PART TWO: Understanding “Unseen Things”

This post is part two of a series: It continues with a line of thinking that began in a previous post: 

So how is it that things which seem so obvious are easily ignored in our day-to-day existence?

This is a question that has burned in my brain since I was a kid.  I recall as a kid marveling at how adept everybody was at colluding with one another to perpetuate the most idiotic bullshit ideas for the sake of some abstract social rules that made no sense to me.  It was as if, I was living in a world which is unseen to others and I was forced to pretend bullshit is truth.  It  starts with personal fears, needs, beliefs and insecurities. It continues with a desire to deny certain unpleasant aspects of ourselves.  It ends as we collude with one another to create an idealized self in an idealized life situation that edits out critical aspects of reality.

As a social outsider, I didn’t understand the random logic of the social politics of high school.

For example, I recall overhearing a conversation my sister had with some friends at our house one evening.  I was in high school and she was about 12-13 at the time.  As the dorkus, I butted heads with her popular-girl ways, (although I’m happy to report we’re doing well today).  At one point, everyone started to give this one girl a hard time for being in band commenting at how dorky it was.  I recall everyone asking her “how could you hang out with that crowd of people?!?”  I marveled at the idiocy of that logic and wondered silently why band people were dorks and according to whom?  I became angry at the fact that nobody called “BULLSHIT” on that thinking.  Why were they so scared?

At school the next day, I usually received more of the same.  There was this “Breakfast-Club-Ish” mentality at the time (it was the 80’s), in which everybody was in the clique.  By the time you hit high school the reputations begin to stick, you are your label and nothing more.  I walked through the school with the intention of remaining unseen.  As the bullied kid, this was my safest strategy.  I spent my days, watching individuals, (who I interacted with on a personal level), transform themselves into a fictional and socially-acceptable version..  These airs were put forth for the sake of “fitting in”.  The rules that guided these fictitious selves were abstract social rules that were also random I saw no logic to it.   These rules dictated who to hang out with, what to be interested in and how to dress.  As I look back on this experience today, the concept of pluralistic ignorance immediately comes to mind:

PLURALISTIC IGNORANCE – “a socio-psychological phenomenon that involves a systematic discrepancy between people’s private beliefs and public behavior in certain societal contexts” (Bjerring, et al, 2014, p. 2445).

At home, there was this strange and stifling culture based on my parent’s preferred defense mechanism: “intellectualization” …

They are college professors who met in medical school.  My father, a quiet nerdy type, was an INTP personality type who lived in a world of logical analysis.  He was passionate about his work as a neurphysiologist who related to emotions as byproducts of neurochemical actions in the amygdala.  My mother, is from the Philippines, and grew up during WW2.  In her culture daily life centered around the family.  Concepts such as harmony and duty took precedence over individuality, pride, or our personal values.  Her way of being was quiet and stoic.  She held herself in this way as a matter of survival, putting outside her awareness those things that were difficult.  Overall, this tendency toward intellectualization in my parents, developed into what (Goleman, 1996, p. 129) describes as character armor:

CHARACTER ARMOR: “Defensive style is a character armor. In therapy, it leads to a typical mode of resistance…Defenses are…attentional ploys…The person’s entire mental apparatus…is shaped in part by his defense strategy….Character armor is the face the self turns to the world.” (Goleman, 1996, p. 132).

Together, they built a familial culture based on personal idiosyncrasies such as these.  My home life was one in which emotions were not expressed.  The goal was to present yourself as intelligent, logical, and pragmatic.  Emotions were managed quietly and we dealt with them by “trying our best to hold it together”.  If you ask them about how they feel, they would say, “doing well”, in their formal and polite manner.  Ask them to describe emotions they get technical and describe how it begins with the intake of sensory information when the limbic system works to assess its emotive relevance.  It continues in the hippocampus which stores memories of emotional events that trigger the amygdala to initiate the fight-or-flight system.  The moral of this story is to utilize your prefrontal cortex….

