ACoN not Akon…

… Though Akon’s lyrics do suggest he could be a bit of a narcissist,
Or maybe Akon is an ACoN.

Adult Children of Narcissistic parents (ACoNs) know a special type of emotional abuse in being raised by narcissists.
Not every emotionally abusive parent has the narcissistic personality disorder, but every single narcissistic parent is an emotional abuser-intensified.

The childhood of a person raised by a narcissistic parent is all kinds of horrible. The narcissist parent does not recognize the child as a separate human—but either an extension of self, an Echo, a mirror, an object, or a servant.

The childhood of a kid being raised by a narcissistic parent is a brutal one. And, unfortunately, due to the amount of psychological manipulation and abuse that the child is conditioned to accept, the abuse of the narcissistic parent often extends far into adulthood.

Narcissistic personality disorder is one of a group of conditions called dramatic personality disorders. People with these disorders have intense, unstable emotions, and a distorted self-image.

Narcissistic personality disorder is further characterized by an abnormal love of self, an exaggerated sense of superiority and importance, and a preoccupation with success and power.

Imagine
(Only 4 of many examples of a narcissistic parent)

1. Everything she does is deniable. There is always a facile excuse or an explanation. Cruelties are couched in loving terms. Aggressive and hostile acts are paraded as thoughtfulness. Selfish manipulations are presented as gifts. Criticism and slander is slyly disguised as concern. She only wants what is best for you. She only wants to help you.

2. She violates your boundaries. You feel like an extension of her. Your property is given away without your consent, sometimes in front of you. Your food is eaten off your plate or given to others off your plate. Your property may be repossessed and no reason given other than that it was never yours. Your time is committed without consulting you, and opinions purported to be yours are expressed for you.

3. She undermines. Your accomplishments are acknowledged only to the extent that she can take credit for them. Any success or accomplishment for which she cannot take credit is ignored or diminished. Any time you are to be center stage and there is no opportunity for her to be the center of attention, she will try to prevent the occasion altogether, or she doesn’t come, or she leaves early, or she acts like it’s no big deal, or she steals the spotlight or she slips in little wounding comments about how much better someone else did or how what you did wasn’t as much as you could have done or as you think it is.

4. She makes you look crazy. If you try to confront her about something she’s done, she’ll tell you that you have “a very vivid imagination” (this is a phrase commonly used by abusers of all sorts to invalidate your experience of their abuse) that you don’t know what you’re talking about, or that she has no idea what you’re talking about. She will claim not to remember even very memorable events, flatly denying they ever happened, and she will never acknowledge any possibility that she might have forgotten. This is an extremely infuriating tactic called “gaslighting,” common to abusers of all kinds. Your perceptions of reality are continually undermined so that you end up without any confidence in your intuition, your memory or your powers of reasoning. This makes you a much better victim for the abuser.

DOES ANY OF THIS SOUND FAMILIAR TO YOU? Do you know someone who grew/is growing up like this? Was this similar to your own childhood? Or do the above examples sound like habits you yourself have?

For anyone wanting to help ACoNs:
Give the children in your life (whether students, nephews, nieces, etc.) respect, dignity, and a listening ear. A child who is emotionally abused may not be able to voice what is happening in their home life but they will feel crippling loneliness and lingering sorrow—and the kind, thoughtful words of an adult in his/her life will make a huge difference. Your attention, kindness, and respect will give the child a sense of how healthy people treat one another.

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5 O’clock Somewhere?

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Rumination? Repetitive, intrusive, almost involuntary thoughts about work. Mark Croply, a health psychologist has made a study of the area. He found between two-thirds and three-quarters of people say they find it “difficult to unwind after work.” A full quarter of all sorts of people say they think about work-related issues in their leisure time, including holidays, weekends and extended breaks.

This is not about work-life balance as much as work-life boundaries. It is about not letting work issues dominate outside work, during leisure activities.

A report I read online in Leisure Studies investigated the typical behaviors of high and low ruminators. Predictably the former had “live to work” and the latter “work to live” philosophies. High ruminators were not actually clear about their contractual hours of work (meaning 35-45 hours per week), so weren’t clear how much they were overworking. It was in part an element of their work culture, but it was also their choice.

