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After Childhood: From False Beliefs to Wholeness

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Many people who have been actively or passively hurt as children often ponder the perpetrator’s motives and reasons behind it.

“Why did you hit me when I was so helpless and vulnerable?”

“Why didn’t you want to spend more time with me?”

“Why didn’t you treat me like a person?”

“Why did you demean and belittle me instead of encouraging and helping me?”

“Why did you yell at me so much?”

“Why didn’t you care that I was hurt?”

“Why did you leave me alone with my troubles when I felt so overwhelmed and lonely?”

“Why weren’t you a decent role model for me?”

“Why did you disregard my feelings, wants, and preferences?”

“Why didn’t you care more?”

“Why didn’t you love me?”

Children look for explanations of these things in order to make sense of it. Since putting responsibility on one’s caregivers is usually not allowed, the child internalizes it. Moreover, children are often explicitly blamed for being abused. And so “the explanation” involves self-blame, and results in a shattered self-este…

Passive Parental Abuse and Its Effects: Two Examples

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People who strive to live a more fulfilling life eventually realize that in order for them to get better, they need to connect what went wrong in the past with why they have the problems that they have.

For most people, it’s not that difficult to eventually identify physical or sexual abuse as abuse, yet when it comes to more covert forms of trauma, they may feel confused and either stay in denial or make justifications for the people who hurt them—which eventually paralyzes them in self-blame, self-doubt, confusion, and other unrealistic and unproductive mental states and irrational behaviors.

Here are two common, hypothetical examples.

Example #1

“I would say my father was really bad and my mother was the good one. My father routinely beat me, and I feel really angry at him because of it.

My mother wasn’t violent, though. She was constantly anxious about everything. I remember as a child sitting in my room alone for hours and feeling pity for her. I felt worried about her and arou…

On Feeling Disconnected and Lost after Entering Adulthood

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Over the years, I have encountered, observed, and professionally worked with many people who come from difficult childhood environments. One common feature that these people, and the vast majority of people, have after becoming adults is feeling empty, lacking, and lost.

Many of us enter adulthood hurt, deprived, misled, lonely, anxious, tired, angry, numb, bored, or terrified. When a person grows up, leaves their childhood home, and “becomes an adult,” it is common for them to feel totally lost and disconnected. They don’t know who they are, what they like, how they feel, where to go, and what to do about it.

Now why do so many people feel this way?

If, as a child, it is forbidden to be yourself, and if your true self is met with violence, rejection, scorn, or invalidation, then you learn to hide it. This is necessary to your survival in an otherwise problematic or dangerous environment. And so you repress your feelings, you hide your thoughts, you abandon your interests, and yo…

Narcissism (Part 3): How Narcissists Act When Feeling Upset or Threatened

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To understand this article better, it is highly recommended to read the previous two titled Narcissism: What It Is and Isn’tand Narcissism and Self-Esteem.

Narcissistic Phases and Tactics: Two Examples

1. Close relationships (romantic, familial, friendship, acquaintanceship)

If you are unwilling or unable to provide narcissistic supply anymore, the narcissistic individual will feel wronged because, for them, you only exist to give them what they want. And since they feel entitled to what they want, they believe that your refusal is an act of aggression against them. Often this formula disregards reality, but to them, it is real. To deal with this and all the emotions that come with it, then, the narcissistic person will behave a certain way.

The mechanism narcissists use is sometimes described as the Drama Triangle, which consists of three roles: the Victim, the Persecutor, and the Rescuer. Now, there are two versions of the triangle: the objective one and the narcissist’s perception o…

Narcissism (Part 2): Narcissism and Self-Esteem

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To understand this article better, it is highly recommended to read the previous one titled Narcissism: What It Is and Isn’t.

The Role of Self-Esteem in Narcissist’s Self-Image

One of the biggest misconceptions about narcissistic people is that the narcissistic person has a high self-esteem. It’s an easy mistake: some of them look fancy, have money, know how to get what they want, are respected, famous, powerful, and so on. In actuality though, they have low self-esteem. It only seems like they have a high self-esteem because they associate themselves with things that they perceive as having status or they pretend and imitate those who actually have high, healthy self-esteem. All of this gives them narcissistic supply from others and boosts their false sense of self-worth.

