Dysfunctional Personal Survival Mechanisms: Why Do They Arise?

Dysfunctional Personal Survival Mechanisms: why do they arise?

The human being is a social being. This correct phrase that the philosopher Aristotle highlighted several centuries BC. C., continues to have overwhelming validity.

The human ability to interact with other individuals, share experiences, resolve conflicts, receive support and affection, exchange positions… are competencies that have guaranteed that the human species has been able to progress evolutionaryguaranteeing its survival throughout the thousands of years of its history.

The objective of the human being: own survival

The concept of survival explains the large proportion of mental processes that a human being constantly carries out, at the level of thoughts, emotions, attitudes or behaviors.

For example, emotions, those experiences that are sometimes pleasant and other times not so much, They are conceived as “alarms” or “messages” that are received by the individual in a specific situation. in order to inform him that this must be faced or that he is faced with a need that must be covered: anger, informs of the need to defend one’s own rights; sadness indicates that we must assume a material or symbolic loss; fear communicates a potential presence of threat or danger; Joy reveals the need to get closer to others to share a certain satisfaction, etc.

Another of the main phenomena that greatly influences how human beings function more or less effectively in their environment is the attachment style. This can be described as the type of bond established between two individuals, delimited by the affection and care exercised between them.

The attachment style that people internalize, although it can be modified throughout adult life, is substantially formed in childhood. based on how the child’s relationship with the main reference figures, essentially the parents, is established. It is worth mentioning, however, that these are not the only significant influences, since other family members, as well as close friends or school educators can also play an important role in this process.

You may be interested:  Can Somniloquy Be Cured? Ideas to Stop Talking in Your Sleep

The emotional bond: the type of attachment

The type of attachment that a person has largely determines three essential aspects: how the person perceives themselves, how they perceive the environment around them and how they perceive other people. This perception will be responsible for laying the foundations for how it will relate to these three elements. And this relationship can be classified as safe (healthy and effective) or as unsafe (unhealthy and harmful). Thus, recovering the Attachment Theory proposed by John Bowlby and developed by Mary Ainsworth in previous decades, the type of attachment can be defined in four categories: secure, anxious, avoidant or disorganized, the last three being examples of an unhealthy type of attachment. .

In summary, In secure attachment, reference figures are present unconditionally, where affection, trust and care occur in all circumstances in which the child expresses a need. This will cause the minor to learn to develop active environmental exploration behavior, where he will initiate social approaches towards other individuals in a natural way and where he will perceive himself as a valid being and deserving of affection.

On the other hand, when significant figures are partially available (anxious attachment), are completely absent (avoidant attachment) or care is abusive and negligent (disorganized attachment), the infant internalizes a very different functioning.

Types of attachment and their psychological effects

Broadly speaking, the different types of attachment are linked to a functioning characterized by the following aspects.

In anxious attachment, the child perceives the environment as unstable and potentially dangerous, so he desperately searches for the affection and security he needs. The internalized message is similar to “if I am perfect, others will give me their affection” and “I must please others to feel well-being.”

In it avoidant attachment, the infant learns that he must take care of himself completely, since he cannot turn to others when he expresses a need, so he will develop a distant and cold functioning socially. The message he receives is “I can’t count on or trust anyone” and “I must be alone to feel safe.”

You may be interested:  Obsessive Neurosis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

He disorganized attachment It is usually associated with more extreme contexts of abuse, very conflictive and/or aggressive relationships, absence of interpersonal limits, traumatic experiences, etc. In this case the probability of developing psychopathology is high.

Given the various cases presented and considering that human beings are programmed to achieve their own survival, as indicated above, people tend to develop a series of survival mechanisms in childhood to try to compensate or meet unmet emotional needs. , derived from an insecure attachment style. These supposed strategies must be understood a priori as “emergency exits”, perhaps functional at first, but considerably harmful in the long term as the individual matures and moves towards adolescence and adulthood.

As stated, an insecure attachment style can cause an unfavorable perception of oneself, one’s environment, and others. All of this substantially correlates with the type of relationship dynamics that the person establishes, with the level of self-esteem and self-concept acquired or the ability to cope with life adversities.

The main survival mechanisms in insecure attachment

Below are different survival mechanisms that people who internalize an insecure attachment style can develop:

1. An excessively self-demanding and self-critical personal style

This mechanism is activated with the purpose of artificially and dysfunctionally potential level of self-esteem, since Compliance with these demands is linked to one’s own well-being.. The problem is that the individual never manages to achieve and fulfill his expectations because he feels that he is never enough.

2. The tendency to procrastinate

Postponing tasks, responsibilities and actively setting objectives makes it possible to avoid potential failure or facing unpleasant, complex or uncomfortable situations. This dynamic considerably feeds back the emotion of fear. and causes the loss of experiencing learning and personal enrichment.

3. Excess worry or rumination

This methodology is the one most associated with a need to control the environment and is common in people who perceive it as a dangerous or threatening place. It is based on the premise that anticipating all possible scenarios in the face of potential adversity generates a false sense of security in the person.

You may be interested:  8 Reasons to Start Writing in a Personal Diary Today

As in the self-demanding style, the need for control is infinite since it is not considered that in each circumstance there are multiple variables outside the individual’s action and, therefore, uncontrollable. Continuous worry leads the person to permanent states of hypervigilance and nervous activation, which can cause the development of anxious symptoms, fears and insecurities.

4. Constant self-observation, both physical and psychological

Faced with low acceptance or low tolerance for discomfort, as well as recurrent recriminatory judgments when experiencing this phenomenon, the person tends to expose themselves to continuous examination to avoid manifesting any physical or emotional alterationsince it equates this phenomenon with lower personal value and labeling oneself as a weak or vulnerable being.

5. Distrust and dysfunctional jealousy

In this mechanism, the person tends to doubt the intentionality of the social and environmental context that surrounds them, so that they preventively protect themselves from suffering. This methodology prevents establishing intimate and satisfactory bonds with other people.

6. Impulsive reactions of anger and aggression

In this case, the individual camouflages his level of deep, more unconscious or excessively painful suffering under an emotion of intense rage, preventing him from being able to initiate adequate coping with his real discomfort.

In conclusion

The type of bond established in early stages between an infant and the most relevant people in his or her environment is one of the factors that significantly influences his or her later personal functioning. It is for this reason that The internalization of a secure attachment will be an essential protective factor in adult life.

However, it should be considered that healthy and satisfactory interpersonal life experiences, as well as psychological work that addresses and assimilates the reason why the person tends to apply a dysfunctional pattern in their relationships, are also other relevant variables that They can make it possible to modify the original individual attachment style.