Our partner

CBT and unconscious thoughts or conditioning

CBT message board, open discussion, and online support group.

Re: CBT and unconscious thoughts or conditioning

Postby carlsaganfan » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:27 am

millipete,
thank you for your thoughtful reply. your experience with your therapist today is one that i have encountered before. with me, however, my vulcan-like shield is known to break down from time to time and send me back looking for yet another therapist.

you hit the nail on the head... Spock is my favorite star trek character because i can so totally identify... spock is ideal in my mind. i think in terms of spreadsheets and data, everything gets processed this way. I can't seem to write a single email without putting it into bullet points. it drives me insane that people can get away with misspelled headlines on our corporate intranet!

but something is changing now. there is a fundamental shift since i have been learning (trying to) meditation and reading about trauma. my mind has decided it is time for me to look back and recognize what really happened nearly 30 years ago, something that was nothing but a pinpoint on the horizon of my past. my mind has overestimated what i can deal with, and underestimated the strength that emotion can have.

i am committed to finding the help i need because if i don't, i will not be able to continue to function. i went to work today and sat there from 9 until 7, only got up to pee once, completely lost in my work. when i finally tore myself away i was fighting tears all the way home.

i don't know why i'm telling you all this, i just needed to get it out i guess. spock doesn't know what to do with all this emotion. :-\
Time is an illusion.
PAY ATTENTION!
carlsaganfan
Consumer 3
Consumer 3
 
Posts: 71
Joined: Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:22 am
Local time: Wed Jun 26, 2019 8:45 am
Blog: View Blog (3)


ADVERTISEMENT

Re: CBT and unconscious thoughts or conditioning

Postby MilliPete » Tue Oct 08, 2013 10:32 am

We seem to be in a similar situation, or our situations seem to have lots of parallels, and we both seem to be at a turning point. Your postings are helping me a lot here. I will write about myself now because I don't want to insinuate things about you which might be wrong. So this posting will sound horribly egocentric, but what I write here is meant for exchange and for you to see if you find something you can relate to in it.

carlsaganfan wrote:millipete,
thank you for your thoughtful reply. your experience with your therapist today is one that i have encountered before. with me, however, my vulcan-like shield is known to break down from time to time and send me back looking for yet another therapist.

What do you mean by that? Does your shield break down in therapy and you leave therapy and look for another therapist? Or is it that your shield breaks down occasionally, causing you to look for therapy and when you're there, the shield is up again?

carlsaganfan wrote:you hit the nail on the head... Spock is my favorite star trek character because i can so totally identify... spock is ideal in my mind. i think in terms of spreadsheets and data, everything gets processed this way. I can't seem to write a single email without putting it into bullet points. it drives me insane that people can get away with misspelled headlines on our corporate intranet!

I love bullets, too. Now about Spock... one thing made me wonder a couple of years ago when I read about it. There is indeed a neurological condition which makes people have no emotions, usually caused by an accident or stroke. The effects, however, are not Spock-ish at all. These people are just indifferent to the world around them and can almost not be motivated to do anything and just sit around without any drive to do anything, they need to be pushed by staff to do anything at all and cannot live independently. The real-world Spocks are poor, helpless devils who at least don't really feel much suffering.

This was a very revealing read to me as it showed that I probably have tons of emotions, much more than I thought, but have shielded them away from myself so I am mostly blind to them. As without emotions, I would also lack the drive to do anything at all. (I do not remember the name of this neurological condition.)

So if emotions are the fuel for action, and for motivation to act, it does not seem to be such an ideal situation anymore that me, the "MilliPete engine", I run on fuel which I don't even want to know what kind of fuel it is, and then I wonder why the engine makes weird things sometimes, and I cannot even remotely predict which routes might cause trouble, or when trouble might come up. And at the same time, I fool myself by believing that my miracle engine runs without fuel. (The engine-fuel metaphor has its limits, as fuel does not want you to get to A instead of B or stuff like that, plus you cannot control what kind of emotional fuel comes into your machine.)

