Learned Helplessness/Demand Resistance

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spryte

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Re: Learned Helplessness
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2014, 12:57:43 AM »
Rain - the grief work is incredibly important. The thing that's always held me back in regards to that was the fact that for so long I was emotionally shut down and numb. It seemed really irrelevant to me to talk to anyone about any of that stuff when I couldn't *feel* anything in regards to it. For the longest time, I couldn't even cry. Like, ever. About anything. Now, I cry, but still I can't always get there in regards to things that I know that I really NEED to cry about. It's been a slow and frustrating journey back to even being able to feel stuff. THAT was a * of a journey in and of itself. (I need to remind myself of that when I start fretting about how long this processes has already been going on.)

And actually....^^ that process speaks to the response that I was going to make to SC.

We have similar backgrounds when it comes to the types of abuse. And it's really hard to protect yourself from something that seems so big. For me, it's really been about breaking it down into much smaller behaviors. I used the boundary setting as an example because for me, that was a big "protection" behavior that I could identify. Being able to stand up for myself either by speaking up, or walking away, was a particular behavior that I could focus on strengthening in really practical ways.

NOT setting boundaries led me to situations that, exactly as you described, crept up on me. I can't tell you the number of relationships that I found myself in where one day, I just woke up and couldn't breath because all of my boundary setting issues had caused me to slowly, incrementally, disappear into the other person until I didn't know who I was anymore. It was a completely unconscious thing, until it wasn't any more. And still, nearly 8 years after learning about co-dependency and boundary setting, I still have to be hyper-vigilant about doing it, had to do it many many times....until I am finally at a point where I've done it enough that I have actual proof that I can look back on to be able to say..."I was in these situations that threatened my boundaries, and I did X about it, and protected myself, so now I can "trust" myself to be able to do that"...and just in the last few months, was able to invite my father back into my life with a modicum of trust in my ability to protect myself from his past behavior.

I love the fact that you are a translator, and that you have a love for words. I too have a love of words, and definitions and have really enjoyed some of your other posts on the topic. One of the things that I love about psychologists is their penchant for naming everydarnthing. (alternatively, I am annoyed when 12 of them name the same darn thing 12 different things).

My point though is this. As much as it shook me, I was really excited to find the definition for C-ptsd because it encompasses SO MANY specific behaviors. And through exchanges like this, we can add our own, and find ways to approach them.

And yes, going through all of the things, determining what we want vs. what was programmed IS hard work. However, I have noticed a very specific "growth process" that's almost like an equation...I think I'll post about it in another thread...but, what it means is that recognizing a pattern is the hardest part...and yes, the path to being able to change it is long but it only gets easier from there. So, that's good news!

Rain - I have also lived in fear of becoming my mother. Especially once I realized that she was BPD. A recent psychiatrist I saw even tried to diagnose me as BPD when I broke down in her office after she accused me of being a pill seeker when I went to go get evaluated for ADD and then told me she thought I was BPD - basically reinforcing my greatest fear...gee, wonder why I broke down??? (after spending 15 minutes with me) smh.

Re: Learned Helplessness
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2014, 08:33:26 AM »
Hi spryte - hm, I've done that too, disappearing into another person. When I was a kid, I consciously began to copy a cousin my FOO really got along with - trying to become like her. It worked, too. It felt good at the time - "yay, my family's being finally fair and even friendly with me!" - but of course it was a sour, bitter victory, one that did me huge damage. "See? Soon as I stop being me, people like me." A really, really, really bad lesson to learn. I'm thinking that this is why I had such trouble drawing good boundaries. Boundary-drawing is easier if there's a YOU somewhere in there who has likes and dislikes, pet peeves and deal breakers, things you want and things you can't ever tolerate.

It's good that you mentioned breaking things down into smaller steps. I've been wrestling with the whole problem of: how do you define "emotional neglect" or social exclusion? Even emotional abuse - it's hardly ever this one big, horrid event that you can show to someone and have them go "oh yikes, that sounds bad". Even when you just think about your trauma in your head, a part of you always goes: "...this is hardly earth-shattering." What's proven helpful is this - realizing that human beings are wired to live in groups, so unwanted social exclusion in and of itself is hugely traumatic, especially if it happens when we're kids.

