SCHEMA DOMAIN - Disconnection & Rejection
Abandonment / Instability
“Please don’t leave me.” The perceived instability or unreliability of those available for support and connection. Involves the sense that significant others will not be able to continue providing emotional support, connection, strength, or practical protection because they are emotionally unstable and unpredictable (e.g. angry outbursts), unreliable, or erratically present; because they will die imminently; or because they will abandon the patient in favour of someone better. They have a sense of despair about love & believe no matter how good things seem, in the end the relationship is doomed. The origins are preverbal, beginning in the first years of life and has tremendous emotional force. In adulthood there may be no thoughts connected to the schema. The Maladaptive Schema is triggered by intimate relationships. So can stay alone for long periods of time, process of loss more devastating than loneliness. Often linked to other schemas, particularly Dependence.
Feelings: when triggered: grief, fear, anger; then panic, anxiousness, depressed, lonely, jealous Also they may feel subjugated, dependent or defective (other schemas)
Behaviours: Clingy, controlling, manipulative, chronic worry
Core Cognitive Distortion: Catastrophizing
Origin: preverbal, Interaction between *Environment & Biology. Biological predisposition to a separation anxiety: Temperament - insecure/ambivalent attachment style (Ainsworth) / anxious attachment style (Bowlby). *Loss of parent /separation from parent at an early age by death or Divorce; Parent/s or family environment unstable. Absence of the maternal figure – too busy, succession of nannies, loss of parental attention in a significant way– parent remarried or sibling born.
Mistrust / Abuse
“I can’t trust you.” The expectation that others will hurt, abuse, humiliate, cheat, lie, manipulate, or take advantage. Usually involves the perception that the harm is intentional or the result of unjustified and extreme negligence. May include the sense that one always ends up being cheated relative to others or “getting the short end of the stick.” They are guarded & suspicious, thus find it difficult to trust, especially those closest to them. Relationships are viewed as dangerous & unpredictable. Often significant others were abusive emotionally or sexually and betrayed the child's trust & they lived in a constant state of fear. Child’s innocence & trust betrayed and the secrecy was another form of guilt & shame. Abuser blames the child and the child accepts the blame.
Feelings: pain, fear, rage, grief. The feelings are intense and simmer near the surface, feels ‘unsafe’. Abuse creates powerful feelings of defectiveness. Dissociated.
Behaviours: volatile moods, hypervigilant – constantly on guard. Typical behaviours include victim & abuser behaviour, or saviour of other abused people. Often come across as paranoid; perpetually setting up tests & gathering evidence to determine whether people are worthy or not.
Core Cognitive Distortion: All-or-Nothing Thinking, Personalisation
Origin: arises from child abuse.
“I’ll never get the love I need.” The expectation that one’s desire for a normal degree of emotional support will not be adequately met by others. It feels “like there is something is missing”. The neglected child; aloneness, nobody there - a sad and heavy sense of knowledge that (they) are designed to be alone. They do not expect other people to nurture, understand or protect them. The three major forms of deprivation are: [1.] Deprivation of Nurturance: Absence of attention, affection, warmth, or companionship [2.} Deprivation of Empathy: Absence of understanding, listening, self-disclosure, or mutual sharing of feelings from others. [3.] Deprivation of Protection: Absence of strength, direction, or guidance from others. This schema is harder to define than other schemas as source began before language development. Most common schema yet the hardest to detect.
Feelings: disconnection, emptiness, craving – never satisfied, feel misunderstood and alone in the world, lonely, bitter, depressed (vague unclear symptoms)
Behaviours: not asking significant others for what they need emotionally; not expressing a desire for love and comfort; focusing on another but not saying anything about self; acting stronger than one feels underneath; in other ways reinforcing the deprivation by acting as though they do not have emotional needs. Also can be demanding in relationships; emotionally needy; clingy or helpless; psychosomatic symptoms. Because the client does not expect emotional support, they do not ask for it & subsequently, usually do not get it.
Core Cognitive Distortion: All-or-Nothing Thinking, Overgeneralisation
Origin: Received less than needed nurturance from their attachment figure (usually the mother) as an infant/toddler. Attachment figure was emotionally depriving. Results from the absence of certain nurturing behaviours from parent/s (usually attachment figure) during childhood.
Defensiveness / Shame
“I’m worthless.” The feeling that one is defective, bad, unwanted, inferior, or invalid in important respects or that one would be unlovable to significant others if exposed. May involve hypersensitivity to criticism, rejection, and blame; self-consciousness, comparisons, and insecurity around others; or a sense of shame regarding one’s perceived flaws. These flaws may be private (e.g., selfishness, angry impulses, unacceptable sexual desires) or public (e.g., undesirable physical appearance, social awkwardness). Chronic feeling of shame about who they are. Eating disorders, some types of personality disorders and substance abuse have origins in this schema.
Feelings: shame, defectiveness, unlovable, worthless, bad, inferior, flawed, inadequate, insecure, self-conscious, “to blame”, instead of anger – ashamed & sad, and sometimes can feel jealous & competitive.
Behaviours: devalues themselves & allowing others to devalue them. Allow others to mistreat & abuse them. Hypersensitive to criticism or rejection & react very strongly either by becoming sad, downcast or angry - depending on their schema coping style. Choose critical partners or are critical of people who love them. Avoids intimate relationships or social situations or alternative engages in grandiosity & adopts unrelenting standards.
Core Cognitive Distortion: Emotional Reasoning
Origin: comes from feeling unlovable or not respected as a child; repeatedly rejected or criticised by one or both parents. The typical family of origin: critical demeaning and punitive; cold & rejecting; demeaning.
Social Isolation / Alienation
“I don’t fit in.” The feeling that one is isolated from the rest of the world, different from other people, and/or not part of any group or community: “On the outside looking in”. They may feel rejected in social situations or a disconnection – feelings of isolation. Anyone who grows up feeling different might develop this schema. This belief is usually caused by experiences in which children see that either they, or their families, are different from other people. Often developed during adolescence. People with this schema may present themselves as odd, eccentric, or aloof. Avoidance is their primary means of coping with schema. Limits career choices & advancement.
Feelings: loneliness, psychosomatic symptoms, insomnia, depression, shame, feelings of inferiority.
Behaviours: Staying on the periphery or avoiding groups altogether. Tend to engage in solitary activities. Most “loners” have this schema. Depending on severity, client may be part of a subculture but still feel alienated from the larger social world; they may feel alienated from all groups but may have some intimate relationships, or may be disconnected form virtually everyone.
Core Cognitive Distortion: automatic negative thoughts (relevant ones need to be explored)
Origin: Anyone who grows up feeling different might develop the schema. E.g., gifted children, those from famous families, people with great physical beauty or ugliness, children of alcoholic, gay people, members of ethnic minorities, trauma survivors, people with physical disabilities, orphans, adoptees & people who belong to a significantly higher or lower economic class than those around them. Sometimes overcritical parents can foster social exclusion. Also related to Dependence and Subjugation schemas.