Increasing Emotional Attachment - Evolution Counseling. Afraid of What You Might Become - Evolution Counseling. The Toll Of Abandonment - Evolution Counseling. Parenting By Michael Schreiner | We’ve written a lot about the severe psychological toll of abandonment. From our psychoanalytic point of view, the developmental outcome of being abandoned by a primary caregiver in childhood is the deep seated feeling of being unlovable in adulthood. This deep seated feeling usually manifests as the conscious or unconscious decision to keep others at emotional arm’s length, a decision backed up by the unconscious reasoning that it’s impossible to get abandoned if you’re the one doing the abandoning.
Another common strategy, also largely unconscious, is to let others in emotionally but then conspire to make them break off the relationship, thereby repeating the primary abandonment situation over and over again throughout the course of adult intimate romantic relationships, friendships and professional relationships. We can understand this behavior as the response to a still open gestalt. Increasing Physical Intimacy Increases Emotional Intimacy - Evolution Counseling. Emotion Regulation - Evolution Counseling. Emotions are a central part of human experience and living without them would be unthinkable for most people. Usually one of the tasks of therapy is to help a person experience emotions more deeply or conversely to rein them in.
From a diagnostic point of view schizoid personality disorder has as its central feature the lack of emotional engagement while borderline and histrionic personality disorders have as their central features too much emotional engagement. Actually all mammals share with us the part of the brain that is responsible for emotions, called the limbic system.
The evolutionary value of emotion is to be able to quickly assess a situation based on a gut feeling in order to respond correctly in the moment. We are not our emotions although they color our lives and give meaning to them. Contrast this with depression. If you struggle with some aspect of your emotions you can use the idea of existential freedom to your advantage. Overcoming Emotional Detachment - Evolution Counseling. Emotional Detachment And Compartmentalization - Evolution Counseling. Most psychological disciplines agree that an integrated personality structure is indicative of mental health, meaning of course that a fragmented personality structure is indicative of dysfunction. Take for example the greedy businessman who spends his week low balling, manipulating, conning, glorying in doing anything and everything under the sun necessary for material gain, who then attends church on Sunday where he sincerely believes he’s a Christian, where he listens with rapt attention to scripture readings and homilies that stress generosity and brotherhood and sisterhood and spiritual wealth as more important than material wealth.
This type of compartmentalization might help him function well in two disparate worlds but it’s also going to create conflict at the deeper level of his psyche, conflict that will bubble up and manifest in troubled personal relationships, nightmares, anxiety, depression, and other forms of mental illness. Misplaced Emotion - Evolution Counseling. What do we make of people who feel intense emotions for relatively meaningless events? Think of the guy whose favorite football team loses and decides to spend the rest of the day in bed, or the woman who gets cut off in traffic and screams in disgust, honking wildly as she erratically drives by.
Rather than considering these experiences unworthy of intense emotions, it’s better to take a moment to congratulate those who have not been beaten down by our culture to the point of not really feeling anything at all. These instances signify a continued engagement with life and the continued ability to access emotions and feel them deeply. Whether they are misplaced is not as important as the fact that they are still occurring. Once we have patted ourselves on the back for still being plugged in to life, we can start to do some self-analysis to see whether transference might be occurring. However, transference can occur in a much broader context. Afraid To Get Close - Evolution Counseling. Neurosis By Michael Schreiner | There are a million and one rationalizations to explain away the choice to remain emotionally distant in close relationships where intimacy is required.
Underneath all those rationalizations what’s really going for people is usually exactly the same. They’re afraid to get close. But they’ve repressed this fear and the reasons behind it because these reasons are too painful to face. At the conscious level they buy into whatever rationalizations seem most plausible and try to make others buy into them as well while at a deeper level of their beings they know the truth. They’re actually desperate for authentic human connection and suffer greatly for the lack of it. The real reasons behind the choice to remain emotionally distant almost always point back to the quality of the first and most important relationship with one or more primary caregivers. At some point a rather ingenious solution to the problem was taken. Emotional Detachment Is Not The Inability To Access Emotions - Evolution Counseling.
Be Who You Are - Evolution Counseling. Detached Personality And Interpersonal Conflict - Evolution Counseling. Emotions By Michael Schreiner | If you’ve read our other articles on emotional detachment it probably won’t surprise you to hear that people with detached personality don’t deal well with interpersonal conflict. Actually their solution is to try not to deal with it at all. At the first hint of conflict they escape the situation, or if that’s not possible they shut down. They refuse to engage, giving evasive answers to any prodding around what they’re thinking or feeling, making it clear through closed off body language that they aren’t going to play ball.