Reading your post brought it home that the times I moved forwards on my issues were the times when I tackled just one component part and took it seriously. I had a huge flashback yesterday, simply about the way someone addressed a snide, patronizing remark (meant for me) to someone else over my head. (Kind of passive-aggressive.)
My FOO did it and my classmates did it, and since I had no other social contacts, that meant literally everybody did it. I realized just why this was so painful. It's because this kind of behaviour is always, always used to separate insiders from outsiders. It's used to police and demarcate one's inner circle, and to show someone else (=me) that they're outside, they're not in the know, and that therefore it's okay to act in a supercilious, patronizing way towards them - they don't matter, so it's alright.

I hadn't connected this progress to the fact that I finally let myself look properly at one of the itty-bitty components of my trauma. But yes, it makes sense. You were mainly talking about our behaviours, I know, but it makes sense seen either way. Because you see, now that I know that snide remarks trigger me and why, I can come up with ways to protect myself - with healthy boundaries and small shifts in behaviour, like you said. Maybe all those things are connected closely anyway, grief work and self-protection. And seen like this, progress is much easier to recognize, like you said. So thanks for sharing your experiences.

Looking forwards to your equation. And that therapist sounds like she missed her calling. With therapists like that, who even needs abusers and perpetrators? "Go see Dr X, your one-stop answer to trauma! Curing and causing PTSD since 2012!" Horrible woman. I hope she gets diarrhoea so bad that she'll have plenty of time to sit and think about her wicked ways.


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Rain

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Re: Learned Helplessness
« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2014, 10:58:47 AM »
SC ...Cat ...I laughed so hard with your words,  "Go see Dr X, your one-stop answer to trauma! Curing and causing PTSD since 2012!" Horrible woman. I hope she gets diarrhoea so bad that she'll have plenty of time to sit and think about her wicked ways."

Spryte ...   I'm sending you a big  :bighug:

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spryte

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Re: Learned Helplessness
« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2014, 03:44:19 PM »
Cat - indeed, what a crap lesson to learn. I learned similar lessons along the way...all the ways that being "me" wasn't ok. Really hard work to undo THAT damage.

And MAN I wish that we as a society would push so much harder to emphasize how important it is to take that time for yourself, to live alone, to "find yourself". I feel like that would have been such a key developmental stage for me...that didn't happen until I was 33. And I look around at all these young girls that I know who are on the same path that I was and my heart just aches for them.

There was a time when women went straight from their parents houses to their husbands. The results were the same then as they are now, except back then women were EXPECTED to be co-dependent little reflections of their husbands. Now it's happening with both men and women. Ug.

"What's proven helpful is this - realizing that human beings are wired to live in groups, so unwanted social exclusion in and of itself is hugely traumatic, especially if it happens when we're kids. "

Indeed. Actually, if you ever get a chance to pick up an introductory social psychology book, you'll probably find it enlightening in terms of all the ways that our brains have specifically evolved to be social...and how deep all the evolutionary social cues go. They've done studies that show that social exclusion or rejection have the same effect on the brain as actual physical pain.

I think my interest in psychology was the only thing that helped me muddle through a lot of this. I have a somewhat intuitive way of putting that information together, and for me...a lot of this is almost like math. 2+2 If you do or say x to a child, then y is likely to be the result. The only variable factor is the child's own temperament and how many times x has to occur before y is the result. For some kids, it's 5 times, for others, it's 50.

Parents rarely know the temperament of their child. And they don't get that if you chastise your daughter in front of three adults that she looks up to, for knocking a damn magnet off the fridge, until she cries...she is likely to have freaking self-esteem problems in the future. (something I saw someone do once - and I'm still pretty sick about the fact that I didn't actually say anything at the time. Still too conflict avoidant to stand up for a child...but I'm working on that for damn sure.

And yeah, that psychiatrist...smh...I don't have insurance at the moment so I'm stuck with community health centers for therapy. Sadly, they're filled with all the rejects who really couldn't make it in private practice which I think this woman was because she was older, or the newbies, who are making their bones but don't know much about anything yet. It makes me really angry that that's the only resources that are available to the population who often need help the most.