This "vulcanisation" of myself has turned out to be an impasse, and to cost me a lot. It makes me clueless about myself, about why I interact the way I do with others and the world around me, about what I really want and don't want to do with my life, about when I am happy and when I am not, and about what makes me happy, what makes me sad etc. It even seems to me that in many respects, I am somewhat stuck in child or teenage age as a lot of learning could not happen for so long ("X makes me sad ---> I'll avoid X"). Which has been very hard to admit for me as I prefer the self-image of being this wise, rational, mature, thoughtful Vulcanian guy. At least, the emotional shielding has never been perfect, so I have not been completely "frozen" all the time. As I am somewhat blind to my own emotional feedback, I also tend to unknowingly manoeuvre myself into bad situations, do stuff which makes me feel bad, and yes, to fall into depression which is the ghostly, lifeless wishy-washy brother of sadness, emptiness and despair.

There is also another side to it. It is not always that I despise my emotions and don't want them at all. I have also tried to manipulate them a lot - "what you cannot get rid of, at least control it". And also had periods in my life where I had to do this in my job (I worked at a call-center - I tell you carlsaganfan, never do that, it takes a huge toll on dealing with emotions for vulcanians, too). If I try to, I can even push myself into a kind of happyness frenzy unrelated to the actual situation. The underlying real feelings are shielded away then. With enough experience, this pushing myself up became automatic so this also occurs when my real feelings are happyness too. A bit like the bulimic who started vomiting on her own using techniques, but after some time did not have control over her vomiting anymore and it happened against her will.

I know the origins of my issues. My feelings got devaluated and ridiculed as a child, I was expected to feel happy and was scorned when I did not, and I was expected to do and like certain things and not like others, and emotionally blackmailed to "be" a certain kind of person so I hid myself and my feelings away. So I got interrogated as something seemed fishy there, and asked to say my problems and worries, with the promise that they would help me, and then I was shouted at when I admitted the problems or blackmailed into having a bad conscience for daring to say them, so I learned to say whatever was needed to stop the interrogation without getting hurt. Later I got mobbed at school, the mobbers wanted to squeeze emotional reactions out of me as a trophy but I shielded them away as well as I could so they did not get this triumph. A few other nasty things happened as well.

I suppose in my case the key for healing can be found here, finding a new perspective on these traumatic events, finding a place for them or whatever, and learn how to trust and how to feel feelings. I can only write about it here in this forum because most people here live thousands of miles away and I'll never meet them. Ironically, the trust issue comes in my way for therapy, and also my disconnection to my feelings, so I must find another solution.

No wonder I got the "bipolar diagnosis" in psychiatry after a break-down due to very stressful events, as indeed I show the symptoms, most of the DSM bullet points. However, with my way of blunting certain feelings and manipulating and reinforcing other feelings, this effect was to be expected. I tapered off medication as it just makes me very tired and makes it easier to blunt and ignore my feelings - which was appealing to the more immature side of me but not to the mature side. And I don't think the "chemical imbalance causes it" theory works in my case, it's rather me who creates these imbalances. My therapist thinks that I am in denial, but little does she know.

Okay, back on topic: CBT
Now imagine me in a CBT scenario. Background story and past is not important, can be taken into account but that's not the point here. Great for me to avoid dealing with these traumatic things in therapy, and to avoid working on my trust issues, and to avoid working on what makes me function in such a weird way emotionally, and to avoid working on what makes me slide into emotional extremes and how to do it differently.

Instead, trying to figure out what current-day-situation causes which emotions. And trying to change thinking and actions in order to change emotions. But I have two layers of emotions, one overground and one hidden beneath a shield - and this CBT stuff would deal with the overground one as I don't have a clue what's underneath. And that's what I have been trying to do my whole life. Then learning these CBT skills to change emotions. Which in my case would mean manipulating the overground emotion as I cannot figure out the hidden emotion and it therefore does not come into account here - this would just be perfectioning the very same skill which brought me into trouble in the first place. I need to connect to my emotions first, and not start by trying to change them.

