can't cope, Counselling, death, grief, psychology, Uncategorized

31. Society’s approach to death: science

Society’s approach to death (part 1): science getting involved

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There seems to be an uncomfortable atmosphere about death and still today, the subject remains taboo in many populations. For centuries British people in mourning would outwardly show that they were in a state of mourning by wearing black clothes, closing the curtains, or wearing a black mourning band on the arm, for example. Today, however, this tradition is rarely continued with people rushing back to work as soon as possible in many cases. There are still many people who tell the bereaved to “just get on with it” with a “stiff upper lip”. Crying or showing emotion in public is often seen as a weakness preventing some people from allowing themselves to grieve in a healthy manner. Bereavement is difficult to get through and especially so when someone close has died. Research has found psychological and physical effects that are common although everyone deals with bereavement in their own way and there are no rules to say what is right or wrong.

‘Normal’ grief

Lindemann (1944) [1] worked with 101 people from families involved in the Boston football tragedy in 1942 and noticed that patterns of behaviour emerged that were associated with ‘normal’ grief. These were: bodily distress, recurring mental imagery of the deceased, guilt associated with the circumstances around the death, antagonistic responses, unable to function ‘normally’, and often developing similar behaviours or symptoms to the deceased.

Worden (2002) [2] divided the effects of grief into four categories: feelings, physical sensations, cognitions and behaviours. He mentioned commonly associated feelings such as: sadness, anger (at yourself for not having been able to do anything more to prevent the death, and at the deceased for leaving you behind), guilt (often irrational, and for feeling angry etc.), anxiety (due to fear of being on your own plus becoming very aware of death with a reminder of your own mortality), loneliness (emotional and social), fatigue, helplessness, shock, yearning, emancipation (freedom e.g., from a dominating mother), relief (particularly if the deceased had been suffering, e.g., cancer, or the relationship was not a good one), and numbness (a ‘natural’ defence mechanism usually in the early stages of the process).

Next time I will look at the common psychological and physical effects. If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!

References

1.Lindmann, E. (1944) Symptomatology and management of acute grief. American Journal of Psychiatry, 101, 141-148.

2.Worden, J. W. (2002) Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy: A handbook for the mental health practitioner (3rd Ed.) Springer Publishing Company inc. NY

Counselling, over eating, psychology, self defeating behavior, self defeating behaviours, Uncategorized

30. Self Defeating Behaviours (part 6)

Self-defeating behaviours: in (Humanistic) counselling

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In this final part of self defeating behaviours, I try to describe how the counselling process might look. This is a difficult task because each person is unique but this is a (very) rough idea!

The person, with the counsellor, could explore how they feel as they experience uncomfortable feelings where the self-defeating behaviour (SDB) would usually come into play. From this, the person may remember a previous occasion where they felt this same feeling but adopted a SDB to help them cope. Often, when they realise that his SDB aided them, at that time, through, for example, a painful situation, they can see that this SDB, residing in their subconscious, manifests in similar situations (or due to certain triggers), which produces physical feelings of unpleasantness or anxiety/fear associated with the previous experiences. Once the person realises that these negative feelings are not in fact associated with the current situation, but reflect the ‘wrong’ choice of action, i.e., the SDB, in response to the situation, they can often see that their maladaptive coping mechanism is just that…a mechanism that they employ in a threatening situation…a SDB.

Through recognising the consequences, associated feelings, and gaining a better understanding of the SDB’s origin, the person may become aware of the underlying basic human need, which they are attempting to fulfil. The person may also want to take a look at their ‘core beliefs’, underpinning the SDB, which may be out of date, allowing them to look at how to adapt the SDBs. New strategies can then be adopted, ensuring that their basic needs are satisfied and aiding their motivation to maintain them. As they develop healthier core beliefs, an awareness of their thoughts and moods, and the ability to try out alternative strategies and behaviours, they will gradually feel more confident in maintaining the new strategies and will be able to identify situations that involve feeling vulnerable.

If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question. I would love to hear from you!

 

References

Baumeister, R.F. & Scher, S.J. (1988) Self-Defeating Behaviour Patterns Among Normal Individuals: Review and Analysis of Common Self-Destructive Tendencies. Psychological Bulletin, 104 (1), 3-22.

Brownson, C., & Hartzler, B. (2000) Defeat Your Self-Defeating Behavior Understanding & Overcoming Harmful Patterns (T1 082). The clearing house for Structured/Thematic groups and Innovative programs. Texas, USA. Accessed 6/1/19. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=BAECD64A429CAC98207F80C0FE3868CF?doi=10.1.1.434.2963&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Rogers, C. R. (1951) Client- Centered Therapy, London, Constable and Company Ltd.

 

behaviourism, Counselling, over eating, psychology, self defeating behavior, self defeating behaviours, Uncategorized

29. Self Defeating Behaviours (part 5)

Self Defeating Behaviours: Treatment (person-centred counselling)

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Person-centred (PC) counselling was developed and introduced by Carl Rogers. PC counselling focuses on how we feel in the “here and now”, and helps people to take responsibility for their actions. The PC approach assumes that human beings have an innate capacity to heal themselves whilst the counsellor can offer help to eliminate any blocks preventing this process. The person’s subjective experience (including attitudes, beliefs etc.) is important. The counsellor’s empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard are also vital to the success of this approach.

