The Vulnerability Schema

Katia came to see me after a work team-building weekend. She was “encouraged” to partake in some fear-inducing and physically challenging exercises. She refused. “There was no way I was going on that rope bridge, that thing could fall at any time”. This refusal lead to a conversation with her boss who suggested she attend therapy. “He opened my eyes...[ read more ]

The Mistrust and Abuse Schema

“You can’t trust anyone!” Clara announced. “They might act nice, but at the end of the day they are only out for number one”. Clara’s employer was funding psychology sessions to treat depression and alcohol addiction. She was reluctant to attend and even more reluctant to open up. “At the end of the day, you work for my boss!” she...[ read more ]

Little Wounds, Limbic Scars and Holes in the Street

German researchers recruited 110 people who were in hospital for Major Depressive Disorder. They scanned their brains with an MRI machine and gave them a questionnaire about childhood maltreatment. Two years later, they contacted the participants and asked them whether they had experienced in any depressive episodes since first contact. The researchers found that people who had experienced childhood trauma...[ read more ]

Social Isolation / Alienation Schema

“I carry my loneliness on my back, like a turtle”. Jia* had a great job in fashion and a loving boyfriend but was depressed and socially anxious. She had difficulties talking in groups of three or more people, she never felt natural, she came across as distant and aloof. “I suppose I’m just a social coward, never showing my real...[ read more ]

Fight or Flight

A lion creeps, undetected, toward a grazing gazelle. Suddenly, the gazelle’s head perks up, she’s heard something. The lion, not wanting to miss its chance, leaps forward and begins the chase. Although the gazelle is caught off guard it is agile and is quick to flee, all the more quicker in its state of panic. The lion, understanding innately that...[ read more ]

The Abandonment Schema

Humans have developmental needs. Although infants and children have many needs, a simple way to describe these needs is to separate them into two categories: the need to grow as an individual and the need to grow as a member of the social group. The latter of these, the need to socially connect and fit in, is first met by...[ read more ]

Little World / Big World

Your mind on Imagination Researchers at the University of Boulder, Colorado recently taught 68 people to fear a harmless bell. They did this by repeatedly pairing the sound of the bell with an electric shock(!). They then placed these people into a Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) machine which maps brain activity. They then played the bell to some of...[ read more ]

Are My Problems First World Problems? The Internal vs External Enemy

Are my problems First World Problems? Yes. Your problems are probably First World problems. If you are reading this from Western Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand or Japan, and you have problems, then your problems are First World problems. More broadly, if your problems are not those that are likely to immediately hasten your death, no matter on which...[ read more ]

Emotional Deprivation Schema – The Emotional Stranger

Toby* doesn’t want to be in therapy. A 42-year-old, currently unemployed, former army captain, Toby has seen people who need therapy and he’s not one. “I’ve got mates who are seriously traumatised, thinking about ending it all. These blokes need help, not me”. It’s true – Toby says that he’s not depressed or anxious, and definitely not suicidal. “I had...[ read more ]

Self-Sacrifice Schema

Penny* is perpetually tired. A nurse by training, she currently works as a 2IC for a disability services provider. Her boss is personable, but disorganised and Penny feels like she’s always picking up the slack. Things aren’t any easier at home. Penny sometimes ‘jokes’ that she has a second (unpaid) job managing the household. Sometimes however, she’s unable to joke,...[ read more ]

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