Hearing explanations like this leaves me saddened by their inability to understand that emotions have an intelligence all their own.  They are what make us truly human and add color to our life experiences.     In his book “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Goleman (1996) notes that “The family constructs a reality through the joint schemas members come to share.  The family’s self-image is one subset of shared schemas, the some total constitute the family’s paradigm.  The topography of the family’s private universe is implicit in routines…in how members take in, interpret and share…information” (p. 173).    As I look back on this familial reality construction, I am reminded of R.D. Laing’s  (1978) Happy Family Game in which he describes the rules which guide our efforts to deny certain aspects of shared experiences:  

  1. RULE #1:  Don’t do it! Don’t Say it! Don’t Acknowledge it!
  2. RULE #2:  Don’t Acknowledge Rule #1!!!
  3. Rule #3:  Do Not discuss existence of Rules #1 & #2!!

 Bullshit is infectious & needs to be treated as a dangerous contagion

In the previous section, I provide examples of unseen aspects of social experience. When you examine these unseen things closely you find that self-deception can become shared.  Others’ bullshit ideas, when unexamined, can become our bullshit ideas.  Bullshit is infectious and needs to be treated as a dangerous contagion.  What do I mean by this?  Here’s my personal theory on how we inherit the bullshit of those around us and consume it blindly….

It starts when we bullshit ourselves.

Self-deception involves the acquisition and maintenance of a belief despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, (plato.stanford.edu, 2016).  The goal is to create a self-perceived reality that we wish to uphold.  Goleman, (1996) states:  “There are, it seems, vital parts of our lives which are, in a sense, missing – blanks in experience….our failure to experience these aspects of our lives…results in an incapacity to bring attention to bear on certain crucial aspects of our reality” (p. 15). In a post titled “Twisted Self-Deception” I make the following comments on the nature of unseen things:

It continues when bullshit creates unseen things in our lives…

Self-deception, is defined by those things that produce anxiety.  Various aspects of who we are and what we experience are too painful to face, so we create a zone of blocked attention.  For example, my sister and her friends were motivated by desire for acceptance.  By focusing only on wanting to fit in, my sister’s friends failed to question the logic or morality of these random social rules that guided their efforts.  In their desire to present a specific image to the world, my parents failed to develop emotionally.  As is the case with all of us, the reality they experience is based on what they attend to.  “Perception is selection” (Goleman, 1996, p. 21)….

We pay a price for repression with a self-fulling prophecy based on this bullshit.

So its clear, based on this description that self-deception is an emotional hot potatoes.  We find unseen things unpleasant and try to pretend they aren’t there.    In a post titled “stages of change” I provide an excellent example of what emotional hot potatoes look like.   If (hopefully) you read this link, you can see that my emotional hot potato was a desire to avoid re-experiencing the ostracism and bullying from my childhood.  Rather than experience this again, I entered a relationship with promises of more in the midst of more of the same.  I was so overwhelmed by unresolved trauma that it became a missing piece in my understand the world.  I became what others said I was and developed relationships with others based on this skewed self-perception.    You can’t solve a problem with the same mindset you had when entering into it.

Finally, blind spots in our thinking infect the relationships we have with others…

There’s definitely more than a grain of truth to the whole idea that like attracts like.   The key to being a bullshit magnet is failing to sort through your own crap.  Its impossible to see and perceive others with any sense of clarity if you’re wearing shit-stained lenses.  The following quote comes from a book “Secrets in the Family”:

“I will attempt to be some of the many important things you want of me, even though some of them are impossible, contradictory, and crazy, if you will be for me some of the important, impossible, contradictory, and crazy things I want of you.  We don’t have to let each other know what these things are, but we will be cross, sulk, become depressed or difficult if we do not keep up with the bargain” (Pincus & Dare, 1978).

