Tag Archives: knowledge

Things To Hide: How Honest Are You?

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Is anyone completely honest? Is it even possible for anyone to be that transparent? Or does everyone have, for whatever reason, at least a few things they hide?

It might be because they’re ashamed to share something, whether it’s something they’ve done or something they don’t like about themselves. Or it might be because it’s better for everyone else that they don’t reveal something: they saw something they shouldn’t have or they know something no-one else knows. I’m thinking about things that don’t harm anyone if these things aren’t revealed; so it’s no moral code that’s being broken here. The only thing that’s being broken is the ability of a person to wholeheartedly reveal all of themself to another person.

Of course, none of us can completely share everything with another person due to our brains being encased in our bodies at a ratio of 1:1. No matter how much you share and how well you share it, I will never be able to understand it or experience it the way you do. We have the gift of communication and as relational beings we can relate to each other, but I will never know if what I experience is exactly the same as what you experience, close though it may be. It’s the whole when I see blue you may be seeing purple scenario, and even if we both saw blue, we may be seeing different shades of blue and never know.

Excluding the limitations of the physical design of our bodies and things like time and memory, I wonder if there’s anyone who is known completely by another person. I naturally think of people who are married or who have been with someone for many years. I used to think going out with someone meant they would know everything about you. This terrified me and it was the reason I thought I’d never go out with anyone; not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t think I could share everything with another person. If a prerequisite for going out with someone was you had to tell them everything – as I thought it was – then I was doomed to be alone forever.

I’ve come to realize though, that even marriage doesn’t mean two people will know everything about each other. Sure, they will probably know each other more than any other person, but they’ll always be learning new things about each other. People can go into marriage thinking it will fulfil them because, “At last I will be known completely,” only to realize that’s not how it works. I’m okay with this. I know not to look for fulfilment from another person; that’s too high a pressure to put on someone.

I had a friend tell me, “It’s not like that,” when I told her my fears about having to share everything with a guy if we were to go out. This made me wonder, “Well, what is it like then?” Because as much as I feared having to share everything, I also desperately wanted to. In one way I was relieved that I don’t have to reveal everything, but in another way I was kind of disappointed. I wanted to be known by someone, and now I found out going out with someone and even marrying them wasn’t going to guarantee that. Was there no hope for me to be known?

This wouldn’t be an issue if I was honest with everyone and had nothing to hide. I wouldn’t have this need to be known and this desire to share everything if I was already known. And it is this that brings me back to my original question: is anyone completely honest? Or is it just me who feels like no-one truly knows me?

Maybe it’s okay to not reveal everything. Maybe it’s just a personality thing. Some people are open books; others keep things inside. I’m quiet and introverted so maybe that explains why the thought of sharing everything terrifies me and why I feel like no-one really knows me. This would all be fine except I have a need to be known. Is this something of the human condition that we all simply want to be known? And is this because we were made to be known? I don’t mean that we’re all made to be famous, just that people will know us for who we really are.

I don’t think it’s just a personality thing for me, though, because it’s only certain things I don’t feel I can share: things I’m ashamed of, things I don’t like about myself, my fears and insecurities. Do I have more of these things than other people, or do I just fear sharing them more than other people? I worry about what people will think of me. I worry they’ll think badly of me. I worry they’ll judge me.

But I want to share these things because if I don’t, no-one will ever truly know me. Maybe all the things I want to share don’t need to be shared, but I always thought if someone wanted to really know me, they’d want me to share everything. Maybe other people don’t think people are hiding anything, because they themselves don’t hide anything. I, on the other hand, know I hide things so I assume others hide things too and I want to know them. It matters to me.

I want to know people and I want them to know me.

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The Best Personality Test

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The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality test based on Carl Jung’s theory of types. The test determines the preferences people have in terms of how they see the world and make decisions. These preferences are what shape a person’s interests, values, motivations, skills and needs.