Rain - thanks!  :yourock:

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Rain

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Re: Learned Helplessness
« Reply #19 on: October 03, 2014, 05:03:13 PM »
...so I'm stuck with community health centers for therapy. Sadly, they're filled with all the rejects who really couldn't make it in private practice which I think this woman was because she was older, or the newbies, who are making their bones but don't know much about anything yet. It makes me really angry that that's the only resources that are available to the population who often need help the most.

hmmm.   I hope my relative who chose to work in one does not read this.     :aaauuugh:

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spryte

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Re: Learned Helplessness
« Reply #20 on: October 03, 2014, 05:23:18 PM »
Well, I certainly don't mean to offend anyone, but in my area, this has been my experience at two different community mental health centers which is the only place that you can get mental health care here on a sliding scale. I've seen three different therapists, and four different psychiatrists. Therapists who walk out on their clients without any notice (2 different ones), effectively reinforcing abandonment issues. After the second one, I spent an entire day at work in tears after they called to tell me she was leaving, feeling completely abandoned. Again.

Psychiatrists who either accused me of drug seeking like the one woman did...or who throw three months worth of adderall prescriptions at me like they're candy, like the next guy did. I never WAS evaluated for ADD, which is what I went there for in the first place. There was no actual EVALUATION done.

The last therapist that I had that walked out said that they each had over 150 active cases. It's not their fault, but in general, places like that do not draw the most talented of therapists because they eventually get burned out and leave. The first time I got dumped by a therapist it took me 2 years to go back to therapy. After that horrific experience with that psychiatrist? I demanded to have an apt with a second one...except...the first one had finished her evaluation and it was already in the system. So when I went to see the second one, with a typed up letter explaining exactly what happened with the first? She talked to me like I was a frightened animal, and used the letter as evidence of symptoms of BPD. And also refused to evaluate me for ADD, like I was there for. Instead, she gave me a script for a non-stimulant ADD med to appease me. I had never seen such insanity in my life in a doctors office. And, even though I filed that complaint directly with the center? It was never addressed. I never heard back from them, likely because of what the first woman put in my file.

« Last Edit: October 03, 2014, 05:25:10 PM by spryte »

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Rain

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Re: Learned Helplessness
« Reply #21 on: October 03, 2014, 06:32:12 PM »
It is very sad that your specific two centers are seemingly very ineffective, to say the least, spryte.

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Kizzie

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Re: Learned Helplessness
« Reply #22 on: October 05, 2014, 09:47:42 PM »
So, there was one book, and I don't remember which one it was but there was a quote from a survivor that has stuck in my mind. I might be paraphrasing, but it was something like, "My parents gave me all the tools I needed to continue abusing myself long after I left their house."

It. Is. So. True.

With the demand resistance stuff, I was seriously shocked to suddenly have such clear perspective about how much I was abusing myself on a daily basis with all the "should's" "need to's" and "must's" ....  So for me...going through all of these "requirements" it's not so much about figuring out whose they are, theirs or mine, but instead discovering that I actually "want" to do any of them. I was never allowed or able to do what I "wanted" to do. Anything of import was directed by them, I never had the opportunities as a child to make any kind of meaningful decisions, fail or succeed, and get the satisfaction that's inherent in making good decisions for myself...or even learn from making bad decisions. All of my decisions were based on whatever the opposite of theirs were. Some turned out well, lots of others...not so  much.

So for me, when I look at those decisions now, I have to figure out the "want" aspect. Yes I "want" to do my laundry, because I "want" to have clean clothes for work, not because I "have" to (because they made me). Apply that formula to everygoshdarnthing. *sigh*

Mindfulness. Mindfulness. Mindfulness. I am finding that an invaluable tool for digging through all of the DR and LH stuff.

I'm familiar with learned helplessness, but had not heard of demand resistance before Spryte. Your description of both really resonated with me and I had that wonderful feeling of "Oh so that's what's been going on" like I did when I found out about CPTSD.  So tks, this explains so much  :thumbup:

I have actually been trying to figure out what it is that "I" want to do (or not do) more lately, although I didn't quite realize what was driving this other than trying to listen to myself more, and less to ghost voices and others who "know better than I do."  It was intuitive but not explicit until I read this thread.  So much of what we go through with CPTSD benefits from being "named" or identified so that we can consciously deal with it.  That is "mindfulness" isn't it?