References

Bjerring, J. C., Hansen, J. U., Pedersen, Nikolaj Jang Lee (2014). On the rationality of pluralistic ignorance. Synthese, 191(11), 2445-2470. doi:10.1007/s11229-014-0434-1
dictionary.com, (n.d.) Suspension of disbelief. Retrieved from: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/suspension-of-disbelief
Dostoevsky, F. (2014). Notes from the Underground. Broadview Press.
Epstein, L. (1982, October 10).  Roundup of the Usual Suspects.  Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/1982/10/10/books/roundup-of-the-usual-suspects.html?pagewanted=all
Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. New York: Anchor Books.
Goleman, D. (1996). Vital lies, simple truths: The psychology of self deception. Simon and Schuster.
Pincus, L., & Dare, C. (1978). Secrets in the Family. Pantheon.
Plato.stanford.edu. (2016, November, 7).  Self-Deception. Retrieved from:  https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/self-deception/
Laing, R. D. (1971). The politics of the family, and other essays (Vol. 5). Psychology Press.
Schreber, D. P. (1955). Memoirs of my nervous illness. New York Review of Books.
Shapiro, D. (1996). On the Psychology of Self-Deception.  Social Research, 63(3). Retrieved from: http://www.communicationcache.com/uploads/1/0/8/8/10887248/on_the_psychology_of_self-deception.pdf
Images: 1, 2,

Share This:

I hate my fucking job….

On the surface, this blog post appears to represent a brief piss-n-moan session.  However, it also reflects my hopes for the future.  As I reach the end of my educational journey, I am starting to see the finish line just over the horizon.

I am a full-time working mother who is also in graduate school.  I work at a homeless shelter as an intern, providing individual & group therapy to clients with substance use and mental health issues.  I also work as a C.N.A on the weekends (Friday – Sunday, 7p – 7a).   When I’m not at my internship or job, I spend my time as the domestic goddess (trying to live up to the roles of wife & mother).  I rarely get a day off and am overwhelmed by the endless and relentless pace of it all.  I need a break but see none in sight until I graduate this summer. I just need to hold on a little longer…

What follows is a little list of things I get to say goodbye to once I finish my degree & find a job… 🙂

I am a “Certified Nurse Assistant” (aka professional ass wiper).  I work three back-to back 12-hour shifts over the weekend.  Since my husband works Monday through Friday 8-5, it’s been a practical solution to avoiding daycare.  However, pragmatism doesn’t necessarily yield happiness.

From the moment I get to work I am “hitting the ground running”.  I joke to my patients I’m their “personal gopher”.  If they need it, push the button and I’ll get it for them.  Intermingled within assigned tasks (vitals, blood sugars, etc), are nurse’s requests and call lights.  I’m frazzled by this constant pushing and pulling of my time.  Everyone needs something, they want it now, and don’t understand I have others to attend to.

…and I can’t blame my patients for this really. The old lady with a bad hip & bladder control problem can’t help it that she needs to go hourly.  The man down the hall who has a colonoscopy in the morning can’t help it that he’s having endless “code browns” for me to clean up.

Honestly, cleaning up patients after they soil the bed is really “no big deal”.  I am accustomed to it.  However, it does get old.  I can’t wait for the day when I can say “I’m dome!”

“No more of this shit” 🙂

Believe it or not, it isn’t the human excrement that I hate most.  I dislike how my personal needs slip into the background of my mind as I work hard to provide good care to others.  As I rush from one task to another I think to myself: “I would like the change my tampon, I’m hungry, my feet are killing me.”  I struggle to push aside these thoughts while with the client.  Because I have keep up with the pace of the work and respond to everyone’s needs in a timely manner.

I am a hamster running on a treadmill chasing a carrot on a stick….

For even the most patient of souls, the never ending nature of catering to others’ needs can wear thin on one’s mind.  I do it literally, all the time.  Presenting a pleasant bedside manner requires me to set personal needs aside.  This is often easier said than done….

