(Clinical terms you've been unsure of, but were afraid
to ask about.)
Heal and Grow.
outside the norm, or abnormal; "his aberrant behavior
made her feel uneasy, and she was concerned for her children's safety
when he visited with the family."
or mixed desires and feelings create ambivalence. Example: Part
of us wants to attend a special function--but another part knows
we're going to encounter an individual we really don't
want to run into. We feel torn and confused about which choice will
serve us better. We're ambivalent about going to this event,
even though we've looked forward to it. Another example is, you
might want to attend a friend's party, but feel too tired to shower,
shave, dress and make the drive to get you there! It's a struggle,
but staying home and relaxing could be the better choice for you
in this instance. Note~ humans are complex and intricate. We seldom
ever experience just one single emotion at a time, as different
facets of us can feel quite differently at the same time.
means old, ancient or it happened very early in life--as in, this
archaic issue stems from painful experiences in infancy/early
Deficit Disorder or ADD: This
is considered a learning disability, and it's a neurological (physical)
issue. ADHD is an ADD with a hyperactivity component.
Each can exist in adults as well as
children, and neither is a personality defect, or character
flaw! ADD and Bipolar Disorders are both cyclical
conditions that impact mood stability. They do not
drive acting-out behaviors--as are described below, under Borderline
Personality Disorder. Read about ADD/ADHD here.
is a mood disorder that's defined by extreme shifts in mood; up
or down (elated or depressed), agitated/hyper or underfunctioning.
There are three specific types of Bipolar Disorder, but many suffer
from non-specific or atypical types, which can go undetected/undiagnosed
by physicians during a psychiatric evaluation. This
is a clinical condition that's usually responsive to medication.
Read more about this mood disorder here.
Disorder, or BPD: Personality
disorders drive erratic behavors that are disruptive/damaging to
relationships. Borderlines are often misdiagnosed with Bipolar
Disorder, because their temperament and moods can fluctuate
wildly. Some individuals should be dual-diagnosed, as these two
disorders frequently coexist. In my view, BPD houses a panoply
of other disorders; Attachment Disorder, Narcissistic Personality
Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality
Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder,
Avoidant Personality Disorder, Eating Disorders, etc. Even Anxiety
and Panic Disorders can be part of a Borderline's symptomology.
Hallmarks of BPD include; desperate
attempts to gain attention, intense/irrational abandonment fears,
lack of empathy, lying, extreme jealousy, poor impulse control,
cheating or extramarital affairs, drug/alcohol abuse, hypersexuality,
'crazy-making' interactions, low self-esteem, rebound relationships,
passive-aggression, cognitive distortion, suicidal ideation, self-harming
behaviors, splitting (love you/hate you), etc. Find
articles on Borderline Personality Disorder here.
definition, this is an unequal/unbalanced distribution of power
in a relationship; one person is dependent (often, on a
substance or activity) and has little or no self-worth or empowerment--the
other is The Co-dependent or enabler, who controls the partner,
and needs to be needed due (also) to poor self-worth. Codependency
is not the disease; it's a symptom of deeper issues, like enmeshment,
fear of abandonment, attachment difficulties, insecurities, etc.
Read more about this issue here.
see this term used in reference to Borderline Personality Disorder.
Basically, it's when someone's processing plant (brain) twists/distorts
information and experiences that are either past or present. You
may be trying to have a rational conversation with your lover--but
rather than staying on track, they double-back so to speak, and
bring up something that's unrelated to the immediate train
of thought or topic at hand. When someone's responses to you feel
seriously incongruent with what you would expect, they are considered
to be 'thought disordered.' In any case, their interactions
deflect your efforts to get through to them (feel understood)
or make a point--which derails your ability to gain resolution with
to dual, mixed or multiple diagnoses which simultaneously exist
within an individual. This is the only place on this site
that you'll see this clinical term used, as I've just always simply
adjective describes behavior that takes the place of genuine
feelings and desires. As an example; let's say a guy's interested
in a girl, and he waits a week or more to phone, so he can seem
disinterested or 'cool.' He thinks this makes him appear more confident
than he is--but this game is only masking his desire to connect,
and it's compensating for his insecurity, poor self-worth,
feelings of inadequacy, etc.
