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Derek S. Difficulty with emotions

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Buckeye, Jan 10, 2015.

  1. Buckeye

    Buckeye Peer Supporter

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    Question
    I'm just starting and have no problem with the idea of TMS. But, I listened to the audio on http://www.tmswiki.org/ppd/TMS_Recovery_Program and one of the questions was 'do you care that you're being treated so badly?' I'd begun to think that I might be a little bit psychopathic because I just do not relate to emotions. I remember doing that in the past, but not now. Does this process teach you how to do that or is that something that needs to be delt with somewhere else?
     
  2. Derek Sapico MFT

    Derek Sapico MFT TMS Therapist

    Answer
    Hi Buckeye.

    I'm glad that you found this community and are now on the road to recovery. That's a huge step.

    I am going to hazard a guess that you are neither a psychopath nor a sociopath. This answer is going to work off of this assumption.

    Given that you are someone who has developed TMS symptoms, this would infer that you possess certain characteristics that nearly all TMSers seem to share. One of these traits that I see in every single TMSer that I have ever worked with is emotional depth. Now this does not mean that you are a touchy-feely, cries at Hallmark commercials, "let's hug it out" type of guy. It means that you have emotions that run very deeply, whether you are consciously aware of them or not.

    You mention in your question that you remember a time in your life when you related to emotions but you have trouble doing so now. In my opinion, this would suggest that you have developed more effective defense mechanisms (conscious or unconcious) that are extremely successful in precluding you from being in contact with your emotions. You have not become emotionless, you have just developed effective defense mechanisms (your pain being one of these) that are serving their purpose well.

    If you fit the TMS personality profile you are probably someone who is often preoccupied by either your symptoms or other things causing you worry. You likely have a tendency to rationalize your feelings away and intellectualize everything. You probably criticize yourself and neglect both your anxiety and your emotions. You probably have a belief that treating yourself poorly has become a necessary evil that helps you to be productive, which is tantamount to defending the act of being awful to yourself.

    I know that I am making a lot of assumptions here but I hope that some of them resonate with you.

    The "process" or "journey" of recovering from TMS is something that takes persistence and dedication. It may take you some time to get into contact with unconscious emotions, and you may feel the need to seek help from a TMS therapist if you are having limited success doing this on your own.

    Even if you can't relate to caring about being hard on yourself, I am guessing that you care about being in pain all the time. I would argue that, for the sake of this discussion, they are the same thing. Your pain is directly related to your capacity to soothe yourself, manage your anxiety, and attend to your emotional state. Take some pressure off of yourself and just focus on accepting the diagnosis, reframing the meaning of the pain, and working toward outcome independence. Once you are having some success with these concepts, then start to make room for some emotional work.

    Self-neglect, negative self-talk, and suppressing emotions is behavior that you have learned. We are all emotional beings and we learn different ways to manage our emotions throughout our lives. Since managing and tolerating emotions is essentially a set of learned behaviors, we can therefore unlearn these behaviors and replace them with more adaptive ones.

    I would suggest that you go through the Recovery Program a few times and see if anything resonates with you. Work on generating self-compassion by looking back at the people and dynamics that contributed to you learning how to treat yourself so poorly. Write unsent letters to these people and see what comes out. If your defenses are still preventing you from feeling your anger and/or sadness, start working with a therapist. It's hard to identify and change defense mechanisms that are unconscious and this often takes that assistance of a professional.

    My guess is that you are not an unfeeling, emotionless, sociopath. My hunch is that you are a deeply emotional person who just has a tough time feeling his feelings. Keep working on it and you will get there with patience and perseverance.

    -Derek


    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

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  3. Buckeye

    Buckeye Peer Supporter

    Thanks for the response. I'm doing the Self Education Program. Is that the same as the "Recovery Program"?
     
  4. Derek Sapico MFT

    Derek Sapico MFT TMS Therapist

    I was referring to Alan Gordon's TMS recovery program that you linked to in your original question. It's an excellent resource that outlines the process of recovery.
     
  5. Buckeye

    Buckeye Peer Supporter

    okay, gotit. thanks.
     

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