The problem is worse for those who experience the Zeigarnik effect, discovered 80 years ago. Unfinished, incomplete tasks are remembered better than completed tasks which are “put-to-bed,” and part “erased from the system.” For those working on long-term, complex projects that are rarely easily completed, it is all the easier to dwell on them at home.

Interestingly, healthy low ruminators were more intrinsically, rather than extrinsically motivated. There was a big difference in how they coped. High ruminators seemed to withdraw and get cut off from social contacts more, both at and after work. But low ruminators seemed to do the opposite. They had more fulfilled leisure and much more work-family harmony.

The question is, what differentiates those who can, and do, throw the big red switch on the journey home and those who can’t let go and pull out the plug? The news is not good for the ruminators. They are six times as likely – compared to non-ruminators – to report problems with concentration, five times as likely to experience anxiety and other somatic symptoms, and four times as likely to report fatigue, depression, irritability and worry. Their stress hormones are higher all the time and they are particularly prone to “cognitive errors”: all those little mistakes and forgetfulness that we experience on a daily basis. Ruminators are tired, moody and poor at decision making.

There are acute and chronic consequences of this ability to unwind. Sleep problems and mood disorders can lead to psychiatric and cardiovascular disease.

The idea is not that different from the ‘90s concept of workaholism: a sad, sick addiction to work. Here the individual puts work above everything else for the psychological functions it promises to fulfil: self-respect and self-esteem; identity. The paradox with workaholics is that they are often not that productive. They work hard not “smart.” And over time they lose sense of their priorities. They are seen as pathetic rather than heroic, compensators not fulfillers.

Workaholics stay at work. Ruminators take it home, at least in their heads. This means they have little or no time for restorative leisure, for recreational activities, for time to recharge their batteries. As a result they don’t allow themselves the all-important incubation period, so well understood by creativity researchers, who know that it is best to stop working on a problem in order to solve it.

Ruminators need to be taught how to switch off. Ultimately, it is a lot better for them and the people that they work for that they do. A tired, obsessed, error-prone worker is no good to anyone.

So ruminators need to be encouraged; given permission; and taught how to relax. To take time out; enjoy friends and family. A burnt-out, fatigued employee is a less productive employee.

Desiring to Measure Up to People I’m Taller Than

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Two generations on each of my arms. Both strong, faithful, humble, and hard working women. I’m the third generation in this picture. Will I be as tenacious as they are or will I be a cold and sloppy wet noodle, halfhearted, dim, and cowardly?

I, without a doubt, have never been characterized as any of the negative words above stated, in fact, I’ve been called a few of the favorable terms. So, does my pondering mean I am an apprehensive and anxious person?

Maybe so.

Well, being anxious is better than being a cold and sloppy wet noodle, anyway.

I was considering that this post was off topic, and it was then I realized that I am a kid and this is my behavior. So, this post is on point.

Different Strokes, Different Folks

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The children I take part in facilitating every day lack many important social skills. One of the issues we struggle the most with in the behavioral focus classroom setting is respect.

This particular post may seem cliche- and if, to you, it does appear as if I’m stating the obvious, then that is a good indication you live in a respectful environment. However, it is important to become conscious of the fact that many people, many of those rude and disrespectful people we dread crossing paths with, come from a place of no respect whatsoever.

Have you ever heard the saying, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”? What do you think this means? This saying points out an important
characteristic of respect. What you consider useful and important may not be the same to others. Because we are a society of diverse people, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds, our upbringing and experiences differ. Our likes and dislikes vary depending on what we consider valuable.

Understanding the concept of respect takes into consideration that although something may not be valuable to you, it may be valuable to someone else, and therefore, we should show respect towards that thing.

People value different things for many different reasons. When you regard something as valuable, you take into consideration its worth as measured in usefulness or importance.
For example, although you may not be old enough to drive, you can understand the value of having a car. A car is very useful and convenient. Other things are valuable because they are beautiful. This is called aesthetic value.

