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Role of therapy in Anxiety, Internal voices, and interpretive distortions

Discussion in 'Psychiatry' started by Priyanga Singh, Aug 26, 2020.

  1. Priyanga Singh

    Priyanga Singh Young Member

    Sep 11, 2019
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    Anxiety is a state of heightened emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure, hyperventilation, and palpitations.

    Personalities with anxiety disorders usually have recurring catastrophizing thoughts or concerns about trivial situations, they get triggered with the slightest of a stimulus. This fear and worry stop them from living their lives and they are imprisoned and frozen by their imagining mind.

    It is a form of neurosis, Generalized anxiety disorder is a chronic state of severe worry and tension, they are always worried even without provocation. In extreme cases of Panic disorder, a person suffering gets sudden and repeated anxiety attacks characterized by intense fear and discomfort that peak within a few minutes, they tremble, cannot breathe, and become impulsive, it is mental health emergency.

    In the majority of cases, anxiety is accompanied by depression, and the two share an underlying genetic architecture, families with one or more family members with generalized anxiety disorders have higher chances of having multigenerational transmission of anxiety, depression, and suicides.

    Noteworthy point is that childhood experiences of living with neurotic hyper anxious parents also increases trauma. The family atmosphere of constant fear and worry play a role in forming an anxious disposition in a child’s personality. The amygdala is hypersensitive and overactive in such individuals from childhood, it triggers a threat where none exists. These personalities are in a way conditioned to be anxious without a cause.

    A neurosis…is not a disgrace…It is not a fatal disease, but it does grow worse to the degree that one is determined to ignore it. Carl Jung in his thought-provoking words is emphasizing the role of acknowledgment and treatment of anxiety disorders because ignorance just worsens the situation. This article highlights the major causes of the development of anxious personality and how therapy helps in these cases.

    Following are the main factors associated with anxious personalities –

    Internalized shame-

    An anxious person cannot be his authentic self because one feels flawed and deeply imperfect human being. The feeling of inadequacy is due to toxic shaming in childhood and developmental years of adolescent, these years are crucial for healthy mental and emotional development. Feeling flawed is covered up by control, contempt, criticism, and rage which lead to anxiety.

    Inner voice and interpretive distortions –

    A person with Internalized shame has cruel and self-sabotaging inner voices, they are always judging oneself and the world in a negative and distorted way. They doubt themselves and people around them, this makes them hypervigilant individuals who are always on guard. Therapy helps in recognition and rephrasing of these inner voices; it helps a person to detach from the inner critic and follow the path of positivity and faith.

    Lack of coping skills and destructive adaptive patterns –

    People with generalized anxiety have maladaptive patterns and behaviors when they face a fearful or adverse situation. They lack healthy coping skills and undergo fearful freezing or full-blown panic attack. The incorporation of healthy coping mechanisms is one of the milestones for good therapeutic sessions.

    Reacting and reenacting-

    High anxiety people live on the edge, they are easily hurt and react like wildfire. Sometimes it may cause disturbances in work life and intimate relationships. Learning to let go and stay low at the time of minor mishaps is an important adaptive behavior to learn.

    Perfectionism and controlling disorders-

    Most anxious personalities are perfectionists and like controlling people and situations. Life on planet earth is full of surprises and nothing is actually perfect in this imperfect world but people with perfectionist attitudes are often found to have unrealistic expectations from themselves and the world. This led to workaholism and thinking continually to improve minor details and exhausting and stressing oneself and others beyond human limits.

    Awfulizing, catastrophizing and, illusioning-

    This is a form of thought and perception distortion where the inner child looks at only one element of the situation and excludes everything else like having a tunnel vision. In these cases, one selects and overlays bad and traumatic events that happened in past on the present time reality and perceive present situation through filters of past experiences, in these situations, one becomes hypersensitive to anything suggestive of loss or hurt. This tunnel through the world is perceived to lead to magnification and awfulization of small bad things into horrific reality.

    They have continuous “what if” thoughts, storming, and catastrophizing present reality. They replay these catastrophic imaginary situations again and again like a broken record and get panic attacks without any real threats. It significantly steals life away from these hypervigilant personalities.

    The perpetual hesitation of the neurotic to launch out into life is readily explained by his desire to stand aside so as not to get involved in the dangerous struggle for existence. But anyone who refuses to experience life must stifle his desire to live – in other words, he must commit partial suicide”, Carl Jung in his book Symbols of Transformation has described how neurotic individuals see life passing by and not actually living it.

    Most anxious lives in the hell of their imaginative reality where they awfulize and catastrophize events that haven’t happened yet or may not even happen in reality.

    Breaking this pattern is the most powerful therapeutic exercise and may lead to a fulfilling and less scary perception of the world.

    Each of us has a particular tunnel to look through. Some of us are hypersensitive to anything suggesting loss and blind to any indication of gain. Psychotherapeutic sessions help to come out of the tunnel and have a wider view of reality.

    Loss of authentic self-

    As a child we choose to remain attached to our parents even if it means, losing our authentic self. In the process of pleasing and demanding the attention of parents, the fake self is created. The fake self and keeping its image unbreakable is a struggle and at times becomes exhausting. This gives undercurrent stress and despair which may affect work and intimate relationships.

    With the help of an experienced therapist and counselor one can reprogram and rectify his vision and approach towards life around him. Visit BetterHelp for more details about anxiety-related resources and connect with well-equipped and compassionate counselors.

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    Last edited: Aug 27, 2020

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