The most successful and well-adjusted adults come from homes in which love was experienced both liberally and unconditionally whereas parental approval for behavior was bestowed quite conditionally.
In the moment the disturbed character engages in their dysfunctional thinking and behavior patterns, you know they’re also resisting the idea of accepting and internalizing the values and controls necessary to change. That’s why they’re almost certain to repeat the same problem behaviors unless they are more reliably confronted and corrected.
For change to be properly promoted and reinforced, problem behaviors must be reckoned with at the very moment they occur. Toward that end, over the years I developed worksheets that both individuals with character impairments and their relationship partners have used to confront and correct dysfunctional behaviors, thinking patterns, and attitudes.
When it comes to gaining the skills to empower oneself – and especially when it comes to overcoming character deficiencies – perhaps nothing is as important as confronting, correcting, and ultimately replacing dysfunctional behavior patterns.
Most clinicians know how powerful a treatment approach Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is and when when asked, will tell you they’re both knowledgeable about and employ it’s principles. But in practice, what many therapists really do is primarily Cognitive Therapy (CT) or their own unique blend of CT and other traditional insight-oriented techniques.
Insight is a wonderful thing, but without challenging dysfunctional thinking and behavior patterns, and reinforcing efforts to do things differently, most people stay stuck.
There was a time in psychology when therapists were held in low esteem for passing any type of judgment on the beliefs or attitudes their patients held. But in the age of character disturbance, no self-respecting therapist can avoid not only recognizing but also confronting the dysfunctional beliefs that inevitably damage relationships.
Unlike their more “neurotic” counterparts, mostly character-impaired borderlines don’t just inadvertently manipulate out of their neediness and inadequacy. Rather, they more deliberately engage in dramatic, often hostile gestures to keep others both entangled and exploited.
There’s a dynamic interaction between the borderline individual’s innate predispositions and the traumatic early history they have typically experienced. It’s hard enough for a person who tends to react strongly and erratically, tends to think dialectically, and is prone to mentally splitting unitary realities into polar opposites to get a solid sense of what the world is like and how to deal with it. But when you put such an individual into an environment where there is actually is no safety or consistency, you have a recipe for genuine disaster when it comes to personality formation and solidification.
Programs that employ CBT principles have a good chance of doing some good. They at least have a better chance than those programs that operate from the traditional misguided perspective that abusers are wounded, love-hungry, insecure, self-esteem-deficient individuals, out of touch with their feelings, lacking in communication skills, and who simply know no other way to cope. But even some of the better CBT-based programs have some disturbing weaknesses. That’s partly because they often focus so heavily on the person’s thinking patterns and attitudes and not directly or intensely enough on their typical behavior patterns. It’s also because the prevailing but erroneous perspective guiding their structure is that anger is always the main precipitant of aggressive behavior.