So this young woman came to see me because she was having panic attacks mixed with obsessive thoughts of getting sick. These thoughts were popping into her mind out of the blue and she was developing rituals where she would feel compelled to wash her hands more and more frequently.
” I am not crazy, I have never experienced this before. What is happening to me ? The doctors have run all these tests and say there is nothing physically wrong, nothing ! I have to find some answers. This is effecting my work and my relationship. “
I asked a few pointed questions to get a feel for what was going on in her life as well as to begin to develop a picture of this woman’s personality. She reported no significant issues or changes, no traumas. But what I did see was a very caring and sensitive person who was both fearful of her symptoms, but was also hiding a good dose of anger. She tried to blow off any questions I asked about anger, but the more I suggested that her anger might have more to do with how she felt, the angrier she got. I thought she was going to get up and leave, but then the tears started.
I asked her what she felt she was crying about, and she responded, “There is nothing horrible going on in my life, but your right, I do find myself getting angry at so many little things. This is just NOT like me. I get along with everyone, and everyone seems to like me. “
However, as we talked more, and I shared with her my thoughts that she was indeed NOT crazy, but might be reacting physically and emotionally to conflicts and issues because I sensed she was a Conformer/Adapting personality type, her eyes grew wide open, and I could see her mind digesting it all.
The Conformer/Adapting personality types tends to always want to please others, bending, adapting and adjusting to what she thinks other people want from her. This is a highly adapting personality, who wants approval, to belong….and she tends to NOT deviate from the norm. However, all that adapting leads to inner frustration, a realization that she is forever, and habitually giving up on what she really wants and needs. So, the anger with herself for not saying “No” and stretching herself so thin to avoid rejection and disapproval causes conflict. Like all adapting personality types, the conflict leads to resentments and symptoms, because speaking up and setting boundaries is risky, but that non-conforming inner child says, ” Whoa, wait a second, I have needs too. And by the way, I’m tired of living my life never taking some risks, never expressing my opinions and sharing what I THINK AND FEEL.”
The more this young lady and I talked, the more she began to express herself about people that seem to take advantage of her, those that do not seem to respect her boundaries, and relationships that are so one sided.
Just a thought !
Gene Benedetto, Psychologist/Emeritus