Core Trauma: This
involves wounds to our sense of Self during infancy and early childhood.
Core trauma typically starts within the first year of life, if we're
unable to form a solid and trusting bond with our birth mothers,
and sense that we are cherished, safe and loved. This difficulty
influences all later attachment endeavors, and leaves one feeling
unworthy of genuine care, concern and affection from another.
more about this here.
is when we side-step taking responsibility for an issue, or we divert
attention away from answering an uncomfortable question. As an example;
you're asked by your partner if you are cheating on him/her. You
their query by crying, acting agitated or outraged that
this question would even come up--but you never answer it directly.
simply, a lack of personal power. Low self-esteem or self-worth.
Inability to feel worthy of receiving attention, admiration
and love. Not capable of attracting healthy/rewarding personal and
professional relationships. A sense of helplessness, inadequacy
and hopelessness are all aspects of feeling disempowered. Reference
entitlement issues (below).
someone's disappointment, rage or frustration is taken out on you--but
they're actually upset with someone else (a parent, spouse,
boss, etc.), and you're getting the heat for it. Their
intense emotions are being displaced onto you, because
you're the less threatening or safer target
for their anger. Similar to transference (see below).
people want to say dis-association, but that's incorrect
terminology.) In very simple terms, this is when we separate from
our feelings during an intensely painful or distressing experience.
It's sort of like your body's still here, but your mind
has checked out. Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is an extreme
example of this. The more familiar diagnostic term for
this issue, is Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). In these instances,
various aspects of one's personality step-in to assist him/her with
managing the current crisis or difficulty, so that the primary
Self can protect itself from more harm. Dissociation from emotions
is common among core injured individuals, who may present with Narcissistic
or Borderline Personality Disorder. The acquired defense of hyper-analyzing
one's pain in childhood rather than experiencing it in the body
can save a young life~ but it makes for difficult relationship dynamics
in adulthood. If one is disconnected from one's own pain, how can
he/she relate to or empathize with another's? See below...
is the capacity to identify with, and relate to another's
feelings, needs and experiences--to walk in their shoes
so to speak, or view a situation from their perspective. If you
can't feel sympathy and compassion for yourself, you have no genuine
capacity to give these feelings to someone else! Real empathy is
a byproduct of emotional growth. It's a stage of our development
that we're supposed to have navigated between the ages
of around 9 to 12 years old. If disruptive childhood events curtailed
our ability to learn empathy, it's referred to as developmental
arrest. Arrested emotional development is key to Narcissistic
and Borderline Personality Disorders. *Not
to be confused with sympathy (see below).
can happen between a parent and child, or within a romantic endeavor.
Fear of engulfment may look like, or be acted-out as fear
of commitment. The feelings involved with this issue are; "I'm
afraid that if I get too close to you, I'll have to give up too
much of me," or "I can't be
myself, when I'm around you." Engulfment means loss of
Self--or the surrender of one's own needs and desires.
is the inability to discern and separate your feelings
and needs from another's. A simple example
would be, when a couple's trying to decide on which restaurant or
movie they want, each is unable to assert his or her preference,
for fear of incurring the other's anger or disappointment. This
usually prompts a vicious cycle of; "well, I don't know,
what do you want to do?" In short, it's
the inability to sense where You end--and another begins! Enmeshment
also inhibits you from being yourself, for fear of being rejected
or abandoned by somebody. The root of this issue begins when an
infant's mother disapproves of his need to separate/individuate
when he starts to crawl, and discover that he's no longer physically
joined or connected to her. Enmeshment is dangerous in romantic
relationships, because each partner is disconnected from his/her
own feelings, believing they should be always responsive to the
other's. This causes suppression of natural, normal feelings, and
acting out in ways that are highly injurious to the partner
and the relationship. Read more about this issue here.
entitlement means you feel worthy of receiving
love, monetary success, opportunity, good fortune, care and affection
from others, etc. Many folks use/think about this word improperly.
They're usually referencing the false-self in someone who
thinks they're "entitled" to be indulged/spoiled, or that
the world owes them a living--but real entitlement isn't
demanding or boastful. False-self issues are solely ego driven,
and are masking the real feelings of inadequacy and poor
self-esteem. In other words, they're compensatory. Lack
of healthy entitlement drives codependency,
aggressive behaviors, chronic financial struggles and addiction.
refers to the cause or origin of an issue--how something began or
its point of inception, if you will.
use globalization to minimize or normalize their behaviors
or reactions to something. If you're relating with someone who tries
to make their bad traits or actions seem commonplace or like no
big deal, you're with someone who's needing to justify their
aberrant behaviors, or put one over on you. "Everyone's like
that" or "anyone would feel/behave that way"
are global statements, and they're typically untrue.
is the name of a vacuum cleaner company that's been around forever.
The term hoover or 'hoovering' is descriptive of being sucked back
into a relationship after someone's made it nearly impossible for
you to stay. Specifically, this applies to the borderline personality's
effort to try and re-engage you (when they feel depressed or empty)
after having pushed you away, or broken up with you.
a man's persistent inability to achieve orgasm through intercourse,
difficulty getting/maintaining erections, chronic premature ejaculation.
refers to someone treating/speaking to you like you're an infant.
Narcissistic people are notorious for infantalizing others
which can be infuriating, especially after you've become an adult
who can think for yourself!
of exhilaration when you begin a relationship, which have little
to do with the other person. Infatuation is the ability to fall
in love with Yourself, under the adoring gaze of another--which
is why it's so darned addictive!
Don't confuse this feeling with love for someone.
Love takes time to build and establish--and it's about gradually
coming to trust, admire and respect somebody who's separate and
different from you.
simply, this is about walking your talk. It requires you
to do the hard stuff, the awkward stuff, and deal with feelings
you'd normally want to sweep under the rug, and never look at again--'cause
it makes you feel nauseous if you don't. Integrity means having
enough emotional development to have gained empathy for another,
and understand how you'd be feeling in their shoes. Integrity
is a natural by-product of moral development, which cannot
be achieved without a reasonable level of emotional growth. It means
being completely honest with yourself, so that you can
be honest with others.
think of this as, Into-Me-See. It doesn't involve
talking about your past relationships, or dysfunctional family secrets.
It's about having the courage to say what's on your mind or in your
heart in the present moment without censoring yourself~ and hoping
your partner or friend won't reject or abandon you for it. It's
basically the genuine you, sharing your Self with another (what
This is when someone tries
to overpower and derail you in the midst of a disagreement by bringing
up issues that are ancient, or have already been discussed and resolved.
In other words, they throw everything at you, but the kitchen
sink. This tactic is used to control, as it deflects
all your attempts to have important conversations leading to conflict
resolution, and diverts the dialogue to issues that have nothing
to do with the original topic at hand. Borderlines are notorious
for playing this toxic game.
This is a way of thinking that's
implanted early in life, when it's impossible to separate from emotional,
psychic or physical pain. It leaves one with a sense of "what's
the use?" and inhibits him/her from sensing that there are
options, and effective methods to escape their anguish.
Animal studies were done many years ago, which illustrated this
psychological phenomenon. Scientists stood above a room with shallow
walls, and poked groups of dogs who couldn't escape shocks that
were administered by the humans with electrical prods, no matter
where the dogs positioned themselves in this room. After a certain
number of days, the scientists opened the door to that room which
would allow the dogs to flee their tormentors, but none of them
left. They'd been conditioned to believe there was no escape
from their pain, and remained. Learned helplessness is
a leftover from childhood abuse.
partnership of two individuals committed to enhancing each
other's strengths, and balancing each other's weaknesses. A stronger,
more highly functioning unit than only one, which thrives on mutual
support and protection, and encourages/celebrates autonomous growth.
Healthy marriage must continually work to solidify and enhance the
marital bond, so partners may continue to grow alongside
each other, and their union reflects these developmental changes.
Intimacy that stops growing, has begun dying.
pleasure from being invalidated, abused or dominated; a taste for
is so much to be said about narcissism, and I don't want to be redundant
here. Narcissists see The World as their stage, and they're the
lead character (the Star). To them, everyone else plays a supporting
role that's far less significant. The Narcissist presumes to know
what someone else is feeling or thinking, because he can't imagine
that their experience is different from His. He only has
his frame of reference to draw from, due to a lack of empathy
(see above), so his own needs, preferences and ideations are overlaid
(or projected) onto others. You are considered an extension
of the Narcissist, like an appendage--without a mind or will of
your own (far less than a whole or separate person). If you fail
to be a 'positive' reflection of this individual, he/she will amputate
you out of their life--whether you're their child, their best friend,
their sibling, etc. The Narcissist must control
his relationships, and chooses associations that are weaker/more
needful, so that he can always be in the one-up
position, and remain in charge. All relationships exist only
on the Narcissist's terms. 'Toxic Narcissism' is more descriptive
of someone with BPD or Borderline Personality Disorder features.
This term is often used
in Object Relations Theory, which is regarded as a psychoanalytic
treatment approach. All infants up until a certain age experience
anxiety when their mom leaves the room (like at nap time),
as they haven't yet acquired the sense that she'll ever return.
At a specific stage in an infant's development, he/she begins to
learn and trust that the mother will eventually come back after
she leaves her baby's presence for awhile;
this is referred to as object constancy. In Borderlines,
this phase of their growth was not successfully negotiated, due
to deficits in early care/attention. They weren't able to gain a
solid sense of trust with their first 'object' of attachment (the
mother). This often spawns an issue called anxious attachment--which
manifests in their adult relationships as intense/irrational abandonment
fears, extreme jealousy, a deep sense of despair when alone, panic
Disorder (OCD): In my
view, this should be named Obsessive-Control Disorder,
for significant control issues are at the core of this issue. Anxiety/Panic
Disorders and OCD result from years of shutting-down or denying
various feelings/emotions. This
is a reflexive problem that stems from having bypassed feelings,
instincts and intuitions to the extent that you've dissociated from
your body, and are functioning on 'automatic pilot.' To put this
another way, when you're asleep at the wheel,
the need for a system/regimen that
helps you feel safer/more secure, is extremely heightened.
from the word, paradox. Simply put, this means
an opposite, or contrary response from the norm. A paradoxical
reaction to an antidepressant,
has you feeling even more depressed or suicidal. Paradox
is often observed in someone with Borderline Personality Disorder.
They often respond to kind, loving gestures by picking a fight,
devaluing you, pushing away, etc., as emotional distance feels better/safer
This is a devious, diabolical
way to convey your anger, disappointment or hurt to someone, without
speaking with them about it. In essence, your feelings
toward him/her get acted-out instead of talked about, but
you might complain to others about your upset with that
person. This can happen within families, when a member 'telegraphs'
their feelings about one sibling to another--but doesn't directly
address the person who's the source of their discomfort. Verbal
passivity usually includes sarcasm, or under the breath comments
that come at you in a kind of sideways manner, but feel like undermining,
painful jabs/injuries, just the same. Passive-aggression is very
hurtful and highly destructive to any type of relationship. Read
more about this here.
refers to something very old and deep. A primitive wound
usually references psychic/emotional trauma that occurred during
infancy or early childhood.
is when we can only see our own issues when we've assigned
them to someone else. The other person is a movie screen (of sorts),
which allows us to view unfavorable aspects (in them), that we've
not been able to face in ourselves. We typically feel very
strongly about the issues we project onto another, because
it's too distressing to recognize or claim them as ours. Projection
is extremely common among borderline disordered individuals.
simplest way to define psychosis, is that it's the inability
to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Within the realm of
Borderline Personality Disorder, the Self is fragmented (or broken)
to the extent that facts are distorted by one's subjective emotional
experience, with no objective or rational inner frame of reference
for what's real, valid and true.
is a naturally occurring stage within an infant's separation/individuation
phase of development. It refers to one's increasing need
for autonomy or separateness from the mother, and frustration/anger
that this can't be achieved, because of substantial dependency needs
that remain intact during this time (about 15 - 24 months of age).
This stage is often referred to as "the terrible two's"
due to the toddler's need to rebel against the parental units, and
have his/her way. This has far reaching implications for Borderlines,
in reference to developmental arrest and the push-pull relational
dynamics that occur when they begin to experience attachment or
emotional dependency on another. Core damaged adults in solid/meaningful
treatment typically want to leave therapy between 12 and 24 months,
due to subconscious attachment/abandonment anxiety that's
stirred at this point in their growth/development.
pleasure from inflicting pain/suffering and domination or control
is when our body (or physical self) manifests troubling, but subconsciously
held unresolved psychic/emotional trauma. Therapeutic clients may
suddenly get sleepy (for example), when their clinician gets close
to an uncomfortable truth, and they want to 'check out.' Most ailments/illnesses
are prompted by long-standing, unresolved pain and rage from childhood,
which gets somaticized. During this process, our body's
health is negatively impacted.
intimate, close union between two dissimilar organisms in a mutually
beneficial relationship. Mutualism. The symbiotic bond
is referenced throughout various articles on this wellness site.
This term describes the intense/special attachment between a mother
and her infant (or the lack of same) that's a deep infatuation
or love affair between the two. It is this
connection that influences our sense of worth in all future attachments,
if the maternal bond is secure and loving.
ability to feel sorry for another, whether a person or animal. An
aspect of compassion. Not to be confused with empathy (see
is natural within a therapeutic dynamic, where childhood feelings
and struggles with a parent, get transferred onto the therapist.
This healthy, necessary aspect of meaningful treatment allows unresolved
issues to surface, be dealt with and healed. Transference happens
in interpersonal relationships, too. Somebody may unwittingly step
on an emotional land mine we've had buried, that's left over from
a painful earlier experience. In our mind's eye, this could
seem like a minor slight--but it hurts like hell or makes us furious,
because it's virtually pulling the scab off a much older,
deeper wound. When we're highly reactive to something our head
tells us is "no big deal," it's usually because someone
has set off a bomb in our emotional minefield.
This is especially true with a borderline disordered individual--which
literally has us walking on eggshells! In general, this issue is
a major cause of relationship disintegration
(dis-integration), and it's all subconsciously driven.
refers to the inclusion of a third element (person, pet, activity,
substance) into a relationship, in order to ease the tension between
two people. There's
an old saying in the psychological community; "A three
legged table is more stable than a two legged one." Personality
disordered people have trouble with healthy intimacy and relational
stability, so they're more prone to triangulating their
primary relationship or having affairs. Borderlines and Narcissists
typically fear attachment/closeness, so they may try to
manage this anxiety by diverting their focus to another person.
Illicit affairs are used to distract or divert from feelings
the main attachment evokes. Diversions often take the form of working
longer hours, getting a new pet, alcohol/drug abuse, having a baby,
etc. Basically, anything that takes attention off the couple's connection,
triangulates the relationship. (Derives from the word,
the nervous compulsion to pull out facial hair (eyelashes, eyebrows,
etc.) or body hair. Considered a facet of BPD self-mutilation.
painful, spasmodic contracting of the vagina, which prevents sexual
intercourse/penetration. This is a somatic issue, generally brought
on by unresolved childhood incest or sexual abuse trauma. At its
core, this is a very deep fear of closeness, and inability to trust