Where do Broken Toys Come From? – Defectiveness/Shame

Let’s explore a new Schema today. It’s rather fitting as I’ve been mired in this all morning. I hate it.
Typical Presentation of the Schema
People with this schema believe that they are defective, flawed, inferior, bad, worthless, or unlovable. Consequently, they often experience chronic feelings of shame about who they are.
Defective. Flawed. Bad. Unlovable. This is me. I am all of these things. Despite the fact that everyone around me says otherwise, I KNOW this. Everyone else hasn’t lived with me my entire life, they don’t know all the bad things I’ve done, all the failures, all the shameful things. I remember it all, and I can’t forgive myself for it.  
What aspects of themselves do they view as defective? It could be almost any personal characteristic – they believe that they are too angry, too needy, too evil, too ugly, too lazy, too dumb, too boring, too strange, too overbearing, too fate, too thin, too tall, too short, or too weak. They might have unacceptable sexual or aggressive desires. Something in their very being feels defective: It is not something they do, but something they feel they are. They fear relationships with others because they dread the inevitable moment when their defectiveness will be exposed. At any moment, other people might suddenly see through them to the defectiveness at their core, and they will be filled with shame. This fear can apply to the private or public worlds: People with this schema feel defective in their intimate relationships or in the wider social world (or both).
This may be the origin of all the secret keeping, the hiding. I don’t want people to see the demons in me.
Typical behaviors of patients with this schema include devaluing themselves and allowing others to devalue them. These patients may allow others to mistreat or even verbally abuse them. They are often hypersensitive to criticism or rejection, and react very strongly, either by becoming sad and downcast or angry, depending upon whether they are surrendering to the schema or overcompensating for it. They secretly feel that they are to blame for their problems with other people. Often self-conscious, they tend to make a lot of comparisons between themselves and others. They feel insecure around other people, particularly those perceived as “not defective,” or those who might see through to their defectiveness. They may be jealous and competitive, especially in the area of their felt defectiveness, and sometimes view interpersonal interactions as a game of “one up, one down”. They often choose critical and rejecting partners, and may be critical of the people who love them.
I think this is common of abuse victims to blame themselves for the atrocities that have been visited upon us, not just people with BPD. An inner monologue that says there must be something wrong with me to have made me receptive to this tragedy. If I had done this, or if I hadn’t allowed that, or if I hadn’t decided, or if I hadn’t made the choice to…. A, B, C, D, wouldn’t have happened. It must be my fault. It’s not. It feels like it, but it’s not.
Can I tell you how often I compare myself to people around me that I perceive as having a better attributed/less flaws than me? Wanna guess? Come one, it’s not that hard. Did you say ‘constantly’? Congratulations! You win a glorious look into the depths of my imperfections! Kind of a shitty prize, I know.  
“I wouldn’t want to belong to a club that would have me as a member” ~ Groucho Marx
These people may avoid intimate relationships or social situations, because people might see their defects.
You know what I find insanely irritating love? When I voice my displeasure about one of my flaws and the immediate response I get is: Oh no one notices that but you. That I notice it is the problem! Who do you think I’m really trying to impress here? Me! That’s who. Ok, Therapist might say that I’m trying to impress my father, if I can hide all my flaws I can be worthy of his love. She may have a point. But I have another one… from my perspective my flaws and defects are glaring. I can’t imagine that other people don’t see them. I realize that most people probably don’t spend every second dissecting and obsessing over each little problem I have. My entire childhood I was involved in very competitive sports and activities, especially, gymnastics, dance and martial arts. Every move was monitored. Every aspect was judged. Every curve was on display. Critical eyes are everywhere, all the time. Mine just happen to be the worst of the group. But if I can catch the flaws first, then I can potentially do things so that others don’t see them. Unfortunately coupled with my dysmorphia I can become completely incapable of going out in public if something is bad. It’s debilitating. I hate it.  I get worked up into a panic about how bad or wrong or failed something is, I can’t stop thinking about it, I can’t imagine other people aren’t judging it, and I can’t bring myself to be in a position where someone else is going to be able to see. So I hide. I make up excuses, I cancel plans, I refuse to join the real world. Not until I’m fixed. It’s taken me a looooooong time, to make even the smallest progress on this. Right now I’m doing ok. I’m forcing myself to go out despite my inner judgments. I have a really hard time having fun, but I’m facing my fears and my flaws, and in the end, I’ve had many enjoyable evenings and encounters that I wouldn’t have been able to have had I hide myself away.
Goals of Treatment
The basic goal of treatment is to increase the patient’s sense of self-esteem. Patients who have healed this schema believe that they are worthy of love and respect. Their feelings of defectiveness were either mistaken or greatly exaggerated: Either the trait is not really a defect, or it is a limitation that is far less important than it feels to them. Furthermore, the patient is often able to correct the “defect”. But, even if patients cannot correct it, it does not negate their value as human beings. It is the nature of human beings to be flawed and imperfect. We can love each other anyway.
Patients who have healed this schema are more at ease around other people. They feel much less vulnerable and exposed, and are more willing to enter relationships. They are no longer so prone to feelings of self-consciousness when other people pay attention to them. These patients regard other people as less judgmental and more accepting, and put human flaws into a realistic perspective. Becoming more open with people, they stop keeping so many secrets and trying to hide so many parts of themselves, and can maintain a sense of their own value, even when others criticize or reject them. They accept compliments more naturally and no longer allow other people to treat them badly. Less defensive, they are less perfectionistic about themselves and other people, and choose partners who love them and treat them well. In summary, they no longer exhibit behaviors that surrender to, avoid, or overcompensate for their Defectiveness/Shame schema.
Obviously I am not healed form this schema. Secrets. I keep a lot of secrets. I have a big one currently but no, I won’t share. The only way to keep a secret is to not let anyone know. Not even one person.
Accepting compliments is funny though. This is something I’ve worked into my outer mask pretty seamlessly. I learned a long time ago that people don’t want to hear you put yourself down. Refusing compliments comes across as ungrateful. The best thing to do is just say ‘thank you’, or ‘I’m flattered’ and move on. Often I think people are lying to me to get something from me. Or sometimes I can see that they actually believe the compliment they are giving me. Just because they believe it doesn’t make it true for me.
Strategies Emphasized in Treatment
Behavior strategies – particularly exposure – are important to treatment, especially for avoidant patients. As long as patients with Defectiveness schemas avoid intimate human contact, their feelings of defectiveness remain intact. Patients work on entering interpersonal situations that hold the potential to enhance their lives. Behavior strategies can also help patients correct some legitimate flaws (i.e. improve sense of dress style, learn social skills). In addition, patients work on choosing significant others who are supportive rather than critical. They try to select partners who love and accept them.
This is something I’m actively working on. Forcing myself to go out and interact with people even when I would prefer to hide. My flaws are glaring at the moment, but I still try to get out. And you know what? The world hasn’t ended yet! Crazy. I know. I may spend most of the evening fighting my self-consciousness but in between my criticisms and ruminations, shockingly, I also find a little laughter and good conversation.
Behaviorally patients also learn to stop overreacting to criticism. They learn that, when someone gives them a valid criticism, the appropriate response is to accept the criticism and try to change themselves; when someone gives them a criticism that is not valid, the appropriate response is simply to state their point of view to the other person and affirm internally that the criticism is false. It is not appropriate to attach the other person; it is not necessary to response in kind or to fight to prove the other person wrong. Patients learn to set limits with hypercritical people and stop tolerating maltreatment. Patients also work on self-disclosing more too significant others who they trust. The more they can share themselves and still be accepted, the more they will be able to overcome the schema. Finally patients work on decreasing compensatory behaviors. They stop trying to overcompensate for their inner sense of defectiveness by appearing perfect, achieving excessively, demeaning others, or competing for status.
I don’t overreact OUT so much anymore. I certainly used to. I’d rage and scream and lash out when I thought someone was criticizing me. I’m quieter now. I overreact IN. The thoughts that I need to punish myself for not being perfect are terribly hard to drown out. It’s that nagging voice in the back of my mind that says, how can someone love you if you’re not perfect? If they can see your flaws, they’ll know. They’ll leave.  
Special Problems with This Schema
Many patients who have this schema are unaware of it. A lot of patients are avoiding or overcompensating for the pain of this schema, rather than feeling that pain. Patients with narcissistic personality disorder are an example of a group with a high probability of having the Defectiveness schema and a low probability of being aware of it. Narcissistic patients often get caught up in competing with or denigrating the therapist rather than working on change.
Patients with a Defectiveness schema might hold back information about themselves because they are embarrassed. A long time may pass before these patients are willing to share fully their memories, desires, thoughts, and feelings.
This schema is difficult to change. The earlier and more sever the criticism and rejection from parents, the more difficult it is to heal.
I’ve lived most of my life being unaware of this. Of course now I am aware, but I still find myself avoiding or overcompensating for my problems. My Therapist is constantly reaffirming my positive attributes in hopes that I will eventually internalize that I do have good aspects of myself. I understand what she’s doing, but I’m not there yet. I’m still struggling with understanding that I can be flawed, and that’s ok.

Make up of Your Mind – Part 1

Alright, now that we’ve gotten the background out of the way let’s take a look at what each of the schemas actually is. We’ll do this in two parts because there are a lot.
Domain I – Disconnection and Rejection: The expectation that one’s needs for security, safety, stability, nurturance, empathy, sharing of feelings, acceptance, and respect will not be met in a predictable manner.
1.)    Abandonment/Instability Schema – This schema is the perceived instability or unreliability of one’s connection to significant others. Patients with this schema have the sense that important people in their life will not continue to be there because they are emotionally unpredictable, they are only present erratically, they will die, or they will leave the patient for someone better. It 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, unreliable, or present only erratically; because they will die imminently; or because they will abandon the individual in favor of someone better.
2.)    Mistrust/Abuse Schema – 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.”
3.)    Emotional Deprivation – The expectation that one’s desire for a normal degree of emotional support will not be adequately met by others. 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.
4.)    Defectiveness/Shame – 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 (selfishness, angry impulses, unacceptable sexual desires) or public (undesirable physical appearance, social awkwardness).
5.)    Social Isolation/Alienation – The feeling that one is isolated for the rest of the world, different from other people, and/or not part of or like they belong to any group or community.
I feel all of these in various degrees. The most prominent for me are definitely Abandonment/Instability, Defectiveness/Shame and Social Isolation/Alienation. Defectiveness/Shame has wrapped itself around me like a wet blanket, clinging to my skin my entire life. Abandonment/Instability and Social Isolation/Alienation I am so familiar with that I may have resigned myself to them. If Defectiveness/Shame is the wet blanket clinging to my skin, these are what actually compose my skin. These are the vital organs that my blood pumps through. Emotional Deprivation…. I don’t believe I have any right to deserve or expect any of these things. I can actually see where and how people do give these to me, but it’s as if I’m watching them give them to someone else. Thinking about being able to accept these things feels foreign to me like I wouldn’t know how to accept them even if I wasn’t deprived of them. The Mistrust/Abuse Schema is a lesser schema for me. Remember I mentioned that schemas can prevent to various degrees. The ones that ingrain themselves earliest in life tend to be the stronger, more pervasive schemas, while the ones that occur later in life or not so entrenched. This is one of those for me. I’ve dealt with more than my fair share of abuse, but this came later in my life. Some days I believe that because I’m so unavailable on most other levels that any abuse I’ve taken I can almost shrug off. I expect it to happen, but since I do expect it, I don’t allow myself to open fully to it and it therefore can’t affect me or I don’t hold on to it like I might have.  
Domain II –  Impaired Autonomy and Performance: Expectations about oneself and the environment that interfere with one’s perceived ability to separate, survive, function independently, or perform successfully.  
6.)    Dependence/Incompetence – Belief that one is unable to handle one’s everyday responsibilities in a competent manner, without considerable help from others (ex. Take care of oneself, solve daily problems, exercise good judgment, tackle new tasks, make good decisions). Often presents as helplessness.
7.)    Vulnerability to Harm or Illness – Exaggerated fear that imminent catastrophe will strike at any time and that one will be unable to prevent it. Fear focus on one or more of the follow:
a.       Medical Catastrophes like heart attacks or AIDS
b.      Emotional catastrophes like going crazy
c.       External catastrophes like elevators collapsing, victimization by criminals, airplane crashes, earthquakes.
8.)    Enmeshment/Undeveloped 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.
9.)    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, and so forth.
Failure. Despite all my achievements and actual, physical proof to the contrary I cannot shake this sense of failure. Nothing is ever good enough. I am never good enough. So I push myself continually onwards, being harder and harder on myself. Vulnerability to Harm is something I recognize more when I’m very stressed out. Airplanes, car crashes, driving myself insane create an almost paralyzing anxiety. Enmeshment is especially true when I’m in a volatile relationship. The world feels like it might end and all hope of happiness hinges on it. I’m actually what most people consider counter-dependent though. I couldn’t ask for help, I wouldn’t even know how to ask for help, if my life depended on it. I feel like even more of a failure if I seem to be in any way helpless.  So hey, where one schema takes over it prevents the creation of others.
Domain III – Impaired Limits: Deficiency in internal limits, responsibility to others, or long-term goal orientation. Leads to difficulty respecting the rights of others, cooperating with others, making commitments, or setting and meeting realistic personal goals.
10.)                        Entitlement/Grandiosity – The belief that one is superior to other people; entitled to special rights and privileges; or not bound by the rules of reciprocity that guide normal social interaction. Often involves insistence that one should be able to do or have whatever one wants, regardless of what is realistic, what others consider reasonable, or the cost to others; or an exaggerated focus on superiority in order to achieve power or control (not primarily for attention or approval). Sometimes includes excessive competitiveness toward or domination of others: asserting one’s power, forcing one’s point of view, or controlling the behavior of others in line with one’s own desires without empathy or concern for others’ needs or feelings.
11.)                        Insufficient Self-Control/Self-Discipline – Pervasive difficulty or refusal to exercise sufficient self-control and frustration tolerance to achieve one’s personal goals or to restrain the excessive expression of one’s emotions and impulses. In its milder form, the patient presents with an exaggerated emphasis on discomfort avoidance: avoiding pain, conflict, confrontation, responsibility, or over exertion at the expense of personal fulfillment, commitment, or integrity.
Of all the Domains this is where I am least affected. I’m probably the opposite of Entitled and Grandiose and I’ve had self-control and discipline beat into my brain since I was very young. Though I do recognize the milder form of discomfort avoidance in myself readily. I love nothing more than to lock myself in my little worlds of escapism to take my mind away from the realities that surround me. Nothing can touch me when I’m lost in the illusion of a good book or so preoccupied with creating an elaborate meal.
So involved. So complex. And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.