There are four sets of dichotomies that are measured on a scale:

  • How you’re energized- extroversion (E) or introversion (I)
  • How you take in information- sensing (S) or intuition (N)
  • How you make decisions and evaluations- thinking (T) or feeling (F)
  • How do you structure the world- judging (J) or perceiving (P)

All eight are used but people differ in which ones they prefer to use. We might not know we prefer one trait over another but it’s the one we naturally do without even thinking about it. The trait that is preferred tends to be more dominant and highly developed than the other trait in the dichotomy.

Here’s a brief explanation of each trait:

Extroversion- Focus on the external world of action, people and things
Introversion- Focus on the internal world of reflection, thoughts and ideas

Sensing- Perceive the world through the five senses and what is present
Intuition- Perceive the world through insights and possibilities

Thinking- Objective decisions are made based on logic
Feeling- Subjective decisions are made based on values

Judging- Approach the world in a structured, planned, organized way
Perceiving- Approach the world in an open, flexible and spontaneous way

Once you know which four preferences you have, you know your personality type, which is expressed as a four letter code. There are sixteen types:

ISTJ ISFJ INFJ INTJ
ISTP ISFP INFP INTP
ESTP ESTP ENFP ENTP
ESTJ ESFJ ENFJ ENTJ

All types are equal and valid. There is no best type. They are simply different ways of seeing the world and making decisions.

Get to know and love your type but remember you are not just your personality. Personality makes up a part of you, and your MBTI type is only a part of your personality (other personality tests may show you different things about yourself). There is more to you than your type and there will be unique things about you that don’t match up with your type. No personality test will be able to describe or explain you completely, but I still see their worth for the small measure they do help you to know yourself better.

I have found the MBTI personality test to be the best because it has helped me understand myself better than any other test. You can read about that in this post: MBTI and Personality Enlightenment.

How well do you know yourself?

To find out your personality type, do this personality test.

Once you’ve found out your personality type, go to this personality profile page and click on your four letter code. I have found these particular profiles to be the most useful but you can also type your type into Google and check out what other profiles say about you.

Leave a comment with your type and the name for your type – I’d love to know how accurate you think it is for you and if it helped at all.

Stigma of being a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder

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This is from a girl with borderline personality disorder. She writes of her experiences with society and therapy. If anyone has other experiences, feel free to comment! Thank you Stephanie, for contributing. We need people who dare to speak up, like you do.

