Life through a lens - unhealthy Process
In a stark contrast to the healthy fully functioning person, is the person who would be seen by Rogers as disordered. This individual does not utilise the 5 characteristics of the fully functioning person, is not content, happy or peaceful in his or her living and has little closeness to their ‘ideal self’ the ‘false self’ rules. Their organism if at the extreme end of the continuum is defensive, incongruence and destructive both to self and others. As this individual grew, interacted with their environment and with others, "they may have interjected negative values from others if their environment was dysfunctional" (proposition 10, Rogers).
As a result of their "experiences, evaluation and interpretations they are either, a) symbolized, perceived and organized into some relation to the self, b) ignored because there is no perceived relationship to the self structure, c) denied symbolization or given distorted symbolization because the experience is inconsistent with the structure of the self" (Proposition 11, Rogers). According to the Humanistic school of thought if the lower needs are not fulfilled then the individual may be fixated at a particular level, (Maslow) for example striving for love, belonging and acceptance, but not recognising when they are offered it. Due to "c) denied symbolization or given distorted symbolization because the experience is inconsistent with the structure of the self" (Proposition 11). In Rogerian thought "psychological maladjustment exists when the organism denies awareness of significant sensory and viscera (internal) experiences, which consequently are not symbolized and organized into the gestalt of the self structure. When this situation exists, there is a basic or potential psychological tension" (proposition 15, Rogers).
If this is the case mental dis-ease (anxieties/Depression etc) and/or disorder may occur, (Personality/Narcissistic etc) because "any experience which is inconsistent with the organization of the structure of the self may be perceived as a threat, the more of these perceptions there are the more rigidly the self structure is organized to maintain itself" (proposition 16, Rogers).
We all sit on the continuum, the healthy organised self-concept may be considered sat at 1 and the more unhealthy organised self-concept may be considered sat at 10.
Most of us will be somewhere between 1-10 since most of us will be working on something to strengthen our self-concept and our self-esteem mindfully or not.
If we are organised internally more rigidly we might be hypervigilant to being controlled, overpowered and feel under threat by others and this hypervigilance may be seen in unhealthy behaviours as the person utilising this kind of process to avoid rejection and abandonment in self-preservation. However, a self-concept organised in this way has the opposite effect for the person in their interactions with other probably doesn't recognise genuine feelings coming from others due to perhaps a self-concept which is closed, which has decided what the outcome will be; based on the way their life experiences were when their self-concept was developing.
Therefore may be possible to have negative automatic thoughts and feel what someone is offering years later is not genuine i.e. love, caring, affection, life has perhaps become fixated, suspicious and threatening in the main. Self-concept is organised in a maladjusted way and internal tension, stress, worry about what others offer, what others think about them (external locus of evaluation) if their self-image is not seen as 'perfect' this becomes a constant threat to the self. Which may be seen by a self-concept organised in this way as an attempt consciously or unconsciously to expose, or annihilate them; behaviour then is utilised in a way of self-preservation and if someone doesn't feel safe and secure their behaviour will be more chaotic and as such dominant and manipulative of others 'rather then live and let live' in a bid to preserve self at all costs.
Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.
Please note: I am not qualified to diagnose anyone with any disorder or condition, that is not the intention of the information on this website. Any diagnosis is best left to those qualified such as a psychiatrist; since we are all unique and individual we will not experience the same events in exactly the same way as another.
The behaviours mentioned here are at the very extreme end of the continuum.
We can all change how we behave by working through the layers which bind us personally
Gaining insight into the 'possibilities' of what constructs both healthy and unhealthy behaviours in general may aid understanding making sense of how we express our self; with information we have more options and can utilise an informed choice.
So living can be and is motivated, content, and peaceful
What drives me?
The reader may recognise the description of some of the behaviours on this website as being used by others and self. Many people ' may' use 'some' of these behavioural patterns! On recognizing anything on here doesn't mean you need to do anything about it, change is a personal choice.
