Facilitating Self CompassionPreferred Provider ConferenceSunday, January 31stLori Galperin, MSW, LCSWCastlewood Treatment Center for Eating Disorders800 Holland Road636-386-6611www.castlewoodtc.comLori.Galperin@castlewoodtc.com
“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” -Buddha
The child’s first relationship acts as a template, and it molds the individual’s capacities to enter into all emotional relationships. Development essentially represents a number of sequential, mutually driven, infant-caregiver processes which occur in a continuing dialectic between the maturing organism and the changing environment. It now appears that affect is what is actually transacted within the mother-infant dyad, and this highly efficient system of emotional communication is essentially non-verbal. (Alan Schore)
The Intergenerational Transmission of Insecure Attachment Pamela C. Alexander, Oct. 1991 The infant learns to view those affective experiences to which the mother misattunes as falling outside the realm of shareable experience and to deny or disavow such feelings…the relative comfort or discomfort of the mother with certain kinds of emotional states can influence the infant’s subsequent access to those same emotions at a very early age.
Each mother can only react empathically to the extent that she has become free of her own childhood, and she is forced to react without empathy to the extent that, by denying the vicissitudes of her early life, she wears invisible chains. (Alice Miller)
Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries Jill (age 3 ½) loves cherries, is eating them from the bowl and unless stopped at some point will happily go on to eat all of them. Her mother asks her to stop eating them. Jill objects, truthfully stating that she feels like eating them all. Her mother then says, “Don’t be a selfish girl. Leave some cherries for your brother and sister.” Jill’s appetite is overwhelming and she keeps eating cherries. Her mother calls her a bad and selfish girl, slaps her hands and takes away the cherries. Compassion and Self Hate, Theodore Rubin, 1975.
Cherries II Jill cries for a minute, stops and then goes on to play with a doll. But much has happened… …What then did Jill really hear? She heard that appetite is bad; that wanting all the cherries is selfish; that selfishness is a bad feeling; that a desire to share is a good feeling; that bad feelings bring on deprivation of love as well as consequent punishment. Compassion and Self Hate, Theodore Rubin, 1975.
Cherries III Her mother might have said, “Of course you want all the cherries, Jill. Eating cherries makes us feel like eating more and more so that we forget other people want them, too, and we want to eat them all. The other children will want some, too, so I have to put some away for them.” The important difference in this message is that it makes none of Jill’s feelings pejorative. In effect it says, “You are allowed to feel any way at all and indeed you ought to have and own all your feelings even if you can’t satisfy them.” Thus, there is no repression of them and no inclination to punishment for having them. Compassion and Self Hate, Theodore Rubin, 1975.
Shame Whenever the expression of a particular affect, whether it be anger, fear, or even enjoyment, is followed by some parental response which induces shame, an internalized affect-shame bind can result. The parental response may be direct and intentionally shaming, or it may be unintentional. The impact is what matters. The development of an affect-shame bind then functions to control the later expression of the particular affect involved. Shame The Power of Caring, Gershen Kaufman, Ph.D., Schenkman Books, Inc., 1980.
Shame Let’s take a closer look at this process. Imagine a situation in which a child awakens from a nightmare and cries out in fright. The child screams, “I’m scared , I’m scared! There’s a monster!” Mother abruptly silences the child’s screams with, “Now stop that. Don‘t be silly. Big boys don’t get scared of silly things like dreams.” The effect upon the lad is that he has been shamed for being afraid. Perhaps this same boy, running away from a bully at school, is told by his Dad, “Don’t be a coward! Real boys aren’t afraid to fight.” If this boy has sufficient experiences in which his scared or frightened feelings are met with shaming, he will learn that there is something wrong with him whenever he feels afraid. Feeling afraid has become shameful, bad. Situations which trigger fear will now also trigger shame. This indirect activation of shame has now become autonomous, thereby causing the expression of fear itself to become bound by shame. Thus, a particular affect can come to spontaneously activate shame without shame itself being directly induced Shame The Power of Caring, Gershen Kaufman, Ph.D., Schenkman Books, Inc., 1980.
“Shame can also be rooted in a parent looking to the child to make up for the parent’s deficiencies or to live out the parent’s dreams as though the child were but an extension of the self of the parent. Or again, the parent may directly look to the child literally to be parent to the parent; in this case, the natural flow of the parent being there primarily for the child is reversed such that the child must now tend to the parent’s needs instead. Still again, the parent may repeatedly convey to the child that he or she is never to need anything emotionally from the parent; this communicates in no uncertain terms that the child should have been born an adult and so must relinquish childhood without ever having had it.” (Dr. Sue Jennings as interpreted by Gershon Kaufman in Shame: The Power of Caring)
Rupture in Attachment Impingement Greenburg & Mitchell The child’s psychological survival must not depend upon meeting the mother’s needs. The major consequence of prolonged impingement is fragmentation of the infant’s experience. Out of necessity, he/she becomes at the request of others. The child’s “true self,” – and source of spontaneous needs, images and gestures – goes into hiding becomes detached and atrophied. The “false self” provides an illustration of personal existence whose content is fashioned out of maternal expectation. The child becomes the mother’s image of him.