Also, I know that CBT is not such a sick ###$ like positive thinking or motivational seminars, which I had in the call-center, but I don't manage to draw the line between both and tend to mix both things up. Then me, with my trauma-caused habit of trying to fake the expected results so I can be left alone hiding my real feelings. The more systematic control, emotional diary etc., the more I cheat. It's silly, but I currently cannot help myself doing so, and it is worse if it's not only for myself but if another person sees it too. Plus these methods of controlling and documenting remind me a lot of the call-center, where I ended up having this mental breakdown, coming to psychiatry and getting this bipolar diagnosis. I don't object using CBT techniques but it should at most remain an add-on in my case, used with a lot of caution.

In psychiatry, many other patients told me that the CBT techniques helped them a lot. But these people seemed to have slightly different issues. Panic attacks, generalized fear. Or they were depressive housewifes whose kids had left home a couple of years ago, leaving them in a lonely and quiet house without really knowing what to do with their lives, falling more and more into despair and succombing to the feeling that they have no meanings in their lives and ruminating more and more until suicide knocks at the door. Or divorced ladies. Or all at once. Often, underlying traumas. But their problem did not seem to be so much a vulcanian/emotional self-manipulation one, instead more like feeling clearly overwhelmed with emotions and not being able to distance themselves from the feelings or analyzing them.

Maybe CBT is better if the main problem is that you are visibly caught in "inappropriate" emotions and don't know how to deal with them and feel you are being completely controlled by your emotions. And less useful if the main problem is that you need to learn how to detect and notice and embrace your emotions in the first place. CBT is somewhat judgemental of emotions, tries to give a certain control over them, diminish some and foster others. I think this should not be the first step for us vulcanians, we have tried to control them too much anyway. Imagine you land on a new planet, meet aliens. Would you first try to subjugate and control them, or first try to come to know them, who they are, how they live and function?

And I think even if it's possible to make a kind of CBT which is not into manipulating emotions but more into learning how to feel them, there still is this trap to avoid if you have been busy all your life trying to stuff away feelings or trying to control them.

carlsaganfan wrote:but something is changing now. there is a fundamental shift since i have been learning (trying to) meditation and reading about trauma. my mind has decided it is time for me to look back and recognize what really happened nearly 30 years ago, something that was nothing but a pinpoint on the horizon of my past. my mind has overestimated what i can deal with, and underestimated the strength that emotion can have.

I think I get what you mean. Can be quite humiliating to see how much events 30 years ago can still have an impact especially if one has tried all the time to prove to oneself that one has gotten over it. Vulcanians don't cry.

carlsaganfan wrote:i am committed to finding the help i need because if i don't, i will not be able to continue to function. i went to work today and sat there from 9 until 7, only got up to pee once, completely lost in my work. when i finally tore myself away i was fighting tears all the way home.

Seems like your emotions are breaking through. I think thats okay, but it's very tough to deal with.

carlsaganfan wrote:i don't know why i'm telling you all this, i just needed to get it out i guess. spock doesn't know what to do with all this emotion. :-\

Yeah, nasty beasts...
User avatar
MilliPete
Consumer 2
Consumer 2
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon May 20, 2013 10:58 am
Local time: Wed Jun 26, 2019 3:45 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: CBT and unconscious thoughts or conditioning

Postby carlsaganfan » Fri Oct 11, 2013 2:03 am

millitpete, i really wanted to respond to this earlier. i read it night before last i think, and i wanted to reply but just too tired, and did not log back on until now.

yeah cbt is not going to work on cerebral types. i read about cbt and immediately decided it would not work for me. i don't need help with how i ACT, or even with my thinking, but dbt seems much more likely to work for me because it seems (if my interpretation is anywhere close) to focus on what do DO with these overwhelming emotions, how to manage them while i'm addressing the trauma that caused them. i think as a high functioning BPD i have become skilled due to a lifetime of squelching emotion. it's second nature to me to paste on a smile and plow through the work day even when i'm screaming and crying inside. i don't need help with how to act, i am the most excellent actor, i would not have a job right now if i wasn't.
Time is an illusion.
PAY ATTENTION!
carlsaganfan
Consumer 3
Consumer 3
 
Posts: 71
Joined: Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:22 am
Local time: Wed Jun 26, 2019 8:45 am
Blog: View Blog (3)

Previous

Return to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy




  • Related articles
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests