Monday, April 30, 2012

Client change

This chart comes from a book that was published in 1978. A basic transactional analysis text at the time. It is one of those things you find in a book that you notice for some reason and kind of never forget. It always struck me as an interesting chart.

Client change 2

It’s great when you get a client who is in the first and second groups and they attribute their change to you the therapist.
One of the reasons I noticed it was that it is based on the assumption that everybody is help-able. That all clients can be helped. It assumes that all people can be helped as long as the therapist’s skill is high and there is enough time and energy put into the client. I have my doubts that this is true at least at times. Some clients at some points in time can not be helped. That can and often does change over time for the same person. For instance a person who is in the 5th 20% is likely, over time to move up the list and therefore become more capable of being helped. I would add a 6th category - at this point in time no change will occur no matter what the therapist does or the amount of energy put in.

Another feature is that it is based only on the client and the therapist characteristics. I would add in a third criteria and that is the psychological condition being presented. Some things are easier to treat than others regardless of the client’s motivation. It is easier to treat a tightwad than a spendthrift. The tightwad does not have enough Free Child and the spendthrift has too much Free Child. People naturally do not like giving up their FC. The antisocial personality is too hedonistic whereas the OC personality is not hedonistic enough therefore the antisocial generally is harder to treat.

Woman smoker

Then of course value judgements also creep into what is considered abnormal. It was only 40 years ago that homosexuality was considered by mainstream psychology to be an abnormal psychological state. Some kinds of illicit drug use are considered abnormal behaviour whereas the reason why it is illicit is for political reasons not psychological reasons. Hence they are considered psychologically abnormal because of a political judgement not the natural state of the human psyche. In these types of conditions perhaps one needs to consider more than just the client and therapist qualities.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The analysis of suicide notes

Approximately 30% of people who complete a suicide leave a note of some kind. They can provide valuable insight into the psychology of the person at the point of the suicide attempt.

It must be noted that I have never met any of the individuals discussed here. As such my comments are based solely on what was written in the suicide notes and some of the circumstances know around their deaths. In no way is there an attempt to provide rigourous understanding of the psychology of these people. With the limited information at hand that is impossible. Instead I have made a few comments about what has been said in the suicide notes and these are meant to be generic in nature.

Icecream on ground

Adolf Hitler
The Last Will 
As I did not consider that I could take responsibility, during the years of struggle, of contracting a marriage, I have now decided, before the closing of my earthly career, to take as my wife that girl who, after many years of faithful friendship, entered, of her own free will, the practically besieged town in order to share her destiny with me. At her own desire she goes as my wife with me into death. It will compensate us for what we both lost through my work in the service of my people. 
What I possess belongs - in so far as it has any value - to the Party. Should this no longer exist, to the State; should the State also be destroyed, no further decision of mine is necessary. 
My pictures, in the collections which I have bought in the course of years, have never been collected for private purposes, but only for the extension of a gallery in my home town of Linz on Donau. 
It is my most sincere wish that this bequest may be duly executed. 
I nominate as my Executor my most faithful Party comrade, Martin Bormann. He is given full legal authority to make all decisions. He is permitted to take out everything that has a sentimental value or is necessary for the maintenance of a modest simple life, for my brothers and sisters, also above all for the mother of my wife and my faithful co-workers who are well known to him, principally my old Secretaries Frau Winter etc. who have for many years aided me by their work. 
I myself and my wife - in order to escape the disgrace of deposition or capitulation - choose death. It is our wish to be burnt immediately on the spot where I have carried out the greatest part of my daily work in the course of a twelve years' service to my people. 
Given in Berlin, 29th April 1945, 4:00 a.m. 
Signed: A. Hitler 
Signed as witnesses: 
Dr. Joseph Goebbels 
Martin Bormann Colonel 
Nicholaus von Below 

My comments
This is interesting for a number of reasons. It illustrates that type of statement that is part suicide note and part last will and testament. These are typically like an unemotional business letter as compared to the next suicide note which is highly emotional.
This is not a good sign if one finds a loved ones suicide note that is business like it its style. Firstly it indicates the person still has well functioning cognition or thinking ability. If this is the case then they can employ that clear thinking in planning a suicide attempt in the same manner. Thus the suicide attempt is more likely to be being completed compared to the spontaneous and not well thought out suicide attempt.
Secondly it indicates this person has made the decision to end their life and it is just a matter of time until the planning is finalised and the attempt will occur. The ambivalence of “I want to die vs I don’t want to die” that most suicidal people have is not apparent. This person is clear they have made the decision to end their life.
This most often happens over an extended period of time. The individual, in this case Adolf Hitler, may have made a series of decisions over years where he slowly backed himself into a corner where the only way out, in his mind, was to end his own life. This is usually done initially at an unconscious level but can become much more conscious as the time draws closer. The person finds them self caught up in a situation created by them (and now all those around them) and can see no way of getting out of it. They suddenly realise they are on a fast moving train and can see now way of getting off. 
At the beginning they cannot see where all this is heading but as they proceed on it becomes more obvious. Other examples of this can be with financial ruin. The person makes a series of decisions over a long period of time where the likelihood of financial ruin becomes more likely. Eventually it happens and they take their own life.
Some do the same with a loss of reputation. The politician or high profile person engages in what is very unwise behaviour often of a sexual nature. Eventually they are exposed and their reputation is ruined. This is same reason why pedophiles are a high risk group for suicide attempts. They behave in a way over time which significantly increases the risk of being found out. When they finally are they feel they have no way to turn, their reputation is ruined and thus they make an attempt ion their life. 
The point here in the suicide note of Adolf Hitler is it reflects a business like approach to making a suicide attempt. This commonly results from a protracted set of decisions made by the person which slowly but surely backs them into a corner, such that they can only see one way out.


To Boddah
Speaking from the tongue of an experienced simpleton who obviously would rather be an emasculated, infantile complain-ee. This note should be pretty easy to understand.
All the warnings from the punk rock 101 courses over the years, since my first introduction to the, shall we say, ethics involved with independence and the embracement of your community has proven to be very true. I haven't felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music along with reading and writing for too many years now. I feel guity beyond words about these things.
For example when we're back stage and the lights go out and the manic roar of the crowds begins., it doesn't affect me the way in which it did for Freddie Mercury, who seemed to love, relish in the the love and adoration from the crowd which is something I totally admire and envy. The fact is, I can't fool you, any one of you. It simply isn't fair to you or me. The worst crime I can think of would be to rip people off by faking it and pretending as if I'm having 100% fun. Sometimes I feel as if I should have a punch-in time clock before I walk out on stage. I've tried everything within my power to appreciate it (and I do,God, believe me I do, but it's not enough). I appreciate the fact that I and we have affected and entertained a lot of people. It must be one of those narcissists who only appreciate things when they're gone. I'm too sensitive. I need to be slightly numb in order to regain the enthusiasms I once had as a child.
On our last 3 tours, I've had a much better appreciation for all the people I've known personally, and as fans of our music, but I still can't get over the frustration, the guilt and empathy I have for everyone. There's good in all of us and I think I simply love people too much, so much that it makes me feel too fucking sad. The sad little, sensitive, unappreciative, Pisces, Jesus man. Why don't you just enjoy it? I don't know!
I have a goddess of a wife who sweats ambition and empathy and a daughter who reminds me too much of what i used to be, full of love and joy, kissing every person she meets because everyone is good and will do her no harm. And that terrifies me to the point to where I can barely function. I can't stand the thought of Frances becoming the miserable, self-destructive, death rocker that I've become.
I have it good, very good, and I'm grateful, but since the age of seven, I've become hateful towards all humans in general. Only because it seems so easy for people to get along that have empathy. Only because I love and feel sorry for people too much I guess.
Thank you all from the pit of my burning, nauseous stomach for your letters and concern during the past years. I'm too much of an erratic, moody baby! I don't have the passion anymore, and so remember, it's better to burn out than to fade away.
Peace, love, empathy. Kurt Cobain.
Frances and Courtney, I'll be at your alter. Please keep going Courtney, for Frances. For her life, which will be so much happier without me.


My comments
Unlike the previous suicide note one this is very emotional. It involves much more Child ego state compared to the Adult ego state of the previous one. This means that should a suicide attempt follow this one has less chance of being completed as there is less Adult ego state available for the planning and carrying out of the plans.
Overall it is quite a narcissistic statement. The first half is about him and at the end there is a comment to his loved ones. The comment about his daughter is that she reminds him of himself and when he talks of his wife he ends up talking about himself again. At the very end he almost apologizes for the pain he is about to inflict on his wife and daughter but does not actually do it.
This raises an interesting point about some suicidal people. At the point of a serious attempt they can be quite childlike and quite narcissist. Indeed this in itself can be a predictor of the risk of a suicide attempt. The narcissistic person is not capable of empathy and simply does not see the point of view or feelings of others. They do not get consideration which frees the person up more to act on the suicidal urges.
One of the protective factors for a suicidal person is understandig the effect that their death would have on loved ones around them. The more childlike and narcissistic the suicidal person is the less this remains a protective factor and often the person will think what he said in the second last sentence. That their death will actually be a positive for the loved ones around him.
This note is also reflective of a person who has made the “Don’t exist’ or suicide decision in childhood. It shows no signs of being an attempt to manipulate anyone and clearly this is not a spontaneous decision but is the result of circumstances that have developed over some time. As those circumstances evolve the early suicide decision starts to become operational and his suicidality increases.

SID VICIOUS (Sex pistols)
Sid Vicious was accused of the murder of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen
A pathologist who examined his body said the star's tolerance to the drug had been weakened by his period behind bars. That, and the potency of the heroin, had killed him.
Meanwhile, Anne Beverley (his mother) discovered what appeared to be a suicide note in the pocket of her son's jeans. Written some days earlier, Vicious told his mother he wanted to be reunited with 'his' Nancy.
The discovery of the letter led some friends to speculate that Nancy's death had been a suicide pact that had gone wrong, and Spungen had administered the fatal knife wound herself.
In fact, ten days after her death, Vicious had attempted to slash his wrists, and just a few months earlier the couple had told a British music magazine of their plans to take their own lives.
Note: We had a death pact, and I have to keep my half of the bargain. Please bury me next to my baby in my leather jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots. Goodbye. 

Sex pistols

My comments
This suicide note raises some different features than the other two notes. Firstly it demonstrates the very short suicide note that is only a few lines long. This reflects a lack of desire to make some long statement about why or what is to be done upon ones death. It is simple, straight to the point, explaining why and giving instructions about what is to be done after death.
A complete lack of any emotion or remorse at the pain inflicted on others or the pain they were feeling at the time. This may be because at that time he was in quite a narcissistic frame of mind and unable to contemplate the effects of his actions on loved ones. However that may not be so. Some suicidal people report the futility of leaving a note. What can you say to make loved ones feel a bit better? What you say may just make them feel worse. One could argue that because he was very brief and gave a few instructions he has done a better thing for his loved ones than the highly emotive note shown above.
The note is clear in illustrating an intent to die and raises the whole area of suicide pacts. This is where relationships and suicide get mixed up. Many couples have a special connection with some activity, or place or belief. It may be a special activity they do each wedding anniversary once a year. Or a special place they go to on holiday each year. These things give them a commonality, a kind of special connection and is seen by both as important in their relationship. Sometimes the special thing is a belief or view about something. If we have two people who are potentially suicidal that special connection can be about suiciding together. Hence we end up with the suicide pact.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Psychology of the promise.

How can one go past Wikipedia for a definition -  A promise is a commitment by someone to do or not do something
My friend promised me she would be there for my birthday.
My friend promised to do as I say.
My stepfather promised not to be cruel to me
The child promises to behave when the relatives visit
The child promises not to tease his sister

After some research on the topic of the ‘promise’ one finds a variety of things written. It has been looked at extensively from a philosophical point of view by people such as Immanual Kant. It is also discussed in terms of religion, contact law, oaths and political promises. Psychologists such as Kohlberg have looked at promises in terms of the development of morality in the child.
One however finds a scarcity of information on the nature of promises, their role and effect on human relationships. It has been noted that breaking a promise can effect relationships because it can erode trust in the relationship. However let’s look at the dynamics of promise making in relationships.
It seems safe to say that promise making is a coercive procedure which highlights the notion that promise making is a bi-directional process. It is this that one rarely sees discussed in the literature. Writings on the concept of the promise invariably focus on the promiser only.

Breaking a promise?

For the purposes of this presentation the following terminology will be used:
Promisee - the person requesting the promise be made
Promiser - the person making the promise
The making of a promise is a two step process. The promisee requests that a promise is made and the promiser agrees to make the promise. As I said before it is the promisee who is rarely examined in discussions on promises. 
If one looks at the psychology of the promisee, what does requesting another person make a promise do to the dynamics of the relationship between the two parties. As mentioned before promise making is a coercive procedure. A promise puts pressure on the promiser to do something that he does not really want to do. If the promiser already wanted to do it there would be no need for a promise to be made in the first place.
Thus we have the first insight into the psychodynamics of promise making. The promisee is endeavoring to coerce the promiser. This immediately puts the promisee into the powerful position in the relationship and the promiser into the child position. The promisee becomes the judge who will assess if the promiser has lived up to their promise.

gun woman

This raises the question - “What’s in it for the promisee to ask for a promise?”. At times it could be because the promisee is making a power play in the relationship by seeking to adopt the powerful position in this way.
Indeed in one sense it does not even matter if the promiser agrees to make the promise. As I said before promise making is a two step process:
  1. The promise is requested by the promisee
  2. The promiser agrees to the request and makes the promise
What happens if the promiser does not agree?
As soon as a request is made the dynamics of the relationship is effected in the way described above even if the promiser does not agree to the promise. If they do not agree what does that say about them, usually something not so good. Thus they are evaluated anyway even if there is no promise agreed to.
As soon as the promisee requests a promise they automatically are falling into the powerful position to some degree. They are putting the promiser into a position where they are under assessment where their performance will be judged. The promisee on the other hand is under no such evaluation. Clearly the dynamics of the relationship changes as soon as a promise is requested.
What happens on the promiser’s side of the relationship. As said before a promise is a coercive process. The promiser is agreeing to do something that at least in part they do not want to do. Nobody likes being coerced so at some level all promisers will resent the process. The Rebellious Child ego state will be activated to some degree in the promiser as soon as the promisee request a promise to be made.
A promise could then be seen to come from the Conforming Child ego state of the promiser as the diagram shows.

Promise transaction

It is quite likely the promiser will feel they are under assessment because they are and thus they will experience themselves to be conforming to some degree. The danger with this is most humans who are in Conforming Child ego state will sooner or later switch to their RC. This will be done overtly or covertly and possibly outside the person’s awareness. One is not wanting a lot of these transactions to enter into their relationship with the other. The Parent to Child transactions as shown in the diagram can quickly undermine the quality of the relationship.
Inherent in all promise transactions is a punishment of some kind. If the promiser breaks the promise the promisee inflicts some kind of punishment on the other. That can be obvious such as a parent smacking a child or it can be more subtle such as with the use of guilt or shame. If the promiser breaks a promise then they may feel guilty or feel they are an untrustworthy person. They know at least that the promisee will think similar about them. This is a dynamic that is introduced into the relationship when a promise is agreed to. Of course one also needs to be careful with this as it can also undermine the quality of the relationship.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Characteristics of resilience

A capacity for close relationships
The ability to be proactive and get things done
Having positive expectations
Valuing one’s own independence and autonomy
Being an effective problem solver
The ability to enjoy laughter and respond to humor even is tragic circumstances
To experience lower levels of anxiety in situations outside their control
The ability to remain optimistic
“Resilience is the ability to adapt when faced with tragedy, trauma, adversity, hardship and continuous significant life stressors.”

jump woman1

Rees, R. ‘Resilience of people with traumatic brian injury and their carers’.  InPsych (The bulletin of the Australian Psychological Society) April, 2012.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Patterns of loving

Psychologists have identified six differing types of love or patterns of loving that can occur in human relationships. This questionaire allows one to identify the types of love they experience in relationship with a partner.

Fatal attraction 1

Fatal attraction 2

Riot kiss

The six types are


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Book comments part 2

This second set of comments come from my Facebook page on the book - Working with suicidal individuals.

Comment 4
The teenager presents a special set of circumstances when it comes to assessing suicide risk. They are one of the more difficult groups to make an accurate assessment of their current level of suicidality. People kill themselves for a variety of reasons. With the truly suicidal person their primary intent is to kill self but there are others who will end their life where that is not their primary intention. Due to their still immature thinking style and lack of life experience the teenager presents a special case in suicidology in that they are less predictable than the mature adult.
Comment 5
My personal circumstances illustrate how teenagers are a special case when assessing their suicidality. The truly suicidal person is the one who has made the “Don’t exist” suicide decision in early life. I have not made that decision. In my life script, suicide is not an option. In my adulthood there have been times when life circumstances have been very bad. Not often but there have been times. In those times the ‘solution’ of suicide has never even entered my mind. It is simply not part of my life script and hence is not considered by me when times are tough.
As I say in the book in my late teenage years I attempted suicide twice. I could have died in those instances if things had not worked out as they did. Thus we would have had a teenager who died by suicide but who has not made the suicide decision. The mindset of the teenager allows for that to happen whereas with the adult it is much less likely to happen.


Comment 6
In the psychological sense the truly suicidal person is one who has made the suicide decision in childhood. When this happens the person decides that suicide is a viable option or possible solution to problems and this decision then sits dormant in the psyche. If life events should develop where the person finds them self in bad circumstances then the decision becomes activated and the person starts to consider suicide as a solution to their problems. These problems could be financial collapse, marital problems, loss of reputation and so forth.
Whilst not all people suicide because of making such a decision this represents a significant group and they are quite a high risk group. Determining if a person has made such a decision is not a difficult task and I show a variety of ways this can be done in the book. It does not take long nor is it dangerous or particularly painful and it can be done in groups. This could be used to screen significant numbers of people especially those in areas where suicide is more likely such as in combat zones or other very stressful circumstances. High stress is another time when the suicide decision could become activated.


Comment 7
Whilst the truly suicidal person has made a suicide decision in childhood there is another by which the child can develop a suicidal aspect of their personality. In the Child ego state the person makes the decision that at some point suicide will be a viable solution to their problems. This decision once made remains dormant in the Child ego state. 
Of course as the youngster grows its Parent ego state also develops. The Parent ego state develops by modeling parents and introjecting them into their Parent ego state. If mother or father are suicidal then the youngster will model on that and it will become part of their Parent ego state. If the parents talk about suicide, the youngster sees them engaging in suicidal behaviour or at times the youngster may be the one who calls the ambulance or resuscitates the parent in some way. When these types of things happen the youngster will introject the suicidality into their own Parent ego state and thus become potentially suicidal at some time later in their life. Just as the early decision remain dormant in the Child ego state the suicidal introject (model) remains dormant in the Parent ego state until circumstances arise in adulthood and these aspects of the personality become operational.

Decision & imitation


Thursday, April 19, 2012

New link

The new link for the next book can be found here.

Woman smoker..


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Suicidal ambivalence

Monologue by me about the concept of suicidal ambivalence that I discuss in my book - Working with suicidal individuals. What it is and how it can be used in therapy with clients.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Group & individual therapy

Irving Yalom was the messiah of group therapy. He wrote many classic articles and books on the topic. At one point in his research he isolated the ten most important psychological functions of group therapy which provides an interesting list indeed. Any group therapist can easily facilitate most of these which are listed below.

Ten most therapeutic operations in group therapy

Of course some of these can be done in individual therapy as well. For example number 2, 5, 7 & 10. Indeed individual therapy can provide therapeutic advantages that group therapy can not or will be less effective in doing. Individual therapy allows for more focus in the transference and is better for attachment building between the client and the therapist. In a group therapy setting the client’s transference reactions tend to be more diffuse or spread amongst the therapist and other clients in the group. This generally speaking makes the transference reactions less intense. If the therapist is wishing for the client to develop a strong transference reaction to the therapist then individual therapy is obviously better for that.
If the therapist is wishing to reduce the intensity of the transference from the client then group therapy is the better way to go. Sometimes the issue presented can be the determining factor for individual or group therapy. Most group therapy sets up a family situation in the client’s mind. The therapist(s) become the parent figures and transference is said to develop and the other group members become the siblings where one has the sibling transference reactions. 


Of course this is not always the case and at times group members can have quite strong transference reactions between each other when one member reminds another member of some aspect of their mother or father. This often happens when one group member is quite parental in their attitudes and presentation. But generally speaking the group members will see each other as sibling type figures and let me reassure you that can stir up very strong emotions at times.
I have dealt with clients who have expressed very strong feelings of jealousy, anger, love, competitiveness and so forth in reaction to another group member. This of course can be a determining factor in the choice of group therapy. If a client presents a ‘sibling’ issue as the problem then group therapy is an excellent way of addressing that. There may be problems with their actual biological siblings or they may present a problem with friends or perhaps co workers where there is jealousy, competitiveness, feeling less worthwhile than others and so forth. 
If the client comes from a family where the parents did favor one child over another or did play the children off against each other or they did get the older sibling to parent the younger siblings then these types of problems are also suited for the group therapy approach. They will inevitably surface and then played out in the group setting and therefore can dealt with by the therapist.

Playing kids

I have run many different types of groups over the years and have always done individual therapy as well. For the vast majority of clients some combination of both does seem to produce the best results. However there are some clients who simply refuse to do group therapy for a variety of reasons and thus only individual therapy can be used. I have clients who refuse to do therapy with even one other person in the room most often the spouse. They are not comfortable with it for some reason so it does not happen.
Different personality types also have different needs for group or individual therapy. The clients who can have difficulty forming an attachment of course would benefit from individual therapy and these can include the avoidant, schizoid, antisocial and the narcissist personality types. Other personality types can as well but it is these ones in particular.
Group therapy with these can also be of assistance but for different reasons

 1. The narcissist can benefit from group therapy if the therapist can use the other members to work through their primary narcissism problems. Children learn they are not the only one who is important because the parents treat their siblings with the same importance as they have. The therapist can do the same with other group members and the narcissist can learn about the value of others. The primary narcissism gets resolved.

3 competing women

2. The schizoid has an indifference to relationships and seeks out solitary activities so as you can see group therapy would have its uses with this kind of person. The indifference can result from just feeling different and perhaps a fear of others and relationships. There is another type that is sometimes known as the superiority complex. The schizoid views others as less than. He may see them as being governed by their primitive animal urges or having mundane and banal lives that they just live out and then die.
The key is for the therapist to illustrate to the client what they are missing out on which can be hard to do. If they feel reasonably comfortable with their own company why should they want to be any different. The other feature of the schizoid is they have retarded emotions. They present as having and experiencing few emotions which means the Free Child is significantly restricted and it is this that can allow for the changes to occur. If the therapist can facilitate the experiencing of emotions the Free Child gets energized and then the desire for relationship can be re energized, then the group therapy becomes useful.
Firstly group therapy provides an opportunity to meet like minded others. Of course one is not wanting their therapy groups become like an introduction agency but I have seen many long and special relationship develop between people who first met in group therapy. Second the schizoid will be quite defended against meeting and being in relationship which can be brought out into the open and worked through and this is where some of Yalom's points comes into play
Learning how I come across to others
Other members honestly telling me what they think of me
The group’s teaching me about the type of impression I make on others
Feeling more trustful of the group and other people
The therapist can facilitate and manage an exchange between the schizoid and another group member on matters such as these in order to get through the schizoid’s defenses against relationship.

Dinner table in river

3. The avoidant is in someways easier to deal with than the schizoid. Whilst both usually have few social relationship, the avoidant wants to have them whereas the schizoid does not. The avoidant personality has the motivation there to start with which makes group therapy quite useful at some point. They usually have strong fears of being criticized, looking foolish, not being liked and so forth. This is why they avoid relationships. As with the schizoid the therapist can orchestrate an exchange between the avoidant and other group members such that these fears can be brought out into the open and dealt with such that there is a positive outcome.
4. The antisocial is similar to the narcissist in many of the ways they relate to others. Others have little meaning for them and hence they can be used and abused. Others in the group can feedback their reactions to the antisocial about such things. Whilst this is a good start and a positive use of group therapy, this person will often have a strong and well defended system of justification such as:
“No one ever cared for me so why should I care for others”.
“I was used and abused as a child so that’s the way life is”.
(And often they were never cared for and they were abused as children)
The therapist somehow needs to break through this defence system which can be hard to do. 
Trust in relationship is particularly important for the antisocial. As children they learnt to never trust others and usually with good reason. In some way getting the antisocial to a point where he can trust another group member would be a useful thing to do. Again the antisocial may be highly defended against doing such a thing.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Be Perfect driver - editted

KYLady asked a good question that anticipated the next part of this post I was going to do.
Perfectionism is most often found in conditions like depression, OC and eating disorders.
Perfectionism can have both positive and negative outcomes and has been shown to be associated with adjustment, academic achievement and self-efficacy.
Perfectionism can be
Self oriented perfectionism
Other oriented perfectionism
Socially prescribed perfectionism

Muslim girl

Self oriented perfectionism endeavors to avoid self criticism (I’m not OK)
Socially prescribed perfectionism endeavors to avoid the criticism of others (I’m not OK)
Other oriented perfectionism involves having unrealistic standards for others (You’re not OK)
The six principle components of perfectionism are
Personal standards
Concern over mistakes
Doubts about actions
Parental expectations
Parental criticism
Most have two or three of these areas which they feel driven to be perfect in. Interestingly enough the Be Perfect driver person will often have a particular place in their life where it is chaos, disorganized and very ‘imperfect’ such as a room, a cupboard, their car, their paperwork or the like.

Girl 3

Perfectionism and performance
As mentioned before perfectionism can have positive consequences in that it can result in an increase in performance at work or at school. However this needs to be considered in more detail as perfectionism can also result in a reduction in the level of performance.

Perfectionism & performance

The graph shows the average person will have a satisfactory level of performance. Those who are subject to the Be perfect driver will initially have an increase in performance as the degree of perfectionism increases. The job at hand gets done better the more ‘perfectly’ it is done. The more perfectly done the more energy has to be expended on the job compared to the person who does the job at an average level.
As the degree of perfectionism increases it reaches a critical point where the level of performance starts to decrease. This can be seen to occur in one of two ways.
1. If one is writing an assignment at school on the different perspectives about feminism in the currant millennium the average person would write it and that would be that. The Be Perfect student would write it but consider more people’s perspectives and consider each perspective from many more perspectives and different people’s perspectives on each of those perspectives. As you can see a point is reached where the need to be perfect makes the assignment worse because each and every variable are considered. Hence the level of performance decreases than if it had been done in an average way.

 2. The more perfectly a job is done the more energy is required. The student given the assignment knows how he operates in doing such tasks. Most importantly his Child ego state knows the level of perfection required by his Parent ego state and he knows that reaching that level of performance is exhausting and very tiring. As a result the Child ego state starts to avoid doing the task and hence we end up with one cause of procrastination. He delays it for as long as possible because he knows how much he will suffer whilst doing it. As a result the level of performance goes down because jobs don’t get done or only get done at the very last moment.

Despondent woman

However this situation can go even further. In some cases the degree of perfectionism can be extreme and when that happens one can end up with a thought disorder and other psychotic behaviour. A common one is the thought disorder known as overdetailing. When the person talks they go into so much detail that it becomes incomprehensible. In their thinking they constantly consider many different perspectives, factors and permutations such that eventually the thinking becomes disordered to the extent that the person is not capable of looking after them self or performing basic day to day tasks. At this point the person can only achieve a very low level of performance due to the degree of perfectionism.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Book comments

I now have a new Facebook page for my book - Working with suicidal individuals. I have made a few comments about the book on it and I thought I would put them here as well.
Comment 1.
Its funny how things work out. What I thought was one of the more insightful things I have written about in the book no one has ever even mentioned. They have mentioned other parts but never that one. 25% of suicidal people never tell anyone of their suicidality prior to a serious attempt. I discuss how one can begin to identify and work with this highest risk of all suicidal people. Has never even got a comment! Not that I am complaining or anything.

Hooker pipe

Comment 2.
The suicide pact is an interesting phenomena that occurs more commonly than most suspect. There is also the notion of the surreptitious suicide pact involving a suicidal individual and a collaborator. Living with a chronically suicidal person is a very difficult thing to do. After months or even years the collaborator is usually drained or very burnt out. The Free Child ego state of the collaborator wants it to end and knows the most realistic way it is likely to end is if the person completes a suicide attempt. The Free Child then, in part, has a want for the person to suicide and hence we have a suicide pact. The collaborator may realize this consciously or may keep it hidden from his conscious. Yet at some level the suicidal person and the collaborator communicate the secret agreement with each other.

Walking ladies

Comment 3.
In suicide risk assessment schedules the person is often asked if they are single or married. Research shows that single people are more likely to suicide than married people, however this is not really getting to the point of the matter. It is not so much about being married or single but about human attachment. People who have a sense of being in an attachment with another are more psychologically robust and healthy and thus less likely to suicide. If people have a sense of belonging with another and a sense of being in relationship with other they are in a better psychological state than those who do not. For the suicide risk assessor it makes less sense to ask if the person is single or married but to enquire about the attachments in their life, Do they have a sense of attachment, belonging or a sense of relationship currently in their life? They may or may not have this if they are single or married.

Woman & monkey