Ugly Needs, Ugly Me “Because this inner dynamic proceeds largely outside of awareness, the shame image often persists into adulthood in a strange unevolved form. If not understood or worked through, it retains the terrible charge of parental rejection. The girl becomes a young woman who unconsciously believes not just that she suffers from a troubling flaw, but that she is revolting and untouchable and that her selfishness is a deformity that makes her unfit to live among other human beings. People differ in the degrees to which they defend against shame. Some obsessively avoid it by restricting their lives and narrowing their consciousness. Through an addictive or compulsively busy lifestyle, unwanted self-images can be kept from impinging upon awareness. Others are more aware of their shame and tormented by it, sometimes to the point of depression.” Becoming Attached, Robert Karen, Ph.D., Oxford University Press, 1998.
“What becomes of this forbidden and, therefore, unexpressed anger? Unfortunately, it does not disappear but is transformed, with time, into a more or less conscious hatred directed against either the self or substitute persons, a hatred that will seek to discharge itself in various ways permissible and suitable for an adult.”
If one is cruel to himself, how can we expect him to be compassionate with others? -Hasdai, Ben Ha-Melekh, ve-Ha-Nazer
Violence “The violent criminals I have known have been objects of violence from early childhood. They have seen their closest relatives – their fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers – murdered in front of their eyes, often by other family members. As children, these men were shot, axed, scalded, beaten, strangled, tortured, drugged, starved, suffocated, set on fire, thrown out of windows, raped, or prostituted by mothers who were their “pimps” ; their bones have been broken, they have been locked in closets or attics for extended periods, and one man I know was deliberately locked by his parents in an empty icebox until he suffered brain damage from oxygen deprivation before he was let out.” “But the self cannot survive without love. The self starved of love dies. That is how violence can cause the death of the self even when it does not kill the body.” “The two possible sources of love for the self are love from others, and one’s own love for oneself. Children who fail to receive sufficient love from others fail to build those reserves of self-love, and the capacity for self-love, which enable them to survive the inevitable rejections and humiliations which even the most fortunate of people cannot avoid. “Without feelings of love, the self feels numb, empty, and dead.” When self-love is sufficiently diminished, one feels shame.” Violence. James Gilligan, M.D., Random House. 1996.
Intra-Psychic Conflict “Extension of intra-psychic conflict onto the stage of the outer world often manifests itself in interactions with others that cannot strictly be called interpersonal, because they are essentially extensions of the individual’s problems from the past. These problems are played out using another, not for his or her real self, but as an involuntary actor cast in a role from a scenario the patient repeats in the present in order to avoid past memories and feelings.” From Masterson, J & Orcutt, C. (1989). Marital Co-Therapy of a Narcissistic Couple. In J. Masterson & R. Klein (Eds.), Psychotherapy of the Disorders of the Self. New York: Brunner/Mazel
“The protagonist does not know that the performance is designed to master “events” that were once too exciting, too frightening, too mortifying to master in childhood. Unable to remember the events, his life is given up to reliving them in disguised form.” -Stoller
Cognitive Model For any one to revise a cognitive model is, as you well know, a difficult undertaking. Principle tasks of the therapist I believe to be: • Encouraging and enabling the patient to explore his cognitive models. • Helping the patient recognize the cognitive models he is actually utilizing. • Helping him trace how he has come to have them, which I believe to have been in large measure due to his having accepted what his parents have constantly told him – both about themselves and about himself.
Cognitive Model, cont. d) Encouraging him to review the models in light of both of their history and also of the degree to which they correspond to his own first-hand experience of himself and his parents. e) Helping him recognize the sanctions his parents have used to insist that he adopt their model and not his own. Only after this process has been gone through many times are the revised models likely to be stable. (From: V. Guidano, Complexity of the Self, 1987)
Positive Resolution Trauma must always be resolved in order to be put in proper perspective. Resolution may be positive, negative or functional. A positive resolution occurs when the adult is able to process the trauma in a realistic way, experiencing whatever levels of pain, anger, or loss are elicited by a clear memory of the event. The person perceives the event accurately, and does not feel irrationally responsible for having caused it. The person is able to understand that the experience occurred in the past, and no longer feels devastated by the memory of the event, as if it were a clear and recurring danger in the present. Above all, the person does not feel compelled to repeat the event, either consciously or unconsciously. Adults who have experienced a positive resolution generally feel that they are in control.
Breaking The Trauma Bond: Re-Empowerment Breaking the Trauma Bond Requires: • Accurate memory of childhood traumas. • Not distorting the events. • Placing responsibility for abuse and neglect on those responsible. • Combining the adult’s reasoning capacity to reexamine the child’s perceptions at the time and then revise the child’s perceptions. • To examine the core belief systems which were established on the basis of the childhood events and make them reality-based with regard to revised perceptions. • Expressing the emotions never expressed as a child. • Expressing the adult emotions of sadness and anger directed at the people who hurt you. • Work through the strong emotions to a point where one does not want either revenge or parental acceptance. • Reestablish a relationship with one’s inner child, based on survivorship and compassion. • Establish and redefine relationships with adults such that they are not reactive or similar to early relationships. • Establish boundaries with others from a non-victim stance based on mutual respect, compassion and egalitarianism. • Learn tools for healthy expression of intimacy, sensuality and sexuality.
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your life. Learn to love the questions themselves, until some distant day, without your knowing, you will have lived into the answers.” -Ranier Maria Rilke