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Kizzie

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Re: Learned Helplessness
« Reply #23 on: October 05, 2014, 10:17:23 PM »
Community health centres here are the only places you can get care on a sliding scale except for the (very) few T's who will accept patients on this basis.  I choose to go to one as I wait for our extended health care benefits to kick in (my H just retired from the military and it takes months to switch status, why we do not know but it is what it is and we're trying to practice acceptance  ;D).

Anyway, I had in the back of my mind that this care is NOT as good as what I could get if I could pay for it (or rather our health care plan could), but went for my first appointment this week and really connected with the T.  He laid out his whole education and experience with trauma for me and was clear that while he does know a lot about PTSD he does not know a lot about CPTSD, but is more than willing to research it and work together with me.  Ding, ding, ding - I think we have a winner!   
« Last Edit: October 05, 2014, 10:19:52 PM by Kizzie »

Re: Learned Helplessness
« Reply #24 on: October 06, 2014, 07:54:41 AM »
Congratulations!  :phoot:

Kizzie, if ever there's a... what's it called on OOTF? Toolbox? This wiki list resource thingie with all the handy clickable links? I'd suggest putting Demand Resistance in there. Reading about it here was a huge aha! moment for me, too. I think I owe spryte a coffee.

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spryte

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Re: Learned Helplessness
« Reply #25 on: October 06, 2014, 11:38:36 AM »
 :cheer:

So glad you guys found it helpful.

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spryte

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Re: Learned Helplessness/Demand Resistance
« Reply #26 on: October 07, 2014, 01:46:01 PM »
I changed the topic to reflect the shift in conversation to Demand Resistance.

For me, step one of getting a handle on my DR was to drop my criticisms of myself for not doing all these things that I thought I "should" be doing, like they were hot potatoes. Once I recognized how DR was shifting even the pleasurable things that I wanted to be doing into "obligations" it became clear to me how I was mentally terrorizing myself with this never ending To Do list that was ALWAYS hanging over my head. The more To Do's that got put on the list, the more I froze, completely overwhelmed by them and having this unconscious resistant negative reaction to anything that had even the slightest whiff of obligation attached to it.

So...I've largely let go of the criticisms. I've stepped back, and am giving myself time to just...explore this, look at it in a different light, and maybe figure out some ways to approach it again.

I've learned some interesting things.

1. Now that my head is quieter, I've been able to see that not everything that I was struggling with had to do with DR. My food issues, for example. Without all the guilt and fear in the way, it became a lot clearer that it wasn't ME making food decisions so much as it was my inner kid. I was a little shocked and kind of amused to see how I'd put her in charge of food choices, and it gave me a much clearer perspective of that entire situation and how to handle it.

2. The Bizzaro World nature of all of the manipulations that I've been subject to in my life in conjunction with having had very very little chance to develop myself - my likes and dislikes, have completely skewed my entire view of...well, I'm not sure there's a convenient word or concept to encompass it. Just patterns that I'm seeing across things. Skewed my motivation behind wanting to do things. Skewed what I think I even want. Skewed my perception of why I do and don't do things. All of those things come under the heading of Demand Resistance, but they're much more specific.

I was reading this blog post today:
http://perfectlyawfulusa.blogspot.com/2011/02/does-pleasure-come-with-price-tag.html

Which really sparked a lot of thoughts about my own distorted thinking on the matter. Mine aren't exactly the same as hers, but run in similar veins.

Things I got out of it:
1. There's a big difference between being "entertained" and "actual pleasure". I engage in a lot of "entertaining" activities...TV, Movie's, unhealthy food, things to fill space, time, occupy my brain, escapist activities...but very few things that bring me "actual pleasure". I'm finding more of those things, and I'm slowing down with my food trying to figure out if this or that unhealthy food is bringing me actual pleasure (which I feel like there absolutely needs to be room for in one's life) but I need to look at this much more closely.

I'm not actually sure anymore that I even know what actual pleasure is. So MANY things in my life have gotten tangled up with my OWN brand of FOG that I've been spinning around myself! Fear that I'm not DOING IT RIGHT. Obligation about how I SHOULD be doing this or that. So much guilt about NOT doing things, that I get to the point where I just want to HIDE from it...no matter how much I wanted to do it in the first place!

