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Explaining "Shallow" emotions

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Explaining "Shallow" emotions

Postby masquerade » Tue Nov 01, 2011 2:28 pm

When I was growing up, my emotions were not validated. If I cried, I was told that it was babyish, that I looked much prettier when I smiled, and that crying was a sign of mental illness or hysteria. I learnt to bottle up my emotions, not to share them, and not to expect to be heard. I internalised this message and grew up believing that I was somehow bad and unworthy. If my father raged at me, or gaslit me, and I cried, my emotions were not validated. I remember going to my room, sobbing loudly, and there was no one to come into me, hold me, and comfort me. I grew up confused because there were times when things were happy at home, and my parents were loving, kind and humorous and I came to associate these times with stability and security. If I was ill, I was cossetted and I learnt that being ill got me attention. I have told my story many times here on the board and will not go into too much detail here, not because it is painful, but because I have learnt to confront the demons of the past, question the injustice of it all, revisit the pain, the rawness and finally come to understand the impact it had on my personality.

Because I buried all these memories and deep traumas, I could not understand where the pain I felt within came from. Because I learned that laughter and jovility had become associated with the only times when I felt close to my parents, I learned to wear laughter like a sticking plaster, yet somehow remaining aware of the inner pain that was there because my emotions were never validated. At times of stress, even minor stress, I would once again become reminded of the deep inner hurt I felt, and at these times I would let it out. The hurt was powerful, deep and intense, and I would show people glimpses of it to people during what I used to refer to as my "episodes". This would make others feel uncomfortable, and they would assume I was over reacting or being dramatic. I was desperate for someone, anyone, to at least acknowledge my pain and make me feel validated, so I would exagerate the circumstances in order to explain the level of pain I was expressing. Of course this did not work, and so I would put the lid on these emotions again, and return to the emotion I felt most comfortable with, gaiety. Other people would notice this and assume the intense emotion I had been expressing two hours earlier was fake and shallow.

Through therapy I was able to recognise this pattern, and to realise that the seemingly fake and shallow emotions were the expression of a deep and buried hurt - which expressed itself occassionally when the lid came off at times of minor stress.

Therapy has taught me to be congruent about my emotions, to feel them, understand them, and to validate myself. As a result I am much more able to handle stress, and to name and feel the emotions associated with this. The unhealed HPD has not learnt to do this. She has learnt to bury her pain, letting the lid off it in short intense bursts. Because her emotions were never validated, they seem to disappear as quickly as they came. She does seek attention, any type of attention, because she never had the right healthy type of attention that she needed as a child.

She is not born without empathy like a psychopath. She has the capacity for empathy, but because she is so focused upon her inner turmoil, even if she does not consciously know this, she is unable to see things from another's perspective as all of her resources lie within fighting her own internal battles.

I hope that this will help people gain some perspective as to how the histrionic really feels.
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Re: Explaining "Shallow" emotions

Postby Greatexpectations » Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:03 pm

My ex husband is Histrionic, he has no empathy, none. He has 'emotions' but they are all about himself, he laughs easily (to long and too loud) cries easily, too easily, tears can be turned on and off like a tap. His emotions such as they are, are shallow & fleeting.

He is selfish, cruel, and lazy, a infant.

He worshiped his parents he did not see them as abusers. They were in reality narcissists, gaslighters.

I understand what you are saying, I'm sure much of it is true for my ex.
But without any capacity for self awareness he is a lost cause.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
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Re: Explaining "Shallow" emotions

Postby xdude » Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:07 pm

Hi masquerade -

Just some thoughts to open up another angle on this topic.

Okay, so one of the things I observed in my BPD mother, and relationships with (undiagnosed) HPD women is the tendency to feel that relationships are more intimate than they really are. There were some differences in how this was expressed in the women I know, but some similarities as well. What was similar was a belief that someone just met (or not even met in some cases, just seen on TV) was (or could be) a close friend, or even a potential lover.

This came across as 'shallow' to me because emotions so easily given implies that the depth of emotion is triggered by a superficial exchange. But with people close to them, of course we got to see the raging, the pushing, the anger, etc. I'm not sure I've ever fully grasped though how someone could feel so close to a stranger so quickly. For me, a friend, a lover, someone you trust and have deep feelings for takes time to build up to. Likewise people don't get to see much of me but generic friendliness upon first meeting. So to ramp right up to deep friend/lover status implies someone's feelings are shallow. Shallow because if they can so quickly feel that for strangers, that the feelings they have for those who should really be close (family, a husband, etc.) cannot mean much (and sometimes expressed as meaningless when the disordered turns on those who should be close in favor of a new friend/romantic-interest).

It always seemed to me that it was somehow related to multiple aspects of the disorder including:

1.) Splitting, the tendency to paint people as all "white" - idealization of strangers in the mind.

2.) Extremely strong swings in emotions, so that what would be a relatively small degree of feeling friendly/connected in most people is amplified in someone who is disordered.

3.) Lack of empathy - Specifically really not understanding the other person in any depth, nor really caring too, but rather seeing only an idealization in ones own mind which has little to do with the real other person.