Livingonborderlines
 · 35 like this

July 19 at 2:49am

I wrote this a while ago on the stigma of being a woman with borderline personality disorder, and want to dedicate this to “For free psychology
I DON’T LIKE TO TELL PEOPLE MY DIAGNOSIS. I’LL TELL PEOPLE I’M SICK, I’LL TELL PEOPLE I SEE A THERAPIST, I’LL TELL PEOPLE I HAVE “EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS” BUT I’M ASHAMED OF “BORDERLINE.” SOMETIMES I JUST SAY I HAVE SOME OTHER MENTAL DISORDER BECAUSE THE STIGMA ATTACHED TO IT IS LESS THAN THE STIGMA OF BEING BORDERLINE. YES, MENTAL DISORDERS, ALL MENTAL DISORDERS HAVE A STIGMA BUT I FEEL SOME ARE WORSE THAN OTHERS. BORDERLINE IS ONE OF THE MOST STIGMATIZED DISORDERS, THAT ALONG WITH DRUG ABUSE (WHICH ISN’T A MENTAL DISORDER BUT IS USUALLY RELATED TO IT) IT’S SEEN AS OUR FAULT. IT’S NOT A “CHEMICAL IN-BALANCE.” YOU CAN’T SEE THE REASONS FOR WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO ON A BRAIN SCAN.
  • borderlYOU CAN’T EXPLAIN OUR FEARS, OUR RAGE AND OUR DESPAIR WITH NEUROTRANSMITTERS AND SYNAPSES. WE CAN’T PULL OUT THE LATEST EDITION OF THE DSM-V AND POINT TO A DESCRIPTION THAT INVOKES SYMPATHY, THE VERY DEFINITION OF OUR ILLNESS FURTHER INCRIMINATES US. WE HAVE “INTENSE EMOTIONAL OUTBURSTS.” WE HAVE “UNSTABLE RELATIONSHIPS.” WE ARE NOTORIOUSLY “PROMISCUOUS.” WE ARE IMPULSIVE. WE ARE DEMANDING. WE DRIVE TOO FAST. WE ARE LOUD. WE ARE ANGRY. WE ARE AGGRESSIVE. WE WANT YOUR ATTENTION. 
  • THERAPISTS AND PSYCHIATRISTS DO NOT UNDERSTAND US. WE DON’T BEHAVE THE WAY THEY EXPECT US TO. WE DON’T SIT ON THEIR SOFT LEATHER COUCHES, DESCRIBING OURSELVES AS THE PASSIVE, HELPLESS VICTIMS THEY’RE USED TO SEEING. WE AREN’T THE GIRLS HIDING IN OUR CLOSETS ALL DAY, WE ARE THE WOMEN WHO WRITE OUR RAGE ON THE WALLS. WE ARE NOT SITTING BY THE PHONE WAITING, WE ARE SCREAMING AT YOU IN THE PARKING LOT AT 2:00 AM. WE DON’T STAY IN OUR HOSPITAL BEDS CRYING, ZONED OUT ON AMBIEN, WE ARE THE WOMAN AT THE FRONT DESK CUSSING OUT THE NURSE. WE ARE THE CRAZY BITCHES THAT MEN SPEAK OF.WE ARE TRAUMATIZED. WE ARE ABUSED. WE HAVE DARK PASTS AND WE DON’T LET GO AND WE DON’T HIDE OUR SCARS. SOME OF US EVEN WEAR THEM ON OUR ARMS. UNLIKE MANY OTHER WOMEN WHO HAVE SUFFERED TRAUMAS, WE DON’T GO TO OUR SADNESS, WE GO TO OUR ANGER.

     

    OUR FRUSTRATION IS INTENSE. IN THERAPY WE ARE TAUGHT TO CONTROL OUR “RESPONSES” TO OUR RIGHTEOUS ANGER. WE ARE TOLD THAT OUR REACTIONS ARE “EXTREME.” WE TRY NOT TO “DOMINATE THE CONVERSATION” BUT WE WANT IS TO BE HEARD. WE ARE TIRED OF BEING TOLD TO CONTROL OUR TONE, THE VOLUME OF OUR VOICES. OUR RAGE IS RAW AND WE KNOW THAT IT IS REAL.

    Rage is our comfort zone, the emotions we are not allowed to express “in public”. WE HAVE LEARNED HOW TO TAKE THAT RAGE AND PUT INTO OUR OURSELVES.

  • WE HAVE HURT OURSELVES SO MUCH MORE THAN WE WILL EVER HURT YOU. OUR RAGE IS OUR DRUG ABUSE AND OUR BINGE DRINKING. OUR RAGE IS OUR OVERDOSES AND OUR ALCOHOL POISONING. OUR RAGE IS OUR CUTTING. OUR RAGE IS OUR SHATTERED MIRRORS, OUR RAGE IS THE HOLES WE PUNCHED IN OUR OWN WALLS. OUR RAGE IS OUR BROKEN ROMANCES; OUR RAGE IS OUR BROKEN DREAMS. 

     

    soulBut we are more than what people see of us. Behind our HOUR-GLASS FIGURES, OUR SULTRY SWAGGER THAT ATTRACTS MEN’S STARES, IS THE GIRL WHO NO ONE ASKED TO PROM. UNDERNEATH OUR TUBE TOPS AND OUR MINISKIRTS IS A BODY THAT WAS ABUSED. INSIDE THE TOPLESS PICTURE WE SENT YOU, IS THE MESSAGE THAT WE WANT TO BE LOVED. THE SUBTITLES THAT YOU CAN’T READ, TO OUR SASSY MOUTHY COMMENTS, IS OUR FEAR THAT WE AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU. NEXT TO THE SMASHED BEER BOTTLES, IS OUR FRUSTRATION THAT WE DISAPPOINTED YOU. AGAIN. OUR DESPAIR OVER US ROLLS LIKE LIQUID OVER CONCRETE, WASHING AWAY WITH THE RAIN. 


    WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW IS THAT WE INHALE OUR SHAME WITH THE SMOKE OF OUR CIGARETTES. OF ALL THE “RECKLESS” ACTIONS WE SO RIGHTEOUSLY DEFEND, WE ARE ASHAMED OF EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM. WE ARE ASHAMED OF ALMOST EVERYTHING WE DO AND ALMOST EVERYTHING WE DON’T DO. ALL OF THOSE ANGRY TEXTS WE SENT YOU IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM READS, “PLEASE DON’T LEAVE.” WE HATE THE STIGMA OF OUR ILLNESS MORE THAT YOU CAN EVER IMAGINE, BUT WE’RE HERE IN THIS CAMP FOR A REASON. AT SOME POINT IN OUR LIVES WE WERE LEFT ALONE. YES, SOME WOMEN IN OUR SAME SHOES WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO “HANDLE IT” OR “MOVE ON.” BUT WE DIDN’T. BECAUSE WE COULDN’T.

    This is all I have left to say: Please don`t leave us. Please don`t leave us alone again.

How we remember, and how we forget

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How We Remember and How We Forget: Trauma, Denial, and Dissociation

I “forgot” a good part of my life.  I “forgot” the 3-6 months I spent in foster care, the events that led up to it, and the intense grief of being returned to a biological family I felt no connection to.  I “forgot” being trafficked for sex by my own father.  I “forgot” being placed in a freezer, tied to a wall in the dark in the garage like an animal, and forced to hang myself.

For a long time, I “forgot” about appointments, bills, and things I had done and said within the last 24 hours.  Sometimes, I still do.

I know a lot about forgetting.

Since then, I’ve been working at remembering.  I know a lot about that too.

A diagram of a neuron.

We remember information, experiences, and ideas because there are robust neural pathways between them.  If I am trying to remember a person’s name, I will most likely start with a piece of information that seems like it will lead me there: the face, trivia about the person, our last conversation.  If I am really intent on remembering, I will continue to dredge up these bits of associated memory until I am able to locate it.  So, the more connections we have between something we want to remember and other things and the more robust those pathways, the easier memory becomes.

Neural pathways become faster and more efficient with use.  When we stop using a particular pathway on a regular basis, it becomes less robust, slowing us down when we try to use it.  We may not “forget” information so much as lose the connections that allow us to find it.

I suspect that denial and dissociation both affect memory because of how they impact the neural pathways between parts of a memory.

Both the cortex and the limbic system are involved in memory formation. The amygdala, in particular, plays an important role in emotional memories.

In the case of dissociation, I speculate that the lack of robust neural pathways occurs at the time of the event.  Sensory impressions, thoughts, and emotional reactions are recorded, but with very little connection between them.  Whether this is because the brain functions that create order and connectivity are suppressed during traumatic events or because the parts of the brain involved in forming memories during life-or-death situations are different and don’t form connections as well, I’m not sure.

But I am sure that it happens because of how my own memories arise for me.  A major part of working through the trauma I’ve experienced has been simply finding things and putting them together–connecting pictures to words, declarative knowledge to sensory impresssions, physical responses to my knowledge of feeling states.  I “remember” nearly everything significant that has happened to me, but when I first began to work with them these memories stood in no particular order and in no relation to one another.

How the events were recorded in my mind in the first place has something to do with this.

Now, I know that the general wisdom is that we suppress trauma because we are trying to protect ourselves from the knowledge of what happened until we are in a position to deal with it.

I don’t entirely believe that.  I don’t think the memories are difficult to locate for the sole reason of emotional self-protection.  Partly, yes, but not entirely.

At the time of the event, we shut down certain types of awareness for two reasons that really come down to physical survival: one, we do this in order to suppress an awareness of physical pain so that our reactions to pain don’t interfere with doing what we need to do to survive.  Two,  we do this because conscious thought is the slow-track to action, and if we engage in it we could be killed before we’ve even come to a decision.  Much better to think like a lizard and just run away.