The person often employs ‘defence mechanisms’ (similar to minimising the effect) where they deny or distort their perception to “fit” with their perception of themself. Once the person feels understood, accepted and safe, they are able to gradually open up and go deeper within themselves. They can then face attitudes or beliefs that were previously concealed thus becoming more aware of their true inner feelings.

Once the person is able to “own” their behaviour, valuing themselves in a positive light, they will be able to take responsibility for their own actions. They will soon realise that they are capable of coping with life independently without the necessity of employing any defence mechanisms and will be able to adopt new strategies instead of Self Defeating Behaviours. Next time, I will look at how a counselling session might be if the focus was on a self defeating behaviour.

For more information on person-centred counselling, search for person centred approach/ person centred therapy, or client centred therapy. There is a lot of information on the Internet about this.

If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question. I would love to hear from you!

 

References

Baumeister, R.F. & Scher, S.J. (1988) Self-Defeating Behaviour Patterns Among Normal Individuals: Review and Analysis of Common Self-Destructive Tendencies. Psychological Bulletin, 104 (1), 3-22.

Brownson, C., & Hartzler, B. (2000) Defeat Your Self-Defeating Behavior Understanding & Overcoming Harmful Patterns (T1 082). The clearing house for Structured/Thematic groups and Innovative programs. Texas, USA. Accessed 6/1/19. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=BAECD64A429CAC98207F80C0FE3868CF?doi=10.1.1.434.2963&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Rogers, C. R. (1951) Client- Centered Therapy, London, Constable and Company Ltd.

 

behaviourism, Counselling, over eating, psychology, self defeating behavior, self defeating behaviours, Uncategorized

28. Self Defeating Behaviours (part 4)

Self Defeating Behaviours: Perpetuating the cycle

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I know that this behaviour is not good for me but why am I still doing it? The cycle of adopting self-defeating behaviours (SDB) is often perpetuated through another self defeating technique of ‘minimising the effects’. This involves rationalising the SDBs, i.e., defending your behaviour against any alternative healthier option. There are many minimising techniques including: making a joke of it, hiding from it (‘ostrich syndrome’ –sticking your head in the sand to not see it); self anaesthesia (numbing the pain either through drugs, alcohol and other external sources, or internally, i.e., depression, leaving you unable to ‘feel’ anything – neither sad nor happy); keeping busy (you believe that you are so busy that there is never enough time to ‘face’ up to it); ‘self made Messiah syndrome’ (you believe that you must not feel pleasure and should only be suffering, proving how good you are and that, for example, you deserve to go to heaven); ‘passing the buck’ (putting all responsibilities onto others, believing that you can do it better than anyone else could); and ‘there’s no point anyway’ syndrome (very common amongst teenagers where the nihilistic viewpoint of ‘we’re all going to die anyway’ comes in very handy to excuse putting in any effort to try anything).

The cycle of SDBs is perpetuated through a fear of change which involves making excuses and (unintentionally) ‘lying’ about such behaviours. A smoker, for example, will have many excuses up their sleeve, a common one being “I only smoke a few a day”. The smoker lies to everyone (including themselves) out of fear of change, fear of how they could possibly cope in life without smoking, fear of failure (i.e., failing to give up), and even the fear of successfully giving up (i.e., they might have to face many other challenges, change of friends, change of habits). Next week, I look at how we can help or change self defeating behaviours.

If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!

 

References

  1. Baumeister, R.F. & Scher, S.J. (1988) Self-Defeating Behaviour Patterns Among Normal Individuals: Review and Analysis of Common Self-Destructive Tendencies. Psychological Bulletin, 104 (1), 3-22.
  2. Brownson, C., & Hartzler, B. (2000) Defeat Your Self-Defeating Behavior Understanding & Overcoming Harmful Patterns (T1 082). The clearing house for Structured/Thematic groups and Innovative programs. Texas, USA. Accessed 6/1/19. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=BAECD64A429CAC98207F80C0FE3868CF?doi=10.1.1.434.2963&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Counselling, over eating, psychology, self defeating behavior, self defeating behaviours, Uncategorized

27. Self-defeating behaviours (part 3)

Self Defeating Behaviours: other factors

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Why am I still using self defeating behaviours (SDB)? In the last blog, I mentioned how ‘coping’ strategies, which have been helpful during a previous similar experience, are stored in one’s subconscious. This helps the conscious mind, in the next similar situation, to quickly ascertain the best course of action.

Alongside the mind, other systems within the body are intrinsically linked too to produce a coherent, whole response. There are systems involved with emotions, drives, survival instincts, hormones, and needs, which are also influential on the response. With all systems working in harmony, this provides us well for our everyday life decisions and actions. However, if a strategy that was once successful but is subsequently harmful (as a strategy for the individual) is stored in the subconscious, this becomes problematic.

For example, if a child, sitting alone in her bedroom listening to her parents shouting angrily at one another, feels anxious but feels comforted by eating cake, then she may resort to eating cake when the situation arises again to ease her anxiety and pain. She possibly observed (externally) her mother eating cake in painful situations and knows that when the ‘chips are down’, cakes and sweet foods are presented to “make everyone feel better”. This ‘coping’ strategy is then likely to extend to eating anything (when there is no cake to fill the physical feeling of emptiness) and may be adopted in other situations that cause anxiety or pain. The SDB is also likely to perpetuate because not only is she believing (internally) that the behaviour is giving her comfort, but she also witnesses such behaviour (externally) that this behaviour ‘gives comfort’ in painful situations. The SDB becomes so habitual that the individual believes that it is just a part of them and who they are which makes it a difficult thing to change.

More on SDBs next time! If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!

References

-Baumeister, R.F. & Scher, S.J. (1988) Self-Defeating Behaviour Patterns Among Normal Individuals: Review and Analysis of Common Self-Destructive Tendencies. Psychological Bulletin, 104 (1), 3-22.

-Brownson, C., & Hartzler, B. (2000) Defeat Your Self-Defeating Behavior Understanding & Overcoming Harmful Patterns (T1 082). The clearing house for Structured/Thematic groups and Innovative programs. Texas, USA. Accessed 6/1/19.  http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=BAECD64A429CAC98207F80C0FE3868CF?doi=10.1.1.434.2963&rep=rep1&type=pdf

behaviourism, Brain Injury, Counselling, Freud, My Story, Uncategorized

23. Behaviourism: to fix us? (part 3)

Behaviourism: can this be used to fix us?

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John B. Watson (1878-1958) formally introduced behaviourism with the publication of his book ‘Psychology from the Standpoint of a Behaviorist’ (Watson, 1919) where he showed psychology to be completely objective (with no need for introspection). He promoted the use of scientific methods which involved the control of variables, and accurate measurements to gain observable, reliable results. Cognitive learning processes, genetic influences, any innate differences, and the artificial conditions of the experiment were not taken into consideration.

Maladaptive behaviour would therefore be seen by the behaviourist to be learned (maladaptive) behaviour, learned through classical conditioning and maintained through operant conditioning. Therefore, if a female adult presented with a fear of spiders, for example, the fear would be explained by her childhood experience (classical conditioning) of a spider suddenly appearing on her hand (fright paired with stimulus) as she reached to the back of the wardrobe to pick up her shoes. Since then her continual avoidance of spiders would have negatively reinforced (operant conditioning) the behaviour to the point that she would later fear leaving the house in case she encountered a spider.

With the additional aspect of cognition, where the cognitive steps behind the behaviour are taken into consideration, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been found to be effective in treating adult anxiety disorders, and in this case, the technique of systematic desensitization would help by gradually exposing the woman to the feared stimulus (i.e., the spider) so that the maladaptive behaviour could be unlearned (extinction). This technique might begin with simply mentioning the word ‘spider’, talking about a spider, and gradually progressing on to looking at a picture of one, until eventually she could actually be in the same room as a spider and finally be able to come into contact with a spider without feeling anxiety. Behaviour modification techniques have also been shown to be effective in anxieties, phobias, depression and multiple sclerosis amongst many other disorders.

If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!

 

 

behaviourism, Brain Injury, Counselling, My Story, psychology, thoughts influence on physical body, Uncategorized

21. Behaviousrism (part 1)

The Behaviourist approach

Behaviourists explain maladaptive behaviour in terms of the learning principles that sustain and maintain it.

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Behaviourism focuses on the association between an individual’s behaviour and their surrounding environment, i.e., behaviour is simply a response to a stimulus or stimuli [without any consideration given to any influence of the individual’s mental state]. Thus, it follows that our behaviour is determined by the environment’s stimuli from which we learn how to respond accordingly. Because humans are born (like a blank slate) with only a few innate reflexes, all behaviours (both normal and abnormal) are seen by behaviourists as being learned through interacting with the environment. Learning and experiences determine how the individual becomes as a person.

Studying the behaviour of animals, Edward Thorndike (1874-1949) noticed that pleasant events would encourage a certain response whereas unpleasant/noxious events would ‘stamp out’ responses or at least make them less likely to occur again. Thorndike explained the ‘law of effect’ as how the consequences of a behaviour affect the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated.

Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936), whilst studying digestion, found that hungry dogs began salivating when they saw the assistant who fed the dogs. Pavlov then discovered that it was possible to train the dogs to salivate in response to different stimuli, e.g., the sound of a bell, before the dogs were given food. This showed that dogs could learn to respond to a stimulus that had not previously elicited a response.

If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!

References

Martin, G.N., Clarkson, N.R., & Buskist,W. (2007). ‘The science of Psychology:                          Behaviourism’, Psychology (3rd ed.). Pearson Education Limited; England, U.K.