Friday, November 16, 2012

Bonus Post! Courtesy of

Bonus Post! I told you I’d do it. Because I am incapable of doing anything relaxing that doesn’t directly stimulate my brain I’m a fan of reading. Especially humorous, yet well informed reading. Which directly explains why I enjoy Here’s why you should too... 2 more excerpts from articles that are interestingly relevant.

#2 on the List: Warm Weather and Sunlight

(** You may recall I hate the beginning of spring. I don’t get depressed in winter, I get depressed in the spring. This might contribute to why. )


So we joked that everybody waits until fall/winter to get depressed, but it's not a joke -- there is actually a term for it (seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, hilariously). It's basically a cyclical depression that some people experience during the winter months. This is understandable -- the days are short and cold, the nights are long, lonely and freezing, and you hear three straight months of Christmas music.

"Come here. I just want to talk. About killing you."

However, there is a small percentage of people who go through the winter whistling merrily, twirling a cane and spinning a top hat (probably), only to have the bright months of summer hit them like the death of Mufasa. The warm weather and piercingly joyous sunlight actually make them horribly suicidal.

Only 1 percent of Americans reportedly suffer from summer SAD (as opposed to the 5 percent who suffer from winter SAD), but the symptoms are pretty extreme -- one sufferer blacks out all her windows like a drug-dealing Batman and sleeps with frozen bottles of water in her bed, simply because the sunlight and the heat make her abysmally depressed. It isn't a body image thing, either -- people who suffer from summer SAD aren't just walking beanbags who hate going to the beach for fear of being mistaken for a Cloverfield hatchling crawling out of the ocean in board shorts. The disorder affects them at a deep neurological level, keeping most victims indoors for months (even bedridden), experiencing extreme weight loss and paralyzing anxiety.

At least you can watch The Wire in its entirety.

Research shows that cases become more prevalent closer to the equator. Southern states in the U.S. report more summer SAD victims, and in the hottest parts of India (which you may recognize as an entire country situated almost directly above the equator), the condition is actually common -- more people there suffer from summer SAD than winter SAD, possibly because India is a place where winter does not exist.

Scientists aren't really sure why this happens to some people, but they do have some guesses. For one thing, heat does things to the body, like suppressing the thyroid hormone, which results in a severe energy drain that is a telltale symptom of depression and could explain why summer SAD victims stay in bed all day. High temperatures also stimulate a specific hormone called prolactin, which sounds like that foot fungus repellent John Madden sells but totally isn't. Prolactin can block the effects of dopamine, better known as the feel-good juice your body produces in response to pleasurable stimulation. It is essentially the only reason anybody does anything, and if a person's ability to feel the effects of dopamine were blocked (say, by warm weather), he or she would be one sad bastard.
Interestingly, many antidepressants actually lower a person's body temperature, which seems to further indicate some relationship between heat and debilitating misery.

#1 on the list: Embarrass Yourself in Public

Hey, weren’t we just talking about shame? In an amusing twist of irony, actually making a fool of yourself occasionally, can make people like you more. Check it out. And then give yourself a break. Apparently things aren’t as bad as we fear they’ll be.


We devote a huge amount of our time, money and energy to not looking stupid in public. For many of us, this leads to a level of self-consciousness where we flirt with a nervous breakdown whenever we do something that's labeled "wrong" in public. You know the feeling -- all those judgmental eyes staring down at you, all haughty and acting like they've never attended the opera pantsless, with a tiny bow tie on their dong.

"It was just easier than doing it on my neck."

Fortunately, this general aversion to public humiliation offers a neat little shortcut to aspiring ascenders in popularity rankings: Scientists have found that when people see you get openly embarrassed, they tend to think of you as a nicer person.

"Sharting in interviews is the cornerstone of my career."

A bunch of Berkeley psychology researchers set up an experiment where participants were filmed while they described a very embarrassing moment in their lives. Then, other participants watched the videos and rated how embarrassing the situation was while assessing how kind they felt the people telling the stories were. The participants who were consistently rated as nicest were the ones who were visibly affected by their embarrassing situations, writhing in front of the camera as memories of the Walrus Incident of '99 tormented their brains. What's more, it worked the other way around, too: The people who did have embarrassing stories, yet chose to maintain a careful poker face while telling them, got labeled as selfish and untrustworthy.