Maybe I’m sick of the lazy nurse who runs me ragged & refuses to help out with a call light because I’m with another patient. I politely ask for help and remember to thank her for getting that, while seething inside.
or maybe there’s this feisty old lady with Alzheimer’s & a vicious temper. She lets loose an endless barrage of insults, because I won’t leave her alone. My mind fills with anger & frustration over the fact that I can’t reason with her. All I can do is my job, and explain again in the calmest voice I can muster, I’m just here to care for her.
The point is, after 36 hours on the job over a work-weekend, I become filled with these frustrations.  They remain pent-up & unresolved.

 I feel like a bomb about to explode.

Here is a link to a recent post I did of the typical confused patient I’m asked to sit with at work.  Just imagine sitting with somebody like this for a full 12-hour shift.  It gets old very quickly.  Over the course of 15 years on the job, I have seen many patients like this one.  Oftentimes, this sort of behavior is attributable to confusion.   Therefore, the client can’t be held responsible for this sort of behavior.  Consequently, my response in this situation is to: (1) ensure patient safety; (2)  reorient when possible; (3) and maintain agitation by responding promptly to patient needs.

However, a snag I run into pertains to my PTSD diagnosis.  Over the years, I’ve encountered a few verbally abusive & agitated patients that remind me of earlier traumas.  As a bullied child, the constant putdowns from classmates left me with zero self-esteem. I endured high school in a state of complete isolation & para-suicidalit  (primarily due to the fact that I didn’t want my sister to be the one who found the body).  After years of “white knuckling” on the inside, I couldn’t wait to graduate.  However college didn’t yield anything better since I landed in a four-year abusive relationship in my sophomore year.

I drudge up these old memories only to note that verbal abuse like this can be a trauma trigger.  Certain things can produce intrusive memories, and along with it, a wave of old emotional flashbacks.   In the years since being in therapy, EMDR & self-awareness has helped tremendously.  However, I can still become depressed, frustrated and anxious when on the receiving end of psychologically abusive behavior from patients for a length of time @ work.

When I quit this job, I will no longer be forced to endure this verbal abuse….

…Instead, my past will have a purpose in a positive manner while helping others….

Last year I was assaulted at work while working as a safety advocate for a schizophrenic patient.  He beat me several times in the head as I tried my best to keep him from crawling out of bed.  The whole incident flew by fast & occurred within the first 30 minutes of my arrival.   I entered the room full of anxiety & dread.  I didn’t feel safe in the room alone with him, however knew staff would not listen to my concerns since they were short-staffed & everybody was still getting a shift report.

What’s so fucked up, is while this guy kept punched me in the head, I didn’t think to pull away or defend myself. I was only thinking about my job & not getting in trouble for letting the guy fall. I stayed there and “took it like a man”.

The guy didn’t crawl out of bed..

However, I was punched several times & went home an emotional wreck.

When I quit this job, I no longer have to put myself in harms way.

I work every weekend & if my shift falls on a holiday, I have to work it.  I am not allowed to take time off.   Since my family has a regular schedule, we are like “passing ships in the night”.  My sons have school Monday – Friday, 8-3.  My husband works 8-5.  I either nap during the day, do homework, or clock internship hours.  They get to spend the weekend together while I work at night & sleep all day.

It depresses me, knowing I that we never get a whole day to spend together.

When I quit this fucking job, I get my weekends back.

What I hate most about this job is it reflects a decision based on circumstance & necessity.   It pays really well & the hours are conducive to the completion of my graduate education.  However, it is also a circumstantial byproduct of trauma.  I was bullied as a child so badly that survival became a priority over education.  My childhood is filled with missed opportunities of wasted potential.

My childhood bullies altered the course of my life, left me traumatized & robbed me of my potential….

Things didn’t improve in college, when I found myself in an abusive relationship,  Driven forward by the impact of unresolved childhood trauma, I was again in survival mode.  Intent on running away from my problems, I didn’t yet understand I was carrying them within….

At the hands of an abusive asshole, I lost the opportunity of a normal college experience & an education of my choosing.