For instance, you can value your rock collection of quartz and crystal because they are beautiful, or you may value a painting because of its beauty.
The important thing to remember is that some values are based upon personal preference. Although values are different, respect must remain constant. Just as you would want others to treat your belongings with respect, you must also treat their belongings with respect.

Recognizing your value as an individual should never be confused with being conceited.

Appreciating your value simply means to acknowledge your talents and potential and to make every effort to live up to your potential. You can do so confidently knowing that your values reflect true positive character.
Recognizing your value leads to self-respect. People who have self- respect are more likely to avoid risk-taking behavior. They strive to develop a positive character and do not succumb to negative pressure and influences.

You can show appreciation for all people by understanding that there is a fundamental value to life. Keep in mind that appreciation is a part of respect. It helps you to care for others and to treat them the way you would like to be treated.

Here is an example of how someone can demonstrate fundamental respect for all life.

Charles passed the homeless man on the corner every day as he walked to school. Sometimes the man asked for money, but Charles would not speak to him. At school, there is a special program about the homeless. Charles remembered the homeless man and mentioned him to the counselor from the Homeless Shelter. The counselor thanked him for his concern and said he would send someone to help the man.

Here is an example of not demonstrating fundamental respect for all life.

Bill passed the homeless man on the corner every day as he walked to school. Sometimes when the man asked for money, Bill would make fun of him, and mock him. Sometimes Bill and his friends played tricks on the man and threw garbage and rocks at him when he was sleeping.

From these two scenarios, it is clear to see that basic respect must be shown to all people, regardless of their circumstances. No one deserves to be ridiculed or treated cruelly.
In the first scenario, Charles was not verbally or physically abusive, and he showed compassion by telling the counselor about the homeless man. Because of Charles’s thoughtfulness and consideration, maybe the homeless man was able to get the help he needed to improve his life.
In the second scenario, Bill was both verbally and physically abusive. He showed no compassion. He and his friends were disrespectful and cruel.
Although these are only scenarios, this type of disrespect often occurs in real life.

If respect leads to positive interactions, what do you think disrespect will lead to? Disrespect is the foundation of all negative and abusive interactions and relationships. In our society, disrespect is seen in many different forms, but one thing is certain, it can result in hurt feelings, resentment, verbal and physical aggression, violence, war, and even death.

Examples of disrespect are so common in our society that they are often considered to be a normal part of life. The fact is, it is not normal to interact with others in disrespectful ways. Disrespect should never be accepted as just a part of life.

The following is a list of some of the common forms of disrespect that are widespread within our society.

Verbal disrespect includes not saying “please,” “thank you,” or “excuse me”; cursing; name-calling; teasing; bullying; threatening to hurt someone; and sarcasm.

Physical disrespect includes assault with a weapon, hitting, pushing or kicking as well as touching someone’s body inappropriately.

Self disrespect includes not taking care of yourself by not keeping yourself clean, abusing alcohol, experimenting with drugs, engaging in multiple sexual partners at once, and even dressing and acting inappropriately.

Disrespect for the environment includes littering, polluting and harming animals and plants.

Disrespect for property includes stealing, and defacing property as in the case of graffiti.

I had an experience over this past weekend at a gas station in a town of which I’m unfamiliar. The group of people in this convenient store clearly all knew each other and this was their “meeting spot.” I was disrespected and sexualized by these people. After a long time of fuming and some private disrespectful mumbling about them, I came to the conclusion that, sadly, I candidly felt as if they simply did not know any better.

We share this earth with a great deal of people. It’s our jobs to teach respect and be respect. Many humans miss the boat on this important task. What we need to do is remember the old math formula; a positive plus a negative equals a positive.

Jessica L. Arrant
STAR Program/ BAC

Colorless Green Ideas Sleep Furiously

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My ‘Blogging on Kids and Behavior’ page has become something of a personal journal. I’m unsure of what I originally intended my blog site to be, but I’m pleased with my ‘table of contents’ of typed experiences and new learnings. Because of confidentiality and a slue of other laws, I am unable to tell my daily experiences word-for-word, but, oftentimes, it isn’t the story that holds precedence, but the knowledge gained.