He was elected mayor three weeks later.

Several other experiments verified that our brains indeed have a tendency to associate visible embarrassment with kindness and trustworthiness, whereas all the shame-free Mr. Cools out there end up filed in the same "do not trust" folder with used car salesmen and Internet comedy writers. It makes sense, really: Since the kind of person who gets embarrassed easily is also likely to be extra nice to others in order to avoid getting a red face, we have just sort of started viewing embarrassment itself as an indicator of trustworthiness.

So yes, by all means embarrass yourself on your next date. Just make sure you do it before you get to the bedroom.

Shamed Children become Shamed Adults: Shaming and BPD Part 3

As I said a couple days ago; what happens to you as a child, affects who you become as an adult. That doesn’t mean who you become is completely dictated by what you’ve been through, and it doesn’t mean you have no control over who you become. All it means is that there are influences from the past. You can fight them, you can embrace them, you can let them rule you, or you can choose to face them, and by facing them, learn to control them… and eventually heal from them if they’re something that needs healing.
Shame is a powerful weapon. One that is too often aimed at children. It’s sad too, because sometimes the people doing the shaming don’t even realize or understand that that’s what they’re doing. This generation, where I live in New York, New York U.S.A. is pretty progressive. However where I grew up with more mid-Western conservative. Fortunately my parents were themselves very progressive. My father’s father though, the environment he grew up in, was certainly not. His father was military and an abusive alcoholic. Comfort and sharing feelings wasn’t exactly encouraged if he was around at all. I’ve always been ashamed of showing my feelings in real life. Any emotion that isn’t “strong”, that is. Or any emotion at all. I know in part it was due to the general attitude my father had. Whenever I was upset or frustrated he would tell me to “suck it up” or “toughen up”. That’s all he ever heard so how would he know to do things differently? It was never done meanly to me. However..

I also have the Borderline predisposition towards hypersensitivity and everything hits me harder than it might your average person, so it felt like I could never show any emotion or else I’d lose the approval, and therefore the love, of my father. Any non-positive word was like a bullet to my heart. I love my daddy, I’m definitely a daddy’s girl. So feeling like I was letting him down in some way was really frightening.

I have very strong memories of love and him being a part of my life. He was always there. He’s just human and the generation that raised him was a very conservative tough guy military generation. It’s an attitude that’s still strong in a lot of places in this country. Don’t even get me started on some of the stricter cultures around the world. Even the most well intentioned parents can impact their kids, especially ones prone to hypersensitivity and a fear of abandonment. It can get really scary when parents aren’t well-intentioned, abusive, or just generally lack an observational awareness of how they affect the people around them… which is common with personality disorders.

Shame, Invalidation, and Secondary-Wounding go hand in hand and follow each other around like sick puppies.

So how does Shame translate into adulthood? The following is quoted from Shame & Guilt: Masters of Disguise by Jane Middelton-Moz, Ph.D.

1. Adults shamed as children are afraid of vulnerability and fear exposure of self.

I used to be intensely guarded. Evil-Ex broke this down when he would humiliate and attempt to humiliate me. I grew from that though, and learned that the things that I thought I needed to hide… really weren’t anywhere near the shameful things I thought they were. Sharing those things with people that were actually worthy of my trust actually brought us closer and made our friendship stronger.

2. Adults shamed as children may suffer extreme shyness, embarrassment and feelings of being inferior to others. They don't believe they make mistakes. Instead they believe they are mistakes.

I can’t say I’ve ever felt like I was a mistake. I generally just feel like everything I do isn’t good enough. I have definite failure issues.

3. Adults shamed as children fear intimacy and tend to avoid real commitment in relationships. These adults frequently express the feeling that one foot is out of the door, prepared to run.

This sounds a lot like many aspects of BPD and intimacy to me. I know I have emotional intimacy issues. I’m working on them and they’re getting better, but I know I’m not the only one with a fight or flight response to love.

4. Adults shamed as children may appear either grandiose and self-centered or seem selfless.

It’s been suggested that narcissism in adults is related to defenses against shame and that narcissistic personality disorder is connected to shame as well. Psychiatrist Glen Gabbard suggested that NPD could be broken down into two subtypes, a grandiose, arrogant, thick-skinned "oblivious" subtype and an easily hurt, oversensitive, ashamed "hypervigilant" subtype. The oblivious subtype presents for admiration, envy, and appreciation a grandiose self that is the antithesis of a weak internalized self which hides in shame, while the hypervigilant subtype neutralizes devaluation by seeing others as unjust abusers. < --- Thanks, Wiki.

Or they turn in the opposite direction and instead of believing they deserve anything, anything at all, they pour everything they have into others and fear what will happen if they do something "wrong" and could be abandoned. 

5. Adults shamed as children feel that, “No matter what I do, it won't make a difference; I am and always will be worthless and unlovable.”

I’m really not sure how anyone could love me. Still. I’m beginning to see that I have decent qualities and not everything about me is bad. But I still don’t really have an internalized concept of how anyone could every really want to stay with me or love me forever.

6. Adults shamed as children frequently feel defensive when even minor negative feedback is given. They suffer feelings of severe humiliation if forced to look at mistakes or imperfections.

This is hard. Looking at yourself and your mistakes sucks and isn’t easy for most people. When you have something like BPD compounding it, those feelings can be debilitating. Criticism and rejection lead straight to those abandonment fears. When your emotions are volatile and you anger easily or feel the need to punish yourself for not being “perfect”… there are major problems that can occur. And it’s easy to trigger those feelings.

7. Adults shamed as children frequently blame others before they can be blamed.

            The Blame Game is unfortunately common.

8. Adults shamed as children may suffer from debilitating guilt. These individuals apologize constantly. They assume responsibility for the behavior of those around them.

Ah, guilt. BPD Friend Riot was constantly racked with guilt. She focused so hard on other people and felt guilty for everything that didn’t go right in their lives.

9. Adults shamed as children feel like outsiders. They feel a pervasive sense of loneliness throughout their lives, even when surrounded with those who love and care.

Oh yeah. Always have, still fear I always will. Which is silly because the more I open up to my family, the more I focus on the healthy relationships in my life, the more evidence I see that this just won’t be the case. I still don’t really feel connected, I still feel on the outskirts, but I can also feel the acceptance.

10. Adults shamed as children project their beliefs about themselves onto others. They engage in mind-reading that is not in their favor, consistently feeling judged by others.

            Projection! I’ve talked about this before.

11. Adults shamed as children often feel angry and judgmental towards the qualities in others that they feel ashamed of in themselves. This can lead to shaming others.


12. Adults shamed as children often feel ugly, flawed and imperfect. These feelings regarding self may lead to focus on clothing and makeup in an attempt to hide flaws in personal appearance and self.

Yeah. I actually do think my eating disorders and BDD is a result of feeling ashamed of my body. I remember the exact day, the exact conversation I had with my parents. They weren’t mean or spiteful, yet… It just goes to show how one well intentioned conversation can have such a severe impact on a kid with BPD.

13. Adults shamed as children often feel controlled from the outside as well as from within. Normal spontaneous expression is blocked.

I’m not very good with spontaneity. And by not very good, I mean, I can get very, very anxious and sometimes panic when things change and I’m not prepared for it. This is also getting much better, but having even a small loss of “control” (which can be as simple as following the original plan because that’s what we’ve had time to prepare for) can be difficult to deal with it.

14. Adults shamed as children feel they must do things perfectly or not at all. This internalized belief frequently leads to performance anxiety and procrastination.

            Hey look at that. Check.

15. Adults shamed as children experience depression.

            MajorDepressive Disorder here

16. Adults shamed as children lie to themselves and others.

            Go back and check out that series I wrote about Lying =)

17. Adults shamed as children block their feelings of shame through compulsive behaviors like workaholism, eating disorders, shopping, sexual addiction, substance abuse, list-making or gambling.

            Eating disorders, shopping, sexual impulsivity/recklessness, list-making…. Check.

18. Adults shamed as children often have caseloads rather than friendships.

            Hm…. I’m, not really sure how to interpret this. Note: Look into this further.

19. Adults shamed as children often involve themselves in compulsive processing of past interactions and events and intellectualization as a defense against pain.

            Think Ruminating ceaselessly.

20. Adults shamed as children are stuck in dependency or counter-dependency.

            I favor counter-dependency. Many of us prefer the former.

21. Adults shamed as children have little sense of emotional boundaries. They feel constantly violated by others. They frequently build false boundaries through walls, rage, pleasing or isolation.

            …and I don’t think I need to elaborate more on how this applies.

I’ve discussed a lot of this stuff in my Schema studies and just as we’ve gone alone through all my posts. I’m not sure it’s all a result of shame, if everything is interconnected, or if different traumas can produce similar outcomes. I suspect it’s all 3 at various points. Maybe an overdeveloped sense of shame is the underlying tie that binds it all together. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Shame, Shame on You - Shaming and BPD: Part 2

Yesterday I started talking about Shame in Part 1. What is it about this emotion that makes people respond in an “any way necessary” type of way to avoid experiencing it? Deflect, defend, lash out, attack first, re-direct… ANYTHING to avoid having to face that feeling… face themselves. 

In a crazy twist of maladaptive coping mechanisms, in order to avoid feeling shame people will even blame and hate… themselves.

They’ll act as if it’s something real. But not play-acting. It actually feels real. It takes time for this level of self-defense kicks in, but sometimes it’s easier to believe you actually did something, something tangible, as a one-time incident, that you can focus that negative emotion at, instead of feeling a pervasive inner sense of self-worthlessness.

As Dr. Kaufman postulates, those mechanisms such as blame or contempt can be used as a defending strategy against the experience of shame. Someone who has a pattern of applying them to himself/herslf may well attempt to defend against a shame experience by applying self-blame or self-contempt. This, however, can lead to an internalized, self-reinforcing sequence of shame events for which Kaufman coined the term "shame spiral".

Which is an interesting idea. Shame presents in a variety of different ways.

Genuine shame: is associated with genuine dishonor, disgrace, or condemnation.

            Kicking a puppy is wrong no matter what. Bad. 

False shame: is associated with false condemnation as in the double-bind form of false shaming; "he brought what we did to him upon himself". Author and TV personality John Bradshaw calls shame the "emotion that lets us know we are finite".

I associate this with secondary wounding as well.  When there’s already a wound and now someone is digging their nail into it while they ask, “Does this hurt?” Yes, you dick!

Secret shame: describes the idea of being ashamed to be ashamed, so causing ashamed people to keep their shame a secret.

This is me all over. Even looking at this I want to defend and say it’s stupid, but no, it’s just true. At least it's no longer debilitating. I can look at myself and laugh a little at least. 

Toxic shame: describes false, pathological shame, and Bradshaw states that toxic shame is induced, inside children, by all forms of child abuse. Incest and other forms of child sexual abuse can cause particularly severe toxic shame. Toxic shame often induces what is known as complex trauma in children who cannot cope with toxic shaming as it occurs and who dissociate the shame until it is possible to cope with.

This is also something that I believe comes with much of the pain of Borderline Personality Disorder. Also, eating disorders and Body Dysmorphic Disorders.  I have an intense amount of shame if I perceive my body as not being “perfect” and no matter how much perception changing material I research, no matter how many friends, family, or lovers tell me otherwise, I always feel flawed and ashamed to let people see what I feel are flaws.

Vicarious shame: refers to the experience of shame on behalf of another person. Individuals vary in their tendency to experience vicarious shame, which is related to neuroticism and to the tendency to experience personal shame. Extremely shame-prone people might even experience vicarious shame even to an increased degree, in other words: shame on behalf of another person who is already feeling shame on behalf of a third party (or possibly on behalf of the individual proper).

