“Neurosis vs. Character Disorder: The Role of Feelings” Comments, Page 1

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6 Comments (One Discussion Thread) on “Neurosis vs. Character Disorder: The Role of Feelings”

  1. Hi George,

    In PTSD, cognitive restructuring is used as treatment. Can you explain the correlation between this. Does it work in both planes of this discussion or more as emotional memory that interferes with the entire individual core systems?

  2. Actually, the cognitive-behavioral therapy you discuss is also used to address feelings, as well as thoughts and behavior. Psychiatrists like David Burns have explained in detail how the thoughts-feelings-behavior connection goes on to then create beliefs. Thoughts are corrected because thoughts cause feelings.

  3. Good comments, all. Sorry I’m so late in responding.

    My post tends to oversimplify the nature of CBT because of the contrast I wanted to stress between the traditional approach to addressing neurosis versus the current approaches to addressing character disturbance. Indeed, there is an inextricable connection between thoughts and feelings also. That’s one of the reasons for the efficacy of cognitive restructuring in treating PTSD (as Diane so rightfully pointed out) and other anxiety disorders. Even in situations where CBT is used to address character issues, emotional self-regulation and management can dramatically improve, it’s just that “getting in contact with one’s feelings” as is typically done in more traditional therapies, is not a primary focus. Rather, examining the thinking processes that lead to negative attitude formation, emotional dysregulation, and problematic behavior patterns, is the primary focus. Also, most of the writing I’ve seen referencing CBT, including Burns’ devotes much attention to the cognitive component of CBT. It’s easy to forget that the most important component of CBT is the “B” part or “behavior” component. Adding the cognitive component only enhances the efficacy of behavior therapy, which has demonstrated itself consistently as superior to other therapies for the treatment of several conditions. Certain behaviors are well-known to not only reinforce patterns of thinking, but also to reinforce the experience of negative and unregulated emotions. If a person habitually runs out of the theater every time they experience panic, their disorder will only worsen and the actual level of anxiety they experience will remain high if not increase. Quell the escape behavior, convince the brain that there is no danger, and amazingly terror levels subside. Changing the behavior is paramount, but adding the component of examining the thought processes that fuel the behavior (e.g. “I’m having a heart attack”, “I need to get out of here”, “I’ll feel better if I go home or to the hospital”, etc.) really enhances the process.

  4. I’ve read that a weakness in the English language is the lack of vocabulary regarding love. Eskimos have 24 different words for various types of love (e.g. I like you, but I don’t want to go fishing with you) but we have only a few. I believe character-disordered individuals exploit this weakness by demanding care and concern. To me, these words represent emotional closeness and positive feelings toward others. These are earned in a mutually supportive relationship, and character-disordered individuals deserve neither. I can understand a therapist sometimes giving “care” to a patient, since like a doctor, you’re dealing with the “sick”. The closest word in the English language that’s appropriate to character-disordered people is agape love. This is the love that desires people to change at their most fundamental level, forsaking their destructive behavior towards self and others.

  5. Dr. Simon,
    Thank you so much for all of your articles, this one along with many of your other articles are helping me. I was in counseling for a year and a half over my recent divorce. I am sure he was abusive but I still have a hard time really believing it. In this article you talk about how abusive men really believe and it’s the believe that has to change. My ex told me before I left that “if he had one of those between his legs he would never have to work” but it was one of the few times that what he really believed showed thru. He tells half stories to his family and two of them have sent me nasty emails. Now he is smearing my daughter. He called me a liar so many times I can’t count its hard for me believe he is the liar when he called me that so many times. He made me take All the guns out of the house because he didn’t know what he might do. That is when I found out he was in a mental hospital from bis first divorce. I asked him about it a few years later and he said it was to get her back from by attempting suicide. I did tell him that’s manipulative and he went in a rage at me. Why is it so hard to accept that he did this things knowing what he was doing? I will keep reading to hopefully get myself more grounded. When I write all these things I still wonder what is wrong with me to not think this was crazy making behavior. Thanks for letting me get it out and thanks for all the articles and the information you are sharing with so many of us.

    1. You’re so welcome, Annie. And you’re spot on when you point to how difficult it is to believe the malignant intent of character disturbed individuals and how crazy this can make you feel because it’s so hard to fathom such a mind-set. Add to that the tenets of traditional psychology over the years that had us all believing that most people were really unaware of their motives, and you end up feeling really crazy. Trust your gut. When you sense someone’s on the attack, they are. And when some people attack, it’s for the pure and simple purpose of domination and control. Unfathomable, but really quite simple. I hope you read, understand, and accept enough of the material I’ve posted to not feel crazy or self-doubting anymore.

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