This particular blog post is the beginning of a wealth of research that I plan to conduct in order to have a better understanding of the most challenging individual (elementary school student) I have ever encountered.

It was not until 1980 that childhood schizophrenia became understood as a separate diagnosis – before that time, children who today would be diagnosed with autism, which is a type of ‘pervasive developmental disorder’, were grouped under the diagnosis of schizophrenia.

The confusion persists today. Because of its rarity, and because the paranoid symptoms often present as hostile and oppositional behaviors, children with schizophrenia may falsely be diagnosed with conduct disorder.The diagnostic overlap is understandable given that family, genetic and imaging findings show similarities between autism and childhood schizophrenia.

Early descriptions that were used to classify autism included “atypical and withdrawn behavior,” “failure to develop identity separate from the mother’s,” and “general unevenness, gross immaturity and inadequacy in development.” See below how symptoms of childhood schizophrenia compare with these descriptions of autism.

The “hallmark” of schizophrenia in any person is psychosis, schizophrenia is a psychotic illness. This means a loss of contact with reality because of hallucinations and delusions: The so-called positive symptoms of schizophrenia.

Before psychosis appears in people with schizophrenia, there is often a phase leading up to it called premorbid or prodromal. This phase is more pronounced in children than in adults.

In childhood schizophrenia, the premorbid developmental impairments include:

Language impairments
Motor (movement) effects, and
Social deficits.

In over half of children who go on to develop childhood schizophrenia, this phase is found to have started from the first months of life.

Compared with the usual onset of schizophrenia in adolescence or adulthood, this suggests there is a more severe and earlier disruption of brain development when schizophrenia appears in seven- to 13-year-olds.

Hallucinations, as with adult cases, are usually auditory in childhood schizophrenia (hearing external voices that do not exist); visual and tactile hallucinations are rarer. The type of delusion is slightly different in childhood schizophrenia – the bizarre false beliefs are usually related to childhood themes and are less complex than those experienced by adolescents and adults.

Jessica L. Arrant
STAR Program/ BAC

Not Feeling Bad is NOT the Same as Feeling Good

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I always recall, near the last month of school, watching a lot of movies. I honestly just assumed that was because my teachers were just as ready for summer break as I was, which is still probably true, however, since my employment with a school district, I have learned the real reason behind the movies, class parties, and lack of academics- KIDS. BE. CRAY, like full moon every night crazy, at the end of the school year.

With my position being in a behavioral unit, the degree of crazy being higher than that of gen. ed. is kindly implied.

On top of us being upon the last two weeks of school, I have a new student who I am working one on one with 3 days a week.

This student is severe.

That being said, my blog has suffered a bit due to the “unsettledness” at work.

Today, I want to put in a tidbit about keeping ones own mental health in check for during the crazy times- and anytime.

Mental and emotional health refers to the presence of positive characteristics, not just the absence of mental health problems and being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Not feeling bad is not the same as feeling good. While some people may not have negative feelings, they still need to do things that make them feel positive in order to achieve mental and emotional health.

Humans are social creatures with an emotional need for relationships and positive connections to others. We’re not meant to survive, let alone thrive, in isolation. Our social brains crave companionship—even when experience has made us shy and distrustful of others.

Social interaction, specifically talking to someone else about your problems, can also help to reduce stress. The key is to find a supportive relationship with someone who is a “good listener”—someone you can talk to regularly, preferably face-to-face, who will listen to you without a pre-existing agenda for how you should think or feel. A good listener will listen to the feelings behind your words, and won’t interrupt or judge or criticize you. The best way to find a good listener? Be a good listener yourself. Develop a friendship with someone you can talk to regularly, and then listen and support each other.

Jessica Arrant
STAR Program/ BAC

Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month

When people think of May, certain things usually jump to mind, like flowers, warm temperatures and the upcoming summer months. Today, I would like to make you aware of another May event: Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month!

Take a stand. Help end the stigma. You can help in the efforts to raise awareness just by educating yourself.

