsible for many practical matters, but ultimately, we can’t control the outcome! Self-care becomes even more imperative!

• BUT – most of the time, the world goes on just fine without our two-cents! As we grow we can better tolerate the discomfort of not interfering with the natural order of things, which does gets easier.

Q: Why is it worth giving up?
• We get to find out who WE really are – talents, knowledge, gifts, experience… & finally take center stage in our own life, expressing a multifaceted Self, by being responsible for ourselves – the opposite of being C.- instead of wasting energy on manipulating others

• Acceptance & gratitude! (not C.) lets us enjoy achievements & accolades, instead of cringing, or negating some success when it’s valued & acknowledged

• Recovery provides self-esteem, a genuine sense of freedom, the ability to connect with healthy people who respect us, & who we can trust to be OK without our constant vigilance!

REALITYimages copy 2
✶ Most people have more resiliency, depth, strength & flexibility than we give them credit for. That includes you. Believe you handle all kinds of circumstances. Keep saying: “I know what I know – but I can’t know everything!”
SO – catch yourself in the act of being C. & stop as soon as you can. Remind yourself of the benefits of changing & give your kid a big hug!

NEXT: Letting Go, Part 3

ACoAs & Boundary INVASIONS (Part 2)

no limits



ARTICLES: ‘Sexual Abuse / Trauma’
The Incestuous Family” – Roles re sexual abuse


3. Family System SYMBIOSIS

a. Insecure parents:
push for an ‘us against the world’ attitude hoping to increase family solidarity, powered by an unbearable threat to their sense of Self
can be over-protective. On the surface it looks like love, but is only trying to keep us attached by dis-empowering us. The real message is that we’re incompetent, weak & should be afraid of everything

• may attribute the wrong motive to outsider’s unpleasant/ abusive treatment of us, no matter what we actually did (friendly or withdrawn….), to make the family look better, saying things like: “Those kids are just jealous of you because you’re so much better than everyone else in the class” , “The boss doesn’t like me because I’m smarter than her”….

b. Distortions :  These & other CDs cause many problems for children:distortion
• prevents them from – becoming fully socialize, taking normal risks & learning about the many options available in the world
• gives them a distorted view of how the world functions, making it hard for them to take responsibility for their motives & action
• severely increases their inappropriate social behavior, making it easy to become a target for bullying, insuring their isolation from peers, & staying dependent on the family

Familiar phrases: Blood is thicker than water ~ We’ve got to stick together  Never air our dirty laundry in public  We’re better than everyone ~  No one else will love you like we do  ~ You’ll never make it on your own ~~ Which reminds us of a childhood taunt:  “You have a face only a mother could love, & she died”!

c. Family Insularity is built on fear-based rules that inevitably lead to constriction, intolerance & hopelessness about collaborate well with others.  Ironically it also creates isolation, scapegoating, splits & alliances inside the family, which then get repeated in adulthood.
EXP: Being in a toxic Role, (Scapegoat. Lost Child….), had “negative benefits.” in the dysfunctional family mobile – feeling useful by ‘protecting’ a parent from the consequences of their addictions & emotional problems.
Then we look for the same kind of payoff when playing out our Role in the larger world (protect a spouse, boss….), but it rarely works & only reinforces our sense of failure

4. Parental NARCISSISM (N)
This has been covered in many other posts. As it relates to B. invasion:
• Ns require that everyone be their carbon copy, with no room for children to develop their own individuality
• children need be like memirroring (reflecting back who the other person is, without adding anything of oneself), & Ns can’t do that since they’re only projecting themselves, not who the child is

Narcissists don’t recognize there are such things as Bs, that others are separate & not extensions of themselves. People either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Anyone who provides narcissistic supply will be treated as if they’re part of the controller, who demands the victim live up to their expectations (think: spider & fly). 
• Some N. phrases:
“What’s yours is mine & what’s mine is nobody’s business”
“Do as I say not as I do”, “Put a sweater on, I’m cold”
“No son of mine is ever going to…..”
“This is the thanks I get – after all I’ve done for you”
“Do that in the morning when you’re fresh” said by a mother always raring to go at 6 am, to her child who was born a dyed-in-the-wool night person!
Watch ‘Angry-martyr Narcissist” on YouTube