Since a narcissist’s sense of self-esteem comes from other people’s perception of them, and since they see themselves as both not enough and perfect (depending on the situation), their main drive is to manage the pa…

Narcissism (Part 1): What It Is and Isn't

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Definition(s) of Narcissism

There are many definitions and classifications of narcissism. Some put it together with sociopathy or psychopathy, others say there is both an overlap and a distinction between them. Sociopathy and psychopathy are also not clearly distinct as separate concepts and often are used synonymously.

Regardless of its many definitions, I find it helpful to conceptualize narcissism as a spectrum, just like any other set of character traits, behavioral patterns, and psychoemotional problems. Meaning, usually there are shades and nuances. Yes, there are people who can be called narcissists because they clearly fit all the criteria, but most fall somewhere in the middle. They are not 100 percent narcissistic but exhibit some traits, which may be somewhere from negligible, to mild, to severe, and everything in between. Rarely a person who possesses narcissistic traits is a complete narcissist, and even those who display more severe narcissistic traits are not just this…

Q&A: How Does Our Mind "Create" Problems Like Anxiety, Depression, or Eating Disorders?

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QUESTION
How does our mind “create” problems like anxiety, depression, bulimia, anorexia?

ANSWER
In order to manage unpleasant feelings or threatening environments our body and mind develops certain beliefs, reactions, and behaviors. Some of them, like you mentioned, are chronic or acute anxiety, depression, eating disorders, self-mutilation, abusive behavior, and many others. The origins of it can be traced back to a person’s early development and formative years, but some of it can develop or intensify in later life.

Human beings are mainly shaped by their environment. We learn to adapt to it and develop certain traits, characteristics, and behaviors to survive better in whatever environment we are in. Some of those strategies and reactions are unhealthy and counterproductive, if you look at it from a completely objective, detached, or myopic perspective. Of course cutting your own body with a razor blade until you bleed, or vomiting out your food, or feeling and acting helpless when y…

Q&A: Why Do I Become Increasingly Anxious around People the Longer I Know Them?

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QUESTION
The longer I know someone, the more anxious I feel around them. Why is that?

ANSWER
It is hard to say for sure without knowing a person’s history and the particular situation they are in. Based on my personal and professional experience, someone who feels increasingly anxious around others is afraid of the relationship becoming more close and more intimate. Not necessarily in a romantic or sexual way (although it can definitely be that, too), but just knowing each other better, being more vulnerable, and so on.

Now why is that? Generally, I see two cases: one, the person is afraid of building an intimate, caring, loving bond with someone, and two, they are scared of others exploiting and deliberately hurting them. Sometimes it is a combination of both.

In the first scenario, the person is not used to healthy intimacy and has trust issues. They may not know how to have mutual respect, reciprocity, and power equality—or even what it looks like. They also may not know how to expre…

Q&A: What to Do When Your Close One Is Depressed and Rejects Communication?

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Question

What do I do when my loved one feels depressed and when I try to figure out what’s going on they don’t respond to my messages and don’t pick up the phone?

Answer

It is difficult to tell without knowing more about the situation. Is this how they usually act? Is it related to you or your relationship? How “depressed” are they? Are they simply sad or overwhelmed, or is it more serious, like suicidal, self-sabotaging, or self-harmful thoughts and actions?

If no one’s well-being is in any immediate danger, I think the best way thing to do is simply talk to them when they feel a little better. Approach them with curiosity and empathy. Ask questions, express genuine compassion, be attentive and understanding. Avoid putting your own discontent above their struggles. It’s not about you right now. Understand that they are not doing it to hurt or upset you. They are simply emotionally overwhelmed, and their way of coping with it is to isolate themselves from the world, including you. So …

Respect Towards Children Versus Childism in Daily Interactions

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Disrespectful Treatment of Children

People often forget or lack the empathy to realize that children are human beings too, just smaller. As a result, children are treated disrespectfully, humiliated, controlled, manipulated, and traumatized in a variety of other ways. In this article, I won’t talk about harsher forms of abuse that occur but rather will specifically address two main forms of how children are disrespected in regular interactions on a basic human level.

If you are a relatively healthy person, you treat your fellow human beings with respect. You meet someone, you say hello, you smile back, and so on. Now, since children are smaller than us and have much less life experience, it is easy to forget that they are human beings deserving decent treatment, too—one might argue even more than adults do. And yet, more often than not, children are engaged with as if they are fundamentally inferior.

Such treatment can be separated into two categories:

Scorn. Engaging with a child in…