Off with Her Head! – Punitiveness

Despite the hiccups of last night I will not be deterred from finishing this last schema. Yay the last one! Going through each one of these has definitely given me a lot of insight into the method behind my madness. I hope you’ve taken something away from it as well. Now. Onto the last (very appropriate) schema!
Punitiveness
Typical Presentation of the Schema
These people believe that people – including themselves – should be harshly punished for their mistakes. They present as moralistic and intolerant, and find it extremely difficult to forgive mistakes in other people or in themselves. They believe that, rather than forgiveness, people who make mistakes deserve punishment. No excuses are permitted. People with this schema display an unwillingness to consider extenuating circumstances. They do not allow for human imperfection, and they have difficulty feeling any empathy whatsoever for a person who does something they view as bad or wrong. These people lack the quality of mercy.
This schema is a HUGE problem for me. However for me it is almost entirely self-directed. I forgive and allow for “imperfections” and mistakes in everyone around me…. But not for myself. Not ever. I have no mercy on myself. I absolutely allow for extenuating circumstances for others. After all, no one can control everything! Except I should have somehow foreseen these things and made contingencies in the eventuality that something went wrong. I allow for other peoples mistakes because I’m afraid of losing them. If I’m kind and understanding they won’t feel bad and need to leave me. I know I’m not going anywhere though. And if I don’t do things right, I won’t be good enough, worth enough, and that might be enough to make someone not want to stay. So I have to push myself. Sometimes that push needs to be more of a shove.  
Ok, one addendum. I can reach a snapping point with other people too (I mean obviously). Even I have my limits. When Evil-Ex would pull his manipulative, abusive bullshit I reached a point where I could no longer forgive him, and frankly, believed he deserved to be strung up by the balls. I don’t think this is undeserved though. It takes an extraordinarily long time for me to reach this point. I absorb a lot. Once I have though, the split is pretty complete and I have no more tolerance for anything they do at all.
The best way to detect this schema is by the punitive, blaming tone of voice these people use when someone has made a mistake, whether they are speaking about other people or about themselves. The origin of this punitive tone of voice is almost always a blaming parent who spoke in the same tone of voice. The tone conveys the implacable necessity of exacting punishment. It is the voice of the “fire and brimstone” preacher: heartless, cold, and contemptuous. It lacks softness and compassion. It is a voice that will not be satisfied until the wrongdoer has been punished. There is also the sense that the penalty the person wants to exact is too sever – that the punishment is greater than the crime. Like the Red Queen (Gah! This is wrong! The Red Queen and The Queen of Hearts are two different characters! It’s the Queen of Hearts that shouts this!) in Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland, shouting, “Off with his head!” for every minor infraction, the schema is undiscriminating and extreme.
My father would yell at me all the time ‘Girl! Watch that sharp tongue of yours’. He would tell me on an almost daily basis that my tone of voice was harsh and negative. I worked to successfully change this, but when I’m angry it slips right back into place.
Punitiveness is often linked to other schemas, especially Unrelenting Standards and Defectiveness. When patients have unrelenting standards and punish themselves for not meeting them, as opposed to simply feeling imperfect, they have both the Unrelenting Standards and Punitiveness schemas. When they feel defective and punish themselves for it, as opposed to simply feeling depressed or inadequate, they have both the Defectiveness and Punitiveness schemas. Most people with Borderline Personality Disorder have both Defectiveness and Punitiveness schemas: They feel bad whenever the feel defective, and they want to punish themselves for being bad. They have internalized their Punitive Parent as a mode, and they punish themselves for being defective, just as the parent used to punish them: They yell at themselves, cut themselves, starve themselves, or otherwise mete out punishment.
Trifecta! I have all three. Tell her what she’s won Johnny! Well Miss Haven, you’ve won a faaaaaabulous vacation to the depths of your own inner most hell … and because we like you so much we’ll throw in this box of razor blades as an added bonus!
Hey, at least I have a sense of humor.
Punishment. Punish myself. I feel the need to punish myself ALL the time. I’ve mentioned before that one of the reasons I cut and burn is because I feel like I have failed at something I believe I need to do. Or to keep me on track so that I don’t slip. I also cut because I believe I am a bad person and deserve to be punished. It is also motivation to be better. I berate myself, {used to} cut, starve, deny myself pleasurable activities, seclude myself from the supports I need, and I’m sure a number of other things that I just don’t have the mental capacity to recall at the moment.
Last night was the first time in a very long time that I had a nearly undeniable urge to cut (I didn’t. I restrained myself and didn’t give in to the impulse < — see,  progress). I should have known better than to let another guy into my life. Every time I tell myself I won’t allow it, won’t get close… and every time I forget. At least it’s not as bad this time. I haven’t let him get very close, and I’m not too attached yet. Believe it or not I still have a lot of distance between him and my heart. Everything just feels amplified with BPD. Sometimes a harsh reminder (read: punishment) is enough to keep that lesson clearly etched into my skin brain.
Goals of Treatment
The fundamental goal is to help people become less punitive and more forgiving, toward both themselves and others. To start it is important to learn that most of time there is little value in punishing people. Punishment is not an effective way to change behavior, particularly when compared to other methods, such as rewarding good behavior or modeling.
Each time a person expresses the desire to punish someone, it’s important to ask these questions:
“Were the person’s intentions good or bad? If the person’s intentions were good, doesn’t that count for something? Doesn’t the person deserve some forgiveness? If the person’s intentions were good, then how will punishment help? Isn’t the person likely to repeat the behavior when you’re not there to see? Even if the person behaves better next time, isn’t the cost too high? The punishment will have undermined the relationship and the person’s self-esteem. Is that what you want?” These questions guide people to discover that punishment is not the most beneficial approach.
People work toward building empathy and forgiveness for human beings in all their frailty and imperfection. They learn to consider extenuating circumstances and to have a balanced response when someone makes an error or fails to meet their expectations.
Ok, I have my abandonment fears theory. Why is it SO much harder to forgive myself than it is to forgive someone else? I’ve taken so much abuse from other people; you’d think the one person I could expect a little sympathy from would be myself.
Strategies Emphasized in Treatment
Cognitive strategies are important in building people’s motivation to change. The main strategy is educational: People explore the advantages and disadvantages of punishment versus forgiveness. They list both the consequences of punishing a person (or themselves) and of being more forgiving and encouraging the person to reflect on the behavior. Exploring the advantages and disadvantages helps the person accept intellectually that punishment is not an effective way to deal with mistakes. Becoming convinced on a cognitive level that the cost of the schema is greater than the benefit can help strengthen the persons resolve to battle the schema.
Because the schema is almost always the internalization of a parent’s Punitiveness schema, much experiential work focuses on externalizing and fighting the Punitive Parent mode. In imagery, people picture the parent talking to them in the punitive tone of voice. They talk back to the parent, saying, “I’m not going to list to you anymore. I’m not going to believe you anymore. You’re wrong, and you’re not good for me.” Doing imagery work with the Punitive Parent gives a person a way to distance from the schema and to make it feel less ego-syntonic. Rather than hearing the punitive voice of the schema as their own voice, they hear it as their parent’s voice. People can say to themselves: “This is not my voice that is punishing me; this is my parent’s voice. Punishment wasn’t healthy for me in childhood, and I’m not going to punish other people (or myself) anymore, especially the people I love.”
My problem here is, I don’t remember my parents yelling much at all; at least not until I was in middle school and high school. Then we SCREAMED at each other almost every day. My self-punishment started well before this. But when I was younger I just can’t recall. I don’t have a lot of memories from that age though so maybe. I do remember being spanked as a kid every now and again, but that was pretty rare and only for the bigger transgressions. I don’t think that would be enough to spark this. Then again, I can’t say either way.
The aim of behavioral strategies is to practice more forgiving responses in situations where people have urges to blame themselves or others. By practicing this they can compare whether the consequences match their dire predictions.
I don’t know how to forgive myself. I always feel like it’s my fault if something goes wrong because I put myself in that position. If a bad thing happens I have no one to blame but myself (even if it was someone else that hurt me < — I know this is faulty logic). I’m not even sure I see the point of forgiving myself. Will that help me make better decisions in the future? No. It would just feel like I’m not taking responsibility for my actions.
Special Problems with This Schema
This can be a difficult schema to change, particularly when it is combined with the Defectiveness schema. The person’s sense of moral indignation and injustice can be very inflexible. Maintaining the person’s motivation to change is the key to treatment. It’s important to stay focused on the costs and the benefits of the schema in terms of improved self-esteem and more harmonious interpersonal relationships.
My inner monologue is a capital B-I-T-C-H. < —- This is the more polite word I was thinking of actually. As bad as some people believe Borderlines are to others, that’s nothing compared to how bad we can be to ourselves. The way I treat myself is magnitudes worse than how I treat anyone else.
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