We cannot 'change' another and we don't have that right, the only person we can change is our self; exploring if our own behaviours are healthy or unhealthy, life enriching and affirming is something to ponder upon if we want to.
If we are not happy with how we behave personally or how someone behaves towards us then we can choose
to change our own behaviours only or choose to accept others behaviors or choose not to; and act in our own best interest whilst having empathy for the other and behaving in a way which is mindful to all.
We are all striving to survive in life, life however is always striving to thrive, go forward, onward and upwards to self-actualization, trying to become all of its fullest potential. When we throw blocks in front of and at life it doesn't simply turn itself off. The blocks just layer upon layer on top of the actualizing tendency and it sits in waiting to be released!
If we can make a commitment to ourselves to become all we can become, then emotional health is very important. With commitment to our self, in the beginning, this may feel daunting, overwhelming and can be painful and hurt at times as we explore and learn about our emotional self, what makes, me, me? What makes me tick! Once we begin to move the blocks that have accumulated over the years, the process will become easier and clearer as we take back control from our fears and anxieties and release our authentic power. By empowering our self step by step we come to understand that we can become all that we wished to become and achieve those goals and big dreams we wished for as a child, when we 'flow' with our organism, our organisms will show us the way!
Please note: The information on these pages are bore from my own experiences, observations, reflections, insight and learning. My business and passion is to alleviate emotional distress however brought about with compassion and empathy for and with all others. Please bare in mind when reading about the 'possible' processors someone considered to deploy unhealthy behaviours. As coming from a place of vulnerability and avoidance of exposure and for survival. Pretty much the same for most of us. However, unhealthy processors such as these stated here hurt and damage others emotionally and detrimentally. As individuals we have the capacity to choose how we behave and how we want to relate and be related to. If we are happy and contented then our relating is working if we are not happy then perhaps it is time for change. We can only change our self however, we can not expect others to change for us, if we are not happy with how someone is relating to us we always have choice even if we don't acknowledge or know we do!
Do I or anyone else in my life deploy (use) 5 or more of the unhealthy behaviours as their main way of communicating?
If so is there
room for change, growth and development in this way of being at this time?
If you are willing to look at another's person's behaviours toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will over a period of time cease to react at all
“Since [narcissists] deep down feel themselves to be faultless, it is inevitable that when they are in conflict with the world they will invariably perceive the conflict as the world’s fault.”
M. Scott Peck
Do the behaviours I utilise on a daily basis impact upon others and my self in a way which enriches our living?
These behaviors may be considered unhealthy and may be 'acted out' to the detriment of all concerned, if someone has a dominant and manipulative way of being, of relating to self and others. In a Rogerian maladjusted self-concept it is the 'perception' of the self has become skewed. However, healthy, love and compassion is still available
at their core sat in their real-self which has been layered over by the false-self in its bid to protect it and therefore survive! Behaviour is separate to the person and behaviors can be changed to healthy if a person can recognise, accept and wants to change. Change is a choice, it may not be an easy choice but once the decision to change has been reached it will take effort and thought to achieve but we can all achieve our goals once we know what our goals are !
Click on the image to expand
Think of my diagram as parallel to waves which come in many different shapes and forms whilst all sharing a common thread. In the case of a person displaying unhealth behavioural patterns, the environment will be more choppy, turbulent and stormy. Some people will deploy all the traits and some just clusters of their preferred defences; waves are energy and we humans are parallel in that respect. We all spend our energy in a different way; we can be distinguished from one another by the way we look and behave. Science tells us there are distinct waves, for example transvers, longitudinal and surface waves. A person displaying unhealthy traits consist of all three waves (and more) in that they move at right angles to other humans, never really alongside them although the illusion they project; will almost certainly be one of "I'm with you". But this movement will be mostly on the surface and have longitudinal properties!
In that they can move to the depths of another person but not their own being; this is through cognitive empathy which is distinct from emotional empathy or compassion. Waves travel back and forth and are rarely if ever still, they may look and feel still on the surface, in reality always in motion. Rather like the sea when its calm the waves still move ebbing and flowing to shore and back out again whilst there may be undercurrents that the eye can't see but are there nevertheless.
People utilising an unhealthy process can be similar to a graceful swan serene on the surface but paddling like mad underneath trying to keep afloat and balanced. Longitudinal waves have the power to travel through the core of the earth and create earthquakes which produce hot molten iron lava that consumes, burns and destroys everything in its path. In human terms this is the behaviour of a person known to have a process of unhealthy narcissism.
Their primary wave moving through their body and ours as their secondary wave enmeshes, creating co-dependency and dependency, their primary e-motional wave sending ripple after ripple subtly through us continually transferring and projecting fantasies, low-frequency acoustic energy, using others with their electromagnetic wave, exhausting, confusing then hit us like a Tsunami destroying with their venomous velocity traveling at the speed of light in the devaluing and discarding phase.
All with a smile upon their face
Do the behaviours of other people in my life impact upon me in an
affirming way which values me?
It is both healthy and productive to question any and everything which doesn't sit comfortably or which offers a sense of doubt
Behaviours deployed such as these mentioned here lay on a continuum and the pendulum will swing for everyone along the continuum and perhaps no one will uutilise all these behviours they are just possiblities
Here are examples of what it 'might mean' to have a maladjusted Self-concept and how it might be play out in a behavioural way.
Nothing is set in stone however, and any theory is just a 'hypothesis'. There are however scientists who have devoted their life works to the study of personality, healthy and unhealthy and it is worth baring in mind what they offer in the way of supporting our understanding.
Here, we do not want to fit anyone into a box or diagnose anyone with any sort of disorder or condition unless we are qualified to do so.
It is worth baring in mind possibilities rather than probabilities as a discerning reader!
Science at its best is an open-minded method of inquiry, not a belief system. Rupert Sheldrake
Where did Narcissism come from?
The mythical story of Narcissus
Several versions of the Greek myth remain, the classic version is by Ovid, the story is about Narcissus, Echo and Nemesis, it goes something like this. Narcissus was walking along in the woods when Echo, a mountain nymph saw him and fell deeply in love and began following him. On sensing someone was following him he called out who's there and Echo replied with 'who's there' eventually revealing her identity and attempted to embrace Narcissus, who stepped away and told Echo to leave him alone. Echo was heartbroken, with unrequited love she spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until nothing but an echo sound remained of her! Nemesis the goddess of revenge heard of Echo' story and decided to punish Narcissus since Echo was now nothing but a sound repeating what she heard. Nemesis is said to have lured Narcissus to a pond and on seeing his own reflection not realising it was his own image, he fell in love with what he saw; eventually seeking sterilized pure love he began to recognise and eventually saw this type of love, the love he had for himself could not be reciprocated by anyone else and died by his own hand completing suicide.
The moral of this story is we all have a nemesis of one degree or another, be careful what you wish for and be careful of revenge it never got anyone anywhere positive!
Please note: whilst Narcissus was male it follows therefore more males are inflicted , however females can and do deploy unhealthy traits.
Another way to look at this is by what Alexander Lowen M.D in his book "Narcissim Denial of the True Self" - Says the above version offers us Narcissus didn't fall in love with his 'self' he fell in love with the 'image of his self'. Such a process seems to leave a person with very low self-esteem, a need for approval of their role, their image has to be 'seen' as perfect, and the way they present self as perfect and blameless. This drives their behaviour in a negative way often detrimental to all involved, including the self of the disordered 'self-concept'
Of course no one is perfect we all make mistakes from time to time to ere is human after all!
What is Narcissism?
Narcissim is often the negative label which refers to someone with a personality disorder, however, we all 'have' Narcissim, it is our personality style, our way of being, this is a natural process of being human. We all have a need to survive and to survive we all need self-love at one level or another otherwise we wouldn't be motivated to preserve ourselves and the human race in general.
The term is used by the scientist and/or psychologist I refer to on theses pages mostly in the way of a personality disordered individual. However, if narcissism is a 'disorder' then it can be re-ordered and organised into a more healthy way of being if the disordered self-concept wishes, firstly the recognition of an unhealthy way of being needs to be acknowledged along with the recognition that it is possible to create a healthy way of being no matter how far along the continuum one may be fixated at!
We all process our life experiences in an individual and unique way, some process in what can be considered a healthy way and some not so healthy. However, any life process can never be thought of in black and white terms, us human beings are multi-faceted, complex, complicated, mysterious and fascinating. Nothing is set in stone and no one person can 'claim' I am the finished product because change is inevitable in life in my expericing and nothing stays the same!
The word Narcissim is in my way of thinking another word to describe our Self-concept.
Healthy - Narcissim refers to a strong sense of self or a strong self-concept with a consistent self-esteem. Constructed of for example: self-awareness, respect for others, firm but flexible boundaries, collaboration, outward confidence, knowns the difference between 'I want' rather than 'I demand'. Healthy narcissism deploys empathy, cognitive and emotional and has compassion for their fellow man, someone who deploys healthy narcissism cares for others equally for self, gets it wrong on occasion and can admit they are wrong and does something about it, to not repeat the same behaviours. A person deploying a healthy process is able to offer others unconditional love, acceptance, be non-judgmental, they are congruent between word and deed, actions match their words, they do as they say they are going to do. Healthy is the fruits of the spirit i.e. love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The psychologist Carl Rogers one of the founders of humanistic psychology created his own person-centred approach. Offered a healthy fully functioning person would be someone who was 'self-actualizing' based on 19 propositions you can read about here. A healthy person is just that cares for others equally to self; loves self but doesn't elevate self and therefore able to offer authentic love to others. Is at peace with their inner world and striving to become all they can become and supporting others in their quest to become all they can become.
The difference between healthy and unhealthy narcissism is the way a persons self-concept is organised; the intention, if known, and the way persons origins are formed by the goals directing and driving the mind towards survival as an individual, including our belief system and our desires.
Unhealthy - Narcissism can be thought of as the opposite of the positive fruits of the spirit for example what drives an unhealthy process is a person who is looking for love but 'demands it' doesn't want to earn it by their own efforts but perhaps feels 'entitled' to have love, approval and affection even when they behave badly towards another. Margaret Mahler (1897-1985) who developed the theories of individuation and separation thought if the child internalizes positive images of 'mother' (or other significant care givers) then they will feel supported throughout their life if not then this may lead to dysfunctional behaviours. At the core of a person deploying an unhealthy process is a very low self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities to handle what life throw's at them. They present self as charmers who would do anything for others, the undercurrent however, is mean spirited, the only person they truly seem to consider is ME, myself, I and use others to get what they want. All without concern for the others real well-being or needs; they can be cold, conniving, calculated and above all else false to the outside world; denying, yet elevating self, so why would they give to other? Beware, however, because they will present this behind a 'mask' (persona) of charm, too good to be true, caring and empathy which will only be cognitive rather than emotional empathy. This deception to others is perhaps what hurts us the most when we discover they are not all that they seem!
The stand point of the Humanistic school of thought Carl Rogers Person-Centred theory believes unhealthy psychological and/or emotional difficulties stem from the incongruence of the organism, the real self and the false self which presents, the real self hidden from view of the individual person. Difficulties are seen as the perception of the individual person for example unhealthy narcissism may be seen by the person 'believing' they are somehow ‘flawed’ in their core being. This is a 'perception' in the thought processing of the individual they may believe they have to protect and defend this 'flawed' self at all costs from being exposed even in the slightest of ways resulting in unhealthy behaviours.
In evolution of the poor self-concept, "there is a sense of worthlessness and of being doomed to rejection and disapproval. Once such a self-concept has been internalised the person tends to reinforce it, for it is a fundamental tenet of the person-centred viewpoint that our behaviour is to a large extent an acting-out of the way we actually feel about ourselves and the world we inhabit" Mearns & Thorne (1999, P6)
Rogers offers the self-concept is the sum total of a complex, organized, and dynamic system of learned beliefs, attitudes and opinions which as an individual we will hold to be our personal truths and/or our individual way of being. Rogers described the self as a social construct, developing out of interpersonal relationships from birth, we strive for psychological consistency since this bring with it order, organisation and reliability. When we don't achieve consistency or our environment is continually dysfunction in that if we are always received by our significant care givers as we grow up with 'conditions upon our worth' then chaos can rule and cause emotional and psychological difficulties.
As such if our self-concept is constructed of 'learned' concepts then it stands to reason we can unlearn them if unhealthy and replace for healthier and change our behaviours.
Most of us will be somewhere between the two extremes of the polarities of the peaks and troughs of the healthy and unhealthy, neither at one extreme or the other as we work through what life throws at us. Our pendulum will osculate along the continuum, most of us will be working on strengthening concepts about ourselves most of our lives since no one is perfect since perfection is unachievable!
Narcissism is complex, the person seems to lack an 'observing ego' and this evokes impulsive and chaotic behaviour
Actions speak louder than words. Beware of the person whose word hardly every match's their behaviours.
“When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.”
“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm, but the harm (that they cause) does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”
T. S. Eliot
James Masterson believed there are two types of Narcissist i.e." exhibitionist" and "closet". He postulates that both are the result of a failure in developmental stage between 18 months to 3 years of age.
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person: A Therapist's View of Psychotherapy
All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.
“We cannot change, we cannot move away from what we are, until we thoroughly accept what we are. Then change seems to come about almost unnoticed.”
Carl R. Roger
“Once an experience is fully in awareness, fully accepted, then it can be coped with effectively, like any other clear reality.”
"If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves".
What do I need to strengthen, here and now?
Humans are complex Beings constructed of many facets and there are many theorist who offer their works and thoughts around this subject, born from their research and all thoughts are interesting to read about, I invite the reader to check out the theorist works if so interested.
There is however a depth and breath of information to consume which is far reaching, contradictory, fascinating, enlightening, exiting, believable, unbelievable and so much more. Nothing is set in stone and all human beings are unique and individual; we do not fit into any one box; please bare this in mind when you go seeking, be open to others ideas and be open to your own ideas equally, pick up what speaks to you and leave the rest. It is your choice to accept or reject what you find!
As Rogers said "one lives fully and openly the complex process of being one of the most widely sensitive, responsive, and creative creatures on this planet". Fully to be one's own uniqueness as a human being, is not, in my experience, a process which would be labelled bad. More appropriate words might be that is a positive, or a constructive, or realistic, or trustworthy process". Rogers (1967), On becoming a Person, P178.
This unhealthy way of being was created in the first place to enable the undeveloped mind of the child by the 'child' to survive and if not for the destruction, pain and confusion the inconsistent behaviour this way of being creates for others, its pretty creative isn't it!
Conflict can and should be handled constructively; when it is, relationships benefit. Conflict avoidance is *not* the hallmark of a good relationship. On the contrary, it is a symptom of serious problems and of poor communication.
Harriet B. Braiker,
Who's Pulling Your Strings?
Am I communicating my needs to my self and others clearly?
If you wish to gain more information about this topic there are many websites to research or please see reading list. If you feel you have been affect by someone else's unhealthy behaviour towards you and/or wish to explore your 'real self' and healing path please contact to make an initial appointment and together in partnership will find a way forward onto your unique and individual path.
Carl Rogers - On Becoming a Person
Dave Mearns & Brian Thorne - Person-Centre Counselling In Action
As with all theory the above is not fact. In my experience all human beings are equal, fluid and have potential, with change being inevitable. As with all information & theory it is offered to ponder over reflect upon, accept or reject at the Will of the reader.