This brings us right back to that basic Nature vs. Nurture argument; early life experiences and emotional temperament.
Toxic experiences early in life tend to create the strongest early maladaptive schemas. That’s not to say that some don’t develop later in life, they certainly do, they just don’t tend to be as pervasive.
There are four types of early life experiences that contribute to the development of schemas.
1.) Toxic frustration of needs. This happens when a child experiences to too little of a good thing and acquires schemas through deficits in the early environment. What’s missing is something important such as stability, understanding, or love. These are the Emotional Deprivation or Abandonment schemas.
2.) The second type revolves around traumatization or victimization. Here is when a child is harmed or victimized and develops schemas such as Mistrust/Abuse, Defectiveness/Shame, or Vulnerability to Harm.
3.) Too much of a good thing. This is when a parent provides too much of something that, in moderation, is healthy for a child. The child is rarely mistreated but this is where Dependence/Incompetence or Entitlement/Grandiosity come into play. Every need is indulged and core emotional needs for autonomy or realistic limits are not met.
4.) Selective internalization or identification with significant others. Here a child will selectively identify with and internalize the parent’s thoughts, feelings, experiences, and behaviors.
Temperament partly determines whether an individual identifies with and internalizes the characteristics of those significant to them. Every person has a unique and distinct personality or temperament from birth. Different temperaments selectively expose children to different life circumstances. Likewise, extremely favorable or aversive environment can override emotional temperament to a significant degree as well. A safe, loving environment might make even a shy child quite friendly while an early environment of rejection can make a sociable child very withdrawn. In the same way an extreme emotional temperament can override an ordinary environment and create pathologies without apparent justification. It’s a mix, exclusive to each individual person or child.
So what are the Schemas? There are 18 of them. Each of which are grouped into 5 broader categories called schema domains.
Disconnection and Rejection
3. Emotional Deprivation
5. Social Isolation/Alienation
Impaired Autonomy and Performance
7. Vulnerability to Harm or Illness
8. Enmeshment/Undeveloped Self
11. Insufficient Self-Control/Self-Discipline
Over vigilance and Inhibition
16. Emotional Inhibition
17. Unrelenting Standards/Hypercriticalness
Tomorrow I’ll elaborate on why/how each schema fits into its particular domain and from there we’ll jump into exactly what each schema entails.
I’m taking things slow for the moment. Mostly because I’m having an extremely difficult time readjusting to my daily routines. Sometimes I forget how important my self-imposed structure is. My daily routines make it easier for me to get through each day. I know what I need to do, when I need to do it, and I know what follows. I can slip into an auto pilot mode and just get going. Once that has been shifted and upheaved, it feels a little like trying to trudge through molasses. My brain and my body just want to fight going in any direction at all. I get stuck. The prospect of the next thing is scary. What comes beyond that is worse, unknown. Knowing what comes next is reassuring. It helps me move past the moment I’m in so I don’t cling to the comfort that is right now.