NOTE: If you have firm boundaries in the face of a narcissist, the relationship won’t last! Good!
• Role Ambiguity – Parental N. spawns much identity confusion  – since only their needs count, the children take on a parent role – “I am them”, & many a parent acts like a needy kid – “They are me”.  Family members aren’t sure who’s in or out of the clan, who’s performing what tasks or legitimate roles : Dad acts like a ‘girl’ , Sis is the ‘mom’, little Brother is the family shrink…..

Al-Anon IMAGE: A co-dependent decides to kill himself by jumping off the roof of a tall building.  As he’s falling, someone else’s life flashes before his eyes!

NEXT: B. Invasions (Part 3)

Cognitive Distortions – Intro (Part 3)

vcxcognitive distortions


B & W thinking makes me feel safe!

PREVIOUS: CDs Intro (#2)



4. Categories of INCORRECT THINKING 
There are more than 10 major kinds of Cognitive Distortions, over 40 kinds of Bias & almost 200 Fallacies. Part 4 gives a brief look at some. They’re all incorrect ‘logical’ arguments used to manipulate & control.

ACoAs are very susceptible to being conned by the WIC & PP’s use of CDs, & so of course by anyone else who uses twisted thinking (advertisers, politicos, manipulative relationships…). This contributed to not feeling safe in the world, BUT we can protect ourselves by learning to recognize them for what they are!

a. Cognitive DISTORTIONS (CDs): Exaggerated & irrational beliefs that contribute to & perpetuate certain psychological disorders. They can be divided into 3 groups of Negatives – re. views about the self (‘Mind-reading’), views about the world, generally (‘Catastrophizing’) & views about the future (‘Fortune Telling’).

b. Logical FALLACIES: Any part of an argument that’s flawed, making either a line of reasoning or the whole topic untrue. ALSO, when a seemingly plausible argument includes a mistaken idea (even if there are some valid parts) OR when we draw an incorrect conclusion.

ad-hoc fallacyEXP: A ‘post hoc’ fallacy insists on a direct cause and effect between 2 events, simply because one event preceded another:
i. I went to the jewelry store to look at rings
ii. While I was there, a masked man with a gun came in & robbed the store
iii. Since I was there before he came in, I must have something to do with the robbery!

Here the fallacy is the result of ignoring other relevant information around the 2 events – like: that my being there was an unlucky coincidence, or that the robber & I don’t know each other, or that he’s robbed other stores I’ve never been in….

• The human tendency to make systematic logic errors based on preconceived ideas, rather than evidence. They’re ‘one-sided’, favoring some outcomes over others, which interferes with the ability to be impartial & objective.  EXP of Gender Bias: ‘All boys are better at math than all girls’

• Biases can come from information-processing shortcuts, including errors in judgment, memory, or the caused of something – which drastically skews the reliability of personal accounts or legal evidence. Thinking Biases can harm our ability to make proper decisions, solve problems correctly, & limits the capacity to learn new information or ideas.

We’ve know the term Placebo, used to identify both pleasant & harmful effects of the power of suggestion (voodoo dolls that cause pain or ‘fake’ medicines that reduce/eliminate pain).
In the 1990’s the term NOCEBO (Latin for “I will harm”) came into use in medicine. It’s anything that in itself is benign or neutral (the color of a pill or a type of plant), but which can cause symptoms of illness by the suggestion or belief that it IS harmful.  This belief can come from inside or outside of ourselves.

nocebo• ‘Nocebo’ was originally used to label the harmful, unpleasant, or undesirable reactions some test subjects manifested when given an inert dummy drug.
The very real harmful reactions were not created chemically, but entirely due to subjects’ pessimistic outlook & expectations.

A psychiatrist at Boston’s Brigham & Women’s Hospital, found in a recent review of the nocebo literature that – patient expectations of possible harmful side-effects of a drug – played a significant role in the outcome of their care (Arthur Barsky, et al. 2002)
• In another study, more than 2/3 of 34 volunteering college students developed headaches when told that’s what could happen from a (non-existent) electrical current passing through their heads.

