Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When You Are Safest In The Middle Of The Road: A Look At Emotional Extremes

The title of this blog sounds a little bit off, doesn't it? I mean, seriously, who is safe in the middle of a road when they are standing by themselves? But in this case, its the right place to be, because there are some types of emotional extremes that can have a detrimental affect on a person, if they are prone to them. So, as with all of these blogs, we'll look at some of the definitions of these extremes, and then look at them a bit more in depth, to help understand why the middle of the road, in this case, is the best place to be.

The Definitions

Emotions are sensory experiences that communicate across human relationship systems. They can be distorted or dissociated according to values and beliefs. Emotions provide motivation and inspiration to retreat....or to excel.

Another definition for an Emotion is a patterned bodily reaction of either protection, destruction, reproduction, deprivation, incorporation, rejection, exploration, or orientation, or some combination of these, which is brought about by a stimulus.

Emotional Dissociation a perceived detachment of the mind from the emotional state or even from the body. Dissociation is characterized by a sense of the world as a dreamlike or unreal place and may be accompanied by poor memory of the specific events, which in severe form is known as dissociative amnesia. The term dissociation refers to the act of separating or the state of being separated.

Another way of looking at in traditional psychology, Emotional Dissociation is the unconscious process of separating certain thoughts or behaviors from a person's identity or belief system.

In other schools of thought, such as NLP, dissociation describes the separation of various components of our experience from one another, for example separating the unpleasant feelings from a memory from the visual stimulus that triggered those feelings.

Dissociation may be contrasted with association; a person is associated into their feelings when on recalling an event they still get some of the feelings associated with the event, as if they were reliving the episode. When a person is dissociated they do relive the feelings that they had at the time, they are as it were at one remove from the emotions.

Narcissism, also called malignant self love, describes the trait of excessive self-love, based on self-image or ego. The terms narcissism, narcissistic, and narcissist are often used as pejoratives, denoting vanity, conceit, egotism or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others.

The Narcissist is described as turning inward for gratification rather than depending on others, and as being excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, and prestige. Narcissistic personality disorder is closely linked to self-centeredness. It is also colloquially referred to as "the god complex".

The Emotional Extremes

Emotional Dissociation

Emotional dissociation is like a puzzle, in a way. Because it means that one who is affected by it breaks themselves away from pieces of themselves, whether they bury those pieces or simply see them as though they are watching someone else's experiences, in a third person perspective. Its all about 'you' instead of 'me'. How does this relate to you, as an Empath, though?

As Empaths, we (and I say we to include myself in this experience) tend to push away from our own issues, to focus on helping other people with their problems. And because there is generally very little self esteem and self worth within a developing Empath, for whatever personal reasons, issues and/or problems, this can become a dissociative reaction.

A lack of self worth forces you to find meaning for your life outside yourself, which is admirable in and of itself. Helping others with their problems is a wonderful thing, if it is kept in balance with self. But when there is no balance, because the person in question avoids their own issues by focusing on others issues, it becomes escapeism or dissociative.

This is not a diagnosis by any means. It is simply a way to help you understand why you do some of the things you do and how they affect you and those around you. And the reason why I talk about this is because I've been there, doing this exact thing. These have been my issues as much as anyone else's who might read this and relate to it.

We are multifaceted people, with many personal things swirling around us at any given time. To be dissociative is to deny all of those facets.....more over it is to deny yourself. It is the belief that you are worthless, and all of those things swirling around inside you are to bad, to sinful, to horrible, or to terrifying to acknowledge.

So one seeks meaning outside themselves, by working with other people's problems. Its easier that way, because you don't have to feel any of it directly. It is completely vicarious feeling, because its not your issues.

It makes you feel alive, because you are feeling something, even if it is not your own feelings. It also makes books, movies and music come to life, because you feel it, without having to experience it directly.

Does any of this make any sense? Can you relate to any of this?


Narcissism is the contrast of the emotionally dissociative person, because instead of self loathing, the narcissist is full of self love. The problem arises for this type when that self love extends into greater depths than their association with the world around them. Everything outside the narcissist is then related to themselves by how it can benefit them, even relationships. Its all about 'me' instead of 'you'.

This type of person can be conceited, egotistical, haughty, elitist, and down right mean and thoughtless when in contact with other people. Other people's experiences, unless they directly or indirectly connect with the narcissist, have no meaning to them.

This is also the contrast of Empathic behavior, because a Narcissist tends to have little to no empathy for others. So it is important to understand this extreme because within it, is something in which you need.

The Balance

Within every being, there are many sides. All of them are interconnected into the tapestry of you. Being Dissociative denies the self. Being Narcissistic denies others. But if you change your perspective on these two extremes, you will see that each of these holds the key that the other needs. This is the balance.

The Emotionally Dissociative person needs what the Narcissist has, but not in the extreme way that the Narcissist exhibits these traits. What are these traits? The very things that makes a Narcissist what he/she is, self love.

This is what will bring balance to the Emotionally dissociative person. When they stop denying themselves and find, within themselves, their own self worth, so that they can stand on their own without being dependent on others emotionally. This doesn't mean you walk around with a God Complex or become a Narcissist.

Humility is a key factor of a person who is dissociative, but in its extreme form. This, in turn, is exactly what a Narcissist needs, humility in the face of others and their plights. But again, it does not say that the Narcissist then goes and gives up all their worldly goods to be a Monk.

So for both, while the keys are in contrast, both must use temperance in changing who they are. It takes hard work. And it takes having the strength to face all of who you are, the good and the bad, and learning to live in peace with those things.

Within each, there is the potential for developing the other. Even in these extremes, the ability to do this resides within them because the pieces are all there, waiting to be acknowledged and utilized. But only they can do it, because change is not cultivated by others. It is brought about within oneself, by oneself.

All things are interconnected, even when they are two contrasting extremes. There is a bit of both within all of us, whether we are balanced or not. It is inescapable, no matter how much we run from it or fight it. What you do with it, how you cultivate it, and how you use it, is up to you. Because in any case, extreme or not, you are the key to your own balance.

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