My parents were too focused on their careers to provide assistance.  I honestly feel, they sacrificed my well being for their career pursuits.  Quitting their job or cutting back their work hours was unthinkable.  Didn’t they know how “bad off” I was?  I guess not.  Part of me will never forgive them for failing to be there.

Upon the altar of their careers, is the sacrificial lamb of my childhood..

This education provides me a chance to realize my full potential & reclaim it….

Share This:

Boundary Setting

 

Abstract

This brief paper discusses the importance of a therapeutic relationships and issues of maintaining professional boundaries including types of boundaries, guidelines for maintenance, and common errors of judgment.

Professional Issues Reflection Paper: Boundaries

As a student therapist who is working on completing her internship hours, I have become profoundly aware of the importance of boundary setting in the context of a therapeutic relationship. Buhari (2013) describes therapeutic relationships as based on the following characteristics: (1) a power-imbalance; (2) trust; (3) empathy; (4) respect; (5) emotional intimacy, and (6) a therapeutic alliance. The driving goal of therapeutic relationships is to address the client’s needs first and foremost. As the therapeutic relationship becomes solidified, therapist get to know their clients intimacy and learning to maintain professional boundaries is critical (Buhari 2013). In an audiotaped interview segment, Carl Rogers makes a statement on the concept of empathy.  The following quote from a YouTube provides an overview of the audio recording of Carl Rogers discussing the concept of empathy. This video highlights one critical aspect of the therapeutic relationship and the importance of boundary setting (Rutsch, 2015).

“When I can let myself enter softly and delicately into the vulnerable inner world of the other person…lay aside my views and values and prejudices…check the accuracy of my acceptance of him or her…then I can be a companion to that person, pointing at the felt meaning of what is being experienced (Rutsch, 2015).

The Zone of Helpfulness

The goal of therapy is to facilitate communication of the client’s thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in order to examine them critically, uncover unhealthy belief systems, maladaptive coping tools and self-destructive behaviors (Herlihy & Corey, 2015). One resource for this paper discusses the concept “Zone of Helpfulness” (Buhari, 2013, p. 162) when discussing the issue of boundary setting. This Zone of Helpfulness” (Buhari, 2013, p. 162), rests within a continuum of involvement between two opposing extremes with enmeshment on extreme and aloofness on the other. It is critical for new therapists to develop a conceptual understanding of where this “Zone of Helpfulness” (Buhari, 2013, p. 162), rests in their daily practice. The following concepts have been a useful guide for me lately.

Types of Boundaries & Boundary Violations

Definition of Professional Boundaries

Buhari (2013) defines a boundary as a “dynamic line which if crossed will constitute unprofessional or unethical behavior. In other words, professional boundaries are useful in defining the “Zone of Helpfulness” (Buhari, 2013, p. 162), in a therapeutic relationship. They are important as mutually understood standards of conduct defining the limits of a relationship between therapist and client.

Types of Boundaries

Buhari (2013) also discusses types of boundaries that are useful in defining a critical aspect of the therapeutic relationship. For example, physical boundaries define rules of acceptable physical interaction (i.e. shaking hands, or hugging) (Buhari, 2013). They tend to be socially-defined concepts that define how much of the physical space around us is concerned personal. In this respect, physical boundaries define how closely people tend to stand when engaging in casual conversation.

Buhari (2013) also describes abstract boundaries as pertaining to attitudes regarding what behaviors considered rude, abrasive, or disrespectful. This element of boundary setting in a therapeutic relationship sheds light on the importance of multicultural sensitivity. For example, in my mother’s culture it is considered important to respect your elders. This would mean, calling an older client “Mr. So-and-So” until they gave you permission to use their first name.

Inner boundaries are highly relevant to Carl Roger’s definition of empathy provided earlier, (Rutsch, 2015). Being aware for issues of counter-transference issues is critical when setting inner boundaries. It also requires self-awareness, for example I work in the nursing field and tend to people’s needs all day. Doing this in an inpatient therapeutic setting is not always therapeutic or helpful to my clients in the long run. Finally, Buhari, (2013), describes interpersonal boundaries as occurring between the client and therapist relationship: (i.e emotional, verbal, and behavioral).

