Self in Exile Disorder


line decor
line decor


Patterns of Relating - 'The Quadrants'
The Quadrants
The 'Exile Split', or in professional language, the 'Split Object Relations Unit'.

 These are patterns of relating that are structured within those of us with the self in exile disorder.  Some of us may tend to relate more in one than the other. They can be real situations, or how we experience the world when we are caught in emotional reaction, 'triggered'. We tend to move out of one position into the other. They may mainly be experienced at times of stress, or of deeper feelings such as falling in love. Our other connects with something inside us, it feels like we've met our soul mate. In other words, we may 'fall in love into' these units.

The Slave-Master
Represents various degrees along a spectrum, ranging from losing our boundaries in a situation to severely abusive and exploitative relationships. It can include 'going into service': we respond to a need outside ourselves, our own needs and identity disappear from the picture.
In recoil from this experience, or the possibility of it, or in reaction to betrayal or attack, we go to the exile position....


The Self in Exile
....We have disconnected from others in real life, and our emotional investment moves to our inner life. We are distanced  from taking part in ordinary relatedness.
Relatedness is a human need, to meet this longing we again seek relationship.

Unhealed, t
hese patterns can again disrupt our relationships.

We adapt to these structures by:

The Exile Compromise: We find a way of being that maintians some relatedness, but keeps a certain distance.

Approach-Avoidance: We deflect off one into the other, make contact then withdraw, (also known as the 'In Out Program').

The Exile Dilemma: The experience of the pull in different directions between both postions.


....... ...............                                                        

The experience as described in professional literature:  

The Master:
Easily offended

The Betrayer:
Viciously attacking

The Slave
In jail….......
Complete appropriation of the self -
(like invasion of the body snatchers).
In Prison
At the lesser extreme: An acceptable alternative to
exile, but sacrifices autonomy and self esteem in return for security and some relatedness. 

“..When she revealed her feelings she felt exposed as if under a spotlight, …having to submit to overwhelming and interminable demands and expectations” 

The Exile
.........Or in exile.
alienated, no choice but to retreat
Disappearing into cosmic isolation
Feeling: aloneness, anger, fear, anxiety.
Complete self reliance and isolation as a protection
against the vicious, attacking, tyrannical other; an exile from
the world of relationships. 
Self reliance taken to an extreme carries with it a sense of
having no relatedness to anchor the schizoid person,
no tether to keep the person from drifting in space
into total isolation and oblivion.


Adapted from Klein: New Therapeutic Horizons, and Manfield: Split Sel, Split Object




n our own words:

Pete O.
“I have found myself building my life around her ambitions, desires, instead of focusing on my goals. 'Us' has become 'her' and me toddling behind."   

Tron P: (when it comes to intimacy)
"I never imagine myself 'receiving' sex, I am always 'giving' sex. ie: If I imagine one touching/kissing the other, i'm always on the touching end and never on the touched end; I feel that somewhere in my mind it is "wrong" to imagine me being given sex, for example oral sex, but it is "right" to imagine myself giving sex."

Cassandra: (falling in love into the split)
“The way he talked about having a shaved head  because it worked better under his helmet, he said it with this sort of determined relish, a real energy behind it.
He seemed to take a pride in depersonalising himself to fit the purpose.
 I think for him the army was like a father, and the disciplined training gave him a sense of pride, of belonging.  His own father had been killed when he was young, and his step father was violent.
 As we sat beside eachother, his hand rested on my thigh, like he was claiming territory. I fell in love very quickly, I knew he was dangerous for me, I had to get out equally quickly!" 








"....redundancy of the heart"


Tron P.
“I have been very involved into my internal world for as long as I can remember, and of course it interferes massively with my desire to be with other people, my capacity to express and live my emotions and to connect emotionally to things 'outside' of my internal world……..”

Timroc D.
"If anybody tried to get close to me physically or otherwise I would shut down and move away - and not because I am avoidant. I just have a nasty and uncomfortable feeling of being invaded."



Variations and adaptions of the theme:

In counteracting one, we move to the other:
Pete O:

“I am motivated to make her happy, which makes me happy. I have taken time off from work to be with her.......
.reflecting on my previous marriage, where I did not put sufficient time and effort into the relationship, "

Different parts in different compartments in our lives:
A woman shared on the internet that she held down two jobs for the purpose of paying for her therapist to whom she seemed devoted.........   at work she didn’t need to speak to anyone and had no friends.

A historical split:
Some, whose foundational experiences may be of abandonment, being subject to invasion, having our identity overridden, of appropriation rather than being acknowledged, have spent much of their lives in emotional exile. Emotional investment is in recoil from ordinary human relatedness.  Others can seem invasive, treacherous, or just irrelevant.
Some are affected by historic injustice and betrayal. Like a deeply lodged splinter, it continues to disrupt their life and to undermine their motivation, inside they are inconsolable. Though this person may even be outwardly sociable and gregarious, the traumatic injustice whilst unresolved, can result in self destructive behaviour, addictions or illness.
Platitudes like 'just let go', 'get over it' only serving to further alienate. Other human beings can seem indifferent, to turn a blind eye, to be in colllusion.



For some of us these relational patterns are at the root of our addictions. We 'act out' these destructive extremes that have become structured inside us. Some sex addicts act out in depersonalised, anonymous sex, (the exile unit). Some love addicts fall in love and become love addicted in the power dynamic. Loving and often longing to change, fight, fix or heal our 'powerful' other. We feel so alive with this person, they reflect part of what's inside us. Though these relationships put us in pain, it also feels like 'coming home'.
Our acting out may be in fantasy, or acted out in reality.
These relationship can be intense and intoxicating, as debilitating as a powerful drug. Often what we find ourselves participating in is exactly the opposite of the values that we aspire to have in our lives. (see also the exile in relationship with the N. characteristics 3)
Some of us can live and relate healthily as long as we are abstinent. But these internal structures have a powerful pull. Once triggered the force can be exponential, as with the 'betrayal bond':       
 "... without dealing with the betrayal bond, like gravity,........ it will always pull you back"         .Patrick Carnes: 'The Betrayal Bond'


vampire Element:
“In the end, it got so bad, that I had the vision, of me staring into her eyes, and her into mine, and the whole purpose of me was to accept that she was dissolving me inside, and uploading all my being into herself like food for her.  The analogy was so  like a spider and me caught, mesmerised in her web. She was beautiful tho, and I've always been terrified of spiders!   The worst  aspect of this was, was that all my motivation had been co-opted. I was in a trance, like an altered reality, ... or was it that deep down this had always been there inside me? In that vision I felt my purpose was to be consumed by her, like...... -‘of course, -what else?- its her right, - its what I’m for’.... And as we looked into eachother’s eyes, this was the exchange that was going on, this was the deal - for engaging her attention for that period of time.  The real horror was the lack of horror.
 In that place, nothing else exists, only this lethal bargain.
When I started the relationship with her, I was healthily conflicted, I loved the way she understood me, but I was both addicted and allergic, in horror and aversion to what was actually going on, and at the same time, I couldnt get enough, each encounter was making me hungrier whilst my life force was being drained.  I managed to hold part of me back, but eventually I felt tripped up and caught out, and something in me gave way and dissolved, something I could never replace.
I know that in my life I have been in flight from emotional incest and invasion from my mother.  And in my disorder, it felt better to be consumed by this person who I really loved as if she was a rescuer – like, in the trance, I would die for another rather than allow the toxicity of my mother, (left inside me), to overwhelm me.  That’s how the disorder has worked in my life.  I do realise that to some it sounds extreme.  This disorder works on many different levels. Personally, I believe that even the shallower levels are deeply linked to a more sinister whole, I think some of us can sense this, and this is why our reactions can seem extreme.  When I sense a hidden agenda, my body goes into reaction and its like being drugged.   
By accessing, and telling the truth here, just for today, in this moment, I feel clear, stronger, free. 




Leona's Experience:
Leona’s experiences contain both sides of the split, she expresses the anguish of living with the 'exile dilemma'.    
Where it comes to an emotionally involved  relationship such as where there is a need, it can become difficult to experience and hold onto our real self, to our own needs, to keep our own reality in the picture. Having damaged boundaries, we can find we have   responded too easily to questions, feeling obliged to comply, then finding we have said more than we wished, and that we have allowed intrusiveness, or violation.  So, we swing from too unguarded to ‘paranoid’, as Leona describes it.  
As a result of these experiences, where its so difficult to defend ourselves, we rerun the situation in fantasy where we still have access to our inventiveness and sponteneity, and we feel the impulse to escape to the freedom of being alone, and ' anymous', - drawn to the exile position.  
“Sometimes ( a couple of times a week) I feel intense hatred and resentment towards my CPN (nurse) and Support Worker, this occurs when they aren't with me. I have 'imaginary' conversations with them telling them how I really think and feel and I feel very hostile towards them. I am especially like this the day before or just after I have had an appointment with them.  It's as almost as if I am in my own little world and I can't seem to get myself out of it.  I feel like I'm 'Jekyll and Hyde' sometimes and I hate it. I don't want to ever be violent towards anyone.  If I tell them how I feel then I'm worried they will put me in hospital against my will or stop coming to see me. Maybe it's best to just try and cope with life alone...
Just waffling away to myself now.........
I think I feel resentment and embarrassment that I have revealed such personal details about myself to people who are strangers to me. Although my nurse is friendly and kind, I hate the fact that he has made me answer a questionnaire as part of my Care Plan that involved details such as my sex drive and bowel movements!!  and felt backed into a corner during the meeting, even though I was in my own home I was not in control. I felt compelled to answer the questions because I am so desperate to get help. I feel they took advantage of my vulnerable state to extract information out of me for their own gain - to make their job easier. I hate the fact that my nurse has the power to have me put into hospital against my will. I have had nighmares about it.
I dream of running away from this part of the country and starting again in a place no one knows me. I feel too exposed now. I've been so private in my life so far - until I had a breakdown, then my mouth went into overdrive and told the people assessing me things about myself I deeply regret.
………..and I did run away a year ago. I sold my house and lived in a caravan for a year travelling around the country and doing temp jobs when I could. I made it all the way to Hartland Point!!! I felt good at first but then I realised I was ill and needed to settle and get some help. I still struggle with my desire to run away and start again.
My CPN knows about this and is helping me get accommodation in my local city so I am nearer health care facilities. Of course when my little mind goes into overdrive I get all negative and just think they are trying to get me nearer to their office so they can control me even more!!! I make myself laugh sometimes with the daft things I think!!!"






The Exile Compromise:

Relationships in imagination


Relationships in fantasy

The Exile Compromise goes some of the way towards fulfilling the need for relationship. There are many variations: relationships in fantasy, relationships on the internet, being in company but not being intimate with anyone, relating through reading, writing, films, stories.
The compromise can keep us stuck, but it can also be helpful in that it can keep us related, with our truth intact, and give us a way to get closer in stages .







Recovery - whole human relationships

  Whole human relationships

I stand my ground. I respond. I manage myself. I share my feelings appropriately. I enjoy dealing with reality,
I stay present.


To get to whole human relationships is the work of recovery. We have to get to the point that we are emotionally invested outside the quadrants. The central purpose of this website is to help to contribute to this possibility.