I bought myself a piano around May. It was my graduation present to myself. I have only sat down at it a few times. I have come up with every excuse in the book for not practicing. I immediately, the minute I got it, started feeling the obligation. "I NEED to sit down and practice. I SHOULD sit down and practice." (Never EVER "I WANT to sit down and practice, how FUN would that be!") Which of course, triggered the knee jerk "I don't wanna!" (Which was, I'm sure, exacerbated by the fact that this entire process played out when I was a kid as well complete with criticisms and tear downs from my mother about the fact that I wasn't practicing) And, now I just feel guilty every time I look at my piano or whenever anyone asks me about it. It makes me sad, I was SO excited to get it!

I have done the exact same thing with a ton of craft stuff that I've bought over the years and am currently doing the same thing with a business idea that my boyfriend and I talked about...that I was excited about...and then I got sidetracked by a bunch of "life stuff" and instead of thinking rationally...ok, sidetracked, lets get back to this...it was "I should have been doing this, why aren't I doing this, I need to be doing this, he must think I'm a real flake for not even mentioning this for weeks!" Cue that same FOG.

2. I even have this reaction to things that I don't actually have any interest in doing

"If you love fresh, organic tomatoes, by all means plant your own - if you enjoy the gardening work."

My boyfriend and I bought a bunch of flowers and plants over the summer, intending to start a garden. It didn't occur to either of us that neither of us actually know anything about gardening. Most of the plants died, some of them are valiantly trying to hold onto life, but are so sickly that they'll never produce fruit. That whole endeavor just became one more thing for me to beat myself up over, without me ever even pausing to think about whether or not I really even WANTED to learn how to garden. I mean sure, theoretically...I do. But, the reality is that we live in Florida and it's a lot of hard work, it's expensive, and it requires a lot of self-education that I just don't have the time or really even the interest in doing to learn how to grow plants specifically IN THIS CLIMATE.

If there were ways to shortcut that process? Maybe. If we had the money to have someone come over and landscape, and plant stuff, and teach us how to take care of it...I'd be all for it. I do love digging in the dirt. So...there are ways around it.

But there is absolutely no problem solving that can happen when I'm stuck in that FOG. And you know, I've read a lot about the FOG that others put us in, and extricating ourselves from it...I'm just now realizing how I've done it to myself.  :stars:

« Last Edit: October 07, 2014, 01:53:58 PM by spryte »

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Kizzie

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Re: Learned Helplessness/Demand Resistance
« Reply #27 on: October 07, 2014, 06:40:46 PM »
Hey Spryte - I agree with Cat that we should include demand resistance in a section like the "Glossary" one at OOTF (http://www.outofthefog.net/Glossary.html) given that few of us had heard of it but so many of us related to it. 

Would you be willing to write up a blurb like the ones at OOTF (definition, description, some links)?   That would get the glossary going quite nicely  ;D


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spryte

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Re: Learned Helplessness/Demand Resistance
« Reply #28 on: October 07, 2014, 07:14:47 PM »
Kizzie - I'll try. It seems to be an interestingly elusive thing that hasn't been focused on a lot by psychologists. I've only found a few websites that talk about it, as a very secondary issue to something bigger...like perfectionist/ obsessive personality disorders and hoarding. I'll do some more research this weekend.

Re: Learned Helplessness/Demand Resistance
« Reply #29 on: October 07, 2014, 08:32:42 PM »
spryte - I've done that very same thing with my piano and my painting stuff.

I had a small epiphany just now. Your post brought something to mind - a method I know from dealing with writer's block. You purposely mess things up. When I'm stuck writing a scene, I purposely write it in a sketchy, hamfisted way. That sometimes gets things unstuck.

Maybe that method works because it silences our inner grown-up?

You know the one I mean - not really as nasty as our inner critic, but very humourless and strict and "you OUGHT to do this PROPERLY". Like this:


So how about we appeal to our inner kid instead? Do you think that could work? Like, maybe painting a still life of an apple, but then giving it a smiley face. Or picturing oneself sending the Inner Grown-Up out the door and then telling one's childlike aspects: "Here's some stuff to be creative with. All yours now." Maybe there are other writerly methods that could be useful, too. This is interesting.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2014, 08:46:31 PM by schrödinger's cat »