4.) The need for validation, another friend/lover implies one is also friend worthy, love worthy, sexy, etc.

5.) A belief in maybe one day, finding "unconditional love" - perhaps the new person just met will be the one to provide that, and because they are new, it's a fresh clean start, no 'black' marks or conditions have been encountered yet.

6.) Confusing sexual interest, and the strong feelings sex invokes, with love.


Is there more to it?
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Re: Explaining "Shallow" emotions

Postby masquerade » Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:50 pm

Children with attachment disorder often show indiscriminate affection for others. I would imagine that in the cases where HPDs view relationships to be more intimate than they are, they could be displaying symptoms related to their earlier attachment patterns. If they have not experienced true parental bonding in early life as a basis from which to assess future relationships, then it would stand to reason that they would not be able to accurately judge levels of intimacy in others.

The overestimation of intimacy would of course be judged as shallow by others, because it is shallow. The HPD has, in many cases, not experienced true depth of affection by her caregivers or significant others as a child. I agree with you about the splitting and the tendency to judge others as being all good or all bad. If a person acknowledges the histrionic, gives them a friendly response, shows them warmth, then the histrionic will in many cases view that person to be all good and idealise them because they have given them a sense of validity. This could cause them to overestimate other aspects of the person and view the relationship to be deeper and more meaningful than it really is.

xdude, you made some very interesting points and observations.
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Re: Explaining "Shallow" emotions

Postby Lourde » Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:57 pm

I constantly feel something for the pain inside, I feel the pain, grief itself ...but when somebody loves me, hug me, then I feel better. Important to understand and maintain
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Re: Explaining "Shallow" emotions

Postby Cpt » Tue Nov 01, 2011 5:08 pm

Well said Masquerade. I always attributed my HPD's inability to deal with stress to a desire to avoid pain at all costs and you expounded on that beautifully.
She is not born without empathy like a psychopath. She has the capacity for empathy, but because she is so focused upon her inner turmoil, even if she does not consciously know this, she is unable to see things from another's perspective as all of her resources lie within fighting her own internal battles.


I think this is right on. I noticed that in the right circumstances my HPD could show understanding for others rejections of her behavior. It was just that when the understanding(empathy) over such behavior would cause her some sort of pain that she would choose not to employ it(i.e. soon after she committed a certain act). But I have seen her falter a few times and show some remorse.

I would liken it to a drug addict. Addiction aside, a drug addict is just a depressed human being. But when craving that fix, all other considerations go out the window. And a HPD is like a severe drug addict in that they are in a near-constant state of withdrawal and empathy is underdeveloped.
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Re: Explaining "Shallow" emotions

Postby xdude » Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:14 pm

masquerade wrote:Children with attachment disorder often show indiscriminate affection for others. I would imagine that in the cases where HPDs view relationships to be more intimate than they are, they could be displaying symptoms related to their earlier attachment patterns. If they have not experienced true parental bonding in early life as a basis from which to assess future relationships, then it would stand to reason that they would not be able to accurately judge levels of intimacy in others.


Ah! Okay, this is the feeling that I don't relate to well if it all.

My response to lack of parental attachment was to withdraw and hide, to keep others at a distance. Still thinking back I do remember feeling far too much emotion over a few women that did not have reciprocal feelings. I suppose in my mind I thought of this as good old infatuation, very strong infatuation, but just infatuation. I'd feel that way about no more than one woman at a time, those were spaced apart by weeks/months, even years in some cases, but I was also immature to have feelings like that for someone who didn't feel the same for me. See in my mind that my feelings remained for as long as they did, felt like they were not shallow/easily given or easily tossed aside. I've since grown out of that and just don't feel those kind of feelings for someone who isn't reciprocating them. Much better ;)

Still, I can't relate to quickly emotionally attaching to many other people or quickly losing emotional interest in one person in favor of another, so I doubt I'll ever have any intuitive sense for how someone else like that feels, but I can take it on intellectual faith that some people do think/feel/cope that way.
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Re: Explaining "Shallow" emotions

Postby masquerade » Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:43 pm

I would imagine that it would also depend upon whether or not the parents were always physically available in addition to their emotional availabilty. If a child's parents are not physically there due to illness, work, separation, death and the child experiences a lack of consistency of care for whatever reason and is frequently handed over to a series of other people for caregiving, they would then possibly exhibit indiscriminate attachment patterns, and readily switch their affections to whoever was available at the time. If a child only experiences emotional unavailability, then they might only withdraw or pursue unattainable partners in later life.

I have also reacted in similar ways to you, seeking validation or attention from unavailable men. I seemed to switch between the two ways of reacting, and perhaps this is because my parents were frequently not physically there for me, as well as being emotionally invalidating.
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Re: Explaining "Shallow" emotions

Postby xdude » Tue Nov 01, 2011 7:29 pm

masquerade -

That's a very interesting theory! My parents were definitely present, but I yes, I've never experienced what it is like to grow up in a household where one or both are frequently absent, replaced, etc. I could definitely see how that kind of environment could have a profound impact on how a person feels about, and attaches to others.
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