When I, personally, think about BPD it takes me to the future.
I work with emotional behavioral disorder children ages 8-12. Children become EBD for roughly 3 different reasons: Genetics, environmental factors, or brain abnormalities. Consequently, these are also the 3 conditions that cause BPD. Since all patients must be 18 or older to be diagnosed with any personality disorder, thinking about BPD takes me to the future of the students I work with every day. Being EBD raises their chances of becoming BPD, significantly.

People with borderline personality disorder have incredible challenges when dealing with others and themselves because they have inflexible negative behavior patterns, an unstable self-image, uncontrollable emotions, and impulsivity. Their condition is due to the above stated combination of genes, a childhood environment of abuse, turbulence and/or neglect, and erratic biochemistry.

You may be encountering a person with borderline personality disorder if you confront this type of behavior:

1) You are idealized sometimes as the greatest person alive, while at other times you are seen as the worst person. People with BPD often have skewed views of people, whether they be acquaintances or people that are an everyday part of their lives.

2) The person’s sense of self is distorted. The person doesn’t truly understand who he or she really is, so he or she tries on different behaviors. It is not uncommon for them to be distant, authoritative, friendly or hostile with the same person in the same day.

3) The person frantically tries to avoid what she considers abandonment. The person may act overly needy when their support system is removed, even temporarily, such as when a close friend goes on vacation.

4) The person tries to kill him — or herself or engages in self-mutilation. If you witness this behavior in anyone, immediately call 911.

5) The person is intensely reactive to situations or events that most people would just ignore or brush off. My patient’s reaction to the positive news about her cancer is a good example. Another example is the way a person with BPD might obsess about a situation or statement. If someone tells this individual something in an angry way, then he or she might keep thinking about the statement obsessively and cannot “let it go.”

6) He or she constantly feels empty or not really there. My patient reported these feelings of emptiness many times and often thought she wasn’t really in this world.

7) Anger is their most common emotion even when other feelings might be more appropriate. For example, when a person with BPD learns he/she has won a game in tennis, he or she might rant about the opponent instead of just enjoying the victory.

8) Paranoid thoughts are common. People with this disorder often become paranoid and imagine that people are “colluding” against them.]

9) These people act impulsively and in self-damaging ways, for example, engaging in compulsive sex, binge-eating or gambling. Because of this, BPD can often be confused with other personality disorders, such as histrionic personality disorder.

If you think a friend, co-worker or family member might be suffering from borderline personality disorder, encourage him or her to seek treatment. The most important tool is not to internalize the person’s behavior, or take it too personally. Remember it’s not about you. People with borderline personality disorder aren’t fully aware of their behavior and the effect on other people. Try to be as sympathetic as you can, but maintain appropriate boundaries to protect yourself.

Family members also suffer in silence. They are isolated and experience guilt, depression, and helplessness. In a survey, 75% of family members were seeing therapists of their own to handle these intense relationships.

Borderline personality disorder is more prevalent in females (75 percent of diagnoses made are in females). It is thought that borderline personality disorder affects approximately 2 percent of the general population.

Like most personality disorders, borderline personality disorder typically will decrease in intensity with age, with many people experiencing few of the most extreme symptoms by the time they are in the 40s or 50s.

Treatment of BPD has improved in recent years. Both individual and group psychotherapy have proven to be at least partially effective for many people with the disorder. In the last fifteen years, a new form of treatment referred to as, ‘Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT),’ has been developed specifically for the treatment of borderline personality disorder; it is a technique that appears to be promising in studies. Medication treatment is many times prescribed based upon the specific symptoms the person presents. Mood stabilizers and antidepressants can assist. Antipsychotic medications may be administered if the person with BPD experiences distortions in thought.

Psychotherapy is the main form of treatment for BPD; there are two main forms of psychotherapy treatments in relation to the disorder:

* Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): DBT was designed specifically to treat the disorder. Generally conducted through individual, group and phone counseling, DBT uses a skills-based approach to teach you how to regulate your emotions, tolerate distress and improve relationships.

* Transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP): TFP centers on the relationship between you and your therapist – helping you understand the emotions and difficulties inevitably arising in the relationship. You can then use what you have learned in other relationships.

“People with BPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.”

― Marsha M. Linehan