SCHEMA DOMAIN: Impaired Autonomy & Performance
Dependence & Incompetence
“I can’t make it on my own.” Often feels child-like and helpless (frightened) and experience life as overwhelming; cannot cope. Hate and fear of facing change alone. Lacks faith in their decisions or judgments. Hold the belief that one is unable to handle one’s everyday responsibilities in a competent manner, without considerable help from others (e.g., take care of oneself, solve daily problems, exercise good judgment, tackle new tasks, make good decisions). Because they exaggerate potential negative outcomes, these individuals are frequently characterized by chronic worry, vigilance, complaining, or indecision.
Feelings: fear, incompetence, anxiety, phobic avoidance, stress-induced physical problems & depression.
Behaviours: asking others for help; constantly asking questions; repeatedly seeking advice about decisions; difficulty traveling alone & managing finances on own; giving up easily; refusing responsibilities; avoiding new tasks. Difficulty driving is a metaphor for this schema.
Core Cognitive Distortion: “I am incompetent; therefore I must depend on others”. Believe they cannot survive on their own.
Origin: Typical family origin is enmeshed, undermining of child's confidence, overprotective, or failing to reinforce child for performing competently outside the family. [1.]Parents overprotected and/or undermined them in childhood; parents made all the decision for them [2.]Parents under-protective; (over-compensator: pseudo-mature child who has grown up too soon) thus had to function at a level beyond their years.
Enmeshment & Underdeveloped Self
Excessive emotional involvement and closeness with one or more significant others (often parents) at the expense of full individuation or normal social development. Often involves the belief that at least one of the enmeshed individuals cannot survive or be happy without the constant support of the other. May also include feelings of being smothered by or fused with others or insufficient individual identity. Often experienced as a feeling of emptiness and foundering, having no direction, or in extreme cases questioning one’s existence. Both parts of schema often, but not always, go together – they can have one without the other.
Feelings: Enmeshed; when trying to separate from parent they feel guilt. Underdeveloped Self; lack of individual identity, emptiness, drifting through the world without direction.
Behaviours: copying behaviours of the parental figure, talking & thinking about him/her, staying in constant contact & suppressing all thoughts, feelings & behaviours that are discrepant from the parent figure.
Origin: Typical family origin is enmeshed, undermining of child's confidence, overprotective, or failing to reinforce child for performing competently outside the family.
“I feel like such a failure.” The belief that one has failed, will inevitably fail, or is fundamentally inadequate relative to one’s peers in areas of achievement (school, career, sports, etc.). Often involves beliefs that one is stupid, inept, untalented, lower in status, less successful than others, & so forth. Their achievement level is lower than their potential, thus their outward status often matches their inner sense of failure. If they overcompensate & have achieved success, they feel fraudulent. Failure is reinforced by avoidance behaviours. Often linked to other schemas.
Feelings: Fraudulent, ‘like an imposter’; defective, ‘like a failure’ believe they have done worse than most others (peer/work/profession), & often they are right; humiliated; depressed, shame.
Behaviours: sabotaging themselves, performing half-heartedly, avoidance behaviours- procrastinating or not doing tasks at all. Overcompensating behaviours; working non-stop or otherwise overachieving. Failure becomes a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
Core Cognitive Distortion: exaggerate negative and minimise the positive.
Origin: Critical parent/s; compared with sibling unfavourably.
Often linked to other schemas: Unrelenting Standards (parents very successful) /Emotional Deprivation (parents did not care) / Dependence (parents competitive with or afraid of losing the child) / Social Exclusion (not as good as or felt inferior to other children) / Entitlement (not set limits).
Vulnerability to Harm or Illness
“Catastrophe is about to strike.” Exaggerated fear that imminent catastrophe will strike at any time and that one will be unable to prevent it. Fears focus on one or more of the following: (A) Medical catastrophes (e.g., heart attacks, AIDS); (B) Emotional catastrophes (e.g., going crazy); (C) External catastrophes (e.g., elevators collapsing, victimization by criminals, airplane crashes, earthquakes).(D) Poverty; unrealistic afraid of going broke and ending up on the streets. They exaggerate the risk of danger and minimize their own capacity to cope.
Feelings: anxiety, fear, panic attacks, worry
Behaviours: avoidance or overcompensation. They become phobic, restrict their lives, perform compulsive rituals & rely on “safety signals”, controlling money.
Core Cognitive Distortion: Catastrophizing
Origin: Having a parent who modeled the schema – instilling in the child that the world is an unsafe place. Typical family origin is enmeshed, undermining of child's confidence, overprotective, or failing to reinforce child for performing competently outside the family.