Boundary Guidelines

ACA Code of Ethics

The ACA Code of Ethics states the following regarding professional boundaries. Firstly, prohibits romantic and/or sexual relationships between therapist and client (American Counseling Association, 2014). Secondly, it cautions therapists to consider previous relationships with an individual before accepting them as a client (American Counseling Association, 2014). Thirdly, the ACA Code of Ethics warns therapists to careful consider actions that might bypass conventional parameters such as going to a client’s wedding (American Counseling Association, 2014). Finally, the ACA Code of Ethics stresses the importance of carefully documenting all actions taken to extend the boundaries in the therapeutic relationship (American Counseling Association, 2014).

Defining the Parameters

When meeting clients for the first time it is essential to be clear right from the outset the parameters that define the therapeutic relationship (Buhari, 2013). This should include discussing the nature of the therapeutic and purposes of therapy. Relevant issues such as: (1) limits to confidentiality, (2) method of payment, (3) office policies, (4) setting, (5) duration and (6) frequency of services, should also be discussed. Issues to consider carefully involve an examination of the therapeutic benefits of self-disclosure and the possibility of dual relationships.

Ethical Decision Making tips

Pope, et al, (2008) suggest knowing ethical codes while also considering boundary setting issues in terms of their alternative therapeutic outcomes. For example, while ethical codes state that gift giving between client and therapist are inappropriate, there are some rare instances in which it may be culturally insensitive reject a gift. In this respect, ethical decision-making should first entail a careful examination of all relevant aspects of a situation. Pope, et al, (2008), stresses the importance of self-awareness in the decision making process so we can clearly define the feelings and thoughts that underlying these ethical decision. Finally, having colleagues to discuss these issues can be a useful reality check. An article titled “To Cross or Not to Cross” (Zur, 2004) cautions against being overly rigid with boundaries since it can decrease therapeutic effectiveness and can at times cause harm to the client (p. 30). A common misconception exists regarding boundary called the “slippery slope argument [in which] crossing of boundaries inevitably lead to a violation” (Zur, 2004, p. 30). Ultimately decision making based on three critical factors: client welfare, ethical standards, and therapeutic effectiveness (Herlihy & Corey, 2015 & Zur, 2004).

Errors in Judgment.

Boundary violations include deliberate actions that are clearly inappropriate crossing the line of decency (Buhari, 2013; Zur, 2004). They include misuses of influence and power of the client for the therapist’s own benefit (Buhari, 2013; Zur, 2004). While the process of boundary setting might at first appear straightforward, the ethical decision-making requires us to consider factors that often contradict one another. They must be made cautiously, with a clear understanding of all relevant aspects of a situation. To illustrate this point, Pope, et al, (2008), provides a list of common errors in judgment regarding the issue of boundary setting. When reading through this list there are a few that stand out to me as quite insightful. Firstly, Pope, et al, (2008) state that the felt meaning regarding an act that crosses boundaries can vary between client and therapist. This is especially true if the client and therapist have different cultural backgrounds. Secondly, Pope, et al, (2008) note that these decisions should be taken on a case-by-case basis. In other words, what might be a therapeutic boundary crossing in one instance can be considered harmful in another, (i.e. receiving a small gift).

How to Correct Errors in Judgment

The ACA Code of ethics cautions therapists to carefully consider and document all events involving a crossing of boundaries (American Counseling Association, 2014). In the event that the outcome of this decision isn’t what we had hoped, Pope, et al, (2008), provides some useful guidelines. Firstly, Pope, et al, (2008) state it is important to carefully monitor the situation, and remain “open and non-defensive” (p. 648). This can allow you to fully understand the client’s perspective. Discussing the situation with your supervisor and colleagues. Finally, Pope, et al, (2008) states it is important to show professional responsibility by claiming ownership of our mistakes and apologizing if necessary.

References

American Counseling Association (2014). ACA Code of Ethics, Alexandria, VA: Author.
Buhari, B. (2013). Therapeutic relationships and boundaries. IFE Psychologica, 21(3-S), 162-168.
Herlihy, B., & Corey, G. (2015). Boundary issues in counseling: Multiple roles and responsibilities. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Pope, K. S., & Keith Spiegel, P. (2008). A practical approach to boundaries in psychotherapy: making decisions, bypassing blunders and mending fences. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 64(5), 638-652. doi:10.1002.jclp.2047.
Rutsch W. [Screen Name]. (2015, January, 30). Carl Rogers Empathy & Presence. [Video File] Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/B0Xv6Tb2k0E
Zur, O (2004). To Cross or Not to Cross: Do boundaries in therapy protect or harm. Psychotherapy Bulletin, 39(3), 27-32.

Share This:

PART ONE: I am a “Seer of Unseeable Things”

I’ve been mulling over the purpose of this blog lately. Realistically, I suspect it will reflect the state of my mind’s inner workings & what I’m focused on at the time.  Since I’m completing a graduate degree, my posts have had an academic focus.  However, over time I hope to do much more with it….

I am a “seer of unseeable things”

One experiential thread woven throughout the fabric of my  life is a feeling of living in opposite-land.  In this frustratingly unique life position I am a seer of unseeable things which others are blind to.

Truth becomes bullshit and bullshit becomes truth…

Throughout my life, I have struggled with the existence daily experiences that I know as matters of fact and others perceive as blasphemous bullshit.  Instead a slew of social rules (i.e. bullshit) are presented to me as a preferred and/or desired way of being.  I am to tow the line or suffer the consequences.

I attribute this two three factors:

Firstly, I am an INFP

The above video provides an excellent visual depiction of the introverted feeling function from an “insider’s perspective”. The view from inside the fizzy pop can is different than others might be lead to believe based on outside appearances.

Sometimes I wonder if my experience made me how I am or if I make my experiences through how I perceive them.  The Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator provides excellent insight into this “chicken-or-egg-question”.   I process information based on extraverted intuition.  This perceptual function has boundless curiosity, preferring to synthesize seemingly disparate perspectives into a multifaceted perspective based that carries greater truths not otherwise really see.  I make decisions and judgments based on deeply felt values that reflect the sum total of my life experiences.  I know this respect I’m a “lone wolf” who marched to the beat of my own thumb.

I seem to naturally gravitate toward a contrarian view of things: profoundly am aware of the idiot bullshit that underlies convention.

Secondly, I grew up a bullied & ostracized oddball.


I was always on the outside looking in.   The social universe of peers, friendships, and cliques was always foreign to me as a scary and mysterious universe!   For whatever reason, (an innate predisposition toward dorkiness), I was always the girl with cooties that nobody wanted to play with.   I did my own thing & retreated into my own world.  These early socialization experiences left their mark upon me as an adult incapable of faking normal.

You see, we all utilize our childhood as a developmental reference point experientially.  The coping methods we use & level of success we encounter in handling developmental tasks leave their mark.  I was fearful of social situations as a bullied child, had zero sense of self-efficacy. And adapted by retreating into my own world.

It’s, therefore, not really surprising that I am an introvert who is reluctant to open up to others. I have difficulty establishing friendships & trusting others…

Finally, I’m a biracial

Click here for a bill of rights for people of mixed race heritage


There are four abstract constructs which together are effective in developing a basic understanding of a biracial individual’s experience of race.  Together they explain what it is like to live within an unclear “in-between” space. These constructs are: (1) genotype; (2) phenotype; (3) identity; & (4) culture.  Understanding how they converge within an individual’s life can help quite a bit in explaining their racial identity.  They are useful in understanding the diversity of experiences amongst biracial experiences, as well as the issue of colorism…

Genotype vs. Phenotype…

Genotype refers to the DNA you carry within you.  You get half from your mother and half from your father.  For example, at geneaology.com they studies of populations around the world.  When individuals are isolated historically these populations tend to share genes for traits that are conducive to survival in that area.  When you submit a test at genealogy.com, they tell you what subsets of the human population are present in your genes.

