The specific nature of the wounded Vulnerable Child depends on the schema:
Defective Child – The child has been harshly criticized.
As you can see this is a good chunk of the recognizable schemas. Since this mode encompasses so many it’s considered the core mode for schema work to focus on and ultimately it’s what therapists are most concerned with healing.
I have a feeling this is the mode that provides a lot of the negative stigma surrounding Borderline Personality Disorder. The one clinicians and therapists most frequently associate with BPD, that flip into angry venting. Which is funny, because according to Young, it’s really not the mode most patients spend the majority of their time in.
More often you get a scenario where the Detached Protector or Punitive Parent mode operates to suppress feelings in order to protect the Self from letting someone into a vulnerable position, which works to block the needs and feelings of the Abandoned Child mode. Unfortunately when you do this for long enough those needs and feelings bottle up and accumulate and a growing sense of inner pressure begins to build. And build, and build… until something happens and quick as that the person may flip into Angry child mode and all of a sudden be consumed with rage. This is when all that anger is vented in inappropriate ways. Someone with BPD will act impulsively to have their immediate needs met, which makes them appear manipulative and reckless. Or they may make demands that seem entitled or spoiled and work to alienate others. These demands aren’t really coming from a sense of entitlement though. They’re just desperate attempts to have those basic emotional needs met.
When you’ve lived so long feeling deprived, being deprived, of something that should be so basic and natural, how can you not be angry about it? Especially when it all seems just out of reach. I can’t even begin to list the number of times it’s seemed like I found someone that I wanted to let in, that seemed like they wanted to be let in, only to find myself holding back, blocking my ability to form a real, solid attachment because I KNOW that if I do I’ll only be hurt again. Or I’ve chosen people that subconsciously I know can’t give me what I need because believe it or not, this is also safer than allowing someone to actually enter that place in your heart where they can do you real damage. The frustration is enormous. And infuriating. I’m furious at them for showing me a glimpse of what I actually need. They have it, shown it, but choose not to give it. Don’t I deserve it? Furious at myself for not having held back, for placing hope in someone else. It feels like my own fault for having let someone close enough that I begin to push away my protection. I blame them. I blame myself. Guilt. Anger. It’s a lot of intense emotion to have roiling beneath the surface. When you want something, but are afraid or don’t know how to get that thing it can become too much and you have to do something, anything, to reconcile all these conflicting feelings. Messy.
The trick is learning to look for what you really need in healthy places. Developing the Healthy Child that can feel loved and contented where the needs of that inner child are adequately met. But how do you get to this place? That’s the goal. One technique therapists utilize is limited Reparenting….