Hm. I’m familiar with this as well. In fact, it colors a lot of my actions and the things I choose to tell or do for people, or choose not to tell or not to do for people. I’m hyper-aware of how other people feel and how they’ll react and I often work very hard to make sure situations do not arise where they could feel shame or embarrassment. Hell I think I did the 3rd party shame at our Halloween party when Doc started arguing with K. I could sense Monroe’s discomfort on Doc’s part, and probably on my own, and I felt bad that she had to feel that for us. It just, keeps spiraling. And people think Borderlines don’t have empathy? Hah!  Then again, I was also freaked out that Doc was picking a fight with someone I was working so hard to repair burned bridges with and I was acutely aware of, and in fear of, making K uncomfortable… And seeing how Twiggy felt in respect to herself in the conversation and how she was feeling for K... And on, and on. Hyper-perceptive is great, except when you have an almost visceral physical sensation that accompanies that awareness. Then it’s overwhelming and anxiety inducing.

Thanks, Wiki.

It seems like shame is the real opposing force of self-acceptance. It’s almost the fear of self-acceptance b/c in order to accept yourself, you have to be willing to face yourself. So it’s the fear of facing your inner self. Hm.  Heh, I think I’ve mostly defeated my shame on that level, otherwise I think writing this blog would cripple me, haha.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the longer term effects. I defy you to not identify with at least some of them. If you don't, you are incredibly lucky and have my envy… and with that, I depart! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shame, Shame on You - Shaming and BPD: Part 1

What happens to you as a child impacts who you become as an adult. Everyone handles this in their own way. Your genetic nature and the environments that affected you contribute to how you, as an individual, learn to cope [or not] with how you grew up. That’s a big factor in Borderline Personality Disorder; nature and nurture. Often people with BPD come from an environment of abuse. Overt sexual and physical abuse are intensely painful and detrimental experiences though relatively easy to identify as abusive environments. Sometimes though, abuse happens and you’re not exactly aware that it is occurring. One when you’re a child you have no idea what abuse is. When you’re small, all you know is that what happens to you, is what’s happening to you. It’s all you know. You don’t know that something is wrong,  or inappropriate, or abusive. You know that you feel bad, or uncomfortable, or afraid, or in pain, but beyond that, you also feel helpless because what can you possibly do about it if the adults, the people that are supposed to be your source of love and trust, reinforce an environment of negative behavior?

Nothing. That’s what you do. Because you don’t know better.

It’s not your fault.

When the abuse that occurs is more subtle it’s harder to identify.

Scenario 1: A boys mother tries to kill him.
Scenario 2: A girls father says she was a mistake.

Which is the abusive scenario? I know I didn’t fool anyone here. They both are. The first is an obvious example. The second is a more subtle expression of verbal abuse, namely: Shaming.

I’ve talked about shaming before in the Defectiveness/Shame Schema. You should go back and read it: Here.

Shaming is a technique used by abusive people to divert attention away from their own behavior and their own issues. It’s done to put pressure and maintain control over their victim. The difference between blaming and shaming is that in blaming someone tells you that you did something bad, in shaming someone tells you that you are something bad.

Often Shame, Guilt, and Embarassment all kind of bleed together in my mind, but they’re really very distinct things. The relationship and contrasts between all of these are complex and sometimes contested.

Wiki gives us this between Shame and Guilt:

Psychoanalyst Helen B. Lewis argued that, "The experience of shame is directly about the self, which is the focus of evaluation. In guilt, the self is not the central object of negative evaluation, but rather the thing done is the focus." 

Similarly, Fossum and Mason say in their book Facing Shame that "While guilt is a painful feeling of regret and responsibility for one's actions, shame is a painful feeling about oneself as a person." 

Following this line of reasoning, Psychiatrist Judith Lewis Herman concludes that "Shame is an acutely self-conscious state in which the self is 'split,' imagining the self in the eyes of the other; by contrast, in guilt the self is unified."

Which directly supports the idea that shaming is something done to you to make you feel something painful about yourself.

Like Guilt, Shame and Embarrassment are distinct. Shame does not necessarily involve public humiliation while embarrassment does, that is, one can feel shame for an act known only to oneself but in order to be embarrassed one's actions must be revealed to others. Shame is a reaction to the act of self-judgment, where embarrassment is a reaction to the perceived judgment from others.