Phenotype has to do with your physical features, how do you look?  What is the color of your skin, your face shape, and hair color?  The point is, you can have the same set of parents, but inherit different subsets.  Therefore, two genetically biracial individuals can have very different appearances.

I have a genotype / phenotype mismatch problem…

What is Identity?

The DSM-5 Manual defines Identity as follows:  “[the] experience of oneself as unique with clear boundaries between self and others; stability of self-esteem and accuracy of self appraisal; capacity for, and ability to regulate, a range of emotional experience.” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p823).  As a biracial individual the experience of how others see us diverges from the inner knowing of who they are.  Regarding how others’ experience, I feel as if I’m a man inside a monkey suit wearing upon my being the preconceived notions of others.  I wait for somebody to see within to the real me, but it happens rarely.  R.D. Laing (1990), summarizes this experience succinctly in his book “The Divided Self”.  In contrast, the description of our inner sense of self is best described in my old course textbook (Corsini & Wedding, 2013).

I cannot experience your experience. You cannot experience my experience. We are both invisible men. All men are invisible to one another. Experience is man’s invisibility to man. Experience used to be called the soul.” (Laing, 1990, p18).
“The usual sense of the self as being who we ‘really are’ and as being continuous and consistent over time seems to be an illusory construction of imprecise awareness….similar to the ‘flicker fusion phenomenon’ by which photographs projected successively on a movie screen…we suffer from a case of mistaken identity. We are not who, or even what, we thought we were. What we take to be our real self is merely an illusory construct” (Wedding & Corsini, 2013, p467).

What is culture?

Culture provides another set of mental programs relevant to a society (Chung & Bemak, 2002). It consists of a shared system of meanings within society that define modes of expression and communication, (Chung & Bemak, 2002; Nazir, et al, 2009). It influences how we view the world around us and sets the normative standards for behavior (Chung & Bemak, 2002; Nazir, et al, 2009). As a form of “mental programming” (Chung & Bemak, 2002, p282), it defines our value systems and preferred ways of thinking and feeling.

So what does it mean to see unseen things?

**As a biracial individual I am unable to take sides and am provided a unique view of the social world that mono-racial individuals cannot conceive.  I am not what I am perceived to be. 
**As an INFP, it means I live in a rich inner world filled with uncommon yet-valid truths unrecognized to the majority as contradictory to conventional thinking.
**As a bullied child I was never provided an insider’s view of the social world.  I stood outside the social world.  I wanted in but never gained access.  I did my own thing and can’t handle the idea of having to “fake normal”…

believe it or not there’s actually a point to all this pissing & moaning 🙂

On the one hand, I find myself doubting the validity of my own experiences.  Was it real?  If it was real then the world is filled with idiots who prefer to engage in pluralistic ignorance in the name of Santa-Clause-Like bullshit notions.  Or, am l the crazy person filled with irrational & delusional thoughts?  If so, should I be locked away somewhere?   How do I filter through the reality of my experiences and manage the disparities between my inner and outer worlds?

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Chung, R.C.Y. & Bemak, F. (2002) The relationship of culture and empathy in cross- cultural counseling. Journal of Counseling and Development. (80) pp154-158.
Coplan, A. (2004). Empathetic engagement with narrative fictions. The journal of aesthetics and criticism.62(2)
Dictionary.com (n.d.). Suspension of Disbelief.  Retrieved from: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/suspension-of-disbelief
Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. Garden City. Doubleday.
Laing, R. D. (1960). The divided self. New York: Random House
Nazir, A, Enz, S, Lim, M.Y., Aylett, R., & Cawsey A. (2009). Culture-personality based affective model. AI & Society. 24(3) pp 281-293.
Wedding, D., & Corsini, R. (2013). Current Psychotherapies. (9thed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Share This: