Self in Exile Disorder


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Quotes and Anecdotes.


“They long to be attached, to be in relationships with others, and to receive affirmation, acknowledgement and approval of which they were deprived.  However this longing evokes an intense anxiety about being in danger of being appropriated, used and discarded as they were by their original caretakers.  The only way to control their anxiety, to feel safe is to withdraw internally as well as externally."
Barbera Short   p.172 Copy right 1995 From Disorders of the Self New Therapeutic Horizons The Masterson Approach by James F Masterson and Ralph Klein Reproduced by permission of Taylor and Francis Group LLC, a division of Informa plc.



To learn the transports by the pain
As blind men learn the sun,
To die of thirst suspecting
That brooks in meadows run.
To stay the homesick, homesick feet
Upon a foreign shore
Hungering native land the while
and blue beloved air.

                 Emily Dickenson




But the mole sleeps, and the hedgehog
lies curled in a womb of leaves,
the bean and the wheat –seed
hug their germs in the earth
 and the stream moves under the ice.
Laurie Lee




Does anybody see what I see?
 “Is there anybody there? Does anbody care? Does anybody see what I see?”.   These questions elucidate the problems at the heart of the schizoid conflict, in contrast to the narcissistic and borderline patients.   A narcissistic patient is constantly asking or demanding that everybody else see what he or she sees (one mindedness, merger, fusion).  The borderline patient is constantly asking “does anybody care?” and will adjust his or her life in what ever fashion it is necessary to guarantee that there is somebody who cares.   The schizoid patient is first and foremost asking the question “is anybody there?”.


Telephone analogy:                               
“In order to negotiate a deal, one must have two parties willing to come to the negotiating table.   In order to complete a telephone call one must have two people, two telephones, and a wire over which information can flow.  Borderline and Narcissistic patients have a basic belief in the possibility of communicating and negotiating..........................
For the schizoid patient the initial problems are quite different. There is no conviction, no basic assumption that a communication network is in place or even
possible without grave risk and danger."


The Contract for Survival:
"Ralph Klein refers to this as the negotiated contract for connection, for attachment, for survival. Persons with a narcissistic disorder negotiated a contract to get approval, acknowledgment, and affirmation in exchange for resonating perfectly with the caretakers’ idealizing projections. Those with a borderline disorder negotiate a contract to get these resources in exchange for resonating with the caretaker’s needs for them not to separate or individuate. And those with a schizoid disorder negotiate a contract to have no needs, to be totally self reliant, in exchange for having at least a tenuous connection that would not result in being appropriated or treated with total indifference.
Copy right 1995 From Disorders of the Self New Therapeutic Horizons The Masterson Approach by James F Masterson and Ralph Klein Reproduced by permission of Taylor and Francis Group LLC, a division of Informa plc.




The False Self:
"Having learned to deny their own wisdom and having taken in other people's definitions of them, without even realising it, those who are disconnected from themselves construct an identity not grounded in experience but constructed out of, or in reaction to, other people's ideas, expectations, and values." Patricia Evans

Patricia Evans goes on to point out that people are vulnerable to forming a false self particularly when........."...there is a great discrepancy between their own experience and what they are told they are experiencing."

"In a disorder of the self, the real self is forced off the normal, healthy, developmental pathway to actualisation because of the overwhelming need to construct an alternative pathway, the false, defensive self. This false self, no longer spontaneous and creative, is primarily reactive. It is a self organisation and an intrapsychic and interpersonal experience of the self with others, which must first attend and respond to the pervasive, ubiquitous impingements and needs of the ....other.... not the self."
Copy right 1995 From Disorders of the Self New Therapeutic Horizons The Masterson Approach by James F Masterson and Ralph Klein Reproduced by permission of Taylor and Francis Group LLC, a division of Informa plc.

The 'impingements of others', can be deeply laid within us and operate below the level of consciousness. As one recovering woman put it:  ....
“Its like if I just act normally,... like take responsibility for my life – it would feel like my truth never existed.” 


Self disorders in general
"It is not the rage or the hatred that is most destructive, but the sacrifices and compromises made around the conditions of relatedness that are most devastating to the self."
Copy right 1995 From Disorders of the Self New Therapeutic Horizons The Masterson Approach by James F Masterson and Ralph Klein Reproduced by permission of Taylor and Francis Group LLC, a division of Informa plc.


"For the borderline…, the promise of a better state of affaires is in the form of a rewarding ‘other’, for the narcissistic person it is in the form of an omnipotent other.   For the schizoid, intimate strong connections can be much more difficult to

maintain as there is no comfortable position"
Copy right 1995 From Disorders of the Self New Therapeutic Horizons The Masterson Approach by James F Masterson and Ralph Klein Reproduced by permission of Taylor and Francis Group LLC, a division of Informa plc.



To describe it another way, each disorder has its own currency, different things come at a premium.
For example, the currency of value for the borderline is 'care', care is at a premium.
Other needs can get squashed to one side, by the imperative that feelings must be protected, and take centre stage: you may be stopped in your tracks by the message: 'don't hurt me when I'm already hurt!'

For the narcissist the currency of value is attention. Particularly attention for their power, beauty, style, intelligence. The reaction may be that you experience being fascinated and admiring them in a way that leaves you feeling empty and less than.
The exile doesnt have a currency of their own. So, rather than being edged out, marginalised to non existence by lack of recognition, we respond by taking formation into a role that's needed, or we gain acknowledgement, and sense of self by at least being different. We may emotionally connect where we can be free of strings, free of the relational bargain, free of 'fear, obligation and guilt' (Susan Forward). Hence we relate to animals, to things that are natural and innocent. The reaction may be that you feel you are with a person who is 'there but not there', who seems to invite your engagement, then disappears.

Within all these, there is a need to have influence on, to gain some control of the source of the respective value:
"..we bought it, we sold it, we traded it, we gave it away......" S.A. White Book

All these characteristics also translate into their positives, and can lead to great compassion, achievement, and creativeness:

"That all earnest thought is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea." Herman Melville: 'Moby Dick'



On Child Development:


(The gender has been varied)

Imagine a toddler taking her first unsteady steps.    Her mother holds out her arms to the toddler, giving her the needed support and attention for her to make the distance.  This mother is letting her know that she is confident she can do it, and that she will be there for her when she has traversed the few steps of floor to reach her supporting hands. 
 She is rewarding the child’s efforts to grow and learn by being there, supporting her to do what she can do, not more and not less.   She is ‘attuned’ to her needs.  If she had expected him to walk too far by himself, that would be 'misattuned', not meeting him at the level which he needed at that time.  In other words, if that had happened,  his learning steps would have been unsupported.
Maybe the child looked into his mother’s eyes as their hands made contact, and he saw the delight in his mother’s face matching the delight he felt with his own achievement. 
This child was receiving a deep nurturing, an emotional refuelling for his motivation, for his growth steps.      


The ‘emotional refuelling’ described above has a particular content.   One hears a lot said about ‘unconditional love’. What is less talked about is the principles structured in to ‘love’.  In this visualisation, the love is combined with a structured-in motivation for the child’s highest good, support for her ‘self activation’. 
Humans need to feel significant to an important other human being. They need to feel themselves emotionally registered within their other. As this child sees 'the delight in his mother's face', he experiences this, he knows he is registered by her response to him. This love and approval for his growth and his self activation will lay down in him a resource to which he can return throughout his life.

A man in his eighties told me once:
This was a successful business man with grandchildren.  His statement describes this internal resource, which would have been most of the time below the level of his conscious thought.


Many people with a disorder of the self have the experience of:
"No one inside to support" .

Liam W. a recovering addict tells the following story:
"I was watching a father getting onto a train with his daughter who was about 3 years old.  The child’s face was sort of out of shape, probably a congenital deformity, her eyes were all out of place.   Her father was really with her, she knew she was loved.  She was too young to know there was any issue about her face, but when she encounters trouble, she will have that love to fall back on, she’ll be alright. 
We don’t fall back into that place of certainty, we fall back into primal horror.  But because of God, we are not dependent on that foundation in the past."         


The Inlaid Motivation:
Here are some examples of how an interaction, though it may look positive, has structured within it a motivation that actually serves the need of the adult, and works against the development of the child's real self:

        A 5 year old boy liked to jump down the last few stairs at the bottom of the flight.    His grandmother, instead of helping him to learn to gage and experiment what was safe and what was not, encouraged him to jump from higher and higher steps until his knees were damaged.  The grandmother was attempting to meet her own needs by supplyng herself from the child's vitality and excitement, which she encouraged at the cost of his health as well as his needs to develop his skills of judgement.   
 This is a narcissistic dynamic, the child is idealised to supply the needs of the adult,  at the cost of his needs to learn to adapt to reality, and and enjoy competence in the real world.

"The child feels loved, but, in fact, was used.   On closer examination, the mother appears to have been cold and exploitative, unable to acknowledge, confirm or support her child’s real self, and instead, treats the child as an extension of her own frustrated needs." An man: Therapist's Guide to the Personality Diso
                                            A Therapists Guide to the Personality Disorders, Masterson & Lieberman

“The child is taught to give up on reality and adopt the parental fantasies.”
                                                                                   Sam Vaknin p.37 ‘ Malignant Self Love’



A recovering woman shared the following:
  “I was adopted so my role was to be victim, to be needy so the adopting people had a purpose.  So, if I became self sufficient that threatens the basis of my identity.   If I step outside the ‘I need my adoptive mother to survive’ then our relationship crumbles.  What that does in me, - there is a victim in me that will play the victim, - unconsciously I will play it so they can rescue me.
If I’d be myself and asked for what I want – if the universe is abundant then inside me I’ll start saying ‘what if I do get it?  If you don’t play the victim any more how are you going to survive?’   Its this negative part of me.
That’s what was happening, the part of me that was conditioned to be the victim gets very nervous and the nervousness gets exaggerated for a while when I put my head above the parapet and start taking action for myself.”
“My management response to big feelings is to drown in them”

".......Life becomes a conflict between the inner ('real') self of the borderline that wants to grow up and become an independent, confident adult, and the defensive self that feels anxious whenever he does anything self-supportive,"                                                                          
“Borderline patients………… struggle with their fear of abandonment or punishment by a caretaker who wants to maintain their ....dependency and rejects them for separating and individuating"
                                                                      adapted from 'Split Self Split Object' p.117 Manfield



Separation and Individuation:
Whether in ones foundational experiences, there is abandonment and neglect, whether the child is expected to take on unnatural responsiblity for the adult, or whether there is stiffling overprotectiveness, the underlying principle is the same: lack of support for self activation, separation and individuation.


From:'Search for the Real Self':

“The key is the mother’s ability to perceive and support the child’s emerging self, for without that support he experiences her as withdrawing and disapproving of his efforts."                                                    

“Fuelled by the mother’s interest and enthusiasm in the discoveries of the emerging self………’’ 

 “Over and over the child returns for emotional refuelling, for reassurance that mother is still there.’’

“…………The child needs 'emotional supplies’ for the emerging self and will keep returning to mother to receive them, in the form of her acknowledgement and support for the unique displays of self expression and achievements………"

"………the quality of mothering is crucial …….."


 The age old game of peekaboo is more than just fun.   It becomes a mini drama of the real self’s dilemma.  In it the child ducks behind something and temporarily loses the mother’s image, delighting in the fact that he is not really fused with her; and yet almost as if he cannot yet tolerate too much separation, he quickly makes the mother’s face reappear.   The child is practicing crucial tasks that will be important for the rest of his life, the ability to be separate and yet negotiate closeness and distance...’’ 


“In order to establish a coherent sense of self, the child in the first three years of life must learn that she is not a fused, symbiotic unit with the mother.   As Mahler’s and others’ studies have clearly indicated, the mother and child (and father) engage in a kind of choreographed give and take, a dance of release and return, risk and retreat, learning and testing.   The child runs off, the mother runs after her, the child explores and comes back to her for reassurance, she ventures out, bouyed by the excitement of discovery, and returns for emotional refuelling when the adventure becomes too threatening or her own fragile sense of identity and permanence wears thin and feelings of abandonment overwhelm her.  In the development of normal healthy children the mother acknowledges and supports her child’s efforts.   In the development of individuals dominated by the false self, these patterns of self-expression and maternal support did not take place,

   Copy right from 'Search for the Real Self': published by Simon Schuster


Self Activation:

“  Although self activation ultimately leads to greater happiness and cohesion, patients first have to fight their way through immobilizing inner conflicts.  Each time a patient self-activated as a child, a particular specific and generally unsupportive pattern of interaction took place with the parent.  Over time the awareness and expression of the unsupported aspects of the self came to be associated with anxiety, depression, guilt and other aspects of the abandonment depression. 
                                                 Elinor Greenberg: 'A Therapists guide to the Personality Disorders, Masterson


“ A man or woman with a solid sense of self says “Well, this is one of those situations at which I am not very good’’, whilst the one with an impaired self gets the message ' you are totally helpless and good for nothing”.
                                                                  adapted from Masterson:‘ Search for the Real self’ 




Sister B. recovered alcoholic and AA member:

"We grow up in public"