The sad fact is, when you’re taught to feel poorly about yourself as a child, it sticks with you. Eventually you don’t even have to be doing something shameful to feel ashamed of yourself or something you’re doing. You begin to question everything you do. You begin to measure yourself by an imaginary scale of “You’ll never be as good as [this/that],”, or, “If [so-and-so] saw that they would laugh at you.” You don’t learn that you can take pride in things you do, or that simply attempting to do something is an accomplishment all on its own.

Often with personality disordered people, or just people that internalize that behavior, the cycle perpetuates with their own children. The shame a person feels builds up to anger and resentment throughout their life. As a parent a person might misappropriate their own anger onto their children. Because the environment they were raised in wasn’t loving, wasn’t supportive, wasn’t safe, they can unintentionally mimic it. They don’t realize there is anything wrong with it simply because it’s all they know. This leads to making their own children feel worthless, useless, unloved, and unappreciated. It leads to the projection of blame, shame, and contempt onto others to redirect it from themselves as well.  This perpetuates the cycle of fear, obligation, and guilt.

If all you’ve ever heard growing up is:

·         "You were a mistake"
·         "You could never do what he/she does"
·         "You've ruined my life"
·         "We are all disappointed in you"
·         "Shame on You!"

Then you likely have an internalized sense of fear, obligation, and guilt. Out of the Fog describes these feelings like this:

Fear - if you don't do what this person wants then there will be hell to pay.
Obligation - you are somehow made to feel indebted to this person - you are made to believe that you owe them something even though you have taken nothing from them.
Guilt - you are unworthy - you have broken some unwritten rules - rules which you never agreed to and which were never fully justified or explained to you.

If you’re someone that suffers with BPD I’m willing to bet that you know these feelings and the uncertainty and anxiety that are spawned from them. If you’re someone that has loved or lived with someone with BPD, you may have felt these sort of things thrown your way.

From the BPD standpoint the re-direction isn’t usually out of a desire to hurt the other person so much as it is to shield the shame they feel. If you can make the other person focus on themselves, they can’t focus on you. That doesn’t make it better or okay. It’s still hurtful. But the intent isn’t necessarily to hurt for the sake of hurting.

It can seem like it though. Remember when I talked about TheWitch and The Queen “types” of Borderline descriptions. Often this happens when people need to push people down in order to feel better about themselves.

And then in a crazy twist of maladaptive coping mechanisms, in order to avoid feeling shame people can blame and hate… themselves. 

Stayed tuned for tomorrow's episode. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lack of Post

Hello Dear Readers, 

I had a post started for today, but I have an engineering conference from 9a-5p so according to my Magic 8-Ball the odds of me putting out a full post today are Not Likely. Or it will be an evening post. We shall see, we shall see. Regardless I shall try to squeeze a couple extra posts in this week, maybe double up or post through the weekend. 

On a fun note: My little blog here surpassed half a million page views this weekend =) Milestone! 

I'll have to think about something fun to post. Like maybe... how my book is coming along, hmmmm. 

I have the Outline laid out. 

I'm wrapping up my writing of the Introduction. 

I have the majority of my text compiled. 

If I were to leave it completely as is, with no edits for length, this book would end up at almost 550 pages long. So as you can imagine, I need to cut that down by almost half. 

A fun tidbit for me. With this blog I have written almost 2300 pages worth of text. Egads!  I keep a spreadsheet with all the posts that I've written, the # of single spaced Word docs., and word count. Obviously I don't include articles I've pulled from elsewhere and things like that. If I did that my Posted page count is closer to 2360. I don't know about you, but I think that's quite a bit of effort I've put into my BPD research. I may not have a psychology degree, but I'm pretty sure I could squeeze out a few thesis papers from that. It certainly helps writing this book a bit easier. Once I have it closer to rough draft form I'll probably start a KickStarter, but in the mean time you can still help me out! Please =) 

It's about time for my conference here. I just wanted to say a big thank you to all my Readers out there. I really appreciate your support. Reading your comments, e-mail, and words of encouragement really does push me and give me the kind of encouragement I need to stay strong with my writing here. 

Cheers and Love,


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