Who did what now? Modes of Dysfunction and Dissociation

Hello lovely readers =) I hope everyone is having a wonderful morning. I’m starting to feel my energy returning. I have so many little updates and thoughts today but let us start with my research.

“A Dysfunctional schema mode is a facet of the Self involving specific schemas or schema operations that has not been fully integrated with other facets of the self. Schema modes can be characterized by the degree to which a particular schema driven state has become dissociated, or cut off, from an individual’s other modes. A dysfunctional schema mode, therefore, is a part of the self that is cut off to some degree from other aspects of the self”
I really like this description of schema modes. I dissociate to such a strong degree that it puts things in perspective for me to view the various aspects of the self as aspects that aren’t fully attached to each other. For me this really explains why I feel, and seem to others, to be different people at different times, because truly, at different times different aspects of my Self are more prominent than other times when another aspect may be more dominant.
Unsurprisingly this often poses a problem for someone with BPD and their therapists because someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder has an almost overwhelming number of schemas and coping mechanisms. What’s more, is we’re continually shifting from one extreme state or coping mechanism to another. A psychologically healthy person will still have some of these modes, but the sense of a unified identity remains intact, where for someone with BPD it is almost situationally dependent. The modes of a ‘normal’ person will be less dissociated than those for a healthy person. Normal modes are also less rigid, much more flexible and open to change than the modes of someone with a personality disorder.
Time for more grouping. I’ve noticed that groups and categories are abundant in psychological circles. Organization is really important and somewhere in my brain I find all this structure pleasing because it’s easy to break things down and digest things in easily discernible chunks.
Schema therapy identifies 10 schema modes grouped into 4 broad categories: Child modes, Dysfunctional Coping modes, Dysfunctional Parent Modes, and the Healthy adult Mode.
Child Modes:
1. Vulnerable Child – this is where you find that inner Abandoned Child, Abused Child, Deprived Child, or the Rejected Child. This mode is often where most of those core schemas are experienced.
2. Angry Child – this is the part that is enraged about unmet emotional needs and tends to act in anger without regard to consequences.
3. Impulsive/Undisciplined Child – this inner place is where emotions are expressed, desires are acted on, and natural inclinations are followed form moment to moment in a reckless manner, without regard for the consequences to the self or those around you.
4. Happy Child – this is more of a healed state. Or the state that you hope your kids come to naturally as they grow up: where core emotional needs are currently met.
Coping Modes: These directly correlate to the maladaptive coping mechanisms we just talked about.
1. Compliant Surrenderer – This person submits to the schema, becoming once again the passive, helpless child who must give in to others. Who gives in to the coping mechanism and Surrenders to it without thinking about it.
2. Detached Protector – This person withdraws psychologically from the pain of a schema by emotionally detaching, abusing substances, self-stimulating, avoiding people, or utilizing other forms of escape. Avoid, avoid, avoid. Personally I see this in myself more than most others in my day to day life. Therapist often refers to my Detached Protector as a way to shield myself from the hurt and pain that I am afraid is constantly looming.
3. Overcompensator – Here is where the person fights back either by mistreating others or by behaving in extreme ways in an attempt to disprove a schema. By nature of being extreme however, it proves to be dysfunctional.
Dysfunctional Parent Modes: These modes are where a person becomes like the parent that they’ve internalized.
1. Punitive Parent – This parent punishes one of the child modes for being “bad”.
2. Demanding Parent – This parent continually pushes and pressures the child to meet excessively high standards.
I often feel both of these modes. I’ve internalized my father’s voice that constantly pushes me to meet higher and higher standards. Unrelenting. The stress is constant. My Punitive Parent is a bastard. This is what I recognize as the part of me that tells me I’m worthless. In its most extreme this is where I cut and abuse myself. One aspect of my cutting anyways as I have many reasons I’ve do this. I can’t count the times I’ve taken a blade to my skin because I felt I let myself down, did something wrong and deserved to be punished. This has almost an immediate gratification aspect to it at least. The other is pervasive. I’m not sure which is more dangerous.
Healthy Adult Mode:
1.      Yay you’re healed mode! Or at least just as capable of dealing with life in the way your average joe would with a more integrated sense of self. This mode is really the goal of therapy. What you work towards and try to strengthen.  
It’s obvious to me why something as complicated as Borderline Personality Disorder takes so long to really manage. It’s like a battle between different sides of your psyche! When the Punitive Parent takes out their anger on the Vulnerable Child, the Detached Protector jumps to withdraw the person from harm. Each of these aspects presents in their own way and triggers unique dysfunctional coping mechanisms. And that’s just one combination of how the mind interacts with itself. I don’t know about you, but I can see why people need to get degrees in this stuff to really get a handle on it. The mind is intensely involved and not easily dissected.
But we’re gonna try. I’ll be looking at each of these modes more in depth. I can’t say whether this approach is “right” but for me, being able to take a look at each aspect, seeing how I relate to them personally… it at least gives me insight into myself. Understanding is what I’m all about here.

One comment on “Who did what now? Modes of Dysfunction and Dissociation

  1. I definitely am not a "whole" person. My personality is very much split. Not into distinct personalities but depending on the situation/circumstances different aspects of my "self" definitely are more apparent than others. This is why I often am called "fake" by people. If two totally different parts of me collide I don't know what to do or which one to be and freak out which freaks everyone else out which means I end up avoiding people as much as possible just so I don't have to try to figure out who I am suppose to be that day.

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