It is this state of suppressed conscious awareness that limits our ability to form connections between parts of a memory.  If a traumatic event is extremely intense, or if we have a lot of experience with being traumatized, touching on one aspect of the memory can re-start the process of suppressing conscious awareness, and our brains remain unable to form connections.

That is what PTSD looks like.  Elements of a memory are triggered, but instead of this access to the memory allowing us to form robust connections between parts of the memory, the connection is instead formed to whatever processes are involved in dissociation.  The more this happens, the better we get at dissociating as the pathways involved in dissociation get more and more robust.

But we may never figure out why red sweaters scare the bejesus out of us, or what happened after we put one on.  We may never link the scratchy feeling of the sweater with the color, or with the queasy feeling in our stomachs.  Not because we are avoiding that connection, but because we are busy doing something else.  We aren’t trying to protect our psyche.  We are trying to protect our bodies, and our brains don’t know that they can stop.

Denial, on the other hand, can lead to a kind of deliberate forgetting.  Every time the memory is accessed, we shift our attention away from it.  (For why, see Unsolicited, Bad Advice.)  The connections are there, but we train ourselves not to use them.  With time, the connections become tenuous, weak, frail.  They may break altogether.  The memory then becomes suppressed.  It is there, but we no longer know how to find it.

In dissociation, there may not be enough connections to the memory or between parts of a memory to start with.  In denial, we can intentionally remove them.

In the case of childhood trauma, the family can aid in this.  Children remember events partly because others in the family rehearse what happened with them later on.  Those pleasant sessions of “Remember when…?” reinforce and strengthen neural pathways between the details of events.  They also help children construct comprehensible narratives of what may be more fragmented impressions.

When traumatic experiences occur in the family, members often actively avoid doing this.  The message implicitly or explicitly stated may be that it would be better to talk (and think) about other things.  Without those rehearsals, children lose the connectivity between traumatic events and the rest of their lives and may have trouble accessing them as adults.  Or they may be able to access them, but assume the memories were simply bad dreams or the products of a fertile imagination.  The memories may not seem like memories because no one else seems to have them.

In cases of family abuse, both mechanisms involved in “forgetting” can work to “repress” a memory.  Elements of memory start out disconnected and isolated because of the functioning of the brain in the midst of trauma, and the connections that are there can become disused, slow, and inefficient because of denial within the family that means those pathways are deliberately avoided.

No wonder I feel like I’m giving my brain an extreme home make-over–cleaning, organizing, and re-designing.

Further reading:

The Brain Athlete. (2012)  Brain Plasticity Forms Who We Are.  Retrieved from: http://www.brainathlete.com/brain-plasticity-forms/

—-Neocortext and Not Hippocampus May Form Memories.  Retrieved from: http://www.brainathlete.com/neocortex-hippocampus-form-memories/

How to Forget Unwanted Memories.  (2012, October 20).  Medical News Today.  Retrieved from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/251655.php

Plasticity and Neural Networks.  Canadian Institutes of Health Research.  Retrieved from: http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/d/d_07/d_07_cl/d_07_cl_tra/d_07_cl_tra.html

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Factsheet.  (2011, October 17).  National Institutes of Mental Health.  Retrieved from: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-research-fact-sheet/index.shtml

What is Normal?

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Posted by Robert Mudge from RobertMudge.net225546_350664918371928_1197112180_n

The other day I started thinking about What Is Normal? Yeah, I know I’ve been on this earth long enough that I should have already thought about this, ha. I mainly thought of this because I tend to put a lot of pressure and stress on myself in thinking I should be doing this or that by this point in my life. But why do we do that? Why do we think we should fit a certain mold or follow a certain track? In my opinion it’s society and/or what we see in the media. I don’t know of any book or absolute rule in existence that tells us what weight we should be, who we should love, when we should marry, how much money we should make, when to have children…This list could go on and I’m sure you could think of some yourself.

Like the image above says, normal is purely subjective. I had a thought the other day that looked further into this concept:

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Alright I created a video to accompany this post and in spite of my fear of making and posting it, here it is: