Invalidation

Discussion in 'Suicidal Thoughts and Feelings' started by Morte, Sep 1, 2007.

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  1. Morte

    Morte Guest

    Who relates to the following article?

    "Invalidation may be the single most damaging form of psychological abuse."

    http://eqi.org/invalid.htm

    Introduction

    Invalidation is to reject, ignore, mock, tease, judge, or diminish someone's feelings. Constant invalidation may be one of the most significant reasons a person with high innate emotional intelligence suffers from unmet emotional needs later in life.(1) A sensitive child who is repeatedly invalidated becomes confused and begins to distrust his own emotions. He fails to develop confidence in and healthy use of his emotional brain-- one of nature's most basic survival tools. To adapt to this unhealthy and dysfunctional environment, the working relationship between his thoughts and feelings becomes twisted. His emotional responses, emotional management, and emotional development will likely be seriously, and perhaps permanently, impaired. The emotional processes which worked for him as a child may begin to work against him as an adult. In fact, one defintion of the so-called "borderline personality disorder" is "the normal response of a sensitive person to an invalidating environment" (2)

    Psychiatrist R.D. Laing said that when we invalidate people or deny their perceptions and personal experiences, we make mental invalids of them. He found that when one's feelings are denied a person can be made to feel crazy even they are perfectly mentally healthy. (Reference)

    Recent research by Thomas R. Lynch, Ph.D. of Duke University supports the idea that invalidation leads to mental health problems. He writes "...a history of emotion invalidation (i.e., a history of childhood psychological abuse and parental punishment, minimization, and distress in response to negative emotion) was significantly associated with emotion inhibition (i.e., ambivalence over emotional expression, thought suppression, and avoidant stress responses). Further, emotion inhibition significantly predicted psychological distress, including depression and anxiety symptoms.) (Reference)

    Invalidation goes beyond mere rejection by implying not only that our feelings are disapproved of, but that we are fundamentally abnormal. This implies that there is something wrong with us because we aren't like everyone else; we are strange; we are different; we are weird.

    None of this feels good, and all of it damages us. The more different from the mass norm a person is, for example, more intelligent or more sensitive, the more he is likely to be invalidated. When we are invalidated by having our feelings repudiated, we are attacked at the deepest level possible, since our feelings are the innermost expression of our individual identities.

    Psychological invalidation is one of the most lethal forms of emotional abuse. It kills confidence, creativity and individuality.

    Telling a person she shouldn't feel the way she does feel is akin to telling water it shouldn't be wet, grass it shouldn't be green, or rocks they shouldn't be hard. Each persons's feelings are real. Whether we like or understand someone's feelings, they are still real. Rejecting feelings is rejecting reality; it is to fight nature and may be called a crime against nature, "psychological murder", or "soul murder." Considering that trying to fight feelings, rather than accept them, is trying to fight all of nature, you can see why it is so frustrating, draining and futile. A good guideline is:

    First accept the feelings, then address the behavior.

    One the great leaders in education, Haim Ginott, said this:

    Primum non nocere- First do no harm. Do not deny your teenager's perception. Do not argue with his experience. Do not disown his feelings.

    We regularly invalidate others because we ourselves were, and are often invalidated, so it has become habitual. Below are a few of the many ways we are invalidated:

    We are told we shouldn't feel the way we feel
    We are dictated not to feel the way we feel
    We are told we are too sensitive, too "dramatic"
    We are ignored
    We are judged
    We are led to believe there is something wrong with us for feeling how we feel
    You Can't Heal an Emotional Wound with Logic

    People with high IQ and low EQ tend to use logic to address emotional issues. They may say, "You are not being rational. There is no reason for you to feel the way you do. Let's look at the facts." Businesses, for example, and "professionals" are traditionally out of balance towards logic at the expense of emotions. This tends to alienate people and diminish their potential.

    Actually, all emotions do have a basis in reality, and feelings are facts, fleeting though they may be. But trying to dress an emotional wound, with logic tends to either confuse, sadden or infuriate a person. Or it may eventually isolate them from their feelings, with a resulting loss of major part of their natural intelligence.

    Remember:

    You can't solve an emotional problem, or heal an emotional wound, with logic alone.

    There are many forms of invalidation. Most of them are so insidious that we don't even know what is happening. We know that something doesn't feel good, but we sometimes can't put our finger on it. We have been conditioned to think that invalidation is "normal." Indeed, it is extremely common, but it is certainly not healthy.

    I have heard parents and teachers call children:

    dramatic, crybabies, whiners, whingers, too sensitive, worry warts, drama queens

    I have also heard them say things like: "He cries at the drop of a hat." One teacher said "When she starts to cry, I just ignore her and eventually she stops." Another said, "When one kid's crying is disrupting the lesson, I tell them to go cry in the hall till they can pull themselves back together again."
     
  2. TwilightHours

    TwilightHours Active Member

    Well, to say I belong in "the norm" wouldn't be true, so perhaps it's just odd that I often invalidate my own feelings with logical thinking, and it has helped me keep some moderate control over my emotions.

    I can see, however, that for a child, it makes things too complicated, too hard, and can leave deep wounds. I've been called cold-hearted for a certain lack of emotion I've expressed, so I suppose it just isn't so bad for me.
     
  3. JustWatchMeChange

    JustWatchMeChange Well-Known Member

    You shouldn't feel the way we feel. You have so much going for you. You are being irrational.
     
  4. JustWatchMeChange

    JustWatchMeChange Well-Known Member

    Just kidding. Hey we need a little humor here. You are going to have to realize who is "safe" to show your feelings to and who is not. Do not cast your pearls before swine. On the other hand, don't become bitter towards these people. They are trying and just don't understand.
     
  5. brainstorm

    brainstorm Well-Known Member

    Yep, when your own mother tells you that feeling desire for a girl is wrong, you're bound to get damaged. Desire can't be stopped.

    Getting bullied and feeling massive waves of rage, but feeling helpless to use it: "Just ignore them"
    Getting home in a sad state after being bullied, to a depressed mother: "Please behave, don't give me problems, I sacrifice myself for you." Sure Mum, I'll be perfect just for you.
    Trying to be perfect and failing, obviously, and crying because of it: "You're spoiled, you've got no reason to cry." (on the face of crying because I forgot my pencils at home, maybe my teacher was right, but anyways...)

    Shame. Shame shame shame. All my feelings led to shame.
     
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