All Cognitive Distortions are mental nocebos!  Since CDs are incorrect assumptions or belief that negatively influence how we feel & act, those irrational conclusions cause untold emotional or physical injury to ourselves & others.
(From ‘Skeptic’s Diary’)

NEXT: CDs Intro (#4)

NEGATIVE BENEFITS of Old Patterns (Part 1)

I’d rather be miserable than face that pain!

PREVIOUS: “They did the best they could”

SITE: 10 Worst Habits for Mental  Health

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

Negative Benefits (NB) is a new concept for many people. A web search found nothing about this important idea.  When clients are asked what they get out of continuing a harmful behavior or thought pattern, they usually say “I don’t get anything out of it – it’s just what I know, a habit”.  They’re indignant that they’re even asked.  They only hear the word ‘benefit’ & can’t imagine that anything self-destructive can have a reward!

• Familiarity & habit are not the only reasons destructive patterns persist. The deeper truth is that we DO get something from hanging on to those old ways of acting & thinking – they’re a form of protection (defense mechanisms) against facing childhood issues that feel too terrifying to deal with.

So yes, they provide us with Negative Benefits. In reality the ‘protection’ they seem to offer comes at a high price – in grief, in more abandonment, shame, self-hate, loneliness, ill-health, bad relationships, depression, lost opportunities…. yet we protect them with our lives, literally, until we do enodefensesugh FoO work to not need them – as much.
SO – to understand what Negative Benefits (NB) are, we have to start with:

These are unconscious psychological strategies our mind develops to protect us from having to deal with painful traumatic realities we can’t handle.
They’re also used to maintain our self-image – a mental picture of ourselves we can live with, in the face of inner conflicts between what we think we are & what we wish we were.

• Everyone needs defenses to manage. However, when we experience long-term stress as children our defenses become rigid armor & walls, which are hard to penetrate & hard to dissolve. They’re expressed in the form of Character Defects – self-defeating behavior patterns which can be seen as forms of Self-hate, SUCH AS:
😱abusive behavior, being controlling, closed-mindedness, co-dependence, dishonesty, isolation, negative thinking / pessimism, narcissism, perfectionism, prejudice, resentment, rationalizing, selfishness, self-justification…..(Immature)

These T.E.A. patterns sustain our denial by protecting against old pain:
— (E)motional: our abandonment terror, deadly loneliness, murderous rage, profound hopelessness, terrible longing for the impossible….
— (TMental: a deep-level KNOWING that they weren’t there for us, &/or tortured & neglected us, which was potentially lethal & which the WIC now still thinks can destroy it
So, no matter how self-destructive or lala a defensive pattern is – we will do almost anything to hold on to it – even in Recovery – because:

a. the WIC is in charge of our inner life, until we develop the UNIT, the Healthy & Loving Inner Parent with must replace the P’s bad voice ( Introject)

b. AND, the kid is beyond-convinced that our long-time defenses are not as life-threateningly dangerous (bad for us) as what’s underneath, hidden in our unconscious

• REVIEW: dysfunctional patterns ‘protect’ us from facing what we consider unbearable knowledge (T) & terrifying emotions (E) from the past, as well as having to deal realistically (A) with the present. They represent Freud’s ‘Repetition Compulsion’, which is so evident in the lives of most ACoAs. Yes, the pain accumulated from childhood is bad, but not dealing with it cripples or kills us in so many PtraumaMES ways

➼ In the simplest terms, the main reasons we hang on to the old ways with both fists, as if it were a life-preserver is:
1. because our brain has been programmed from birth, & those grooves (neural pathways) are very deep. It takes LOTS of knowledge, repetition, perseverance & patience to make new, stable grooves
2. since our WIC believes it needs the psychological negative benefits to survive – it will take a lot of time & effort to develop the new UNIT that can take over the reins from the WIC & PP.

NEXT: Negative Benefits (Part 2)