From the point of view of the observer, who can only see what’s going on from the outside, it usually seems like these people just don’t care very much and it’s exasperating. What is important to understand is that the calm veneer on the outside belies a lot of turmoil roiling and broiling on the inside. Relaxed on the outside, turmoil on the inside. Detached Personality And The Inability To Express Feelings - Evolution Counseling.
Neurosis By Michael Schreiner | We all approach the way we express what we’re really feeling differently. Some of us wear our hearts on our sleeves, some of us are more reserved. But as long as we feel able to let what we’re authentically feeling be known there’s little cause to label any point on that continuum as dysfunctional. But people with detached personality don’t feel capable of putting their authentic feelings out there, especially in conflict situations where that’s exactly what’s required of them. To observers people with detached personality seem like they just don’t care. Obviously this behavior is infuriating for partners and other intimates who don’t have access to the inner worlds of their emotionally detached counterparts but only to their outer behaviors, which seem rather cavalier and uncaring, discounting and demeaning, disconnected and cruel.
Detached Personality And Groups - Evolution Counseling. Neurosis By Michael Schreiner | People with detached personality abhor groups and actively avoid membership in them. The rationalization for this avoidance will usually center around the loss of individuality. They will demean the stupidity of ‘group think’. They will say and believe that they prize reason and rationality, that reason and rationality tend to go out the window in a group setting. But the real underlying reason for remaining outside of groups centers around the fear of coercion, around the need to control all the parameters of interpersonal relationships so that coercion cannot occur. Lots of people, rather than abhorring going along with what the group wants to do, actually love surrendering their individuality, they love getting swept up in what’s going on.
This is why the thought of surrendering individuality, much more likely to happen in a group than in a one on one setting, is so scary and why it’s avoided at all costs. Emotional Detachment In Relationships - Evolution Counseling. Detached Personality And Ambivalence - Evolution Counseling. Neurosis By Michael Schreiner | Most people struggling with detached personality actually don’t feel like they’re struggling at all.
They’re more or less content with their mode of relating to people and the world. While they may have the inkling that a certain something is missing, in this case the authentic sense of connection to external entities and the ability to share psychological and emotional material felt to be dangerous, you can’t miss what you don’t know. Usually what prompts those who chose detached personality as a life solution to the problem of helplessness in a world perceived as hostile to seek professional help is the complaints of the people around them, specifically romantic partners, who have come to find that emotional wall and the lack of felt connection it entails intolerable.
Therefore we can always expect ambivalence, or simultaneous contradictory thoughts and feelings, around the detached personality life solution. Detached Personality And Dependence - Evolution Counseling. It’s important to understand that people struggling with detached personality aren’t usually emotionally dead, their problem is not the inability to experience the wide range of emotions but rather the inability to share these emotional experiences with others, to let people in, to connect on an intimate level.
As Karen Horney put it, it’s as if they draw a magic circle around their emotional lives, they treat their emotional experiences as hallowed ground and don’t want anyone else stepping on it. At bottom, connecting with others constitutes a threat in the same way that most people feel threatened by the thought of not being able to connect with others, of not having someone to share their most intimate thoughts and feelings with. It can be useful for those who are emotionally detached to consider the worst case scenario in order to help them come out of their shells despite the perceived threat. “What is the worst thing that could happen if I let someone in, if I share my emotions?”
Detached Personality And Freedom - Evolution Counseling. People with detached personality are highly sensitive to any type of coercion, perceived or real. Their obstinate refusal to go along with this coercion can’t exactly be called rebelliousness since rebels are typically concerned with overthrowing the existing structure of things. Those who are emotionally detached just want nothing to do with the existing structure of things, they wish to be left in peace. This sensitivity to coercion is why they stay away from groups of all kinds, why they prefer jobs where they aren’t required to work closely with colleagues and where there is little oversight, why they’re unlikely to have many intimate relationships.
What does this strategy accomplish from the psychological point of view? Emotional detachment is usually rationalized as simply the desire for freedom. But the freedom those with detached personality have in mind is conceptualized in the negative sense, it’s freedom from not freedom for anything. Detached Personality - Evolution Counseling. We all know people in our lives who are detached. They tend to have trouble accessing or experiencing emotions. Some of the character traits present in a person like this are emphasis on independence, the fear of joining or being a part of groups, and aversion towards intimate relationships where opening up is so important. Someone who is emotionally detached will usually bounce from one relationship to the next, invariably distancing himself when threatened with increasing emotional closeness from his partner.
Although we usually tend to think of males as those who have trouble accessing their emotions, the underlying character structure that leads to psychological detachment can manifest itself just as easily in females. The goal in this article is to summarize some of the factors that go into the creation of a neurotic personality structure, specifically the emotionally detached type, and to provide a few useful analogies to help flesh out the ideas.